Tag Archives: small business

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:

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.

Best Business Advice From Our Franchise Owners

Are you considering investing in a home and commercial property inspection business? National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections offer fantastic opportunities with a top-ranked franchisor. But don’t just listen to us — here’s some practical business advice and commentary from our franchise owners.

Vaughn_JimJim Vaughn, NPI Franchise Owner, Cape Coral, Florida
“With a franchise, you do not enter a new industry alone. You have technical support, technology support, world-class training and marketing, not to mention the tools, inspection software and commercial inspection leads. If I had gone the independent route, there is no way I would have been as successful as I am in my first year. No way!

“Joining NPI was my best business decision I have ever made in my entire life. The single biggest reason that I choose NPI over the other four or five home inspection franchises that I looked at can be expressed in one word: integrity. Every single thing that NPI said I would receive, gain, do, learn and experience has come true. There is not one instance where anything has gone sideways or turned bad. It hasn’t always been easy or unchallenging, but NPI has always stood by their word and come through.”

newhook_toddTodd Newhook, GPI Franchise Owner, Markham, Ontario
“I joined the GPI team approximately eight years ago. Owning a franchise allowed me to start my inspection business within a fairly short period of time. The benefits of owning a franchise are being able to utilize the marketing program, technical support and business support provided by the franchisor from the get-go. Another benefit of owning a franchise with GPI is the friendship and comradery with the team and other inspectors, and taking advantage of learning from the top-performing franchisees to help grow our business. GPI taught me to diversify my business with additional services and build the business to a point where I could bring on additional inspectors and run the franchise like a small business. We’re now a team of four and growing. We’re excited about the future with our friends at GPI!”

yost_clydeClyde Yost, NPI Franchise Owner, Kansas City, Missouri
“The inspection field has given me the opportunity so see the interior of homes and commercial buildings that are not open to the general public, meet interesting buyers, and become knowledgeable in various styles of construction.

“I chose the franchise route for starting my business because I had a lot of experience in large commercial projects but very little knowledge in residential properties. I was also looking for help in starting a new business and not being an employee. I have had a very good experience with NPI and look forward to the annual meetings.”

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a home and commercial property inspection business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our franchise opportunities.

Want to Be a Successful Business Owner? Don’t Make These Mistakes

7K0A0014-2While the idea of owning a business is a dream for many people, there are times when entrepreneurs fail to think things through. Funding the business, having an in-demand product or service to sell, and hiring employees are some of the common challenges that entrepreneurs face:

  • Hiring employees too quickly can financially drain your business. If you pay people to do nothing, and no sales are generated from their work, then employing a staff is a financial loss.
  • Borrowing money from lenders can be of great service to you, but don’t make the mistake of borrowing more than you really need. You will likely spend that money and have to pay interest back on money you didn’t really need to borrow.
  • Assuming your business will make money in the early years is one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. If your business shows a profit early on, that’s great — but don’t assume it will, and be prepared for all of the expenses.
  • Marketing your business is necessary and takes time. You must market to both win and retain customers who may not know anything about you or your business.
  • Leasing Space You Don’t Need. If you don’t really need a retail or office space, then don’t rent it. You can save money working from home — and receive a few tax incentives for doing so.

Many successful entrepreneurs did not succeed at first and experienced their fair share of trial and error to find out what works for them. Check out these business leaders who failed before they succeeded:

  • Akio Morita is the founder of Sony products. The first product was a rice burner that burned the rice. But Morita kept pushing forward with new ideas.
  • Bill Gates started a company called Traf-O-Data that failed, and he dropped out of Harvard. Gates didn’t give up, though, as he is the billionaire behind Microsoft.
  • Colonel Sanders was 65 years old when he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. Did you know his famous secret recipe was rejected more than 1,000 times before a restaurant agreed to use it?
  • Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed and left him broke. He refused to give up, though, and founded Ford Motor Company with assembly line production. The result: He was once known as one of the three richest men in the world.
  • Walt Disney was fired by an editor for lack of imagination and having no original ideas. His first animation company went bankrupt, and he was turned down hundreds of times for loans to build Disney World. Today, the Disney Company averages $30 billion in revenue annually.

Many people have failed at first only to ultimately succeed. Learn from them and gain inspiration from them on your journey as an entrepreneur.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?

IMG_0801Many people dream of becoming prosperous business owners; however, achieving that goal is challenging and requires hard work. Some people never take the initiative to try to make it happen — possibly due to fear and/or lack of ambition. Granted, some people seem to be born with the talent for becoming successful business owners. Others may attempt entrepreneurship without really understanding what makes good business sense.

So, how can you determine whether you have what it takes to become a successful business owner? The following are some characteristics that will go a long way to improving your chance of success.

