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End of Year Appraisal Office Tune Up

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Doug Smith SRA

Thread Starter
Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Montana
End of the Year Business Tune Up

The following is a list of ten steps on the way to an appraisal business tune up. They don't necessarily call for finding new business but concentrate instead on harnessing existing potential from your practice and marshalling the power within you to become more successful.

1.Do a reverse business plan on your practice. Knowing what you know now, would you organize your practice as the business entity under which you now operate? Investigate your options with legal counsel and perhaps a small business CPA to review your bookkeeping methods, depreciation and expense categories. Look at your budget as zero based. What expense can be eliminated if you were starting over again? Your overall business plan can be expressed in a simple mission statement. In the clear light of day examine your mission statement or in the absence of written statement, write one. Clearly focus on what you want your practice to be about and how your practice helps meet the goals you have in life. Make it a living statement that changes and adapts to these fast-changing times.

2.Give your appraisal reports a report card. Randomly select up to 5 of your most recent reports. Use a desk review form and some sticky notes and read them carefully. Look at them as an underwriter or reviewer. Are they as fresh as they could be? Are they your best work? Are your adjustments current? Are your addenda so much dandruff, dead, dry and flaky? I would go so far as suggesting if you use a canned addenda of any kind, completely rewrite it, freshen it up and ask your self, is this helping my client understand the report into which it is inserted. Last but not least, have math mistakes, spelling errors and poorly constructed comments crept into your reports in the haste of doing so many reports?

3.Mine the gold in your files. Instead of looking for new business, go through all your files, looking for clients that should or could be repeat clients. Re-contact some, re-apply to others and update some others. If those to whom you once did a report don't use you, check it out. It may be simply due to a change in personnel, lack of awareness or simply no contact from you

4.Check out your service attitude. For a day or two put your voice-activated recorder next to the phone and record how you answer the phone and talk with clients. Ask yourself, would you give that person an order? Do you sound genuinely interested in your work and do you project an attitude toward service that meets the expectations of today's market? Is your turnaround time what it can be?

5.Check out the competition. Do a market analysis on your practice. Do the basics. How many homes are sold in your market? What is your share of that business and ask yourself are you getting your fair share compared to the number of active appraisers. How do you advertise compared to your competitors? Have you "shopped" your competition finding out what they are charging, what their turnaround times are. Can you assess the quality of their reports compared to your own? Learn your own strengths and weaknesses by measuring your practice against the competition.

6.Understand your advertising. Take a day one approach to your practice. By now you should have a presence in the media that is used by the persons that choose appraisers. If you use Yellow pages, compare your ad to others. Is your ad directed to those that will use your services? Ann O'Rourke pointed out that persons seeking appraisals for estates use Yellow pages. What does your ad say? By now you should have a listing on a web site, either your own, your association or one of the paid sites. Look at all your advertising options, classified ads, post cards, handouts and direct mail.

7.Clean up and do it now. If business is slow during the holidays, do some basic housekeeping. Throw out those old phone books and out of date seminar notes. You are more likely to be more efficient and productive in an environment free of clutter and useless debris. Look sharp and play sharp.

8.Are you techno compliant? Is your technology up-to-date and are you meeting the expectations of the market? This is not a simple question but involves interaction with those in the know. Overcome your timidity and step by step go through your software and hardware inventory and make sure you are up to date and can meet every expectation of the market. The latest productivity helper is the laser-measuring device. Have you looked into having one?

9.Are you in balance? Discuss you practice with your friends and family. For some, the lack of social interaction becomes a deterrent to growing a business. Ask the hard questions of yourself and whether your life as an appraiser deters you from the life style balance you and those close to you deserve. Remember, the most important software in your office is you. Keep your software healthy by eating right, exercising, getting enough rest and taking some time off

10.Of the triangle of your practice, those of your skills, knowledge and attitude are you all that you can be? Are you reading trade journals to stay current? Are you taking CE courses that can absolutely help you grow your practice rather than mount up perfunctory credits to keep your license. Do you know USPAP as well as you should? Above all, do you still have the fresh attitude of a person genuinely interested in appraising and the willingness to succeed? Of the three, attitude carries the day. Make your attitude fit the loftiness of your goals in both your work life and personal life.

Note: I wrote this two years ago and published it on this forum. It was picked up my Ann O'Rourke and published in her Newsletter Appraisal Today. Since then, I have published a column monthly in Appraisal Today and contributed articles to other venues. This last week Joan Trice published this article as well as another on Appraisal Buzz. Publishing is something I always wanted to do and I thank both Wayne for this splendid venue and Ann for opening the door to publishing. Many on these forums have a lot to say to the appraisal community. I hope in 2003, some of you will consider taking some time out and publishing. I would be very glad to share my thoughts with you as you frame up your thinking.
 

Steve Owen

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Missouri
Those are all great ideas, for any appraiser who has time for them. I guess as long as I'm still working under a backlog (have been now for more than three years) I'll stick with my present business plan. lol.
 

Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Well done Doug!

Unfortunately, most of us are appraisers and not managers. Therein lies much of the problem, we spend most our time trying to just keep up with the work and fail to plan, organize, manage, and, enjoy the fruits of our labours.
 
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