Editor’s Note: Marketing guru Roy Meyer shows us that while we can’t increase the amount of hours in a day, we can completely change how we use those hours to achieve success. Roy is presenting a free webinar on this topic Oct. 2 (details below).
How to Find Success in Today’s Tough Market
by Roy Meyer
Imagine your appraisal business built primarily around non-lender work and continuing to grow every night while you sleep. Imagine having a dedicated team committed to the success of your appraisal business and taking extended vacations where your business doesn’t skip a beat.
Imagine…you fill in the blank.
It’s not a pipedream and it’s already happening for many appraisers across the country who have opened their minds to a new way of building their businesses. And that new way is with the help of outsourcing.
I’ve been outsourcing for more than nine years and currently have a team of virtual assistants in both India and the Philippines as well as a number of other part-time virtual contractors from around the world including the U.S. In addition to appraisers, I consult with Realtors, brokers, investors, and others in the real estate industry on how to grow, automate and streamline their businesses using a combination of outsourcing, marketing and other related tools and systems.
Regardless of how you may initially feel about the idea of creating this type of virtual team, the truth is… it’s already common practice. The question is, how many years are you planning on spinning your wheels and never getting where you want with your appraisal career?
For me, it took the better part of seven long years to finally reach that “a-ha!” moment. That was when it dawned on me that being self-employed doesn’t mean that you have to do it all alone.
I already know what your initial reaction may be:
- “Isn’t this stealing jobs from Americans?”
- “I know nothing about creating a virtual team – it just sounds too complicated.”
- “I just don’t see how it can help!”
- “They can’t be trusted and they’ll steal all of my information!”
How Outsourcing Creates American Jobs
There are plenty of common misconceptions and misunderstandings about outsourcing including what it means for American jobs– as well as your own business. An important point to keep in mind is that the outsourcing I’m talking about doesn’t result in “stealing jobs from Americans.” How is that possible?
The average appraiser is a one-person shop just trying to maintain their business and keep it afloat. They usually can’t afford to hire an assistant, marketer or social media expert at local rates. In other words, one can’t argue that we’re stealing jobs from Americans if you’re not providing jobs in the first place. Outsourcing creates an opportunity that would never otherwise exist.
There is another major benefit that few people ever bother to consider: by using outsourcing to get a business going, the chance for success increases greatly, doubles or even triples. When this happens, it makes it possible for an appraiser to hire local people to take care of tasks outsourcing may not cover, including hiring additional appraisers. So, in a real and true sense this means outsourcing can actually help to create jobs for Americans– not take jobs away.
In fact, outsourcing helped grow my appraisal business quickly to a level I could never have achieved on my own, allowing me to hire local office staff and bring on additional appraisers to help manage our increased workload.
The bottom line is that in most truly successful businesses outsourcing is now the way things get done – like it or not. And if you miss out on the opportunity to create your virtual dream team, you can be pretty sure that in the future your competition won’t. And when that happens you can watch your competition having more free time, more money, greater success and creating jobs for Americans as their businesses continue to grow.
Understanding the Basics: Virtual Contractor vs. Virtual Assistant
One of the first things to understand in the world of outsourcing is the difference between a part-time virtual contractor (VC) and a full-time virtual assistant (VA) and why you need both.
Normally you would hire a VC for one-off tasks such as setting up a website, designing a logo, providing a list of attorneys to market to, writing copy for a direct mail campaign, and a myriad of other tasks. These jobs are typically paid per job, not per hour, and the person you hire only cares about completing the task at hand and has no actual interest in the success of your business.
On sites such as Elance, oDesk, Guru, and more, VCs from around the world, including the U.S., bid on your job and share a time for completion in which you’ll then select who you feel is the best person for the task at hand.
Now the real power of outsourcing begins when you bring on your own full-time VA who is dedicated to you and the success of your business. They not only care about the tasks at hand but they also have a vested interest in the success of your business. The more successful you are, the better chance they have at long term or even lifetime employment as well as reaping any additional rewards from your success.
Putting together a team or even starting with a single VA can help you with important marketing strategies and techniques that will increase your visibility and your business such as: branding, lead generation, direct mail, article writing, blog posting, video marketing, competitor research, website management, email management, social media management, SEO (search engine optimization), client relationship management, managing contact management system, office administration, billing, setting up orders, listing your business on all the online directories, scraping events where you should be networking, marketing, marketing, marketing and more!
I recommend hiring full-time VAs from the Philippines. Since this was once a U.S. territory, the majority of residents are excellent at speaking English and are fairly Westernized. Not to mention most of them are very well educated, dedicated to hard work, extremely loyal, and honest to a fault. And of course, they work for unbeatably affordable rates.
The majority of people you hire as VAs from the Philippines have at least one college degree, multitude of skill sets and speak very good English. As a result, a popular misconception many people have is that you’re taking advantage by only paying them $2-$3 per hour. However, that’s simply not the case as they have a completely different standard of living, their unemployment rate is extremely high and that pay rate is considerably higher than the average minimum wage in the Philippines.
