At Carson Dunlop, we wrote home inspection reports for many years and assumed that we knew what our customers wanted before we stopped to think. Eventually, we began to wonder whether we were giving our clients what they were looking for. So we sent a survey to 3500 previous clients, and we got about 350 responses. The results were fascinating, and they changed the way we do business.
Home inspection software can greatly help you to provide all of the following results in your report and keep it organized—our inspectors use it every day.
As you look at the survey results, remember that these are home inspection clients’ perspectives.
96% Want an Executive Summary
Home inspectors often wonder about the benefits and risks of an executive summary. Clearly clients want a simple, high-level overview. That makes perfect sense, because they’re trying to make a buy/don’t buy decision in a very limited timeframe. They are under a lot of stress and want to make it simple.
The body of the report is useful after people move in. The dust has settled and they are starting to think about managing the home long-term.
How do we manage the risk of providing an executive summary? We just say the summary is provided as a courtesy, and cannot be relied on to make decisions about the home without reading the entire report. That has worked well for us.
81% Say Point Form Is Better Than Narrative
Most people don’t like reading lots of text. We are in the communication business. Short and to the point is what clients want. It’s just as well, because most of us are not very good at writing long narratives anyway.
80% Want a Short Report with References
Not surprisingly, ‘less is more’. Long, detailed explanations about how ground fault circuit interrupters work, a dissertation on the issues around aluminum wiring, etc. are not appreciated by most readers, most of the time. Our report writing system addresses this by keeping it short, but providing links to additional information. People can get more, where and when they want it. This is one of the major benefits of inspection software—your clients can have an easy-to-navigate, digital copy of the report as well as a hardcopy. These reports put the reader in control. Clients like that.
98% Say Headings Help
Life is complicated and distracting. It’s easy to get disoriented and confused when reading, especially long technical documents. Headings and subheadings help keep the reader focused.
99% Say Tell Me Why It’s Important
We need to explain the implications of problems. If people don’t understand, they are not likely to act. We need to give clients the “So what?”, when we say the grading is bad, temperature and pressure relief valve is defective, attic vents are missing, the heat exchanger is cracked, etc.
According to these results, we’ve learned that keeping it short, organized, and explaining why things are important are some of the most important things you can do to give your client a report they’ll actually want to read. In Part Two of this post, we will go through six more things your clients really want. We will see you at Part Two!