Tag Archives: Roland Bates

NPI/GPI Prepares to Celebrate 30 Years by Remembering First Franchisee

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland Bates, president and founder of National Property Inspections, Inc.

Roland Bates, president and founder of National Property Inspections, Inc.

It will soon be 30 years since I sold the first NPI franchise. I am pleased to say that franchisee, Clyde Yost, is still with us. The first franchise is certainly the hardest one to sell. You are selling your idea, and at that point, no one other than you has any reason to believe that your idea and business plan can be duplicated.

If you walk into the National Property Inspections, Inc., corporate office today, it is well-decorated, has nice furnishings, provides a professional training room, and has all the amenities we need to operate our business. We are successful, and our office shows that. Let’s turn back the clock 30 years:

Back in 1987, I had rented a small office and purchased a few furnishings. To describe the office as “Spartan frugality” would have been generous, indeed. When Clyde Yost first visited, I think I was sitting at a folding card table. For sure, I was sitting with a small electric typewriter and typing book because I was teaching myself how to type. That paid off because now I can type most three- and four-letter words without looking at the keyboard.

After Clyde and I visited about how I’d been doing inspections myself and thought the property inspection business was poised to take off, I told him I wanted to franchise it. I explained how the franchise would work, how I hoped to help him and others build an NPI business.

Clyde naturally asked, “How many franchisees do you currently have?” To which I replied, “You and two others will make three.” Clyde has a good sense of humor and thought that was sort of funny.

Clyde Yost, NPI's first franchisee, remains a franchise owner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Clyde Yost, NPI’s first franchisee, remains a franchise owner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Clyde believed in the NPI concept and became our first franchisee. Without sounding maudlin, Clyde had worked hard for his money, and I felt more than obligated to make this company successful for him, if not for myself. To this day, I try to keep all of our franchisees in mind, and I feel indebted to all of them. But I’ll admit that many of the business decisions I have made over the years I have made with Clyde and our very first meeting in mind.

Maybe there would have been an NPI without Clyde, but it certainly wouldn’t be the same. Clyde, my friend, thank you for believing in me and for everything you have done for NPI.

We have franchises available in your area. To learn more about an NPI or GPI franchise opportunity, click one of the links below:

Why Every Business Owner Needs a Mentor

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Mentoring_shutterstock_189356114Several years ago, I read a white paper that said that about 70 percent of the decisions a business owner makes ultimately prove to be wrong. (That 70 percent is the number in the report; that is not a typo.) That’s a lot of zigzagging to get from Point A to Point B.

Imagine how much more successful business owners could be and how much faster they could grow their businesses if they reduced their errors to just 35 percent. Suffice it to say, reducing mistakes or eliminating some of the trial and error can make a huge difference.

For this reason, all new business owners should seek out at least one mentor. A mentor does not have the emotional attachment to the business that a new business owner likely has; thus, he or she can look at your business objectively. A mentor also has experience and can advise you away from making certain mistakes. A mentor who is truly interested in helping you will go out of their way to do so. Sometimes the introductions a mentor can make for you so you can expand your network are more than enough reason to seek them out.

Our role at National Property Inspections, Inc., is that of a mentor to our franchise owners, although we also encourage our franchisees to seek out one or more mentors where they live. As a franchisor, we have a proven business model, and we can help advise franchise owners on what works and what doesn’t so they can avoid so much trial and error as they start their businesses.

With that said, and as an aside, wouldn’t it be great if teenagers would listen to Mom and Dad’s advice and mentoring? Oh, well, we can dream, can’t we?

Roland PhotoRoland Bates’ high energy, willingness to work hard and optimistic outlook are the cornerstones of success for NPI and GPI. His easy manner and family attitude inspire a friendly and close atmosphere at the company. Before he founded NPI/GPI in 1987, Roland owned a general contracting company, where he worked for eight years as a general contractor. Prior to that, he spent five years as a property claims supervisor and regional claims manager.

