Monthly Archives: October 2014

Seven Questions You Should Ask Your Potential Franchisor

If you’re looking for a franchising opportunity, then according to Franchise.net.au, there are seven questions you might ask. We at NPI/GPI think you should ask these seven questions of any potential franchisor:

  1. What structure is in place to ensure I receive the support I need to succeed?
  2. What assistance is provided to market the business?
  3. Can I be passionate about this business?
  4. What type of lifestyle balance is possible?
  5. How is the brand promoted?
  6. What are the opportunities for expansion?
  7. Will the monetary rewards meet my expectations?

If your potential franchisor can’t answer these questions satisfactorily, then you should probably move on to another franchise company.

Read the full article, “7 Questions Franchise Buyers Might Ask” by Ian Krawitz.

Choose a Franchisor That Offers Superb Ongoing Support

Inspector Team + AC8In your search for a franchisor with which you’d like to work, one of the key things you need to look for is support — specifically, how much support the franchisor offers on an ongoing basis, after the initial training period ends.

Some franchisors offer great support during the initial training period, but once that period ends, you’re on your own. Will you be confident enough at that time to manage your business as well as your marketing, website, etc., by yourself?

Some new franchise owners are, but most are happier with franchisors that offer ongoing support. For example, NPI/GPI has a dedicated marketing team to provide ongoing support to franchise owners, both new and established. Our technical team is available seven days a week to answer questions and help NPI/GPI inspectors with technical issues and problems that arise when they are out on inspections. And our office staff is available to assist with ordering materials and answering questions. These are services that many franchisors don’t offer once your business is up and running.

As you consider franchisors, be sure to ask what kind of continuing or ongoing support they will offer you after you’re trained. Are you going to be on your own, or will you have a team backing you up?

Make a Lasting Impression

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Inspector + Client8One Saturday this past spring, my lovely wife asked me if I would accompany her to the outdoor garden center. For the uninitiated, let me interpret: That was not a question, it was a statement. It means, “Get your shoes. You are going.” (Unlike some husbands, I don’t let my wife tell me what to do.)

Big-box stores are not known for great customer service. Once we got to the garden center, I was blown away when a high-school kid went out of his way to help us. I’ll call him Tim. Tim actually seemed interested in helping us. Instead of simply pointing toward the South 40, he patiently walked us to the correct aisle and even loaded the potting soil that we needed onto our cart. I said, “Thank you, Tim.” He smiled and said, “You saw my name tag.” I told him he was correct, but next time I won’t need to look at his name tag. He went out of his way to help us, and I’ll remember him for that.

On other occasions at the garden center, the helpful staff merely pointed to the general area where we might find what we needed or they simply shrugged. Nothing builds confidence like a shrug. People don’t remember the shruggers or ask them to come and interview for a job. They remember the Tims.

No matter if you are in the property inspection business, have an accounting practice, are an insurance agent, or are a Realtor, you should make an impression that lasts. If you listen to your clients and truly care about helping them solve their problems, then it will come back to you many times over. The Internet notwithstanding, word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertising there is. If you make an impression on people, they will pass along your name. Just make sure it was a good impression. There’s an old maxim that says if you do a good job for someone, they will tell five people, if you do a bad job, they will tell 10. Those are words to live by.

A true milestone for any business owner is when he/she gets the first phone call that starts this way: “My friend Bill told me to call you.” You made a positive impression on Bill, and he has paid you a huge compliment by passing along your name. Good luck, and keep up the good work.

Long-time NPI Franchisee Left the Corporate World to Start His Own Business

NPI franchise owner Clyde Yost

NPI franchise owner Clyde Yost

During the early years of his career, Clyde Yost worked in engineering and technical milling for several national and international organizations. But in 1987, the year National Property Inspections was founded, he was searching for something more.

“I was tired of corporate cutbacks and layoffs and also the many days and nights away from home,” Yost said. “I wanted to be my own boss and stay away from airplanes and motels as much as possible.”

