Once upon a time there was a young man named Steve. Steve lived in California in his parents' house. He decided he wanted to try his hand at making computers and used his parents' garage as his workshop. The first computers he put out were… well… they weren't very good. Over time, Steve learned that in order sell computers, he had to make a quality product. Long story short, Steve grew up. Steve made good computers. Steve Jobs made a lot of computers. Moral of the story? It is possible to put out a good product in a high volume. No successful company can survive long-term unless they do.
"Nice story, Dustin, but we are dealing with appraisal service here. That is Apples and oranges (no pun intended)." Though I see your point, I do not concede it. The principles of prosperity are the same whether you are dealing with a product or a service. I will not bore you with any stories of famous artists, athletes, or entertainers who also provide services on a grand scale, but consistently perform at expert levels, because I think you get the point. The lesson is that anyone who surrounds themselves with a highly trained, skilled, and supervised team (as well as the proper tools) can do more—and do it better—than they could otherwise.
Like many appraisers, I started out flying by the seat of my pants. I sometimes look back on the reports I turned out in the beginning and cringe (thank heavens for statutes of limitations). Sadly, even the reports I wrote 4-5 years ago are quite inferior to what I do today. Like anyone, I learn and I grow, but much of the reason my quality is higher today is because of my team rather than despite them.
As I began looking differently at the appraisal industry (and my firm individually) several years ago, I realized that the same principles of success that apply to Walmart, Apple, or Frank Sinatra concerts apply to everyone. Those who are truly successful have several things in common regarding human resources:
1. They have a high-quality team of experts
My mentors have always taught that if you want to be really good at something, surround yourself with a group of people who are as committed to your vision as you are, but bring differing skills to the table. Many appraisers are holding fast to the old adage that 'if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.' Unfortunately, even more falsely believe that USPAP requires the appraiser do most everything themselves. This myth is holding them back from greater success. I have surrounded myself with a brilliant, and highly-trained team of experts who make me look good every day.
2. Supervise your team, but do not micro manage them.
Before you can watch over your team, you must properly train them. This takes time. There are no shortcuts. The more technical in nature the work, the longer the training. Once you are at a point where you can give them a little rope, do not let them hang themselves (or you). Manage them carefully. Though USPAP allows anyone to provide significant assistance to the appraisal process, the signing appraiseris ultimately responsible for anything in the report. Nothing goes out my door without my detailed scrutiny. That being said , there is no reason to have a staff if you do not back off and let them do the job you trained them to do.
3. Audit everything
Never assume that, just because they are trained they do not need to be watched. I audit everything; appraisal reports, market research, emails, phone calls, and even the cleaning of the office bathroom. If you are not willing to check the work of your employees, do not have them in the first place. Remember, they work for you. They represent you. What they do reflects on you.
4. Place people where they have the most talent
Jim Collins (Good to Great) talks about not only getting the right people on the 'bus,' but putting them in the right seats on the bus. Someone who is great at data entry may not be the best person to be answering your phones. A flighty or non-detail oriented person should not be inspecting properties or making adjustments to comparables, but may be wonderful at customer service. Furthermore, the appraiser—you—need to be in the position where you can really shine. You are the driver of the bus. Put your employees in job descriptions where they can really make you shine, so you can focus on the parts of the appraisal process that really matter (and you are really good at). One of my mentors used to say, "Frank Sinatra did not move pianos."
These four points are just a few of many you may want to consider when looking at increasing volume without decreasing quality. Many appraisers look at my business and wonder how it is that I can do the volume that I do on a consistent basis. Some, not knowing how the ship runs from the inside, resort to name-calling and conclude that "no one can do that kind of volume and not be cutting corners in quality." I find this interesting because I am quite open about how my business is run in my:
- Blog Articles
- YouTube Videos
- Facebook Posts
- Conference Speeches, etc.
Furthermore, much of the information I share is free. I am not shy about showing any interested party how I am able to do a much higher volume than my competitors, yet still maintain a high-quality product. Anyone can. It just takes learning and adhering to the true principles of prosperity.
Now, go create some value!
Read more from Dustin HERE