Don’t Be Alice!

In his classic novel Alice in Wonderland, author Lewis Carroll teaches an important principle through the character of the Cheshire Cat. Lost in the woods and faced with a crossroads, Alice asks the cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” In response, the cat says, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” When Alice says that it doesn’t really matter to her where she goes, as long as she goes somewhere, that cat replies, “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go … you’re sure to [get somewhere], if only you walk long enough.”

This is one of the first conversations I try to have with my clients. Knowing where you want to be in a year from now – or two years, or beyond – is critical in determining your path today. It’s not uncommon for people to say something along the lines of, “Well, that’s kind of hard to say. I don’t know where the market’s going to be in 2 years.” But this isn’t about the market. This is about you, your life, your relationships, and your business. The market will do what the market will do. Your dealings within the market will still be defined by your goals.

With the new year upon us, now is a great time to take some time to reflect on where you want to go. What do you want your relationships to look like? How about a typical day in the office? Where do you want your business to be in two years? If you don’t have a clear destination in mind, you may end up like Alice – lost and at the mercy of the world around her. Take control of your life and your business. Set goals and determine your destination!

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode:

18 thoughts on “Don’t Be Alice!”

  1. Pingback: Don’t Be Alice! - Appraisal Buzz

  2. If your coaching people to work FOR AMC’s Dustin, it almost doesn’t matter what you tell them your goals are, as the AMC’s will eventfully treat you like the dog they think you are. If they’re not treating you like a dog (your area, supply & demand, etc.), then they are surely already treating other appraisers like dogs.

    Stop putting profits before principles.

    Seek the truth.

    1. Bill, why are you always such a condescending fool on this message board? There is never any positivity in anything you post. There are never any pearls of wisdom on how you run a successful business. There is never anything that anyone could ever read and use in their business to make their business better! Except for “Seek the Truth!” Come up with something new. I work for AMCs and did nearly $500,000 in business last year. That is gross as I have 3 full time employees and one part-time employee. But I have learned to adapt to how things are going (more hybrids and desktops) and continue to hire people to help me out. I hope to get a trainee licensed this year and keep her on my staff so that we can continue to grow. Bill, you seem to be the epitome of the basement dwelling appraiser that never adapts and only bashes the profession! Be better!

      1. If your like Dustin Joel and keeping only 10 to 20% of that $500,000, than you go Tiger. As it relates to having a business model where you openly engage with AMC’s, it likes like you’ve drank the coach’s Kool-Aid and are contributing to the problem and the demise of a profession. Good luck keeping your staff appraiser Joel when the the AMC refinances dry up and your bids under $200 get turned down.

        Seek the truth Joel.

        1. Trust me, Bill, I kept way more than 10-20%. I don’t use any overseas help either. I pay good, competitive wages, and also provide benefits to my assistants. Bill, you obviously have a declining business in busy California and you definitely have way TOO MUCH TIME to be a petty little message board tyrant! If you are so busy, how do you have time to continue to post messages about “seeking the truth?” I just turned 40 this month. I have been practicing for over 10 years full time. Every year has been better than the previous. I also trained my wife to be an appraiser. She is more interested in raising our 3 young kids right now but still helps me out 15-20 hours per week. But let me tell you, I look forward to more help from her in the future doing desktop appraisals and our business will continue to grow. Bill, what you don’t understand is that optimism generates more business than pessimism! I know my future is bright and if the appraisal profession happens to go the way of the horse and buggy it will not be because of AMC fee splits! It will be because banks (or AI) decided we were no longer relevant. Bill, the truth is most of us are tired of your nonsense posts and wish you would just go away and keep your negativity to yourself. You do nothing to further the appraisal profession. I have trained one trainee and am working on training 2 more. I paid the trainees well and expect them to continue to grow in my business. The future is bright for me, Bill. It’s bright for any appraiser that wants it to be bright! THAT IS THE TRUTH!

  3. I think we all know who the real ‘Bill Johnson’ is. He’s a one trick pony who never stops harping on AMCs. It’s all he’s got in life. Sad story…

    Great post Dustin!