The key to success in working with your Filipino VAs is to treat them like real people and not robots. Treat them fairly and make sure they know you care about them and their families; provide them with incentives and regular bonuses to keep them highly motivated in your business. And finally, demonstrate that the more successful your business is the more benefits they’ll see, including the potential for long term or even lifetime employment. Great…But How Will it Help Me?
Sounds Great…But How Will it Help Me?
Here’s a peek behind the curtain about how I’ll be using outsourcing to build and scale a new second appraisal business completely from scratch in a new market area where I have absolutely no contacts or presence whatsoever.
First, I’ll be looking for a local virtual office that’s able to provide me with a unique suite number for this new business. If none are available or they’re simply too expensive I’ll most likely go with a UPS business mailbox as I’m not looking for a formal office and one should never use a P.O. Box! And yes, my VAs will be doing all of the initial research and then providing me with a list of options to choose from.
The next step will be building a new website that’s unique and tailored to my intended market. Most appraisers don’t have a website while other appraisers often have sites that look nearly identical to their competition. Keep in mind that much of the marketing required for non-lender work directly ties in with your website so it’s critical to have a site that’s unique and branded to you and your market area.
Although I’ll be providing direction for this new website, my VAs will be handling the majority of this task. You could also outsource this task to a VC from Elance, oDesk or Freelancer just to name a few. And if you need a new business logo, you can outsource that to a VC on Fiverr for $5 or crowdsource it to 99Designs.
Another cornerstone of this business will be to set up a contact or email management system using a system such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Send Pepper or Infusionsoft, to name a few. Then as I begin networking and marketing, I’ll have a system in place to add new leads as well as follow-up with them with an automated marketing campaign. My VAs will be required to learn and completely manage this system for me and I’ll also be hiring a copywriter (VC) to write much of the copy for each campaign.
In this new age I believe video marketing is a key element in building and sustaining a successful non-lender appraisal business. Did you know it’s nearly 53 times easier to rank a video than a website? So it’s just as important to have a custom YouTube channel as it is to have a custom website. Did you know you can build out a professional looking YouTube channel without having any of your own video content to start? I’ll be outsourcing this task to my own team or a virtual contractor from Elance or oDesk who could most likely complete this task for as little as $50.
Once my outsource team has put all of the foundational pieces in place, I’ll turn my VAs lose in the managing and endless marketing of this new appraisal business. So hold on while I run through just a few of the activities my VAs will be performing for me on a regular basis:
- Manage phone calls, set up orders and re-inspection requests, schedule appointments, assign orders to staff, track each appraisal from start to finish, perform basic data entry once comps have been provided, set-up Dropbox folders for each new file to store and share data including field notes and data sheets, filter emails, follow-up on invoices 30+ days old, maintain current information including updated License and E&O with existing client base, and more.
- Sign the business up with online directories including Yellow Pages, Bing, Yahoo, Google+, FourSquare, Super Pages, Angie’s List, Active Rain, Merchant Circle, Local.com, Infogram, Construction Deal, and more.
- Scrape contact information for local credit unions, bail bondsmen, attorneys, brokers, Realtors and others to market to. Add contacts into a contact or email management system and apply appropriate marketing campaigns. Call credit unions for ‘point of contact’ information as well as information regarding the process involved in being placed on their approved panel.
- Monitor local publications as well as sites such as EventBrite, Yelp, meet-up groups, MLS events and more on a weekly basis and provide a weekly report of events and conferences that I should attend in order to network and market my business at.
- Scrape contact information for managing brokers of local real estate offices. Send out video introduction cards to each broker asking if they’d be interested in having me as a guest speaker. Track video intro open rates, response rates, follow-up calls, and provide weekly status reports.
- Research and join local online groups and forums including those for Realtors, brokers, investors, attorneys, and more. Build out influence in LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and more including providing weekly status reports.
- Engage our target audience through social media and website ‘Contact Us’ forms, and more, on a weekly basis. Track response and engagement rates and provide weekly progress reports.
- Perform keyword research for relevant keywords people are searching for. Create related articles, blog posts, videos and press releases around keywords and distribute to directories.
- Create and distribute videos on a regular basis. Video marketing is extremely powerful and much easier than you think…especially when your VAs are doing all the heavy lifting. In order to dominate this new market area my VAs will be flooding the Internet with promotional videos, marketing videos, article videos, local market trend videos, as well as educational videos about the appraisal process.
- Manage my Send Out Cards account including designing new cards and campaigns, uploading new contacts and assigning them to appropriate campaigns, scraping leads, sending out direct mail campaigns, tracking results, and more. Provide weekly progress and status reports.
- Perform competitor research and provide weekly updates. This includes tracking competition for any changes in their websites, new video releases, new reviews, new directory listings and anything else they may be up to. My goal is to never be outdone and not just one-up the competition but ten-up what they’re doing with the help of my virtual team.
- Manage client relationship activities including sending out birthday and holiday cards, nice-to-meet-you cards and referral thank you cards, follow-up cards after speaking events and much more.
- When I don’t personally have the time to learn a new software or marketing tool I hand it off to my VAs to learn it for me. Then I ask them to provide me with a report on how I could use it in my business and if appropriate, have them apply it and put it to use.
Now I’ve just barely scratched the surface on how I’ll be using outsourcing to help build, manage and scale this new second appraisal business including dominating my local market. Imagine having to learn these few tasks yourself as well as being responsible for implementation and tracking results? You simply wouldn’t do it!
Then imagine trying to compete with an appraiser who has a virtual team in place who’s handling all of these tasks and more on a regular basis? You simply couldn’t compete! Being able to hand off these types of tasks to your virtual team will allow you to focus on the things you do best as well as the things you enjoy most.
Global Assistance to Dominate the Local Market
You can keep doing what you’re already doing and keep hoping that someday it works. Or you can do what successful entrepreneurs do, which is find the next step to grow your business. The possibilities of dominating your local market are unlimited once you begin to expand your team of helpers from around the globe.
It’s not that complicated when you really think about it as you only have so many hours you can work in a day. This not only limits the amount of tasks you can get done but it also limits the amount of potential income you can earn
So think about this: what if you could double or triple your time? Imagine being able to focus on just the important details of your business: the tasks only you can do. This means not wasting precious hours every day taking care of tasks you still have to learn or those tasks that are worth less than the value of your time. Hand over those tasks to skilled, trained and experienced VAs so you can begin focusing on running your business instead of your business running you.
Think of all the tasks you have to do in a day: bookkeeping, returning phone calls, e-mail management and follow up, endless paperwork, setting up orders, scheduling appointments, pulling data and compiling reports, collecting on outstanding invoices, social media management, updating your website, growing your client base, client relationship management- and this is just part of an appraiser’s “to-do” list.
Add to that any attempts to market for non-lender work, and it’s no wonder you feel like you never seem to get enough done. While you can’t increase the amount of hours in a day, you can completely change how those hours are put to use.
Burn Out Antidote
Let’s face it – trying to take all of this on by yourself leads to feeling exhausted, frustrated and all around burned out. You invest all that hard work every day just trying to survive and maintain what you have, forget ever really trying to grow your business. So it often begins to feel like “What’s the point?” Outsourcing can change all of that. Imagine having free time again!
Delegating low-dollar tasks to others enables you to focus on what you should be working at the hardest: obtaining new clients and maintaining existing ones are the bread and butter of any business, and that should be your top priority.
The only way to do that is to be able to hand off tasks that are time consuming, get in the way and prevent you from focusing on getting more clients. It might make you nervous to think about letting go of the control of some of these tasks. Yet once you do so and let others take care of many of these time conuming tasks for you, you’ll be amazed. Not only can others often get the job done as good or better than you could, they can also do it for a fraction of what you might think.
10 Hours a Week Back
Think of it this way: At the very minimum, having a virtual assistant can mean giving you 10 hours of your time back a week. That’s 10 hours for you to focus on getting clients or even just spending with your family. At the end of the month that equals 40 hours. So what’s 40 hours of your time worth to you? I can assure you that extra time is worth far more than the minimal cost of a virtual assistant who can help make that happen!
And when you’re virtual assistant(s) begin spending time on marketing and lead generation for your business, that’s when the real magic begins. Imagine how quickly your business would grow if all your virtual assistant did was bring you in one new client per month.
Time is the Bottom Line
The bottom line when it comes to your appraisal business is to realize that your time is more valuable than your money. It’s true! And technically you cannot “get” more time the same way you can borrow, make or earn more money.
But by delegating tasks you can earn back some of your most valuable asset– your time. Enabling others to take care of tasks that simply tie up your time instead of make your time worth money is the smartest approach to achieving great success. The two main objections you may have to get past are being able to relinquish some control as well as getting over any misconceptions you previously had about outsourcing, including what this means for American jobs.
- Giving up some tasks and some control is only difficult until you finally do it. Once you see tasks getting done by capable and loyal virtual assistants that will change. In fact, all you’ll really be wondering is why you didn’t do it sooner.
- Outsourcing is what will create a business successful enough to employ Americans. These are jobs that would never otherwise be in place for anyone, including Americans, if the cost didn’t make it possible. Invest now through outsourcing so that someday soon you also have a growing business that’s creating jobs for Americans.
Are you stuck in a rut and still only dreaming of success? Then take the next step and help make your dreams a reality. Outsourcing is the single greatest opportunity you have to double or triple your income with a minimal increase in expense!
About the Author
Roy Meyer is a Certified Appraiser of nearly 24 years, national speaker, author, outsource & marketing expert, co-founder of the Appraiser’s Club and consultant to hundreds of appraisers, brokers, Realtors, and investors across the country.
Interested in learning more how marketing and outsourcing can explode your appraisal business as well as more details about how Roy is building a new appraisal business from scratch? Then register below for his FREE upcoming event which has only been offered once before. Nearly 1,000 appraisers registered for his last event so grab your spot now as space is limited and this event will again fill up fast.
Get Off the AMC Roller Coaster AM Session: Wed, Oct 2nd @ 9:00 am PST / 12:00 pm EST
Get Off the AMC Roller Coaster PM Session: Wed, Oct 2nd @ 4:00 pm PST / 7:00 pm EST