A better 2022

5 Things to do start the year out right 

1 Fix your No. 1 problem from 2021.

This is probably the easiest issue to identify but the hardest to solve. The reason being is you probably have kicked the can ignoring the problem for an entire year. It’s something that has bugged you on an ongoing basis. It takes up your brain space on the drive home in your car. I bet you’ve talked to your significant other, especially when you get home and have a glass of wine complaining about this issue. Oftentimes it’s a people problem, which relates back to No. 5 Evaluate the team. 

For some appraisal firms, the biggest annoyance in 2021 might be the lack or half-heartedly implemented report writing software and no workflow platform. Consider DataComp Suite if your No. 1 problem in 2021 involved these words: cobbled together, no bells or whistles, manual process, redundancies, piece meal, random Excel files or duct tape solutions.  

2 Double down on processes.

If you take on a new appraiser, for example, provide them with onboarding playbooks. This serves to do a few things, it takes a significant amount of time off your hands, properly informs the new employee your expectations and provides a resource for them to follow. If they come back with a mountain of questions and you feel that the playbooks are well presented, then you probably have a different problem. 

Position statements are a game changer to your appraisal firm. It doesn’t matter if your employees are new or veterans, a position statement spells out exactly their duties. Spell out tactical and strategic duties, list everything you can think of. It will be a (surprising) lengthy list. 

Be on the lookout for employee frustrations that are often not verbalized, “Why are they making me do this, this isn’t my job.” Sit down with your employees and explain to them why you’re having them sign these position statements. These 3 – 4 page documents are an excellent way to clear the air, manage expectations and worst-case scenario, provide a great outline for the exit interview without getting personal. Email me if you want some sample position statements. 

3 Find a coach.

If you have been the owner of your firm for 10, 20 or 30 plus years, you know a lot of stuff. However, what got you here will not get you there. Find a coach that can help you be a strategic thinker rather than a tactical drill sergeant. Learn how to lead your appraisal firm with culture. Avoid a dated managerial style, “Here’s another job” and expect great things.  

Take advantage of the current huge appraisal opportunity. If you’re planning an exit strategy, create significant value rather than just close the doors. Dig your well before you get thirsty. 

4 Hire a VA.

If you’re an appraisal firm owner or partner, dealing with your inbox can be a significant problem. Lost productivity reacting to an inbox is not best practice. Yes, your emails need to be responded to but you may find yourself spending 50% of your day being controlled by your inbox. 

There’s a better way, hire a VA (virtual assistant). An effective VA doesn’t necessarily have to be outside of the US. The quality of the resource has improved significantly. The companies that provide VA try to meet your expectations. If the VA is not working out, you can then ask to be provided with another VA.  

You might be surprised at the good quality support you can get at a very cost effective hourly rate. Your  appraisers and staff will appreciate the drop in your stress and increase in availability. The timing might be perfect considering the significant spike in appraisal volume. 

5 Evaluate the team.

Going into 2022, take an honest look at your team and determine their individual value to your appraisal firm. Priority No 1. is to identify any team members that exude a negative influence. Communicate with your staff to determine if and what extent an employee might be bringing down the rest of the team. It’s important to separate the person from the position. Take a coaching posture, not Game of Thrones attitude.  

Sometimes it’s easier to ignore the bad apple since they produce and re-hiring can be a challenge. However, this person’s attitude needs to be addressed ASAP to avoid the rest of the staff believing that bad behavior is acceptable. As the appraisal owner, don’t worry if this problem employee will leave. Ask the bigger question, “What if they stay?” Having them work from home is a short-term fix, but you’ll likely regret dragging this problem into 2023. 

Here’s to a better 2022. Cheers!