    1. I would rather be a pony Blaine, then the donkey you’ve hooked your wagon to.

      Be a friend, please provide a single comment to a Dustin podcast so we know at least someone was there.

      Seek the truth.

    1. History is full of people turning a blind eye from the truth Patrick. Keep drinking the coach’s sour grape Kool-Aid, and I hope your all star pin is in the mail. Don’t forget the coach has a sale on VHS tapes this month.

      Seek the truth.

      1. Bill, the fact that you keep saying things like “drink the Kool-aid”, “10% to 20%”, and “bids under $200” tells us all that you have done absolutely nothing to “seek the truth”. Nothing you have said is true or factual. It also demonstrates that you have no understanding of how the world works. Lenders don’t use AMC’s because they WANT to, but because they HAVE to. Well, they have to unless they want to build AMC’s of their own. And what, exactly, is your solution to the AMC problem? Simply refusing to accept work from them completely ignores the reality on the ground and in regulation.

        The unfortunate reality is that you are symptomatic of a larger problem within our industry that has existed for all of the 4 decades I’ve been doing it. Appraisers, by and large, are an argumentative lot that like to complain, but never actually do anything about it. There are at least a dozen appraisal organizations out there – some legitimate, some not so much – and most appraisers don’t belong to any of them. More appraisers are members of NAR than an appraisal organization. If we, as a profession, would stop squabbling and get our act together, if we had our own version of NAR, we wouldn’t have the terms of our business dictated to us. We would have a voice in the room and be able to effect real changes.

        In that larger sense, this is exactly what Dustin is talking about. We as a profession have never been able to get together and say, “Where do we want to be in two years?” Scolding appraisers for doing things that have been thrust upon them by the reality of the world when we have done nothing – NOTHING – to change any of it is useless and pointless.

        1. Considering in a recent blog Dustin indicated he may pull in +/- 20% of gross fees, and AMC bids in the $200’s (fast and cheap) are not uncommon in recent years, what are you talking about Chris “nothing I have said is true or factual”. If you are not reading his blogs, listening to his podcasts, buying his VHS tapes, etc., perhaps I’m wrong about you drinking his Kool-Aid of misinformation.

          Relating to you saying, “Lenders don’t use AMC’s because they Want to, but because they have to”, is a clear understanding you have no idea what you’re talking about. Have you ever walked into a local direct lender branch with a group of 20 appraisers to ask for their business, I/we have with success? Did you apply 12 years in a row like I did to finally become VA panel appraiser (no AMC fees)?

          If you’ve really been in the business for 4 decades Chris, and know what you don’t know, I’m sorry you didn’t find me sooner.
          Seek the truth.

  4. There are some interesting perspectives by Dustin and some things do not hit the Mark and sound like a pure business model. I get Bill’s frustration and a tough reality as to the business. After 40 years in the Biz I have moved to a litigation and consultation model and left bank valuation a long time ago. The market needs fast and cheap and unfortunately the internet and technology has not always supported better professionalism. Very few want to take the effort to reach a high level of valuation knowledge and get stuck into churn and burn and have a two to three a day appraisal model. I still do not understand how one can even do a one tract home in a day as brokers and participants do not return calls on the comps very expeditiously. I can say that if one can offer high level litigation support skills clients will pay $500 per hour and one can get off the low bid treadmill. An hourly rate values your time and effort

      1. Clayton S Kennedy

        I usually don’t agree with Bill but that one does seem almost impossible on 4 to 9. That would be a stretch even if your sole work was desktops. Of course maybe my stuff is more complex than most.

  5. What planet are you people on??? I do work for AMC’s and get them to (happily ) pay my fee of $650. I turn down more orders than I accept, and rarely take a job more than 10 miles from my office. I do 800-900 reports per year and have more work than I can do. Appraisers have the AMC’s where we want them (finally); if you are man enough to stand up for yourself and demand a good fee. Wake up. Adapt. We all know that AMC’s are terrible, but we can make plenty of money from them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Why not spend the time now William to seek out those good paying direct lenders who can pay you the full fee instead of +/- 50% (AMC split)? Why not make the same amount, doing half the work, with half the files out for liability concerns.

      The time to get good clients is when your busy, not when your slow.

      Seek the truth.

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