Best practices for any home inspectior to get paid prior to or at the time of the inspection. Verifying your clients contact information, explaining the agreement and collecting payment should be part of your introduction to your client. As home inspectors we are performing inspections as a job not as a hobby so we want to make sure that we’re securing payments for all the work that we do. Technology has made this much easier with credit cards and CRM systems that integrate online payments. Many times you can get your signature on the agreement and your payment automatically prior to the inspection by sending out payment links from whatever CRM platform you are using. But many times clients still have not paid at the time of the inspection. We must look at this before we’re getting started on the inspection and collect a payment prior to starting the inspection via credit card check or cash. If the client is paying by credit card you can take the credit card information you can scan it into your credit card processing app and process the payment instantly. Another option is that you can forward the client the payment email/link or ask them to look in their email box for the scheduling confirmation email that you had sent them. From there they can enter their payment information right from their phone. If the client pays with a check or cash, you should immediately take a clear picture and upload it into your CRM or ISN system. Several inspectors have put on a nice, clean pair of slacks only to find a wadded-up ball of paper in their pocket that used to be a check. Don’t let that happen to you!
Most home inspectors don’t want to work for 2-4 hours and then for whatever reason, the client decides not to pay you. That’s why it is essential that we get payment prior to starting the inspection.
If we start giving the client information regarding defects in the property we are inspection, we are verbally communicating what we’re finding. These issues and the severity of the defects we are providing is valuable information. It’s not just the final report but it’s the entire range of communication for the 2 to 4 hours during the home inspection. If for some reason the client decides that they don’t want that house due to your findings and decides to cancel the rest of the inspection you’ve done the job that they have paid you for. They hired you to inspect the home and inform them of the condition of the home and any visible defects so they could make an informed decision on whether or not to move forward with the transaction. So if you find defects an hour into the inspection and they decide not to buy this house then you’ve done job completely and should be fully compensated for the work performed. We are typically not paid by the hour, we are paid by the job. We should not feel bad for excepting money for a full inspection even though we’ve only made it through 50% of the home because we have saved our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars by finding those defects in that first part of the inspection. When we schedule an inspection for 2 to 3 hours and it is up taking 4 to 5 hours due to the condition of the home, undisclosed square footage, numerous mechanical components, or even a client with an abundance of questions, we typically do not charge more. In liue of a discount on the current inspection, it would be wise to offer the client a discount on their next inspection if the client decides to terminate the inspection and not move forward with the transaction. This discount could be $50, it could be $100, that depends on your company policy and flexibility.
There are other reasons it’s important to get the payment taken care of at the beginning (or prior to) the inspection. Clients that have been present at the start of the inspection and then they leave to go get coffee or lunch and then something happens and never make it back. Some may get called into work and never make it back. Taking care of this at the beginning or prior to the inspection can save hours of wasted time trying to collect payment. This will also ensure your client has access to their report immediately.
If you’ve already given your client a good three hour inspection of the home as well as your final review at the end of the inspection which typically will last 15 to 20 minutes, the client/agent can usually write their inspection objections without actually reading the final report. Second, if for whatever reason they decide not to buy that property, they may not see the need to pay for the report or the inspection. If you have found any defect that prompts the potential buyer to move on to another property (this could be a defect with the roof or a structural issue in your exterior evaluation, you have potentially saved them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since you have already collected your payment, both parties should be satisfied with the result. It would be rare for a client to ask for all or a portion of their fee back if we have already collected the funds. Clients are far more likely to attempt to negotiate a lower rate if they have yet to make the payment. Your time is valuable, especially since their inspection, whether it lasted 15 minutes or 4 hours prevented you from taking another paying job.
There will be times where you’ve already started the inspection and the client was not present payment. In these cases, continue with your inspection until the client arrives and then once the client arrives, pause what you are doing and go through your complete initial presentation with them including obtaining payment. You can then proceed to give them a summary of what you’ve already seen. It is not advisable to do this until payment has been collected.
You may be limited in how much of the inspection can be completed when originally scheduled (potentially due to access, weather or homeowner constraints) and can only do a partial inspection. Instead of canceling the inspection outright and leaving it up to the client to reschedule, it’s recommended to complete as much of the inspection as possible and offer to come back at no additional charge to finish the rest of the inspection. Now you’ve collected payment in full and prevent them from potentially going with another home inspector for any reason whatsoever.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is always good practice to collect payment as early in the sales/inspection process as possible. Clients are far less likely to cancel an inspection or go with another provider if they have already paid for the services.