We recently purchased our HQ office building in downtown Tampa. I hired a commercial painter to paint a four level huge exterior metal fire escape. I watched his guys paint day after day in the Florida heat. I felt bad for his team. But after getting to know the painters, we started joking with each other, “Missed a spot.”

Scope of work

The painter underbid the job. He didn’t realize the intricacy of the fire escape. In our world, it’s like you thought you were bidding on a straightforward office building but turns out to be a proposed waterfront casino with dual flag hotel and marina. No bueno.

Going to lunch is an important part of our day, so “You missed a spot” became a daily occurrence. For some reason we found it endlessly funny. We now use the saying for internal commercial reviews. “You missed a spot” analogous to report mistakes.

For commercial fee appraisers, report mistakes can come from anywhere. Some are old school typos, valuation inconsistencies or maybe a lack of any connection of market data to the subject. Software solutions to automate report creation, like DataComp Suite, can reduce the amount of mistakes. Properly implemented software can buy back your time, allowing you to focus on the valuation not word processing.

Attract talent

Like many greying professions, it’s important to onboard younger talent. This demands we change how we manage people. Running an appraisal firm with MAI top down approach, with no documented video or Google doc processes is dead. No culture, no new hires. Same for appraisal departments in banks. Young employees expect there to be tools and onboarding resources for them to produce quickly.

“The lack of software and systems investment
results in appraiser churn.”

Compliment sandwich

If you hire a management consultant, they often start off with the basics such as plus delta. This evaluation style provides feedback framed in improvement language rather than critical statements. I recommend compliment sandwich. Start and end the conversation with positive comments, and in the middle, communicate the criticism. The plus identifies what went well.

Plus delta is hard for “appraiser brain”, where we often only focus on what’s wrong. We reflexively look for typos, poorly worded sentences or things that don’t fit in our predefined rules of thumb.

Mr. Miyagi

Being a chronic overly critical appraisal manager or appraisal firm owner isn’t productive. Criticism doesn’t lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates defensiveness and sometimes anger from your staff. Manage your people more like Mr. Miyagi than Gordon Gekko of Wall Street.

5 reasons appraisers leave

  1. Not being available for your people.
  2. Asking the same task to different employees.
  3. Forgetting what you asked them to do.
  4. Lack of follow through.
  5. Not listening/multi-tasking.

Many in our valuation space do the opposite of No. 1. They micromanage. This is a transactional management style: 1. tell them what to do, 2. check that they did what you told them to do and 3. give them the next task. This typically breaks down around 12 people.

As the appraisal manager in your department or firm owner, this style requires you to walk around all day micromanaging. Consider being a lighthouse, a leadership style that focuses on productivity, and listening to your staff on how things can be run better.

Consider game changing tools like YouConnect, appraisal and environmental workflow for your department. The platform goes way beyond just ordering appraisals. It creates new more efficient processes while providing transparency.

Lead your staff by communicating clearly where you’d like to take your department or firm. Communicate consistently and often. Give them tools and resources along the way. Consider open book management to educate your staff. Walk them through a P&L. It might bring confidence to know that you’re doing well or dig deeper if things are going sideways.

Your challenge – resist the urge to always critique your appraisers and reviewers.

True story, as I’m writing this blog, my daughter gave me a nameplate for my desk that read, “I’m silently correcting your grammar.”

Missed a spot.