  • Stay Flexible: As a business owner, you can’t always predict what a customer will want or how your day will go. Staying flexible will help you keep calm in situations where a customer or employee has special needs and requests.
  • Build Relationships. Try to get to know each and every customer, especially as you are building your business. This may become challenging if you grow into a successful business and have a significant number of customers, but you should still try to connect with every one of them. Your early customers are critical to your growth; they will refer friends and family members to you, often saying, “Hey, go down to such-and-such place and tell them I sent you.”
  • Don’t Be Narcissistic. If you want to build a business, you will find that simply being likable is a great asset. Don’t treat people as if they are beneath you. Don’t make everything about you — consider your customers and employees, too.
  • Learn to Market Yourself. Personal relationships and word of mouth are effective ways to build your business. You also need to market your business by other means such as Internet directories, your website, local newspapers and publications, and getting out in the community. This will enable you to contact new customers in a wider area and at a faster rate than simply relying on your existing customer base to send you new business.
  • Build a Business You Like. Yes, it is helpful to like what you do, but the bigger question is can you sell what you like? Will consumers want or need to buy what you are offering? As a potential entrepreneur, make sure your business is one that is in demand and that consumers will seek out.

Should I Start My Own Business or Buy a Franchise?

Couple + Inspection Report_shutterstock_186413990You have reached a point in your life that brings you to making a decision about your career. You know what kind of work you want to do, and you know you want your own business. Now you are down to the final decision of choosing to start a business or buy a franchise. What should you consider before making that choice?

  • Ownership: Whichever way you choose to start your business, you will still be the owner of the business.
  • Time: Neither owning your business independently nor owning a franchise will have a factor on the time you spend running your business. More than likely, much of your time will be spent on the business, especially during the early years.
  • Ambition: Make sure you have the ambition to start a business. Starting and running a business is a lot of hard work, and you will face obstacles and challenges.
  • Financing: Of course, you will have to provide a certain amount of funding to get either business started. Click here to read our post about how to fund your small business.
  • Knowledge: You will need some type of knowledge or experience related to the business you are starting. If you choose to purchase a franchise, your franchisor may provide the training you need.

Now that you have considered the fundamentals that you need to get started, it’s time to narrow your decision-making — possibly by considering the pros and cons of starting your own business versus buying a franchise. Consider the following:

Marketing: If you start an independent business, you will have to begin marketing your product or services by either attempting it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. If you purchase a franchise, the franchisor will already have an effective, ongoing marketing plan that has been tested and proven.

Methods: Starting your own business independently will take a lot of time, money and effort to find the methods and models that work. A franchise already has proven methods and models in place, as well as an established brand. This in itself proves that there is a demand for this particular product or service.

Area: If starting your business independently, you don’t really have a set area to sell or market to — you will have to try diligently to capitalize on certain areas to become established. This can be difficult and expensive, as there is competition and you may spend a lot of time that results in low sales as you try to get established. A franchise will provide you with a specific territory to work and provides you startup power as you work to gain recognition in that area.

Ownership: One benefit specific to franchises is that people tend to work harder and be more accountable if they are part of a larger company.

Guidelines: If you become part of a franchise, you will have rules to follow without exception. While you won’t have these rules if you start your business independently, many of the rules are based on best practices and are in place to help franchisees succeed.

Royalty Fees: As part of a franchise, you will pay a royalty fee based on your sales. When comparing franchisors, be sure to compare royalty fees. Some franchises charge a straight royalty, while others have multiple royalties — such as a royalty on your sales and an advertising royalty.

Association. As part of a franchise, you are associated with that company, so bad products or services can affect the whole.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

What Skills Do I Need to Become a Property Inspector?

Inspector + Deck7If you’re looking for career options for your first career or your next career, then property inspection may pique your interest. As one of the leading property inspection franchisors, National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections have franchise owners from a wide variety of backgrounds. Here are the top four skills you’ll need to become a great home and commercial property inspector.

1. Technical Knowledge
Property inspectors need to have sound general knowledge about all aspects of a home or commercial building, including structure and foundation, heating and cooling systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems, roofs, and interior and exterior elements. They need to know how each component functions, what it does and how to inspect it. They also need to know the common problems of each component and how to identify problems.

Although many property inspectors have a background in a construction field or trade, the good news is that you don’t need a construction background to succeed in the property inspection business. We have plenty of franchise owners who came from corporate or IT careers and have become successful property inspectors. The most important thing is that you find outstanding training in the property inspection field.

Our franchise owners say that the NPI/GPI training program is a key reason they choose to start their property inspection business with us. Our extensive training program gives them the knowledge they need to perform both home and commercial building inspections, and our training is approved in states and provinces that require licensing.

2. Report-writing Software
The inspection report is a crucial part of every property inspection. The report lets home buyers and commercial building buyers know what components are in good working order, what needs to be repaired or replaced, and what systems are nearing end of life. In addition, many buyers use their inspection reports as checklists of things to repair after they buy the house or building.

The report-writing software that you use must provide comprehensive, professional-looking reports that are also easy for your clients to understand. The software must allow the insertion of plenty of photos. And it must be user-friendly for you so that you can create inspection reports efficiently and quickly.

