While running a successful appraisal practice is similar in many ways to successfully running other businesses, there are some unique challenges. These challenges are only compounded by having multiple offices.
Some of the issues include:
- attracting and retaining top talent
- overseeing the work flow
- maintaining quality control
- managing the cash flow, and
- maintaining compliance.
On top of all this, managers must find sufficient time to maintain their own valuation practice.
Managers are always on the lookout for solutions to be used to eliminate some of the time and effort required in meeting these challenges.
Recruiting Top Talent
For successful recruiting, appraisal firms must appeal to younger workers. To do so, it is important to create a friendly work space environment which increases collaboration and interaction. For example, we recently moved to an office with open space, kitchen and conference room setting. We have also been retraining our administrative staff to be appraisal analysts which ensures maximum productivity.
Top talent individuals also demand greater flexibility in the work day and work place. One of the strengths of our profession is that it naturally lends itself to these demands. It is the manager’s function to adapt to these changes. We have found a large pool of professionals who are not interested in full time employment and would rather work part time. They are fully capable and eager to positively contribute to our company. Another avenue for recruiting is offering paid summer internships.
By making collaboration easy, offering flexible hours and professional wages, a firm can plant seeds for long-term success.
Work Flow, Quality Control and Cash Flow
It is critical to maintain proper controls of the work flow to meet deadlines, maximize employee productivity, and exceed customers’ expectations. Proper oversite of this function also helps ensure the highest quality work is being performed.
One of the hardest jobs of a manager can be assigning work. It is critical to determine available capacity of the work force and to conduct strength and weakness analyses when bidding and assigning jobs. By having up to date metrics regarding capacity, experience and appraiser productivity, a manager can streamline this process. In today’s competitive bidding environment, a tool that provides this function can be the difference between an average or good fee assignment versus no assignment at all. Having these tools at your fingertips will also provide better information for future cash flow projections. Appraisers are great at evaluating efficiencies in our valuation of real property but we often fail to adopt necessary preliminary tools needed to evaluate the efficiency of our practice which will increase the company’s cash flow.
Managers spend considerable time overseeing industry compliance and company security. Laptops are emerging as a significant security risk. As developments in technology shift work away from desktop computing, a successful manager must be ready to move the practice to the cloud. Our firm recently sold our servers and moved all files to the cloud. All our paper files were scanned and discarded. The area used for physical storage has been downsized providing more office space for our staff. We also eliminated the need for a part time IT person. In addition, a laptop with minimal storage but high computing capacity is now purchased for new employee, and we no longer buy desktop units. In the next 12 to 18 months, we hope to eliminate the laptops entirely as we move all of our operations to the cloud. The cost of a Chrome book or iPad are significantly less than a desktop device and the security issues are greatly diminished. It’s only natural the market will move in this direction.
Keys to the Future
Offering a work friendly space, using all possible tools for collaboration, having up-to-date and easy to use work flow management tools and ensuring compliance, are just some of the ways to ensure a future successful appraisal practice amid rapid developments and technological changes. This is a very high-level view, so in future blogs, we will dig into each of these topics more.