Choosing an NPI Franchise
Yost responded to an NPI ad in USA Today and then traveled from Kansas City, Mo., to visit NPI’s home office in Omaha, Neb. He met with NPI’s president and founder, Roland Bates, for about half a day. After the visit, he was impressed with Bates and went home to discuss with his family NPI and going into business for himself. They agreed that NPI sounded like a solid opportunity and said they would support Yost in his new venture. So, Yost purchased his NPI franchise in June 1987.

Yost considered starting a home inspection business independently, but realized that a franchise system could offer the support and training he needed to get his business off the ground. Today, he’s proud to be part of a franchise system.

“I felt comfortable talking with Roland and did not receive much information from any of the other inspection companies that I contacted,” Yost said. “There were not many choices in 1987.”

Franchising the NPI Way
One of the things NPI prides itself on is outstanding support for its business owners from the moment they contact us about a franchise opportunity. Yost said that the support from the corporate office and meeting with other franchise owners has provided an excellent opportunity for learning the business. “I was looking for technical help in starting a business – having a report to use on inspections and having a good name to present to prospective clients. I got all of that and more with NPI,” he said.

In 1987, Bates did a large portion of the training of new business owners himself (he still does some training with every new business owner today), and had assembled a team that also included an electrician, a plumber and an HVAC contractor to teach new business owners everything they needed to know about the property inspection business.

“There were no computers or other high-tech devices in 1987,” Yost said. “Our tools consisted of binoculars and a Polaroid camera, a screwdriver and crescent wrench. The forms were filled out at the site by hand and given to the client. The training was very good and helpful in developing my business.”

These days, NPI has two training experts on staff full time, and these employees also provide field support to NPI business owners seven days a week by telephone. The tools of the trade have improved, too, as NPI now gives its business owners a complete tablet computer and printer setup and high-tech tools such as a gas sniffer, circuit tester, infrared thermometer and moisture meter.

In addition to its training experts, NPI has a full staff ready to support its business owners, including a marketing team that includes a marketing coach and marketing manager.

“The staff has been very good to work with and has been around almost as long as I have,” Yost said. “There has never been a time when I could not find someone to answer my questions.” And often, this is Bates himself, as he remains very hands-on with NPI business owners.

Yost attends the NPI Annual Conference every November to earn inspector continuing education credits and to network with his peers, other NPI business owners. “I enjoy the annual meetings and getting together with the new members of the organization, as well as seeing the ‘old-timers’ for another session,” he said.

Success With NPI
Today, Yost has been operating his home inspection business in Kansas City, Mo. for more than 25 years. Does he have regrets about leaving the corporate world to start a business of his own with NPI?

“Never,” he said. “My experience with NPI has been great for my career and my family.”

Landing a Job: It’s All in the Interview

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Agent_shutterstock_187113938Let’s talk about hiring employees, something that franchise owners often have to do once their businesses take off. Resumes aside, most employers decide to hire or not hire during the interview. Here are a few of the unfiltered and unadulterated answers I have received to my interview questions over the years.

(In fairness to these individuals, maybe they were just nervous. But their answers impressed me enough that I can still recall, and will share, my private thoughts in response thereto.)

Me: What brings you here today?
Answer: You are advertising a job opening. (Reminder to myself: I need a new lead-in question.)

Me: It says here that you are ambitious. Have you ever set your sights too high?
Answer: My grandfather left me a rifle; I shot at the ground but hit a tree. (My fault; I shouldn’t have asked such a dumb question.)

Me: How would your last boss describe you?
Answer: She said I didn’t apply myself but that’s her opinion. (No red flags yet.)

Me: We all have our attributes, good and bad. What is your greatest weakness?
Answer: I go to the gym pretty often, but I’ve never been able to do chin-ups. But most women can’t. (I wonder how many chin-ups I can do.)

Me: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
Answer: I climbed Pike’s Peak. (You would make a good park ranger.)

Me: Give me an example of when you failed.
Answer: Algebra. (I have got to ask better questions.)

For those of you who know me, and to anticipate your inquisitiveness, none of the folks who provided the answers above made it onto the Omaha NPI/GPI home-office staff. Or did they?

Iowa Franchise Owner Finds Success With NPI

meade_hugh

NPI franchise owner Hugh Meade

Hugh Meade owned a franchise restaurant in Johnston, Iowa, when the home inspection industry began to appeal to him. Tired of the long hours involved with the restaurant business and working with a mediocre franchisor, Meade was searching for something new.