Inspector + Client73. Effective Communication Skills
Because so much of a property inspector’s business comes from referral sources, such as real estate agents, it is imperative that people in this business have superb communication skills, both verbal and written. Verbal communication is vital when meeting and networking with potential referral sources, as well as when reviewing your report findings with clients. Effective written communication is critical for your inspection reports.

4. Sales, Marketing and Computer Skills
You don’t need to have an extensive background in sales and marketing to have a successful property inspection business, but people who know how to sell and market will succeed better and faster. Again, the good news is that if you have no sales or marketing skills, you can easily learn the skills you need for the property inspection business.

Some examples of where sales and marketing skills are essential to your business are meeting with potential referral sources, using social media marketing to position your business, knowing how to close the sale when someone calls for an inspection, and developing and growing your business contacts.

Intermediate computer skills are a great asset to a property inspector. For example, you’ll use report-writing software loaded on your computer. You’ll also be giving presentations at real estate offices, so some skill with PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office applications will be helpful. And any experience you may have with websites, social media and Web applications will definitely help you.

So, is property inspection a good fit for your next career move? If you are interested in the industry and have some of the skills necessary, then there’s a good chance you can succeed with your own inspection business. Bear in mind, though, that most of the skills you need can be easily learned — you just have to find the right training classes.

For this reason, many entrepreneurs who venture into property inspection choose to start their businesses with a franchisor. National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections offer comprehensive training in the technical aspects of inspection, sales and marketing, business, and networking so you can get your business of to a great start. Call 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for more information about our franchise opportunities in your area.

What to Know Before You Buy a Franchise

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You made your decision and have evaluated the franchise you want to purchase. You are ready to make the investment and complete the required training to start your business. Before you make a final commitment, you should check out two things: the FTC and the FDD. Let’s look at what each of these acronyms stand for and what they mean to your business.

  • U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC’s mission is “to prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; to enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and to accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.”
  • Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD): The FDD is a legal document that the FTC requires franchisors to provide to franchise candidates. The prospective franchise owner must receive the FDD at least 14 days prior to purchasing the franchise. An FDD is intended to give candidates the information they need to make a wise decision about whether to buy the franchise.

The FTC more or less provides legal guidelines that a franchisor must follow in order to protect both consumers and franchisors. FTC guidelines are designed to promote integrity for both franchisors and franchisees, and the information is upfront, clear and concise.

However, a franchisor’s FDD may be lengthy and contain legal descriptions that a potential franchisee needs clarified. With the FDD, both parties are protected, as all information is documented and available before closing the deal — there are no verbal agreements that may prove to be worthless for the prospective franchisee.

The franchisor’s information in the FDD is accurate and legally binding for both parties. In the event that you are not comfortable with the FDD, you could hire an attorney to provide you with the legalities and commitments written in the document. It would be good practice to review with a qualified franchise attorney regardless of how comfortable that you are with the agreement.

The FDD is an important part of your business venture. It provides the rules and regulations that must be followed, as well as information that you may not be able to easily obtain on your own. Some types of information that you will find in the FDD:

  • Industry trends
  • Competition
  • Advertising costs
  • Current and former franchisees
  • Territory
  • Renewal and termination
  • Royalties
  • Financial statements
  • Obligations

Most of the time, franchisors have worked hard and succeeded with a proven business model and they have prospered. They will have in criteria in place to which franchisees must adhere to, or else you may not be eligible to continue to do business with and for the franchisor.

How to Fund Your Small Business

Man writingAre you confident that you want to start your own business and that you have what it takes to succeed? Perhaps the only dilemma that you have about starting a business is how to fund it. There are many options for financing your small business:

  • Family and friends. You may have a close friend or family member who could loan you the money you need to start your business. If you choose this option, make sure to have an attorney draw up a contract to protect both parties involved.
  • Savings. If you have been lucrative with your earnings and have socked away money in a savings account, then can use that money to fund your business.
  • IRA and 401k accounts. Perhaps you have money in a retirement plan — you may consider borrowing against or withdrawing from these accounts to fund your business.
  • A part-time job or even a second full-time job can give you the extra income needed to start saving money to invest in your business.
  • Co-partner. Going into business with a partner could reduce your portion of the start-up costs, or your partner could fund your portion of the expense. Be sure that the person you partner with in business is honest, trustworthy and responsible, though.
  • Sell personal items. Parting with your boat, motorcycle, recreational vehicle or vacation home may give you the money that you need for your start-up.
  • Bank loan. Apply for a business loan at a bank to see if you qualify for financing based on the bank’s loan criteria.
  • SBA Loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration is designed to fund small-business loans of varying types and criteria depending on the business type and need.

Bank and SBA loans will most likely be harder to attain. It may take some time to collect all of the required documentation and to complete and submit the prequalification information. However, be persistent; if one resource bank or resource doesn’t work out, try another one. And, you may be one of the lucky people who receive a loan hassle-free on the first attempt.

In the event that you cannot seem to acquire the funding needed for your business, don’t give. You will just need a little more time than expected to get your business up and running. As is true for many successful business owners, determination and perseverance will get you a long way.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

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.