You are working hard as an appraiser, gaining customers, and creating value. You love what you do and are excited to see the business you have diligently and meticulously worked for is making progress and gaining ground. Way to go! As this happens, maybe the ball starts rolling a little faster than you know how to keep up with and you find yourself working 10 to 12 hour days, ignoring your family on the weekends, and looking for some help. After all, time and money are the same thing when you own your own business.
You might be tempted to think that pulling in a new guy off the street to be an appraiser trainee is your best (or only) option. But there are so many other less expensive, time efficient ways to receive the help you need. Your first stop could instead be looking into virtual assistants, receptionists, secretaries, data entry people, or research analysts, to name a few. So many people can be hired before you get to trainee. Ultimately, if you decide that hiring a trainee is the best route for you to take, consider these helpful tips to prepare them well and pay them right.
First, recognize the amount of time it takes to learn the ropes. When you’re dealing with a new trainee, you are dealing with a minimum of a year of training. Most of the time, longer than that. It takes a while to get to the point where you can trust them fully to go out and represent you on performing inspections, selecting comparables, and making adjustments.
Next, think about starting your trainees with an hourly wage. $10 to $12 per hour is a great start. And, as they continue to give you more value, increase their dollars per hour. Starting small and working them up from there will encourage progress and keep them motivated. As a good rule of thumb, never get above $20 per hour. They are not at the professional level yet, and teaching them to be is a huge investment of your time. If you can believe it, some appraisers have even provided no compensation for training or required a tuition fee, knowing that the time and energy spent training is giving them an education and setting them up for success in the future.
So, when should you start paying commission? When the novice appraiser becomes licensed or certified and can make their own judgements and sign their own documents, they are well on their way to becoming an expert and commission consideration would be appropriate here. Of course, there are exceptions to these principles—perhaps someone comes to you with a lot of valuable experience, and you feel they need something different starting out. Evaluate those needs and make the decisions that are best for your office.
Finally, consider creating two contracts: one that outlines what trainees can expect here and now, and another that defines what is available down the road. Having goals and future opportunities in mind encourages them to keep moving forward. Can you imagine starting a race without knowing where to start, where to go, when it’s over, or what you get if you win? There must be a clear start and finish and a clearly defined route. Likewise, your trainees will appreciate a definition of what is going on now, what they can expect in two weeks, and how doors will be opened for them in the future as they work hard and create value.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: