Playing the Violin and Your Company’s Image

If I said to you the name Joshua Bell, would it mean anything to you?  No fair Googling.  Well, it did not mean anything to literally thousands of commuters in a Washington D.C. subway terminal recently either.  Neither did the music he played mean much to them as they hurried past.

Here, watch the video:

So, who is Joshua Bell?  He is a Grammy award-winning violinist who is considered by some to be the best in the world!  The experiment you just viewed was sponsored by the Washington Post.  They placed one of the best violinists in the world, holding an instrument that literally cost millions of dollars, in street clothes and had him play one of the most intricate pieces ever written.  Of the hundreds and hundreds of subway travelers who passed, very few stopped to admire his talent.  One lady even comments that she saw him at the library a while back.  The whole thing would be funny if it were not so tragic.  Two days prior, Joshua Bell played to a sold-out crowd where the least expensive ticket was over $100.  Yet, here was a free concert that few cared enough about to pause for.  Yes, place a brilliant musician in an environment that people are used to seeing beggars occupy and suddenly he becomes just another street person in our eyes.  It is all about…PERCEPTION.

The opposite, of course , is also true.  How do your clients see you (and your company)?  What is their perception of you and the appraisal profession in general?

We appraisers have a very unique situation.  We do not typically have walk-in clients.  Thus, there is typically no need for a high-overhead office in a visible part of the commercial district.  Though I do a large volume of appraisal work, my secretary will not even come to the office after dark.  I would not call it the ghetto, but it ain’t the Ritz Carlton either.  I don’t care.  It is practical and no one ever sees it.  Most of our image comes through client contact on their turf or over the phone/email.  This is neither good nor bad…it just IS.  Therefore, it is essential that we leverage that fact.

If people judge our work (and ultimately our company) on our phone calls, website, and email communication, we better have the best, most professional receptionist and home page in our area!  I believe that is why my sister company, Your Appraisal Office ( has done so well.  Appraisal business owners are beginning to see the negative effect that answering your cell at an inspection has on your various clients.  Having a professional receptionist who is always at her desk and consistently treats your clients with professionalism and respect can (and does) go a long way to building more and more business.  It truly is no small matter.

Your image is everything.  Think about it next time you answer the phone, take a client out to lunch, or even send an email.  In business, it is better to be the appraiser with the professional receptionist than to be the famous musician hanging out at the subway station.  Or to use an analogy that you might understand a little better; I would rather be the small house in a large neighborhood than the largest home in a starter-home neighborhood.

Now, go create some value!



Dustin Harris is a multi-business owner, but he made his fortune 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 mentor. He owns and operates The Appraiser Coach ( where he personally consults and mentors other appraisers helping them to also run successful appraisal companies and increase their net worth.  He is also the Founder and President of Your Appraisal Office ( which implements some of the systems he has developed to help lower costs and free up time for real estate business owners.   He and his wife reside in Idaho with their four children. This article may be reproduced and distributed only in its entirety without permission from the author.

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