I was cruising the showroom of the Valuation Expo a few years ago and had an interesting run-in with a few appraisers who happened to be brothers. They had just attended one of the many presentations and had some strong opinions of what they heard. "Can you believe that guy stood up there and told me what I should or should not wear on an appraisal inspection? I mean, if I live in North Dakota, I am going to wear cowboy boots and if I live in Hawaii, I am going to be sporting flip-flops. I think my wardrobe is up to me, don't you?" While I could not argue with the fact that these guys had the right to wear whatever they wanted to their inspections, I think they might have missed the more important point of the speaker. Though I had not been in attendance for that particular presentation, I doubt it was his intention to micro-manage their choice of clothing and footwear. My guess is that he was trying to make a bigger point--that of professionalism. I am about to make a whole bunch of generalizations, so do not flame me too hard. Obviously, these stereotypes do not apply to all appraisers. I am sure they do not apply to you.
In my dealings with appraisers across the country, I would say that most of them 'get it' when it comes to presentation. They understand that they are in a profession and not just a job. There is a difference. In a few cases, however, I wonder how much their dress, service, and general demeanor affect their bottom line or reflect upon the profession as a whole. It is to them that I now speak.
I actually know an appraiser who lives in Hawaii and he does wear flip-flops to inspections. In his defense however, he once explained to me that in the islands it is the order of the day. "It would be considered strange and out of place not to wear them here," he said. When in Rome. . . I guess. In general however, something a little more formal might be in order. Shorts and a T-shirt may work well for lounging on the weekends, but they just do not cut it when it comes to your appraisal inspections. Whether you consider yourself a 'blue-collar' or a 'white-collar' professional does not matter, but actually having a collar does. Though I am not opposed to jeans per-se, make sure they are at least nice, without holes, and well-kept. I do not believe women should need to wear a skirt or dress to work, but business casual is the order of the day. Yes, footwear does matter. Remember also that your wardrobe does not have to be expensive to be presentable.
I once coached an appraiser who never would return phone calls. He defended himself by saying, "It is never good news when the phone rings. I just let them all go to voicemail and deal with what they tell me in the messages." When I asked him what he would do if they did not leave the instructions on the messages he replied, "If they do not care enough to tell me exactly why they are calling, I guess it was not important enough for me to do anything about. I'm certainly not going to call them back and play phone tag all day!" Oh boy! I fear we appraisers sometimes spend a little too much time in the bat cave. The Golden Rule of Customer Service (the whole 'do unto others as you would have...' thing) applies as much to appraisers as it does to tire retailers, cashiers, or bankers. I received a phone call just today from a loan officer who I know does not like me. Frankly, the feeling is probably mutual. He was calling for a favor. My reaction was to speak to him as if he were my best customer. Yes, I am doing the favor for him. Rudeness might keep you in business for a few years, but it will not sustain you long-term. Try taking the attitude that 'the customer might not always be right, but we should treat them as if they are as much as possible.' This kind of service will build a loyal following.
How often do you hear comments like this from a homeowner, "The last appraiser would not even give me the time of day. He rushed in like he owned the place, and when I asked him about the market, he quipped, 'I cannot talk to you about that.'" Now, I realize that the homeowner's perspective does not always reflect reality, but I wonder how many of us stop to think about how it would feel to have a stranger walking through our home. We are their guest, not the other way around. Be courteous. Take off your shoes. Tell them what you will be doing before you do it. Involve them in the process as much as possible. Answer their questions. Just be nice.
I once shadowed a fellow appraiser on a few inspections. This guy was a talker. At first I thought we would never get to our other appointments on time. He would chat with the homeowner about every aspect of their home. Fine and dandy, but that would usually lead to, "So, you from 'round these parts?" That would inevitably morph into, "Do you know So-and-So or his son who just moved back East to take a job with the Air Force?" Though that is not my style, by the second house I could see this man's genius. He was a people person. He was polite, respectful, and easy to get along with. Though he was not as efficient as I like to be, he had a talent for customer service. Needless to say, he is a well-liked and successful professional. I wonder if each of us could take a page from his book.
Now, go create some value!
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