When the pandemic hit us full force in 2020, business skyrocketed. We had never been busier! If I had tried to do everything the same way I did before, hiring someone just to turn down offers wouldn’t be a joke. It used to be that I would never dream of turning down an offer. But then, we had to do it regularly. But how can you mitigate your workload without losing your good clients? I employ a practice that I like to call the “volume triage.” It may not seem important now that things have slowed down, but now is the very exact time you should be preparing for changes that are bound to come again in the future.
A triage is basically a system of designating priority. A good example of this is depicted in the film Pearl Harbor. During the attack, nurses have to decide who gets treatment and when, to ensure that as many lives are saved as possible. They do so by marking each man with lipstick. A man who will live and has no life-threatening injury can be treated later. A man who will live but requires life-saving treatment in order to do so will receive treatment immediately. A man who will die no matter what may receive no treatment. While this would be a heart-wrenching decision to have to make, the triage system can be an effective means of determining priority.
Thankfully, you don’t have to make life-or-death decisions as part of the volume triage. However, you still have to make decisions about who will receive priority treatment, and who won’t. When you open up your inbox, for example, don’t go through it chronologically. Take care of emails from good, loyal, easy-to-work-with clients (your “A” clients) first. Take care of your regulars, and you’ll ensure that they want to keep coming to you. Next, take care of good clients that may have an issue here or there – maybe their turnaround time isn’t that great, or maybe they send things back for unnecessary or complicated revisions (these are your “B” clients). Finally, take care of people you don’t know, or clients that you’d rather not take work from anyway (these clients are your “Y” clients). If you have no extra time, ignore them. By handling your work this way, you can keep your good clients, and then take on whatever other work you can around them, thus doing as much work as you can without losing your favorite clients.
It is easy to get stressed out and even paralizing when things get so busy. However, if you have a system to work within and remind yourself that all things are temporary, you will do just fine. Get your systems in place now. When things pick up again (will we ever see another 2020-2021 again?), you will be ready.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: