Becoming a professional home inspector sets you on the path for a lucrative career. Once you’ve set up shop and insured against claims that could potentially take a devastating financial toll, it’s time to get proactive about building your home inspection business. Marketing can seem like a scary—and costly—prospect, but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

Here are some tips from Elite InspectInsure and its partner network, HomeGauge, for how to market your home inspection services, even with a minimal (or no) marketing budget, in 2014:

  • Research the competition by visiting their websites and reviewing their ads to better understand your local market and consumer expectations
  • Network with area realtors in person, by phone, and online, as they are a great source for business referrals
  • Join a local or national home inspection association, i.e. ASHI, InterNACHI, or NAHI to optimize your visibility within the industry. Each of these associations should have local chapters near you
  • Print up professional business cards, carry them everywhere and give them out often
  • Build a professional website that illustrates what sets you apart from other home inspectors in your area
  • Start business pages on social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn to build a web presence
  • Use these social networking pages actively for social media marketing, sharing useful information for realtors, homeowners, and home buyers looking for a home inspector to establish your expertise
  • Align yourself with partners/vendors whose services you can offer to your clients help manage your risk. RecallCheck and 90 Day Warranties are a good start
  • Find reasons to send out press releases in local media and online outlets—if you share something newsworthy, you can also talk about your services for free publicity
  • Join area realtor associations and boards, as well as discussion forums and message boards online
  • Participate in online forums and message boards related to home buying and selling (not to spam people but to get your name out, share your knowledge, and bolster your reputation)
  • Manage your reputation online by keeping track of what people say about you on review and social networking sites—use constructive criticism and respond professionally and fairly to comments when possible
  • Take out ads in local papers and on local websites, but don’t overlook free listings on community sites like Craigslist
  • Send out a free monthly or bimonthly newsletter covering home inspection, realty, and related topics
  • Make special offers to your newsletter recipients and social networking followers
  • Stay organized to manage your time effectively and keep track of your contacts, clients, and leads. Inspection Support Network (ISN) is a great business platform to do this
  • Treat customers respectfully and delight them with your services—enthusiastic word of mouth is the single most effective way to grow your home inspector business. And don’t be afraid to ask for referrals
  • When inspecting a home, leave your business card with the seller if possible. They are hot leads!