This week I had the pleasure of interviewing home Inspector marketing consultant Brian Hannigan. Brian has been educating this industry since 1997… He provides an educational platform that allows inspectors to search and gain knowledge on items, conditions, and challenges in their industry. We will discuss how he teaches his industry how to create strategic business and referral alliances, as well as how incorporating a relationship marketing strategy can not only explode referrals but have a significant impact on customer and client retention.
Kody Bateman: Hello everybody. This is Kody Bateman. Welcome to a new episode of Relationship Marketing Weekly. I got to tell you, it has been a whole lot of fun to be able to do these interviews once a week. I’m learning so much from so many successful business owners, salespeople, creative people that are just doing amazing things to make connections with other human beings in their business and in their personal life and it has just been an incredible experience for me and we have another one of those for you today.
This is a very special one, a very unique business. I like to try to jump right into the show. You know, normally when you do this Facebook Live, you have to say hi to everybody. Forget that. We’re going straight to the show. We want to get started and get right into this.
We have a very special guest today. He is a master at relationship marketing and he has a very unique business. Coming to us from Capistrano Beach, California is Brian Hannigan. He is a home inspector, marketing consultant. Brian, welcome to our show today.
Brian Hannigan: Hey, Kody. Thank you very much. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be on the show today. I have watched this show many times with so many great guests and I was honored to be asked to be on it. So thank you very much.
Kody: Well, thank you Brian. I’ve had the chance to hear you speak before, to hear you teach some courses with people and I always love to sit and listen to what you have to share with people. Let’s jump right into your business. A lot of people don’t know much about the home inspection business and you’re a home inspector, marketing consultant and have been so for many, many years now. So just tell us a little bit about what is a home inspector. How do they do their business? Where do they get their business from? Who pays them? You know, stuff like that.
Brian: OK. So I will try to keep it quick but the home inspection business typically is – a home buyer is hiring an inspector to come inspect all the aspects of the home. You know, foundation, plumbing, electrical, roof. The list goes on and on. Very complex but so important to find out the heartbeat and health of a home before the transaction goes through.
I came from that background 20 plus years ago and got a little diverted when technology came around and the internet. So I twisted my business around to become a marketing consultant for home inspectors originally developing websites and hosting and helping them on that side. So that’s how I started in the consulting side of things.
But I love the industry. I love the people and these inspectors themselves are great people. A lot of times, they just need a little help on the marketing platform. They’re great with technology or I should say technical skills and so that’s where I’m happy to come and teach and share my knowledge and what I’ve learned over the years.
Kody: So yeah, so I kind of envision if I’m going to purchase a home and I get with a real estate agent – I don’t know. Just going off of memory, what other people have done. I got to believe when it comes time to get the home inspected, I’m probably going to go to my real estate agent and get a recommendation. Is that typically how it works or –?
Brian: That’s typically how it works. You’re right on the money there and so –
Kody: Sorry. As a home inspector then, they’re mining for new business through real estate agents. Is that correct? Is that how it works or –?
Brian: That’s where a tremendous amount of the business comes from is from the agent. So you can see how important the relationship is right there. Yes, you have to be a professional and be very good at your job. But being able to create that relationship, to even get into the door of realtor offices, be able to speak and present and just start that relationship. It has really got to start at the very beginning and that’s creating a relationship one on one and then to the office side.
Once you’ve created that relationship, it just carries its weight so far. Usually a realtor, they won’t recommend just one person for reliability issues. But they will recommend a couple inspectors. They might give a little wink to somebody who has really developed that strong relationship with them and I also want to just let people know that it’s not just the realtor. It’s the real estate industry. Think about title, escrow, insurance.
There are so many other people involved and you need to develop a relationship with each and every one of them because they all talk amongst themselves and the more times your name can come up, the better.
Kody: So tell us, so creating relationship is critically important in the home inspection business. You’ve been consulting inspectors for many, many years. You’re a master at relationship marketing principles. What kind of things do you teach a home inspector to get on those real estate lists and to create relationships to where they get a business referred to them?
