Bill Meets Rita

Once upon a time (not so long ago), there was a man (we will call him Bill).  When Bill was Billy, his father started and ran a fairly successful insurance company.  They sold auto, home, and casualty insurance in their small city of 26,768 people.  

After college, Bill went to work for his father, learned the family business, and – when William passed away – inherited the building, all of the clients, and the entire insurance business.  Thankfully, William had been an excellent teacher and Bill continued the practices he had been taught.  

Bill was a proud man.  He lived by the axiom; if you want to run a high-quality insurance company, you personally see to it that everything is done right – that means, everything is done by you.  Bill was a personable man, and he was good at sales. His father had established a good reputation in the community, and Bill’s personality only enhanced those relationships.  Business was good.

Bill was a hard worker.  Every day, he got up early, had two cups of coffee over the New York Times, and promptly got to work.  His 12-14 hour days consisted of site visits, seeing customers (and potential customers), selling policies, dealing with claims, running referee between policy-holders and the big insurance companies, following up on leads, answering phones, returning emails, and making sure all forms and reports were completed properly and with the highest quality possible.  On top of all this, he ran the business, made sure the accounts were paid, invoices were collected, angry clients were appeased, marketing efforts were completed, and the technology systems stayed up and running.  

His small family did not see him much, but his wife was understanding.  Bill was a good man, doing the best he knew, and they were always taken care of.  Bill had even tried to work with his wife once asking her to answer phones, set up site visits, and communicate with the big insurance companies, but it didn’t really work out all that well.  After she left, he hired a part-time person who had worked in another insurance office, but that was a disaster. Bill had a successful insurance office and knew, in order to keep it running well, he had to keep it running by himself.  On average, with all that had to be done (did I mention Bill was very good at what he did?), he was able to bind approximately five new policies per week. He was tired, but life was good.

One day, Bill got a call from another insurance agency on the Westside.  The owner, Rita, was wondering if Bill would consider going into business together.  She claimed she had only been in business less than three years and was binding 17-28 new policies per week!  That was four to five times what Bill was doing. “Impossible!” he muttered under his breath as he put down the New York Times, finished his last sip of coffee, and headed to the office.  Insurance was no preschool. Potential customers had to be thoroughly vetted, site visits had to be done correctly, the paperwork had to be perfect, and that was just the beginning. “If she is doing 20 policies per week, she is cutting some serious corners.”

A few days later, curiosity got the best of Bill and, though he was not interested in a merger, he took Rita up on her offer to visit her company, and he called to set up a time.  The following week, Bill shadowed Rita for the day. He found himself in a modern looking, but modest facility with four desks. Three of them hosted cheerful looking workers with what looked like the latest computers, multiple monitors, VoIP systems, and high speed internet connections.  They all appeared busy. Rita’s chair was vacated as she was just coming in the door from a site visit as Bill was being greeted by the receptionist.  

“You have three employees for just one agent,” Bill asked?  

“Oh, of course not,” Rita replied.  Bill sighed inwardly. “There is no way we could do what we do here with just three employees.  I have two additional contractors in the Philippines, and you will meet my driver, Nathan in just a moment.”

“Um, driver?”  And that’s how the day progressed.  

Later that evening, Bill found himself in the kitchen with Bev, his wife.  “It is no wonder she does so much volume,” he was saying. “She delegates almost every part of the process.  She has one guy answering her phones, another doing marketing stuff all day, and still another who oversees the office operations.  She has some kid barely out of high school driving her around like she is some sort of aristocrat while she “quality checks” reports from an internet connection on her laptop in the backseat.  Furthermore, she is running some sort of sweat-shop out of the Philippines where she forces them to work on report writing for $3 an hour! Despicable.”

“Is all that legal,” Bev asked?

“Technically, I guess,” said Bill, “but it sure isn’t very smart.  She may start work at 8 AM and be off at 5 PM, but she does not know how to run an insurance agency.  That’s just not how you do it. Rita is 100% responsible for everything that happens in that office. You just cannot bind 20+ policies a week, do every step required and needed in the process, and not be making huge mistakes.  You remember when I hired that gal who worked for me part time, right? What a joke that turned out to be. My father started this business on his reputation, and I will continue to run it on mine. I may only bind 5 policies per week, but I know they are done right because I do them myself.”

The next morning, as Bill poured his first cup of coffee, and opened up the New York Times, he again thought, “Rita just does not get it.  That is not how you run an insurance agency.”  

12 thoughts on “Bill Meets Rita”

  1. Pingback: Bill Meets Rita - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Danny is pouring his third cup of coffee and enjoying the beach view at St Augustine this morning (2 hours from my office) while his assistants and a trainee finish up the 10 appraisals we did this week. Keep rocking Coach!

    1. Want the truth Rick, here you go .
      A 50% reduction in supply (appraisers), but stagnating to declining appraisal fees (80% now by way of Dustin approved AMC’s). Where’s Rita when you need her? That’s right, she’s due in court this week on fraud charges.

