Bryan Reynolds reflects on why we appraisers should focus on our top abilities and delegate the tasks we aren’t so great at.

Have you looked in the mirror lately? I mean, really just stood in front of the mirror and taken a long, hard look at yourself?

Do you like what you see there? The wonderful thing is that if you don’t like what you see, you have the ability to change it.

As a business coach, I often tell clients: If you’re not performing at your peak ability, maybe you should look in the mirror and say, “You’re fired.”

I say quite frequently there are no two pieces of dirt on the planet exactly alike. No two pieces of real estate are the same. That’s what makes real estate so different from other goods and services that we buy and sell every day. Each property is unique, just like we are as human beings. We all have strength and weaknesses. And we, as human beings, resist change.

Extinction Is Not Inevitable. Case Study: One-Hour Photo Labs

But no matter how much we resist, change keeps happening anyway. We can be ready for it, or we can push back. Remember those old one-hour photo places? How many of those are still standing? Well I know one that adapted to change. It belonged to a guy named Eddie. He started working on digital cameras, selling them, converting old DVDs and VHS tapes to digital formats, taking old torn photos and making them look brand new. When my mom was on husband #2, after my dad died, she had a photo taken of all her grandkids. Her brother’s son was in the picture with his new wife, who did not last long as part of the family. My mother took this picture over to Eddie, and she said, “Eddie, you see that girl standing next to my grandson? That was his wife. Can you make her disappear, and move my other grandson over a little bit?” And he did it! I was like, “Mom! You can’t just make people disappear!” But I guess in a photograph you sure can.

Or at least, Eddie can. And he’s still got a thriving business, while all the other one-hour photo labs are long gone.

So here’s what I want you to think about: We resist change, external change and changes within ourselves. It’s human nature. But sometimes, we do ourselves harm by refusing to change.

Do You Need a Trainee?

I want you to ask yourself: Are you performing at the highest level that you could be? In my coaching practice and my appraisal classes, I talk to a lot of people. A guy approached me after class once and said he was thinking about bringing on a trainee. He’s in his 70s and had health issues but was still in business.

Let me just pause here to say that I’m a big-time supporter of trainees, and I’m all for YOU bringing on a trainee. I’m creating the Trainee Committee and the Trainee Network for the NAA. I want us to do all we can to support trainees and supervisors, and if you want to expand your business, it’s something you should think about.

But you need to be sure you actually need a trainee. Because may need another kind of hire altogether.

So I said to this man, “Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t need a trainee yet. You need a helper.” He was making all the phone calls to schedule appointments. He was handling all the requests from lenders to prepare and send bids, accepting orders, starting the files, and setting them up in the appraisal software.

“That’s kind of a waste of your time,” I told him. He didn’t need a trainee for all that. He needed a helper: someone to answer the phone, reply to emails, schedule his weeks, take all that busy work off of his shoulders.

Triage Your Time

I’m not saying he, or I, or any of us are too good to do these things. I’m not too important to answer my phone. I DO answer my phone, in fact. I’m no better than anybody, and nobody’s better than me.

It’s just that these things are not the highest and best use of your time.

I wrote an article many years ago about a dentist, a surgeon, and a head chef. The whole premise is: identify what only you can do, and DO THAT. Over and over, every single day. Then build a team to back you up, so you can take the busy work off your schedule and let a highly organized person do that for you.

When I suggested this, the man’s eyes lit up.

I’m excited to see where he takes his practice. And maybe you should be having this same conversation — with yourself.

“Identify what only you can do, and DO THAT. Over and over, every single day. Then build a team to back you up, so you can take the busy work off your schedule and let a highly organized person do that for you.”

So look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe you should fire yourself from the work you shouldn’t be doing, work you should hire someone else to do — so you can do the actual work of appraisal and analysis.

Maybe you should fire yourself from the part of the work that you don’t like doing, and get someone else who has that expertise to step in. I could try to figure out accounting, but I don’t want to. So I hire a professional accounting firm. I don’t want to schedule all the appointments and make all the phone calls. I’ve been there; I’ve done that. And it’s not that I’m too good to do it; I’d just rather use my time for something else.

Look in the mirror. Take an assessment. And don’t be afraid to make some changes. Don’t be afraid to implement some new ideas or strategies. Worst case, you can always go back to the old way if you want to. But there’s a part of me that would bet that you won’t want to.

And if you’ve never read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D., I highly recommend it. Read it, and then think about making some positive changes that will take some of the headache out of your life. And consider building a team to help you with that.


About the Author:

Bryan S. Reynolds, CDEI™ is a KY/TN Certified General Real Property Appraiser, a registered agent with the TN State Board of Equalization and an AQB Certified USPAP Instructor. He has testified in various courts, planning and zoning boards as both an expert and as an agent making valuation arguments before local and state hearing officials and Administrated Law Judges. Reynolds is the owner of Bryan S. Reynolds & Associates, Reynolds Appraisal Service and a partner in Appraiser eLearning. He provides residential and commercial valuation services, educational offerings, mentoring, consulting, and litigation support services throughout the country. He is available for lectures and is well known for his Think Outside the “Check” Box approach.