In the past year, I have been working with fantastic clients! I have read excellent reports that highlight professionalism, quality and overall excellence. What’s been truly insightful is reading reports that have a variety of types, formats, styles and content. Why? Because it goes to show that all surveyors may well deliver a survey, but each surveyor delivers that survey in a different way. With that in mind, I wanted to share my top 5 tips. These tips will help you create a great residential property survey outcome and hopefully support you in finding that client for life.
Tip 1: Proof-reading
We've all been there... we read a website, a book, a newspaper etc and there are just some things don't sense (see what I did there?). When this happens, it can jolt you out of the moment, give you a sense of confusion and may even make you feel like someone hasn’t been focused on their work.
When writing survey reports, what we put down on paper reflects our focus on the job at hand. It also conveys our commitment to providing a great product to customers/clients. That's why proof-reading is a hard and fast rule when it comes to survey reports. If your report is missing words and doesn't make sense in places, it could leave a bad impression on the reader. In the worst case scenario it may lead to a complaint and/or the possibility that you miss out on recommendations and referrals.
Takeaway: Proof-reading is absolutely essential when it comes to professional reports - not just for your reputation, but also to ensure you receive repeat business over and over again through the same client. In that sense, proof-reading matters every time!
Tip 2: Good formatting
Establishing a good format is both helpful to the reader and to you as the surveyor. Good formatting best equips you to provide a clear, concise and great value report for your client. This is particularly important where multiple property elements can make things more difficult. Without good formatting, this can lead to repetition, incoherence, contradictions and ultimately a poor reading experience for the client.
Generally speaking, the following basic format for the elements is in my opinion a good way to go. It's logical and gives the reader what they need so they can find relevant information quickly.
assessment and advisory comments (where applicable depending on level of survey)
Takeaway: Formatting is key when it comes to professional reports - it helps the reader understand a surveyor's thought process and ensures that clients can absorb information easily to help them make decisions.
Tip 3: Avoiding unnecessary caveats and unnecessarily high condition ratings
We all want to make sure we don't make errors in judgement and caveats can feel like a safety net when talking about ‘liability’. However, what I have found from my own personal network is that caveats are often a bugbear for home buyers. As professionals, we cannot hide behind them, nor can we unnecessarily elevate condition ratings. When it comes to property, in my experience, people want to know our professional opinion - they respect it when it's given, and they appreciate our integrity in providing it.
Some of the best reports I read both identify and highlight limitations of an inspection really well. This provides a foundation to make comment on what has been seen without the need for over-caveating or providing ratings that do not truly reflect the content of what's written in the respective section.
Takeaway: Caveats and urgent condition ratings absolutely have a place in professional reports - but, they should be used to support the best interests of a client.
Tip 4: Don't exclude all surveyors from Terms of Engagement
Did you know that terms can reflect our profession? When we use ‘he’ talking about surveyors in Terms of Engagements, this perpetuates perceptions of traditional surveying demographics. The reality is that ‘he’ does not cover all surveyors and it is a disservice to the surveying sector, let alone the non ‘he’ individuals who have worked hard to become surveyors (I include myself here!). One of the things we can do easily to support all surveyors is to write better terms that both represent and reflect the diversity of the profession as well as the country we live in.
By ensuring commitment to diversity throughout every part of an instruction, we commit to a better future where everyone is included.
Takeaway: 'The surveyor will comment on issues they' - this is an example of text you might use to improve your terms.
Tip 5: Use an independent eye!
Day-to-day report writing can be relentless. While properties might be different, processes and procedures can be the same and this could lead to complacency. With complacency come mistakes, with mistakes come complaints, with complaints come claims (potentially!). Nobody wants any of these things.
That's why Projekt 3 provides independent vetting services. By being independent we can deliver our service to you with complete objectivity. Using our expertise and knowledge, we can help you deliver even better reports to your clients.
If you'd like to find out more about our vetting services, or any of the other services we provide, please private message Kate through LinkedIn or ping her an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Final thought - Tips don’t lie!
Whether you come to us or not, the tips still apply! As we all know, being a professional surveyor doesn’t mean we just write a report and sign the bottom - it means we deliver a quality surveying product that is stamped with expertise and knowledge in a way that gives true value and benefit to a client. So, whatever you take from this article, know there is always support available if you need it.