      Bill, apparently drinking coffee, but at least he’s not drunk on the spiked Kool-aid served hear. Sorry, got to go, I’ve watching the coach’s blooper real of 2019, and I can’t wait for the Leica DISTO outtakes.

      Seek the truth, and here’s to Dustin selling out to more corporate bigwigs/sponsors before he cashes out for good and joins the likes of Dave Biggers.

  3. Here’s to R.i.t.a. (Redirecting Income To Appraisers) becoming the AMC of the insurance companies in 2020. What could possibly go wrong when your policy doubles in price (50% to R.I.T.A.), your coverage is cut in half, and with R.I.T.A. becoming the middleman you never in fact get to speak to your actual policy holder?

    Here’s to R.I.T.A. learning all 8 major dialects from the Philippines.

    Seek the truth, or lie to yourself while never disclosing in the report who has provided significant appraisal assistance.

  4. Considering the VA has issued VA Circular 26-19-31 where lenders have the choice to Opt out thus not allowing a trainee, licensed, or certified appraiser to complete the inspection (versus the assigned appraiser), it looks like Rest in Peace (RIP) R.I.T.A. will need to dust off her clipboard and sell some policies on her own. On the bright side, she can cancel her Rosetta Stone order as she will no longer need to speak in 8 distinct Filipino dialects.

    Seek the truth, and RIP R.I.T.A.

  5. Looks like we might have hit a nerve with Mr. Johnson. Bill, let me see if I can seek the truth a little. Will you play along? You talk about lies and truth, but:

    1. You always use a proxy server when you post.
    2. You claim to be an appraiser in California, but there is only one Johnson with a similar name to yours listed in the state and it is no where near the area you claim to be from.
    3. I have multiple times asked if you are willing to come out from the relative safety of your keyboard to have a man-to-man, non-edited discussion on my podcast. Not only do you not even give me the courtesy of a “no thanks,” you disappear whenever I ask. Is it possible you are catfishing and hiding behind an alias and coming on my program would remove that cowardly mask?
    4. You have multiple times accused me of banning or censoring your debate. Never once have I blocked a comment or commentor (that includes you). That is truth.
    5. Significant assistance in ALWAYS stated in my reports just like USPAP requires.
    6. The VA allows the appraiser to do his or her job and choose who does the Tier II level data gathering at the inspection, and you manage to find the negative in that bold and positive move and call it a step backward?
    7. They speak English in the Philippines.

    1. Dustin,

      1. Dustin, if my comments don’t make sense to you (dating back years), then perhaps its you who are not the appraiser.
      2. Not looking to increase your Podcast comments from zero to a thousand, ‘no thanks”.
      3. Tier smear, via lenders choice (VA Circular 26-19-31) the following will become prominent “The assigned appraiser may not utilize the Assisted Appraisal Processing Program (AAAPP) on this appraisal assignment”. Meaning no trainee, residential, or certified appraiser can conduct the infield inspection (assigned appraiser only ???). Sorry, its only the vacant properties for the secretary moving forward.
      4 On the mainland your correct (English), but why settle for $3 an hour when you could find someone for $1 on the many islands?
      5 Dustin, pretend all you want, but in doing many a hundred reviews over the years, not a one time have I seen an appraiser disclose significant assistance in the appraisal.

      Sorry, do I know you? Got to go, I have a date my girlfriend Rita. Bev never listened.

      Seek the truth.

  6. Bills got his Bevs all in a wad again. Just can’t comprehend a better way. Unwilling to go outside the solo tunnel. It works fine, but it does not allow scale or a more fullfilling life to be …the host, waiter, busboy, bookkeeper and chef. Bill, I gather you consider yourself too old to change, even if the “change” advice came from someone you liked and trusted. Maybe you just can’t get along with others and therefore, cannot subscribe to a better way. Hope one day you can be at ease with views that are not your own. Dustin is not taking your work and he is not creating or promoting little AMC monsters that dilute your fees. Evidently you are electing to work with the AMC’s that apparently take advantage of you. Stop! There should be plenty to go around for a solo like yourself if you do a good job.

    Dustin, hope you continue to maximize every drop of return for all your efforts. Best to you!

    1. Just to be clear Patrick, you do understand I’m not the Bill in Dustin’s fairy tale right? Don’t get me started about doing sketches and taking pictures in the filed on PDA’s in the late 90’s, nor how our team represented entire condo associations (thousands of units) for property tax appeals. Keep supporting those AMC’s buddy while my state of CA (1 of every 8 appraisers) loses 50% of its appraiser population and is suffering from stagnating fees for the typical appraiser (Bill is not typical). Although its my opinion I’m not in the bottom 90% of the appraisal profession Patrick, I often speak for the typical appraiser which seems to get everyone’s panties in a bind. Go ahead and join others here to win a battle or two, but most opinions here are selfish while ignoring the reality for most.

      The passion I have doesn’t keep me up at night, but rather gets me up in the morning (Bill Johnson 01/22/2020).

      Seek the truth Patrick, and I hope you win as many battles as you can in the coming years as the current industry path leads to no more war.

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