Off-Shouldering; The Key to Success

We are now knee-deep in tax season. Oh joy. When I realized this, it got me thinking about the first time I ever made use of off-shouldering.  

“Off-shouldering” is a phrase that long-term Appraiser Coach followers have probably heard me use many times. For the uninitiated, it is a pretty literal term! It simply means getting something off your shoulders, and on to someone else’s. It’s something that took me a long time to get into, but – once I did – it made my business more efficient and more effective than ever before.

My journey towards off-shouldering salvation began nearly a decade ago, when tax season was approaching. I did my own taxes at the time, using TurboTax, as I had done for many years previously. It was something I absolutely dreaded, putting it off and procrastinating for as long as I possibly could. When it actually came to doing them, it would take me at least an entire day; probably longer, when the time spent collecting all my files, receipts and so on was factored in. You could be buying a company car explained by Archimedia Accounts and learn how management works.

Back then, I regularly attended a mastermind group that was filled with people who were much more successful than me. The subject of taxes came up, and I mentioned that I was planning to do my own that weekend. The room went silent, and everybody stared at me like I was completely nuts.

“What, you do your own taxes?” someone asked me eventually.

“Well, yeah,” I stammered. “It’s only $100 for TurboTax.”

“It’s only $100 for the software,” they continued, “But how many hours does it take you? And how much money do you make per hour?”

They… suggested I try an accountant that year. I asked how much they thought it would cost, and they replied with a figure that sounded pretty significant to me. These were people that I greatly respected, however, so I agreed to give it a go. I called up an accountant I knew, who quoted me $200 for my personal taxes and $300 for my business. With a wince, I agreed to give it a shot.

Two things ended up happening. Firstly, my taxes got done a lot quicker that year. Who’d have thought it?! Secondly, TurboTax actually sent me a free copy of their software (to try and keep me as a customer I suppose), and I decided to have a quick go at doing my own taxes again after all; y’know, just for kicks. Guess what? The taxes I calculated that I should pay, were more than what my accountant calculated (i.e. what I actually owed the IRS), but almost exactly the same amount as it cost me to hire the accountant in the first place. Effectively – even before we factor in the value of the time I saved – it cost me nothing to hire the accountant due to the savings he was able to find. I’d call that a win.

Ever since then, I’ve been a massive proponent of off-shouldering; also known as my Law of Delegation. Simply put, if it’s something you don’t have to do – accounting, bookkeeping, data entry, replying to your calls and emails, and so on – then get someone else to do it. That can be someone in your office, someone in your town, or someone from the other side of the planet that you hire online. Free yourself up to work on the genuinely important things that only you can do; usually, the analytical (appraisal) side of your business.

The key here, of course, is to remember your role and liability. Hire right, manage well, and never, never, never compromise the quality of your work. Remember whose name and reputation goes on the bottom line.

In my time as The Appraiser Coach, I’ve interacted with a huge number of other appraisers. I’ve found that delegation is the number one thing they struggle with. I know it’s hard – I’m a control freak too, by nature – but this is something you have to do. Look at the tasks you do on a regular basis, identify the ones you don’t need to do yourself, and outsource them immediately. Your business will be vastly more efficient and more effective as a result.


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 086 – Off-Shouldering; The Key to Success.

12 thoughts on “Off-Shouldering; The Key to Success”

  1. Pingback: Off-Shouldering; The Key to Success - Appraisal Buzz

  2. There’s a difference between “off-shouldering” as in looking like the letter T with sloped shoulders, and the letter I with no shoulders. In completing 4 to 9 appraisals a day Dustin, you’ve been a letter I for many years.

  3. I have no idea what you just said, Bill. Oh, and I am not sure where you got that number you keep repeating like a broken record, but it is not accurate. Not even close.

    1. Sorry, its not 4 to 9 appraisals a day but 3 to 8 as taken from your blog Never had a Raise in 20 Years BS, (April 2016) “Today, I complete 3-8 full-appraisals per day without compromising quality……”. Crack.
      Seek the truth.

      1. If that is where you are getting your information, you should understand to, very crucial things. One, that blog post was written in 2016. Don’t know about you, but my business has changed just a little (ahem, a LOT) since then. Second, and more importantly, you should read the whole post and the comments below, rather than pull one, throw away, line that does not paint the whole picture and pounce on it. You know my business model is different and your unfair characteristic of it is doing no one any favors. I think you know better than that. BOOM! Truth found!

        1. How about from last year (2017) when you said “I do around 4 times as many appraisals as my competitors. That’s not a boast: I’ve done my research, and it’s the truth. “. My point about you being a letter I (Off-shouldering everything) is that when you spend as little as +/- 30 minutes reviewing an appraisal (as you’ve previously stated), and signing your name, there’s very little I (You) in those reports. That hump in the middle of the living room you just tripped over, could be a foundation issue. Mark as-is all you want, but a hump none the less.
          Seek the truth.

  4. Bill

    I don’t know why I try. The time we spend together leaves me feeling unfulfilled. You know next to to nothing about my business, yet you have made it a full time hobby to criticize it. Why? You continually complain that you cannot make a living in S Calf., yet are unwilling to make any positive changes in your own business model. Sad. If you spend 10% of the time you spend on my website working on your own business, I think you might find a bit more satisfaction in life. Honestly, I am beginning to question your validity. There is no Bill Johnson listed in the California active appraiser listings. The only William Johnson I can find is not in the area you have claimed to be in. Why do I know? I looked you up to personally call you and once again invite you to be a guest on my podcast. You obviously have a beef with what I do. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why, but I would love to talk about it man to man. What do you say “Bill?” Come on the podcast and stop hiding behind the keyboard

  5. I thought I would be reading something about out-sourcing the work an appraiser must complete if the product is to be USPAP compliant. Is there a blog here about that?

    All I can say is why wouldn’t a serious business man have a tax expert prepare his taxes?

    It’s your blog, but I’d like to request the next topic address Fannie Mae form reports and thorough Standard 1 & 2 USPAP compliance regardless of out-sourcing. There seems to be a few appraisers who are struggling with that and I’m not really sure why unless it is that they don’t know how to do it or that they are being enticed to produce volume in the face of fast turn times and low fees.

    Another topic that might be interesting is to start a discussion about what if anything of significance secondary mortgage appraisers bring to the process of lending.

    1. Edd

      Thank you for taking time to respond. I always enjoy hearing from you. Though a short blog is not really conducive to the details, you should know I have covered this topic in DEPTH in both the Appraiser Academy and the Go Create Sone Value workshop. I would be happy to help you or others with any specific questions you might have.

      1. Dustin,

        How do I find the information you reference? I am intensely interested in finding any guidance to help in advising residential appraisers in marrying the parallel universes of USPAP and Fannie Mae.

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