Brian: First, it starts with exposure and a first meeting. If you are going – looking to develop relationships with realtors, there’s always a board of realtors. You can join as an affiliate and I teach people and bring them in. I show them. OK, you come in here and then you will meet a couple of realtors.
Well, you get their business cards and after you get their business card, you have to do the follow-up. They always say the fortune is in the follow-up and you follow up with a nice card, maybe a small gift along with it.
Not trying to do anything more than to build the relationship here. It’s not a one-time deal and you’re going to keep showing up and repeating this process and you’re going to gain traction and visibility. It’s just such an important part and I teach all different aspects like I say. You know, the visibility, being there physically and following up and following up is a huge part.
Kody: So – and you talk about a lot of different ways to follow up. It’s not just you meet – a home inspector might meet somebody at a networking event or whatever it is and obviously follow up and you’re big on the tangible touch. You mentioned a greeting card or maybe a gift and you encourage them to follow up with those.
But it’s not just that. I mean you have what you call social tangible touches and this is what you teach. You teach about the social tangible touches, things like family events, births and passing, awards, congratulation cards. Tell us about that. So what do you teach home inspectors to do with those events?
Brian: Well, a sociable tangible touch, it’s kind of a combination of things and so Facebook is just so rich with life moments. Everybody is posting their life moments on there and so I teach a few things.
One is to just look for something that’s important in someone’s life, whether it be the birth of a child, the death of a dog, little Johnny hitting a homerun. Everybody else is going to comment on it, give it a thumbs-up, a like, something along those lines. But if you take the picture that they post, drop it on a card and put a few nice words in there and mail it to them, it will stand out. It will stand out like nothing before.
But I also teach the social side of it. So I always say send a card maybe a week later. Put it on your schedule that you’re going to friend them. Friend them on Facebook if you aren’t already. A week later, connect on LinkedIn.
All these little touches, there’s a little touch, a little reminder, a little something and it’s a process and it’s not a long, drawn-out process. It’s nothing hard. But it’s all the little touches and the card is the one that’s going to stick.
Kody: Yeah, that’s great. It’s kind of funny – you know, we hear – you share stories like this and some of our previous guests, most of our previous guests share similar stories. I sit there and I listen and of course I’m biased because I own a service that offers the cards and gifts as a service. But seriously, when I listen to you talk about this and talk about the results that people get, why wouldn’t every businessperson on the planet have a greeting card and gift system or a relationship marketing system to do what you just said?
I mean because again, you do get lost in the social media clutter. No doubt about it. I mean you’re just one of the 55 comments that are on there versus what you teach. You know, why don’t you take the comment and put it to something tangible and put it in the mail? It’s just amazing to me how simple that is but yet how few people implement it.
Brian: I can give you a quick example of just that sort of thing. Recently, the American Society of Home Inspectors, they had their big conference and I was down there speaking and about a month earlier, one of the inspectors posted on Facebook a little baby. It was their grandchild. So everybody else made a little comment and thumbs-up and all that stuff and I took the picture. I put it on a card. I mailed it to that person.
Well, at the conference, I mean there are 1500, 2000 people there and a big exhibit hall. Well, this person tracked me down to come over to thank me personally for sending the card. How many other people – how many of the people that posted on Facebook do you think he tracked down to say, “Hey, thanks for that like”? You know, it didn’t happen. But he came to me and gave me a personal thank-you, how much he appreciated and that card is sitting on his desk. That’s what he said.
Kody: Yeah, and the connection is made.
Brian: And the connection is made. Exactly.
Kody: Incredible. You tell kind of a funny story about – and this is interesting. You sent a thank-you card out to somebody that paid an invoice. Now think about it. All of our listeners, just think about it a second. How many of us, no matter what business we’re in, have thought to do that? I mean it seems so simple but yet it’s so clever. You know, someone paid their invoice. So you send a thank-you card for paying the invoice. Tell us a little bit about what happened there.
