For long-leading Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, delivering the best customer experience has ensured the company’s position at the forefront of North America’s home inspection industry
By Paige Tepping
Until the early 1970s, the home inspection industry didn’t exist. Buying a home and trying to determine if it was structurally sound was basically hinged on who you knew. If a friend or family member was a plumber, electrician or adept handyman, they were certainly qualified— in your mind—to give your prospective new home a once-over on a Saturday morning. That is, if the seller would even allow it.
Juxtapose that notion with the fact that in 2019, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors will celebrate its 25th anniversary, as well as the recognition of being North America’s largest home inspection company, with close to 600 locations and more than 800 certified home inspectors covering 49 states and nine Canadian provinces.
Pillar To Post, with corporate headquarters in both Tampa and Toronto, and under the leadership of President Dan Steward since 2004—CEO duties were added in 2009—has since risen to the top of its industry for one simple reason: a focus on delivering the best customer experience for both homebuyers and real estate professionals.
And what was once known as a cottage industry has morphed into an ever-growing behemoth. According to market research firm IBISWorld, the building inspection industry represents a $4 billion market that experienced average annual growth of 4.3 percent over the last five years and employs more than 38,000 workers.
Pillar To Post sits atop a fragmented industry because its formula for delivering a world-class customer experience has always been firmly rooted in its business model of selecting top-quality candidates as franchise owners and providing first-rate home inspection and business operations training supported by ongoing education.
Pillar To Post was founded in 1993 by Mike Brewer, an entrepreneur with experience in the automotive glass replacement franchise industry. However, it wasn’t until the next year that Pillar To Post officially opened for business, offering a formal technical training program; a detailed standard of practice for conducting inspections; a comprehensive business start-up and operations program for its franchisees; and a formatted inspection report to make sure every report was delivered to a consistently high standard for the inspector to provide to the REALTOR® and homebuyer.
While it might not seem like much looking back, Pillar To Post was already light-years ahead of an industry in its infancy. While inspections had advanced past the “friends and family” stage, the home inspection industry was still mired in what was referred to as the “Contractor’s Inspection” phase, when homebuyers turned to general building contractors to inspect homes they were considering buying. But the notion of a general standard for inspections was nonexistent.
Pillar To Post continued forging ahead, setting new standards along the way, while the rest of the industry tried to play catch-up. In 1999, it was the first to bring cutting-edge technology to home inspections with electronic inspection reports printed on-site. To no one’s surprise, that was followed in 2000 by Pillar To Post becoming the largest home inspection company in North America.
Of course, Pillar To Post’s ascension to industry leader couldn’t have come without the strong leadership it has seen since its inception. In 2003, Founder Brewer departed after selling the business to FirstService Brands, which today is recognized as the leading North American brand in property services, delivered through an extensive franchise network that includes such names as California Closets, CertaPro Painters, Floor Coverings International, Paul Davis and more.
Steward, who once said, “Service businesses have been in my blood my entire career,” joined Pillar To Post the following year as president after holding business development and leadership roles in both Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial companies. And in 2008, Charles Furlough sold his Pillar To Post franchise to join the management team, where today he serves as senior vice president of operations.
According to Steward, “The Pillar To Post commitment is to ensure confident homeownership and enhance the lives of the people and communities we serve. The heart of our success is in the passion and expertise of our franchise owners and their teams. Every day they wake up to serve the needs of the residential real estate agents, homebuyers and home sellers in their local markets. They serve their communities and build strong businesses through their Pillar To Post franchise.”
Pillar To Post’s leadership team has led it to numerous accolades. Pillar To Post has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 for 18 consecutive years, and has been repeatedly named the No. 1-rated franchise by the magazine in the home inspection category. Pillar To Post is equally proud to be a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps veterans purchase franchises. Pillar To Post holds five-star status in the program—the highest ranking possible—and one-third of new Pillar To Post franchisees in 2017 were military veterans.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Pillar To Post continues to set the standard for the home inspection industry. It allows clients to choose from three specialized home inspection packages—Plus, Premium and Prestige—to fit whatever their specific needs might be, and since 2011, Pillar To Post has offered clients a unique advantage and peace of mind with its “Added Services” program, which extends beyond its core inspection to include such services as radon testing, mold sampling, septic inspections, asbestos and lead detection, and more.
As it has throughout its history, Pillar To Post continues to embrace technology. In 2015, it introduced the EZBook App for REALTORS®, allowing agents to check availability and easily book home inspections with their local Pillar To Post franchise. In 2018, Pillar To Post introduced the Online Learning Academy for franchisees and inspectors to continuously learn and expand their industry knowledge and skills. Finally, the OnePoint technology platform was introduced for tablets, providing a fully functional tool for franchisees that further enhances state-of-the-art inspection, business operations and customer experience tools.
What does all this mean? The sum of the parts is reflected in two key pieces of information. Pillar To Post clients have given the company an average 90 percent customer satisfaction rating as measured by the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of a company’s customers to recommend its services or products to others. And under its own roof, Pillar To Post says it has a 99 percent renewal rate on initial five-year agreements with its franchise owners.
As Pillar To Post heads into its 25th anniversary year in 2019, it’s hard to argue with any of those numbers.