As the Appraiser, I Take an Average of One Call Per Month

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.

12 Comments on “As the Appraiser, I Take an Average of One Call Per Month”

  1. I am a Licensed Appraiser Trainee, and I wanted to say thank you for supporting trainees! I’m incredibly grateful to my supervisory Appraiser for mentoring me, and she’s thankful for being able to accept more work. She’s doing almost twice the business she was without me because I free up so much time for her (one of the things I do is answer her phones)! I plan on “paying it forward” one day when I have my own trainee. How else will we keep the appraising world going without training new appraisers? Thanks for your support!

  2. Being efficient in time spent communicating is critical, agreed. I have handled calls both ways, and depending on your business-model you may want to consider what comes first. To me, even in the age of AMC’s, it’s still the relationship. My personal interactions with everyone are critical to my business, and my unique value to my network, and daily new internet leads. Nobody can represent me better than me!
    That said, there are things that should be outsourced. Updating websites, some emails, some phone activities, are examples.

    1. Nathan: Good points. There is definitely something to be said about that relationship, though I have found (especially in the new AMC world) that this type of relationship is more important with the office rather than the appraiser. Furthermore, many appraisers answer their phones while in the field reducing the professionalism of the call. Having a receptionist can elevate you above your competition in the “ahhhh factor.”

    1. Glenn: It was a pleasure meeting you there. We had a great family road trip and are home safely. Thanks for you kinds words. I truly enjoyed being there and meeting so many forward-thinking appraisers from Illinois.

  3. I agree that 90% plus of the phone calls can be handled by staff, and I am working more and more towards that. Sometimes I call for information to keep a relationship, but am finding that the relationship can be between staff and the client also…

  4. Have not answered the phone in over 20 years. My phone set with ringer off and to move to next line if someone is calling in and I pick up

  5. I agree with the idea but execution is another thing.
    90% of the time it works. I don’t care about the relationship thing because It’s “their people” calling “my people”. I do my networking with the account manager/territory manager, etc. And most of the time they are not the one calling.

    I would suggest if you really don’t want another person to answer the phone, at least direct calls to voice mail and you can have less interruption. Later call back when you are ready.

    1. Josie: Thanks for the reminder that implementation is not as easy as it sometimes seems. To learn a principle is one thing, to get it to work properly in your business or life is another. This did not occur overnight, but it is working VERY well after years of tweaking it to fit just right.

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