How to fix appraisal commoditization

“An appraisal is an appraisal is an appraisal.” Commercial appraisers are afraid of that sentence. Commoditization. Lumped together. No differential. Same perceived value. Like Home Depot and Lowe’s. David Priemer of Cerebral Selling has coined our issue. We often find ourselves floating in the “Sea of Sameness.” It’s like trying to differentiate white paint – eggshell, ivory, cream, vanilla or beige? In the end, it’s still white paint.

So how do we stand out?

He suggests bring the future to your client. Show your passion for your industry. Don’t curb your enthusiasm, rather broadcast it through your marketing. Let it show up in your sales (yes appraisers “do sales” even if you don’t think so). Create content that educates, motivates and shows off your SME-ness (subject matter expert).

Tell me more

Commercial appraisers have a lot of anxiety in their voice. There’s a low-grade chronic worry about the direction of the appraisal industry. How confident are you in your appraisal career and the longevity of your firm? The reality is that the market is going to do what the market is going to do. It’s your response that will accelerate your success or hasten its failure. I think it comes down to confidence.

Jeff seems nice, but I need an expert

We need to Start with the Why, Simon Sinek’s book that helps people get more inspired at work. You would think it would start with answers, but Mr. Sinek makes you start with questions.

Why do you appraise? Do you love writing 100+ reports every week? Do you love solving a valuation riddle? Do you like it for the money? Regardless, we can all be inspired. Mr. Sinek uses a framework he calls The Golden Circle. The outcome will be inspired colleagues and clients. Your attitude and commitment to providing more focus to your appraisal business and product improvement.

I don’t really have time for this

There’s so much more than just appraising. Obviously, there’s the product (appraisal). But what about marketing, sales and client success? What are your playbooks for each of those buckets? Who is in charge of each of those buckets? What are your quarterly goals? Is your team aware of the metrics?

Are you leading your employees down an aspiration path or just making appraisal widgets hoping reviewers don’t call?

Top 3 Differentials

  1. The Yoda principle
  2. Rocket man
  3. Tug of war

Yoda provides Step 1 to differentiate ourselves as appraisers. “Do or do not, there is no try.” Life (and work) is about doing, not knowing. An ongoing investment in your appraisal productivity with hardware and software (and best practices) can be your path…or not.

Step 2 velocity. Is your appraisal volume trending downward? Just like a rocket, there needs to be a lot of effort to get movement. The same is true for your appraisal firm. It takes ignition and lots of fuel to push your rocket. Is your rocket still on the launching pad?

Step 3 can be surprisingly challenging due to commercial appraisers proclivity to dig in their heels and avoid change. Look around your office. Is everyone pulling in the same direction or are there opposing personalities stopping your forward movement? Surprisingly, this can occur even if the ROI is clearly communicated and the productivity benefits are uber obvious.

Some non-lender users of our appraisal product sometimes ask for a “MIA” appraisal. Not even sure what the letters mean, much less their proper order. Appraisers have been so busy appraising there hasn’t been time to effectively communicate our value and differential to a larger audience. We struggle haphazardly attacking our busy day to take the time out to show why our appraisal firm is different.

Bottom Line

How much conviction do you have for your appraisal product? Fight against perfect and start on the path of movement. Analysis paralysis will result in an all stop to your success. “If more info was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs,” Derek Sivers.

Point to a specific well understood (but not articulated) challenge for your clients. That will be the money shot for you. Career extender. Young talent attractor. Relevance enhancer. Commodity crusher.