Brian: Well, this was 10 years ago and I had a client and I sent the invoice. He paid the invoice on time and I was just introduced to the system and taught about some appreciation. I thought I will give it a try. So I sent just a stock catalog card, a thank-you. Put some nice words in it, “Tom, I really appreciate you paying your bill on time. You’ve been a great customer. Thank you very much. Look forward to seeing you soon,” and just let it go with that and about a week later, I got a phone call and Tom saying, “Hey, Brian. I just got your thank-you card and I wanted to thank you for it.” He said, “Of all the services I have, nobody has ever thanked me for paying my bill.”
I said, “Well Tom, well, thank you for calling to thank me for mailing you the thank-you card. I appreciate it.” We did. We both had a good laugh over it but that was my first card and the light bulb went off. You know, I was told about this and suggested it’s a good idea. You should appreciate people. Light bulb went off and from that point on, I had become a faithful card sender because I could see how important it is to people. It’s a touch that people have lost and they want that. They want that feeling, that appreciation and if you’ve ever gone to your mailbox and you’ve seen an envelope and you open it up and you pull a card out, there’s magic in that right there, before you even see the card. It’s a gift right there and it’s magical.
Kody: No question about it. I love that. I’ve run into that with many people over the years. When does the thank-you chain stop? Hey, thank you for thanking me, thank me for thanking you for thanking me. It’s kind of a funny thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more of that in the world? What a nice problem to have.
Hey, when do I stop the thank-you chain? You know, that would be the best problem in the world for the world to have is when do I stop the thank-you chain. That would be a good name for a book or something. That’s kind of a cool, little phrase.
Brian: Write that one down.
Kody: When do you stop the thank-you chain? And maybe the answer is never. It’s just always being in a state of gratitude. So really cool stuff.
Hey Brian, we really appreciate your words of wisdom. Very unique business, unique business concept. I’m sure we got a lot of home inspectors listening in on this show today as well as real estate agents and other people that have got some great ideas from you. So we appreciate that. In closing, any final words of wisdom from Brian Hannigan? Go ahead.
Brian: Well, I will speak really to the inspection community that I’ve known for so many years and I’ve really seen that there are two types of people out there. One, I will ask them what they do for a living and they will say, “Well, I’m a home inspector.” The other ones I ask what they do for a living and they say, “Well, I’m a small business owner. I’m a business professional and the service I provide is a home inspection service.”
Now those are the people who I work with a lot. There’s a group called the Mastermind Inspector Community that really – it’s all about business there and those are the people that I’ve done so much business with. They’ve brought me in, allowed me to coach them. They use the services and almost every single one at the highest level of that coaching group uses a system.
Well, it is our system for sending out cards and gifts and sending out the appreciation. So the biggest thing I could send out there is get out of the mindset that you’re an inspector. Realize that you’re a business professional and take courses. Learn. Go to college. Learn public college classes. Learn to become a business professional that has a home inspection service.
Kody: Wow. That’s really good stuff, Brian. We really appreciate that and we encourage all of you listeners today to – if you want to find out about that service that Brian talks about, the way that you can actually take a Facebook post and from the internet or your own phone, put it on a real greeting card with your own handwriting inside and have a service send that for you, add a gift if you want, get back with the person that shared this with you.
Get back with your friend on Facebook or wherever that you learned about this show. Get back with them. They can show you how this whole thing works. We have thousands of relationship marketing specialists all over the world that are out there for the purpose of helping people to be kinder to people in business and personal life. Brian, you’re one of those. Appreciate you, my friend.
So there you have it. Brian Hannigan from Capistrano Beach, California and stay tuned. Come on in next week. We will have another exciting episode. So thanks again. Brian, say good-bye to everybody and we will see you next week.
Brian: Good-bye. Thank you very much and happy Saint Patrick’s Day to everybody. This is a card from a couple of years ago. So happy Saint Patrick’s Day and there’s a story behind that too. Ask me later.
Kody: Thank you Brian. Take care now. All right.