My business is up by a whopping 48% for 2008, It's all in the cards!

By
Home Inspector with Final Analysis Home Inspections
Yes, in spite of the economy I was pleasantly surprised that I almost doubled my number of inspections from the previous year. I knew I had increased my sales but was surprised when I closed the books for 2008 and saw the numbers.
I'll give you an overview here of how I did it but it will probably take more than one post. In January of 2007 I took advantage of the slow time and did two things that changed everything. 
1) I spent lots of time optimizing my website to increase my Google/Yahoo rankings.
2) I started sending greeting cards on a consistent basis.
The web site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was responsible for 18% of my growth and the cards garnered a whopping 30% increase in business.
The SEO is a bit complex but card sending is fun and easy. I think both are criticle but I'm going to talk about the cards here because this is the easiest way to start building your referral business.
I started using a service called Sendoutcards. It's on online greeting card company where you can send real cards to clients and agents. You pick a card from the catolouge, fill it out and click send. They stuff it, stamp it and mail it for about a dollar each and it'll show up about 2 days later.  I checked out a lot of companies that do this kind of thing but none of them had the robust features at such a low cost. You can use your own handwriting, signature and include photos, gifts and gift cards into your card. This is not just a greeting card company. I have used it quite successfully as a full on marketing system because it has a built in contact manager and allows you to do full on card campaigns with a few simple clicks. I've always know the power of sending cards of appreciation but just didn't have the time do do it the conventional way. Now It's so easy, I send cards for thank you's, birthdays, anniversary, or just thinking of you. Any reason is a good reason because people love to get a special card.

Just to give you an idea..Typically after each inspection I'll send a sincere "thank you for business" card to the clients, "thanks for the referral" card to agent ( if that's the case and I'll include a Starbucks card or box of brownies), and to the selling agent and sellers I'll send a "pleasure meeting you" card.  Now you're starting to see how I'm multiplying a single inspection. But it gets better and better. Usually the first card I'll put photo in it or on the front of it that has something to do with the clients.
This is a real eye opener as I'll usually send this card to the clients and their agent. They are always impressed and not only do they open this card because it don't look like junk mail, but they keep it and hang it in the office or on the fridge because it has their photo in it.  Now that I have their names in the contact manager I assign them to a 3 year birthday card campaign and a keeping in touch campaign that I created. I must confess, I had no idea how powerful the simple gesture of sending a heart felt card could be. It has turned my clients into loyal friends and a referral network. It's amazing how the phycology works. I can do the most awesome inspection and save them thousands of dollars and they don't even remember me for this. But They remember how I made them feel when they receive a special card. That my friends is the key, getting them to remember you when they are at work or church talking to friends who are getting ready to buy a house. Or agents who talk in the office. 

It's also not limited to inspections. A couple of weeks ago I missed a dental appointment and felt badly because it's a small office. I promptly jumped on the computer and sent them an apology card with a $25 Ruby Tuesdays restaurant card inside and told them to have lunch on me. When I returned for my rescheduled visit, not only was my card was prominently displayed on the bulletin board of their waiting room but the dentist and hygenist both scheduled inspections with me. and get this...they already owned their homes, they just wanted to get an inspection for maintenance purpose. I also believe that subconciously they wanted to return the love because that is the magic that happens with cards. Outside of food, clothing and shelter, people need to feel appreciated and part of that inherant human nature is to return that appreciation, usually it's in the form of a referral. Some one said to me "but that's expensive sending a $25 gift card" But I made almost $900 on these 2 inspections. You just have to have faith and give for the sake of giving without expectations and the universe will return that energy.

I am officially now know as the card sending home inspector, people actually look forward to my cards now and you'd be surprised at how easy it is to get birthdays and take pictures. Poeple love the fun of it all.
Here's some sample cards I have sent for you to look at: Sample cards

I have joined at the distributer level because it's the best value and also pays for my card exspense. This is what I recommend for a business but you can join at any level. There's no minimums, contracts or subscriptions. This is a good company that don't play those mony grubbing games. If you want to try the system you can do so on my dime, no strings attached. I've set it up so you can send a couple of cards and demo the system. You'll see Kody Bateman the owner who will talk you through it. Go ahead and send someone a card, even yourself if you want to see how it looks when it arrives. Just go to SendOutCards.com You'll see my ugly mug at the top of the page, just click the button to send a card and check out the system. I'll have to turn this off in a week or so because I'm worried about someone abusing the system.