Meade previously bought and sold several investment properties and had an interest in the property inspection field. “After talking with a real estate agent about the home inspection industry, I decided to pursue the business,” Meade said.

Choosing the Right Franchise System
Meade thought about starting a home inspection business independently, as Iowa doesn’t require home inspectors to be certified or licensed. However, “after researching the possibility of going alone, I realized my best chance for success was having a successful franchise company to provide me with additional training and support,” Meade said.

In selecting a franchisor, Meade considered many factors, including the royalty rate, training, startup cost and support. He also wanted to be sure that the franchisor had a good reputation to avoid working with another poor franchisor.

“I wanted to do my due diligence when deciding on a home inspection franchise,” Meade said. “I had been with a restaurant franchise chain prior to NPI and experienced firsthand the problems with a bad franchisor. I researched NPI extensively on the Internet and called several NPI franchise owners to get feedback on how they felt about NPI. My final decision relied heavily on the comments of current NPI franchise owners.”

Before purchasing a National Property Inspections franchise, Meade and his wife visited NPI’s home office in Omaha, Nebraska. There, he met with Roland Bates, president of NPI, and the home office staff. “After meeting Roland and the staff of NPI, my decision was made to join the NPI team.

In October 2012, Meade signed with National Property Inspections to start his own property inspection business.

Franchising the NPI Way
Meade was impressed with NPI’s blueprint for building a business, which includes training on everything from the technical topics of home inspection to the marketing plan. In addition, NPI franchise owners receive a startup package that includes all of the equipment they will need for their business, such as a tablet computer, a portable printer, and inspection tools that include a moisture meter and gas sniffer.

“NPI has two weeks of training in Omaha and training in the field after that,” Meade said. “The field training allows you to work with other NPI franchise owners and gives you hands-on experience. NPI does a great job of preparing you to become a property inspector. There will still be situations that will come up outside your knowledge base, but that is when you call the support staff in Omaha to get the answers to your questions.”

NPI support staff is available seven days a week to answer any questions that franchise owners may encounter in the field. In fact, Meade described NPI’s support as “second to none.”

“When situations, questions, or challenges come up in the field, I know I can always pick up the phone and get assistance from the support staff at NPI.”

Success With NPI
“I only wish I had joined the NPI team earlier in my career,” Meade said. Since starting his NPI franchise, he has become a successful business owner in the property inspection field. “I followed NPI’s business model and have successfully grown my business to a point where I’ve had to hire another inspector to keep up with business demands.”

What You Need to Know When Starting a Business

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland Bates, NPI/GPI President

Over the years, I have been asked numerous times to review business plans. Starting a business is exciting, and I have always been flattered when someone asks for my help.

As companies that sell franchises, NPI and GPI have a business model that covers all of the bases, and most of our franchisees are successful. When you are starting either on your own or with a franchise, don’t leave anything out. Let me give you an example.

Let’s call this gentleman Bob. Bob’s education and work experience classify him as a “professional.” Bob was tired of working for someone else and wanted to start his own business. He dropped off his business plan a couple of days before we were to have lunch.

Bob knew where he wanted to office, how many square feet he would need, what his rent, utilities, insurance and the like would cost. He knew the kind of business-related software he needed and its cost. He backed it all up with Excel spreadsheets. For what he did, it was impressive. However, he was so focused on the operational side of his planned business that he overlooked two of the most important aspects and any business: sales and marketing.

When I met Bob for lunch, I complimented him on what he had done but when I asked him, “How are you going to make the phone ring?” he just gave me a blank stare. Bob had always done the work placed in front of him, but he’d never been involved in bringing any of that work in the door. Ultimately, Bob decided against starting his own business, which was too bad; he just needed help with sales and marketing.

In business, you must deliver a good product or service — that is a given. But first, you must have a strong grasp of both sales and marketing.

In conversation, we use sales and marketing interchangeably. Though intertwined, they are two very different things. Marketing is an understanding of when, where and how to promote your business. In sales, it’s about knowing where and how to find customers and closing the sale, which is not always easy.