To learn more about an NPI or GPI franchise opportunity in your area, click one of the links below:

Franchisees Find a Bright Future in the Property Inspection Industry

Dual LogosWhether you have construction experience or sales and marketing experience, National Property Inspections, Inc., offers the opportunity for a bright future. Our turn-key franchise system gives franchisees the tools, training  and support to succeed in the property inspection industry.

BusinessOpportunities.biz recently interviewed Roland Bates, president of National Property Inspections, Inc., parent company of National Property Inspections (U.S) and Global Property Inspections (Canada), and asked him what differentiates the franchise among others in its niche; what makes this concept a good fit for potential franchisees; and what’s next for the franchise, both in the near future and the long term.

To read the full interview, please click here.

When Choosing a Franchisor, Consider These Things

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland_101614National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections have been training and supporting franchise owners for a long time — nearly 30 years — and we always have our ears open as to what our competitors in the property inspection franchising industry are doing. We also pay attention to what other franchisors are doing in other industries. We realize that if our competitors are doing something right, then we can learn from that. And, if they are doing something wrong, we can learn from that, as well.

I believe that our competitors make us better. It’s like running a 100-meter race: You don’t know how fast you are until you have an opponent. But when I say “race,” I don’t mean that it’s a literal race to see how many franchises you can sell or how fast you can sell them. In fact, I think that is one of the biggest mistakes a franchisor can make.

I cringe when I hear, “the fastest-growing” anything. I think most of our property inspection franchise competitors are good in one way or another, and we all make each other better. On occasion, however, I have been shocked and saddened to learn how little training and support some franchisors in other industries have provided to their franchisees. We franchisors live on royalties; thus, it behooves us to give our franchisees the best training and support we can. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s just good business.

At NPI and GPI, we must provide the classroom and field training necessary for our franchisees to obtain their home inspector licenses. But it doesn’t matter if they are great inspectors if they don’t know how to make the phone ring. In addition to all of the technical training, we have our own unique way of teaching franchise owners the business of property inspection from beginning to end. Yes, our franchise owners need to know and understand the technical side of home inspection, but managing and marketing their businesses effectively is just as important.

In our minds, support from a franchisor shouldn’t end when a franchisee heads home — that’s when it begins. We take pride in the way we do things, and it works for us. So, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to all franchisors and business opportunity providers: Don’t forget that your franchisees have paid you a huge compliment by showing faith in you (and probably writing you a check), so please provide them with the best training and support you can. Then, everyone wins.

Learn How to Start Your Own Home Inspection Business

Inspector + ACIf you’re frustrated with the corporate grind, tired of working for someone else or ready to put your entrepreneurial spirit to work, then you may be thinking of starting your own business. If you already know what business you want to go into, then you’re lucky. For many others who are searching for business ideas or for a second career, home and commercial property inspection offers a challenging, exciting and lucrative opportunity.

Property inspection is a career field with a bright future. Eight out of 10 home buyers order a home inspection. Also consider the following outlook for the housing and commercial property industries:

  • The real estate industry is expected to remain on a sustainable course of solid growth for 2015 through 2017. (Urban Land Institute, April 2015)
  • According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), home builders’ confidence in the housing market jumped five points in June 2015, as their sales outlook improved to its highest level since 2005.
  • In the largest 100 housing markets in the United States, it’s still cheaper to own than rent, by 38% nationally. (Trulia, June 2015)
  • “The pending home sales report added to robust building permits, housing starts, new-home sales and home resales data in painting a bullish picture of the housing market.” (The New York Times, June 2015)
  • Existing home sales increased 5.1 percent in June 2015 to an annual rate of 5.35 million units — the highest level since November 2009. This year’s home sales are on track for the strongest gain since 2007. (National Association of Realtors)
  • The commercial real estate market should continue its upswing. Vacancy rates for offices, industrial markets and retail markets are all expected to decline. (National Association of Realtors, June 2015)
  • An influx in new apartment construction is forecast to cause an uptick in the multifamily vacancy rate. (National Association of Realtors, June 2015.

