I hear all the time from home inspectors who are convinced that it is best to just accept payment once the home inspection is completed and never before. The primary reasons they give me are, either, “If there are changes to the home inspection at the time of inspection, then I don’t have to go back and adjust the transaction (i.e. give a partial refund or run the card for additional money)” or “If the home inspection gets cancelled, I don’t have to go back and give the customer a refund.” These are both completely valid points. However, receiving payment before the inspection is a “best practice”…
that every home inspector should try to follow.
There are several reasons why you should always try to get payment before the inspection, first and foremost, because it makes you money. I realize that most of you do not get a lot of cancellations and most of your cancellations are because, “the deal fell through and they no longer need a home inspection.” However, please consider that if a customer decided to use someone other than you for whatever reason (for example, their realtor told them they should use “my guy,” or their neighbor mentioned that their brother in-laws second cousin is a home inspector, or simply because someone else will do it for $1.50 less), they are most likely not going to tell you that they are going to go with someone else. They are going to tell you that the, “deal fell through,” and they no longer need the inspection. Now, had you collected payment when they booked the inspection, they are much less likely to go with someone else because they have already paid for it. If you can save one inspection per year using this best practice, you would probably cover most of your credit card processing fees for the entire year!
Save time, money and hassle
The other reason it is best to get payment before the inspection is to save time and hassle. Not only will this practice reduce or eliminate your receivables, but it also makes the inspection much simpler. I hear from inspectors all the time who love not having to turn into bill collector when the inspection is complete. They truly appreciate being able to simply shake the customers hand, and move on to the next inspection. I realize that taking payment onsite (weather cash, check or credit card) only takes about 5 minutes, but consider this; even if you are only doing 25 inspections a month, that adds up to 2 hours a month you are wasting collecting payment. Add to that the time you spend making phone calls trying to track down payments from past inspections and you are spending almost one work week a year dealing with payment and collections.
Increase average transaction size
The final reason it is important to accept payment before the inspection is to let your customers know that you do, in fact, accept credit cards. Check out my article, “Why You Should Love Paying Credit Card Fees,” to see how accepting credit cards, instead of cash or check, will increase your average income at each inspection.
I understand that no one likes paying credit card fees. The goal is to make it so that the act of accepting credit cards makes you more money than it costs you. By encouraging your customers to pay before the inspection takes place you will reduce your cancellations, reduce the wasted time collecting payments, increase the number of inspections you can do every year and increase the average income you make on each inspection.