A service that started as Neighbors Doing Favors has become one of the fastest growing industries in any city with a seasonal population. Home Watch attracts very high-quality transitional professionals. I have had students of the Home Watch Academy from many backgrounds like first responders, educators, contractors, entrepreneurs, home inspectors, Realtors, insurance specialists, and more. They all have excellent customer service skills and a servant’s heart.
They also recognize that education is the cornerstone of their business. I often get phone calls like this: “Diane, I am ready to start a Home Watch business, and I want to do it the right way.”
The right way is to build your foundation on education. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know what you don’t know.” I have been a Home Watch Professional since 2004 and an educator since 2008. I learn new things all of the time. I make it my business to keep up with industry trends and do my part to establish Best Practices for all Home Watchers.
I originally had very different content planned for this commentary, but Home Watch World has changed dramatically in the past few days.
On Friday, September 23, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency for 24 counties. At that time, it was Tropical Depression Number 9.
On Wednesday, September 28, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. It was originally coming towards Tampa with the Hurricane Cone and Spaghetti Models changing frequently. Home Watch Professionals were proactive. They reached out to homeowners to say that refrigerators must be emptied of all perishables and that storm panels should be installed.
Hurricane Ian was full of surprises, as are many hurricanes. No matter how sophisticated the equipment or experienced the meteorologist is, anything can happen. And it did. The devastation is epic, and I do not have enough words to describe it. Heartbreaking comes to my mind first.
There is extensive damage throughout our beautiful state. The Sanibel Causeway was destroyed, and the island is only accessible by boat. Countless residents of Fort Myers are now homeless. A USA Today headline reads Fort Myers Beach is Gone.
Naples is among the cities that experienced unimaginable storm surge. The Naples Daily News states that parts of Naples look like a War Zone.
There is so much more destruction throughout the state, and the death toll is currently at 74 and is expected to rise.
I am personally beyond blessed to have experienced very minor damage to my home and was without power for only four days. A hot shower never felt better! For all of us, the world is a bit of a blur right now. We have countless utility workers, first responders, and emergency efforts coming to help. The rebuilding will take time. A really long time.
Let’s talk about the Home Watch Professionals. They have chosen this career path because they genuinely care. Their days are long, from dawn to dusk in many cases. They are making their first Post-Storm Visits to assess the damage and take photos to send to their clients. We are still without power and have very limited internet in many areas. And for the homeowners who have damage, it is currently almost impossible to even get a disaster clean-up company to go to the property. They cannot do anything without electricity, and it is hard to get gas for their emergency vehicles. Home Watchers are waiting in line for hours to get fuel and driving to different parts of town just to get a cell phone signal. Some of them have had to leave their own homes because of damage and then spend the entire day surrounded by damage and destruction. The emotional and physical toll is great. And it will go on for a very long time.
I am a full-time educator, but in 2017 when Hurricane Irma visited Florida, my business partner and I were watching over about 75 homes. We learned so much from that experience, and I now have the privilege of being a resource to help all Home Watchers on the front lines. I manage the Hurricane Home Watch Facebook Group, which was started in 2017, and the Hurricane Homeowner Info Facebook Group.
Homeowners recognize that Home Watch is a true profession, not a favor or hobby. It is a business that requires education, proper insurance, business structure, and certification. They have learned to ask the right questions before surrendering the keys to their homes.
I offered classroom training starting in 2008 and introduced the Home Watch Academy eLearning Program in 2019. New business owners have access to the first online training and can learn on their own time and at their own pace. Students start with the Business Owner Foundation Course and then have access to the Graduate Resources as the critical ongoing education.
“It’s not just training. It is a career-long resource” is not just a slogan; it is the way I live. Students of the Home Watch Academy know I am available to assist, brainstorm, mentor, and answer questions at any time. They are in business for themselves, not by themselves. I am also their biggest fan and cheerleader.
After Hurricane Irma, many Hobby Home Watchers who were ill-prepared to deal with a catastrophic storm either got out of the business or took the training so their clients would be better served in the future.
There were a lot of people who helped their own neighbors after Irma and knew that Home Watch was the right business for them. My classroom training was a sell-out for almost two years after that storm!
The same is already happening as training inquiries and enrollments are growing steadily. I look forward to welcoming new students and existing business owners ready to increase their knowledge and skills to the Home Watch Academy.
In the end, it is the seasonal homeowner who benefits when they work with a true Home Watch Professional.
If you are interested in learning more about the Home Watch Academy and how Diane Pisani can help your business please visit homewatchacademy.com