On Wednesday, Aug. 12, National Property Inspections, Inc., will hold its first-ever webinar for entrepreneurs interested in starting a property inspection business. Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

Presented by Roland Bates, president of National Property Inspections, Inc., and Julie Erickson, director of franchise sales for NPI/GPI, the webinar will cover topics including services performed by property inspectors; skills, background and training for property inspectors; starting an inspection business; and more.

Business Communications: Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Inspector + Client2Like the old Bob Dylan song, “Times, they are a-changing,” and that’s especially true with business communication. In case there are any “old dogs” reading this, you have to embrace change or be left behind. Or worse yet — be called an “old dog.” Still, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting or even a phone call. I find the best mix of communication for business is a mix of the old and the new.

Pretty face to pretty face. There is no substitute for meeting clients or making sales calls face-to-face. In my limited-capacity mind that’s the best way to solicit business, build relationships and work out any perceived differences that two interested parties might have. And ultimately that’s the only way to shake hands. Shaking hands is the best way to greet someone and, assuming it’s a business meeting, symbolize “deal done.”(Let’s hope the handshake is never entirely replaced with the Howie Mandel fist bump.)

Did I catch you at a busy time? In order of importance, and next to face-to-face meetings, is the ever-so-important phone call. I can only guess at how many business-related phone calls I’ve had in the last 25-plus years. Some days my ear would literally become sore. Once you know someone well, a phone call is still one of the best ways to discuss details of a business matter, build relationships or tell that joke that only you find funny (all my jokes are funny, I think). For years, phone calls greatly outnumbered business-related emails.

Emails: Can’t live without them. At first emails seemed more interesting than practical. I might have checked them once a day. But we now have the ability to attach photographs, documents and the like, which has made email an essential business tool. It’s said that most businesspeople get more business-related emails than they do phone calls. I believe that, for that has definitely been the case for me for some time now. And speaking of phone calls, who doesn’t have a cellphone?

Text messaging. Are business-related text messages slowly outnumbering business-related phone calls and emails combined? I wouldn’t bet against it. There are a lot of people who silence the ringer on their phones and use them to call out but don’t answer incoming calls. They use their cells for mostly texting.

I’ll save webinars, video conferencing, etc., for another time.

Teach Yourself to Think Differently

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

NPI Inspector2We have to think and make many conscious decisions every day, even if it’s deciding what color socks to wear or what to have for dinner. The question I pose is this: Can we teach ourselves to think from a business perspective of solving problems and coming up with great ideas?

As a franchisee, every time you make a business decision, you will become better at running your franchise and thinking like a business owner. As you probably know, it’s always better to use sound reasoning and the voice of experience to avoid painful mistakes. Sometimes you’ll know just what to do when a problem arises, based on your past experience. Other times, though, you’ll be stuck. That is one of the advantages to owning a franchise.

Franchisors track what has worked for franchisees, as well as what didn’t work for others. They experiment with different marketing and business strategies. Although you will do a lot of your own thinking when you own a franchise, you should still follow your franchisor’s business model — they know what works. Furthermore, for most issues you’ll encounter relative to your business, your franchisor likely has experience and has helped other franchisees resolve the same or similar issues before. When you learn to use your franchisor as a resource, you’ll be able to spend more time working on your business and not quite as much working in your business.

A business owner or franchisee needs the ability to think and focus intently. But for my two cents, rather than forcing ourselves to think, we should let ourselves think. Some of your best ideas will just come to you if when you least expect them.

 

National Property Inspections, Inc.: The Genesis of a Franchise Business

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland_101614New franchisees oftentimes ask me how I first started National Property Inspections, Inc. Hopefully the following information will be helpful for anyone thinking of starting any type of business and certainly to someone thinking about franchising their business.