If you're serious about using this system for your business and want help, just e-mail me or call. 757-495-2300 I'll be happy to teach you how it works and share the cards and campaigns that I have used so successfully.

Wishing you much success in 2009!

Comments (12)

Ervin Alston
EMA GRAPHICS - Virginia Beach, VA

Hello Daniel,

Great ideas.  I'm trying to improve my website too.  I may give Sendoutcards a try.  Thanks!

Jenny Alston

 

Jan 16, 2009 03:52 PM
Daniel Rogers
Final Analysis Home Inspections - Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach Home Inspector

It's amazing Jenny how just a few tweaks here and there and planting a few cards can make a difference. I saw quite a decline in my business over 2007 and decided to take Jan 2008 to do those things that I've been putting off. I concentrated most of the month working on these things and they have been bearing fruit all year. It was well worth the investemnt of time.

Jan 17, 2009 01:00 PM
Utah Dave
UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts - South Jordan, UT
Homes for Sale - Utah

WaY TO GO!  Yes, i love how in this market you can increaase your business. You have seen it first hand. Keep it up!  Im increasing mine as well.

Utah homes for sale

Utah Dave

Jan 17, 2009 02:34 PM
Kevin Welch
American Bulldog Home Inspection Inc. - Rutland, MA

Excellent idea Daniel,

I signed up for send out cards last summer but never really utilized it to it's full potential. Thanks to your post, I will pursue it.

Thanks for the kick in the pants.

Kevin

Jan 24, 2009 12:42 PM
Daniel Rogers
Final Analysis Home Inspections - Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach Home Inspector

Hey Kevin, It takes a few minutes each day to send the cards but once it's done, your customer care is on auto pilot and will never forget you.

Jan 28, 2009 02:46 PM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Daniel,

The system works when you work the system.  I've got to get back to the Daily 8.

Mike in Tucson

Jan 30, 2009 03:56 AM
DeAndrea "Dee Dee" Jones
Found It, LLC - Manassas, VA
DMVRealEstateChick

Dan, its DeeDee Jones with Wainwright you are awesome with the cards but next time you send me one also enclose some of your business cards.  I hope to send some business your way in 09.

Feb 03, 2009 07:22 AM
Daniel Rogers
Final Analysis Home Inspections - Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach Home Inspector

Hi DeeDee, talk about telepathy or ESP, but at the very same instant that I got your message, I was running database search for a customer by the same last name and your name came up. I was wondering how you where doing and BOOM...your e-mail pops up.

Are you using sendoutcards? It'll help your business for sure. A lady I talked to today hit the nail on the head when she said "I love sendoutcards because it allows me to be the nice person that I am."

I set it up so you can send a free card here; SendOutCards

Great to hear from you!

Wishing you much success in "09"

Feb 03, 2009 07:49 AM
Anonymous
Laurie Delk

Hey Dan,

Being raised in the home building industry under my Dad making custom built homes all my life, I totally know and can relate. The cards program is a great thing to follow up with your clients, especially when your business does nothing but count on those referrals for success!

It is wonderful that you are so successful in both areas - and I am sure has a little bit to do with your personality and expertise as well ;)

Take Care,

~Laurie

Feb 08, 2009 06:50 AM
#9
Dawn Orbeck Send Out Cards Ind. Distributor
Send Out Cards Midland, MI - Midland, MI
#33245

Great testimonial!  I will share this with my BNI group (if it's OK with you.)

Good job!

Feb 14, 2009 07:58 AM
Anonymous
Alyne

Dan,

What an awesome testimony about Send Out Cards.

Much success to you, sir.

Feb 18, 2009 06:22 PM
#11
Tina Merritt
Nest Realty - Blacksburg, VA
Virginia Real Estate

I need to get back into my daily 8.  I've actually had people write blog posts about me because I sent them a card!  Sendoutcards is awesome!

Tina in Virginia

Feb 20, 2009 11:12 AM