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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Planning Your Appraisal Appointment

Janet Madrigal, ISA AM

Ready, Set... Form!

First things first, when that phone rings or that email pings with a potential client, I like to have a client data form/activity log handy. You can find an example in our Core Course manual and the ISA Means Business! Toolbox or make one up yourself. I have many copies made and have them in a folder so that I can just grab one when needed. Because our lives are so hectic, I like to write down as much info as I can. Then I peruse my form just before my appointment. Maybe your client’s mom just passed away or they have a child going off to college for the first time. This is a great way to “break the ice” when you first speak to them again or meet them. C’mon guys, we’re selling ourselves!

What, Why, When, Where

What are the pertinent questions to ask when you receive that call? Start with, “What, Why, When and Where!” People love to talk and love to tell you about their treasures, right? Just like when your seat companion on an airplane inquires what you do for a living and they immediately think, “Antiques Roadshow.” Then the stories really start. We can all relate! It’s not usually too difficult to get the client to tell you the pertinent info, but getting them to stop talking may be another matter entirely!

By now you’ve filled out your intake form and your appointment is set! If you’re a generalist (like I am) the average person expects you to know everything about everything that was ever produced! Now, we all know this just isn’t possible (thank you again, Antiques Roadshow). Hopefully, you have a few extra minutes to do a google search or whatever else floats your proverbial boat to have some good information on the client’s collection. I don’t suggest faking knowledge but rather ask good questions and listen well. Then reach back into your core course or something you read and WOW them with your knowledge!

Gear it Up

I always have my appraisal bag at the ready. Contents include:
  • A decent digital camera (with a charged battery, even though most of us have a phone with us if we run out of camera battery)
  • Two measuring tapes (one retractable and one without metal at ends for measuring art or scratch-able items)
  • Pens and pencils
  • A small flashlight
  • Magnifier
  • Loupe
  • White cotton gloves (available at CVS)
  • Mask (you never know when you’ll need one)
  • Pointer (if you use a pen or a pencil to point out a condition issue you may leave a visible mark)
  • Extra batteries
  • A package of hand wipes or sanitizer (if there isn’t running water to wash your hands before or after)
  • My notebook and client file.
I like to put my client form in a manila file for confidential purposes. More than once I have caught clients snooping on what I wrote! Business cards are a must and a pocket-size Hallmark book may be helpful. You'll also want to include client contracts, invoices and other relevant paperwork for the assignment.

Bag contents may change if you’re an art or jewelry appraiser (a black light, scale, and acid test kit may be added). I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared. Having everything you might need at your fingertips makes you look professional and prepared. The client form has space for the client’s address and the owner’s address. Where are the items located? Are they at the deceased mom’s house or moved to the daughter’s house? Make sure you know where the items are located to save time and trouble.

Waze It

I use an app (which I found thanks to my millennial children) called WAZE. I can put in a client’s address and when I’m traveling (day and time) and it will calculate how long it will take me and will send me a ping when it’s time to leave! It considers time of day, traffic and construction. Let’s face it, it’s a lot less stressful to be a few minutes early rather than late. If you’re early you can take those few minutes to scan your intake form once more before meeting the client.

Dressing the Part

Depending on the client and situation, dress the part. For instance, in July, I had a client that had no air conditioning, no fans, and no open windows. Besides that, I had to trek into a gravel sub-basement and several out buildings through grass and one-can-only-guess. Since I had been there previously, I was thankful for my capris and ECCO shoes. Wearing the right clothes and shoes for the situation adds to your professionalism, not to mention, your comfort!

Your Gut (Feeling, That Is)

Safety is very important in any profession and ours is no exception. The Waze app allows you to send an “ETA” to family and friends. It’s the last thing I do before I ring the doorbell. My family, then, has the time and address of where I am located. Generally, I am alone on appointments going into a stranger’s home. Use your instincts and go with your gut feeling. It will never let you down. If you feel uneasy about the situation, drive to a safe location and reschedule when someone else can be with you. If everything feels and looks right, have your business card ready to hand to the client along with a big welcoming smile!

Janet Madrigal, ISA AM, has been a member of ISA since 2014. She is located in Joliet, Illinois and owns the company Attic to Appraisals, where she assists homeowners in finding their everyday items that may have more value than they think. She earned her MBA from Lewis University.

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