Just to preface things a little, when I first started this business there were not a lot of property inspections being done, and selling property inspection franchisees was rare indeed.  I was, in fact, doing inspections at the time, and being an entrepreneur at heart, I had a strong sense that the property inspection business was poised to take off. It’s a maxim that you have to spend money to make money. And sometimes you have to spend a lot of money on research so you don’t blow a lot more money on a bad idea. One last preface: I thought the property inspection business held a lot of promise, so I wanted to take it to another level by franchising it.

I went to a marketing and public relations firm here in Omaha. I told them I thought that I was on to something with the property inspection business and shared with them what I was thinking. But I first needed something a little more scientific to go on. Four weeks and several thousand dollars later, the agency came back to me with a study that more or less said, “No guarantees but we, too, think you are on to something.” (They were kind enough to accept cash, check or money order.)

Now I more or less had my instincts confirmed, but I felt I needed one more test. I ran a rather expensive ad in a national newspaper, which said, “Property Inspection Franchise … call for more information.” I received enough phone calls to convince myself that I could go forward. I spent money to make money, but the other side of that is I ultimately spent money to confirm that I had a high probability of success. And in business, that’s all you can hope for.

Now, for anyone who might actually be considering franchising their business: There’s a lot more involved with franchise attorneys, developing training and support programs, and the like. Make sure you have a business model that you can duplicate, as well as that you will, in fact, be adding value to the franchisees for becoming part of your program. Think it through, do your homework and spend money on research. Good luck.

What Makes a Successful Franchisee?

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Real estate agent on cell phone uid 4It’s hard to quantify everything that’s important in a successful franchisee — for example intelligence, providing quality service, having a positive attitude and sincerely wanting to help people. However, if these attributes are not present, then it’s just a matter of time before a drop in sales is inevitable. And, of course, sales are quantifiable — just ask the IRS.

A number of years ago, NPI/GPI used sales figures and as best we could, some unquantifiable traits to identify our top 25 franchisees. Once identified, we asked each of them to take a personality/aptitude evaluation. For the sake of brevity, I will talk only about personality. In a lot of ways the inspection business is a public relations business. Thus, you would think these 25 most-successful franchisees would all be extroverts. That was not the case at all. Perhaps 15 were extroverted, but the other 10 had the skills and self-confidence not only to conduct a good inspection but also to communicate their findings. And, the 10 slightly introverted franchisees learned the sales skills to book the inspection when they got the call.

In short, what makes a good franchisee? Intelligent, honest and hardworking are good places to start. Add in a willingness to learn new tricks. The Internet, computers, software, websites and social media are all important to our business, and they are forever changing. The last two points I would add for success are an appreciation of being part of something bigger and a willingness to tweak and work a proven business model.

Why Do Franchisors Charge a Franchise Fee?

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI and GPI

Roland_101614Every franchisor wants and needs to make a profit. One contributor to profit is the upfront franchise fee. Regrettably, some franchisors have been known to charge a large upfront fee and then provide minimal support to franchisees. If a franchisee is not successful, then the franchisor is free to resell the area. That, however, is not National Property Inspections, Inc.’s strategy.

Hopefully we earn something from the franchise fee, but we have always been more concerned about the long term. It’s a better strategy for us, and for our individual franchisees, for National Property Inspections, Inc., to earn less up front and more over the long term and through monthly royalties. Thus, an NPI/GPI franchisee’s success is, in fact, our success and one of the reasons we work so hard to help them succeed. Moreover, we are very proud of our franchisees’ success.

So why charge a franchise fee in the first place? Why not just give the franchise to the franchisee and collect royalties long-term? That would not be the best long-term strategy for us or for the franchisee. The franchise fee needs to be small enough that an interested prospect can purchase the franchise but large enough that the franchisee is committed to making the franchise successful. We don’t want franchisees who are only buying a franchise out of curiosity or who would simply walk away because they don’t have a lot invested in it. Like most franchisors, we are looking for bright, energetic and inquisitive individuals with the drive to succeed.