While most appraisers are crying “foul” over the numerous new regulations being required by our clients of late, I am finding ways to simplify. If your clients are asking for more work (with little to no more pay—I might add), that means you have less time. Since time is money, wouldn’t it make sense to look for others ways to recapture your lost time? May I suggest that one of those ways is to stop answering your phone? That’s right, I said stop answering your business phone.
Now, before you turn me off, allow me to explain. I am not advocating that your business phone goes unanswered. Rather, I am suggesting that it not be YOU who does the answering. Allow an assistant to pick up the receiver for you. Here’s how it works: When the phone rings, the assistant answers in a professional manner as you have trained them to do. Inevitably, the caller will ask for the appraiser. The answer from your secretary should always be, “I am his/her assistant. Can I possibly help you?” You will find that 99.3% of the time, THEY CAN! That means you only need to be bothered .7% of the time the phone rings.
Don’t believe me? I have not personally answered my own phones for over six years now. My clients do not get my cell phone number. I am over-reporting when I say I take an average of one call per month. Some months, I talk to no one over the phone. My assistant is well trained and can take care of almost anything. Can’t afford to hire a personal assistant or secretary? I say you can’t afford NOT to hire one.
Not quite ready to turn your phones over to someone else? Try easing into it slowly. You might want to begin by allowing the receptionist to answer the phones, but transfer it to you when they ask for you. You will find over time that your assistant will be able to handle more and more and be transferring to you less and less.
Many appraisers mistakenly feel that they must be readily available or their clients will go somewhere else. I have found this thinking to just be unfounded. In fact, most clients are very comfortable with a ‘gate keeper’ who acts as a cushion between them and the appraiser. Frankly, it gives them the impression of a bigger, more professional office when a secretary (rather than the appraiser at an inspection) answers the phone. Additionally, it frees you up to get back to all of those ridiculous issues of scope-creep.
Now, go create some value!
Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he has found most of his success as a self-employed, residential real estate appraiser. He has been appraising for nearly two decades. He is the owner and President of Appraisal Precision and Consulting Group, Inc., and is a popular author, speaker and consultant. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach (www.theappraisercoach.com) where he personally advises and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth. He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children.