In order to build your business and enhance the reputation of your appraisal firm, it’s going to take more than just advertising your services. The top five best business practices outlined below are excellent ways to help strengthen and grow your appraisal business over time.
1. Be honest in all your dealings with others
As with most professionals, real estate appraisers are occasionally watched by others. Be thoughtful, careful, and honest in all your personal and business financial dealings in order to maintain that well-deserved and well-respected reputation as an “honest” professional appraiser.
2. Fervently protect your required state license and/or certification
Since your state requires you to have some sort of license and/or certification to open for business to the general public as a professional real estate appraiser, they can also order you to cease and desist your business operations until some regulatory requirement is fully met. Out of necessity, one of my suggested best business practices for real estate appraisers is to have either a retained attorney or a very good relationship with an attorney who specializes in real estate litigation matters—the cost of which simply represents part of the normal cost of doing professional business. Equally as important is to have a good working relationship with a certified public accountant who specializes in business accounting. Just like having an attorney always available to protect your personal and business matters, a professional accountant is just another “best practices” cost of doing professional business.
3. Keep the needs of your real estate appraisal clients at the top of your daily to-do list
When you are in business as a professional real estate appraiser, it’s important to focus on those who make it possible for you to pay the bills and remain open for business each day: your clients. If you’ve contracted to provide a residential appraisal report to your client on or before a certain date for a specific fee, don’t forget to do as you promised. And do it within the time constraints as defined by your appraisal assignment agreement (contract).
Also, don’t forget the business ethic “courtesy” that needs to be employed when dealing with your business clients. To a certain extent, the client has a right to voice his or her dissatisfaction with something that was or was not done. But, generally, you and your staff should try your best to not become argumentative with a client. Nothing is gained by doing so. Recognizing that a certain level of product dissatisfaction is normal in the real estate appraisal business when the client’s expectations are not met, you may want to have a business “good guy negotiator” designated to step in and assist before the actual shouting begins. Consider paying for some staff training in the area of “argument de-escalation” as just another cost of doing business. The “good guy negotiator” training will probably be for the business owner of a sole practitioner business.
The best way to not have too many angry client incidents is to keep the level of communication very high with every client. To partially eliminate the client’s anxiety, appraisal report progress completion reports are helpful. Be sure to send a brief email update to the client when reaching certain appraisal completion events (e.g., completion of a certain phase of the appraisal process).
4. Stay current with “best practices” for successful real estate appraisal businesses
This may be accomplished by constantly upgrading each professional appraiser’s real estate appraisal expertise by constantly upgrading the level of ongoing professional education efforts. That can be achieved through a combination of several different methods of professional education delivery platforms, such as online courses offered by McKissock, professional appraiser webinars, seminars, onsite appraisal courses, independent study, and by shadowing more experienced appraisers.
5. Surround yourself with similarly motivated professional and administrative staff
If it is important for you to be successful in the business of professional real estate appraisal services, then you really need to surround yourself with success-driven professional appraisers who pride themselves in being “the best” at what they do. And, if you happen to be the boss, be sure to share your business’s success with all team participants in some manner. Part of being a professional is demonstrating your genuine concern for others in the appraisal profession by helping to lift them up through internal recognition, such as during a business meeting, through an incentive monetary reward, or through media recognition.
If your appraisal firm employs an excellent professional and administrative staff, is success-motivated, and follows the five best business practices outlined above, your firm and its personnel will become known as experts in the field of real estate appraisal. It may also be helpful to effectively “toot your own horn” from time to time—by methodically interacting with the local media via personal interviews, news releases, presentations, and more. Finally, don’t forget the age old business axiom of, “Early to bed, early to rise, work real hard and advertise!”