For most Canadians, buying a home is the most important financial decision they’ll ever make. Investing in the housing market is not a decision to be taken lightly. Before making the leap, Canadian home buyers will turn to a professional home inspection service to reveal whether or not the property they’re about to purchase is truly worth it. Here, Franchise Canada profiles four home inspection franchise concepts that make purchasing a home with peace of mind possible.
A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections
“We were founded by a realtor – no home inspector has DNA so deeply rooted in the real estate industry,” says Rick Mayuk, Owner of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. “Our entire system – how we recruit, train, coach and support our franchise owners – is with laser focus on assisting home sellers and their realtors, comforting home buyers, and protecting all parties.”
Launched in Nova Scotia in 2005 by a 20-year real estate veteran, the franchise grew quickly and now has inspectors operating across Canada, in the U.S., and in 17 other countries around the globe. “We have just begun an aggressive expansion in Ontario and British Columbia, however there are opportunities nation-wide to become a franchise owner or to join an existing team as a sub-franchisee,” says Mayuk. “Urban centres are good volume-wise, but have more competition. Our inspectors in rural communities really knock it out of the park.”
The franchise provides rigorous training – more than 600 hours total, covering technical, operational, and marketing aspects of running the business as well as in-field training with a Buyer’s Choice master inspector. “The stringent level of training received prior to going live would permit our inspectors to conduct an inspection anywhere in North America including areas that require mandatory inspector licensing,” says Mayuk. New franchisees attend an operations and marketing ‘Boot Camp’ where they learn the systems that Mayuk calls “our secret sauce.”
While a trades background would be helpful, it is not required. Instead, the brand looks for entrepreneurial people with excellent communication and interpersonal skills and a dynamic personality, who want to own their own business but not necessarily start one on their own. With its leading-edge technology and a proven marketing system, says Mayuk, this franchise is a good fit for people who want to skip the first ‘high risk’ years of figuring out everything needed for a successful start-up. “Our system has been perfected to coach them (franchisees) and help them grow their business. We recruit for personality and train for skill. If you enjoy meeting new people, are entrepreneurial and have a talent for sales leadership, this may be the right fit for you.”
AmeriSpec Inspection Services
AmeriSpec Inspection Services is piloting a unique option that will enable its franchisees to generate multiple billings from a single home inspection. A home seller will pay a discounted fee for a pre-listing inspection, and AmeriSpec on Demand will make a summary report available online to potential homebuyers for $69, or $349 for the full report. Most home buyers these days will want at least a preliminary inspection report before making an offer, says Jason Acosta, Business Development Consultant for AmeriSpec of Canada. “If a home has 10 potential buyers, that inspection could easily earn an additional $690.”
Established in the U.S. in 1987, the franchise entered Canada in 1994 and was purchased by ServiceMaster in 1996. Under the ServiceMaster umbrella, says Acosta, AmeriSpec is part of one of the largest and most trusted home service providers in the world. Franchisees benefit from being part of a national network of home services, including ServiceMaster Clean, ServiceMaster Restore, Furniture Medic and Merry Maids, and from all of the brands’ international reputation and national marketing programs. Franchisees are able to offer clients access to the National Partners Programs, which includes special pricing with The Brick, Terminix, AMJ Campbell moving services, MoveSnap Concierge and other ServiceMaster brands.
An ideal franchisee has a business mindset, operates with integrity, and has the will to constantly shift and change with the industry. Franchisees don’t need home inspection or technical experience, but a knowledgeable background in construction, renovation, engineering, appraisals, or real estate can be an excellent springboard to launch an AmeriSpec franchise, says Acosta. The company offers initial training through its in-house training academy in Memphis that covers everything from business acumen and marketing to technical skills, and ongoing support through regional meetings and one-on-one coaching with a business development leader. There are advanced software systems and for each new franchise the company develops a unique strategic plan with a road map for marketing that is tailored to the local market.
“Our franchises typically thrive in developed and developing urban and rural areas with dense populations,” says Acosta. “We have opportunities in all major cities across Canada.”
Canadian Residential Inspection Services
With Canadian Residential Inspection Services’ state-of-the-art proprietary reporting software, franchisees are able to complete a home inspection report and deliver it to the client while they are still on the premises. “We have 30 plus years of experience in an industry that is only about 30 years old itself,” says President David Pothier. “Our custom inspection system has been perfected in design over the years – it makes it easy for our inspectors to do a thorough job and prepare an electronic report that is comprehensive and easily understood. The inspector can immediately walk the client through the report and answer any questions on the spot.” Payment is collected on the spot as well, so franchisees do not have to chase receivables.
The franchise offers home inspection training that meets licensing requirements in all legislated provinces. “A background in a related industry is not required,” says Pothier. “We provide a complete training program along with exams and practical training to ensure our inspectors enter the market as highly trained professionals. We’d like to see licensing requirements in every jurisdiction – it would improve the whole industry as a whole.” Additionally, the company provides a proven marketing program and 24-hour ongoing support to all franchisees.
An ideal franchisee has honesty, integrity, good communication and people skills, and is a self-starter who enjoys meeting and helping people.
There are no monthly percentage royalties – Canadian Residential uses a service-based fee. That means the franchise is only making money when its franchisees are making money. “We’re successful when they are successful,” says Pothier.
Canadian Residential inspectors operate across Canada, from Nova Scotia (where the company was founded) to British Columbia, with the highest density in Alberta. “Our marketing and high rate of customer satisfaction give our franchisees the ability to succeed in any market,” says Operations Manager Tracy Foley.
“We are big enough and have been around long enough to be a major player wherever we operate,” adds Pothier. “Franchises have been shown to thrive in any location, urban or rural.”
With the company looking to expand across the country and fill gaps in current coverage, there are currently franchise territories available in most provinces.
HomeTeam Inspection Service
Ask President Adam Long and Franchise Development Manager Matt Cook what differentiates HomeTeam Inspection Service from other home inspection franchises, and they immediately cite four things: a team approach to home inspection; the availability of large territories; an executive model; and a profitable exit strategy.
“We are the only franchise that operates by providing a team of inspectors onsite,” says Cook. “What one inspector would normally do in three to four hours, an inspection team can accomplish in approximately 90 minutes. Our owners are able to schedule more jobs throughout the day, and make more money.”
Initially, the team will be made up of the franchise owner and a trained employee or subcontractor, but the HomeTeam model is designed to have the franchisee move from owner/operator into more of an executive role, building teams of inspectors that do the frontline work while the franchisee manages the sales and business end of the operation. Large territories make it possible to have a number of teams on the go.
“Rather than focusing on just the individual inspections, the goal is create a business over the long term that will be attractive to potential buyers,” says Long. The structures, processes and day-to-day procedures ensure that the brand is not tied exclusively to the franchise owner, so he or she can profitably sell the business in future.
The ideal franchisee does not have to have a background in home inspection, but the learning curve and ramp-up time are much faster for those with industry knowledge, says Cook. HomeTeam pays for new franchisees to attend home inspection training at post-secondary institutions close to home, which ensures they meet the requirements for the local market since every province is different. All new franchise owners attend a week-long business ownership orientation in Cincinnati where they are trained in HomeTeam’s technology, management software, sales and marketing, and there are also online training modules and advisors available by phone.
A proven system in the U.S. for more than 25 years, HomeTeam is now expanding north of the border. With two franchises operating in Kingston and Ottawa, the company is set for significant growth in Canada. “At this moment we are focusing our efforts on Ontario, but will soon be opening up to other regions,” says Long.
By Kym Wolfe