You probably don’t love everyone, and not everyone is going to love you. OK. Some potential customers are going to prefer a competitor. OK. Accept that for the present and move on. However, don’t give up on these prospects. Periodically touch base with them and let them know you are still interested in earning their business. With low pressure and effective follow-up, some of them can be won over. Good luck in your ventures.

National Property Inspections, Inc., Welcomes New Franchise Owners

Dual LogosWe’re excited to announce several new franchise owners who will take the National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections brands to new areas:

  • Stephen Ballasy is from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and will have territory covering Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
  • Mike and Whitney Hyma from Twin Lake, Michigan, will operate their business in Muskegon County, Michigan.
  • Dale and Tiffany Senkow of Warman, Saskatchewan, will have territory in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in Canada.
  • Jim Vaughn from Cape Coral, Florida, will operate in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Lee County in Florida.
  • David Whaley from Denton, Maryland is taking over a franchise that operates in Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties in Maryland.

“We had a great class in September and we wish all of these new franchisees the very best as they start their businesses,” said Roland Bates, president of National Property Inspections, Inc. “They are helping us grow by bringing National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections to new areas. Everyone in this class is sharp and capable and we look forward to working with them.”

The new franchisees completed the 120-hour intensive training program in September 2014 at the National Property Inspections, Inc., headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, and are now undergoing up to 80 hours of field training with experienced NPI franchise owners in their regions.

NPI Exceeds New Franchisee’s Expectations

Drenning_Gary

Gary Drenning

Gary Drenning spent 38 years working in the corporate world, primarily in the finance and administration areas. He was vice president of finance and administration for a company involved in manufacturing, construction and commercial real estate when he grew tired of the corporate stress and politics and decided to go into business for himself.

“I was looking for a business that had a good market in my geographical area of Altoona, Pa., the option to work from home, the benefit of managing my own schedule and minimal start-up costs,” Drenning said.

The Journey to Selecting a Franchise
Drenning knew right away that he wanted to start a franchise business rather than an independent business, so he began by performing due diligence on various franchises in many different industries.

“I did not want the hassle of all the start-up issues. I wanted the benefit of marketing assistance, a proven business model and adequate training while entering the new arena,” Drenning said. “When I began looking at franchises, I wanted a franchise with a proven track record and ongoing marketing and training support.”

National Property Inspections met all of the criteria Drenning was looking for in a franchise, and he started his business in February 2014. Due to scheduling issues, he wasn’t able to visit the NPI corporate office before signing with NPI, but he had in-depth conversations with Julie Erickson, director of franchise sales. “From Julie, I got a good sense of the pride and dedication the people of NPI conveyed,” he said.

During his due diligence, Drenning also talked to several NPI business owners and was impressed with their feedback about the company and their willingness to help him get started in his own franchise.

“NPI was very open with their franchise list, financials and other company information,” Drenning said, “which sent a message to me that they had nothing to hide or be ashamed of as an organization.”

Franchising the NPI Way
One of the things NPI prides itself on is outstanding support for its business owners from the moment they contact us about a franchise opportunity. Drenning said that the support he has received has been instrumental in starting his business, and his experience with NPI has far exceeded his expectations.

“Since I returned home from my initial training, I’ve asked for and received help from just about every area of NPI,” he said. “I’ve received help in marketing and promotions, preparing bids, writing reports, technical advice, computer hardware and software assistance, and legal matters. In addition, my field trainer continues to touch base with me and send me information that is extremely helpful in moving forward.”

Drenning described NPI’s two-week training academy as “intense but rewarding.” He found the subject matter to be informative and well-presented, and he values the friendships he developed with his classmates and the NPI corporate staff. He also found tremendous benefit in his field training with a seasoned NPI business owner.

“The field training was extremely helpful to see how a tenured professional handles both the inspection and report-writing phases of the job,” Drenning said.

Success With NPI
Hardworking, enthusiastic and driven, Drenning is positioned for success with his NPI business.

“The training, ongoing support and equipment I’ve received from NPI is first-rate,” he said, “and the people throughout the organization have been helpful, enthusiastic and friendly. I am excited to belong to the NPI family, and as I drive around my hometown community, I am proud to have the NPI name on the side of my truck.”