A Dentist, a Surgeon and a Head Chef

It has been noted that appraisers often wear multiple “hats” to maintain a successfully running business. But is this the best use of their time to benefit them, their employer, or customer? There are many tasks that business owners can delegate to others. Appraisers should take a lesson from some other common professions on how their skills are best being used.

The Dentist
Think about when you visit a dentist. When you call to make the appointment do you speak to the dentist? No, you talk to a scheduler. After relaxing, because we all relax when going to the dentist, in the waiting room for a bit and the door opens and they call you back, is that the dentist? No, it’s an assistant. If you are there for a cleaning does the dentist do that? No! Well who does? A qualified, trained, skilled licensed dental hygienist performs that task. So what in the world is the dentist doing? Don’t say he or she is on the golf course. While they could be, they are more likely sticking to the tasks only they can do. The extractions, ouch! Maybe the root canals, fillings, crowns and so on. They are performing the highly skilled tasks that only they can do which represents the Highest and Best Use of the dentist’s time.

The Surgeon
What does a doctor, who specializes in surgery, do? Let’s examine the normal routine of a heart surgeon. His hands are found in the chest of a patient fixing their heart. What does he do immediately after repairing this patient’s heart? A surgeon doesn’t typically close, wake the patient up, wheel them back to their room or bring them their lunch tray. Other folks do those tasks. The surgeon immediately scrubs and puts his hands in another patient’s chest to fix them. The Highest and Best Use of the surgeon is to perform surgery, not all the other items that contribute to the success of the surgical process.

The Head Chef
I’m not sure how a Chicago Bears fans puts up with a Green Bay Packers Fan but somehow we make it work. During a trip to Chi-Town to see the rival game we ended up on Navy Pier and decided to splurge on a fancy meal. It was quite impressive as we had a waitress, waterboy, and wine steward. There were busboys and I was extremely impressed with the table setter (or whatever the official name is), as he never stopped working. He was truly an artist at spreading the tablecloth with precision – straight sharp lines – and placing the plates, utensils, and glassware with expertise – ready for the best of guests. After dinner, on our way out, I stopped by the hostess stand where three hostesses greeted me. When I asked to see a manager one immediately responded there were two managers working and she would secure one for me. When the concerned manager approached, extending his hand and offered to solve a problem I didn’t have, he was elated to learn I wanted to compliment his staff on the outstanding service and food. He was shocked and said, “We never hear that.” He went on to say when he’s requested it’s normally something bad. He thanked me. I expressed that his operation appeared to be a well-oiled machine. I said, “I see waiters/waitresses, wine stewards, water servers, bus boys, table setters, food preppers, food runners and sous chefs.” He said, “Yes we have a great team.” I pointed out the three hostesses, the other manager. I said, “I only have one remaining question. How many Head Chefs do you have?” His answer, “Only One.”

The Examination of a Good Recipe
The Highest and Best Use of these professionals’ time is the use that generates the highest return. It is the best use that not only benefits them, or their employer, but also the customer. Appraisers should consider doing the same thing. If you do everything in your practice, realize some of the duties you are performing are at a minimum wage rate. Answering the phone and pulling deeds is clearly not the Highest and Best Use of your time. It does not result in the highest return and I am not speaking of just the best benefit for you. Clients will be better served if you can focus on things only you can do. Most appraisers report it is difficult these days to get one appraisal out the door each day. Soon practitioners will not be able to meet the needs of their clients.

Consider automating your systems whenever possible. Many of my students utilize one monitor. I encourage them right there in class to go out, buy a second monitor and hook up that same night – right after class. You will be so glad you did. One student just as of the date of this writing said he was going by the office supply store tonight to buy a second monitor and give it a try. I assured him within minutes he will be glad he did and if not I would buy the monitor from him. Consider the use of a tablet in the field; hire an assistant or maybe two or three.

Lenders and AMC’s need to lighten up and let appraisers train competent folks and let them take over some of the appraisal duties. Let’s examine industry used pre-printed forms and encourage an overhaul. I mean how many lenders have ever denied a loan based on a bathroom wainscot? Can’t we eliminate the silliness out of the forms?

Shouldn’t the appraiser focus on what only they can do? Others can do many of the functions that appraisers do on a daily basis that doesn’t require an appraiser’s certification, like answering the phone and scheduling appointments, and doing research. The appraiser should probably concentrate their time on the analysis. Stay in the operating room conducting the surgery (analysis) and then do another. Don’t waste your valuable time taking a patient their lunch tray. THE HIGHEST AND BEST USE OF THE APPRAISERS TIME IS SPENT IN THE OPERATING ROOM.

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About Bryan S. Reynolds

Bryan S. Reynolds
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 and appeared 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, www.appraiserelearning.com. He provides residential and commercial valuation services throughout the region and various educational offerings, mentoring, consulting and litigation support services throughout the country as well as being available for lectures and is well known for his Think Outside the "Check" Box approach.

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