And so began a partnership through which skilled appraisers from offices across the country deliver quality appraisal services for a variety of property types in myriad markets. This partnership enables Valbridge appraisers to retain true valuation independence, freeing them of the pressures that can come from large brokerage firms or being funded through venture capital.
“We have a unique model in that each office is a franchised location,” Hall says. “Yet many of the franchisees also make up the franchisor. So we’re partners in that regard, while also running our own individual offices.”
This model affords Valbridge both local expertise and national reach—as each office gains efficiency through shared assets and access to the expertise of subject matter experts who may be miles away.
With an office that serves all of Alabama and the Florida panhandle, Hall himself specializes in conservation easements, right-of-way valuation, and litigation as it pertains to these topics or other settlement cases that involve construction defects, wood infestations, or environmental concerns. Through the years since its inception, he has traveled to other markets across the country to help their local Valbridge office with these specialty valuations, combining his subject expertise with their knowledge of the local market.
Building the Legacy of Team Blue
Since the Boston meeting that laid the foundation for Valbridge Property Advisors, Hall and other founders and franchise owners have continued to develop both collaboration and efficiency.
SHARING BEST PRACTICES, TIME, & EXPERTISE
Since joining the initial group of Valbridge appraisers, Hall says he’s benefited greatly from the informal conversations with other office managers and owners who “were doing things better” than he was in a particular area of their business model.
“And that’s almost been as important as anything,” he says. “It’s just sitting around the restaurant or the conference room talking about best business practices. And I’ve adopted many, many practices from some of my partners that were ahead of me in certain ways.”
Many times, these conversations would occur at the national Valbridge meetings through which he has cultivated connections with those among the original 18 founders and SMDs who have joined much later.
“I don’t like to miss them,” Hall says of these meetings. “We have a lot of fun.”
Aside from these connections, Hall has appreciated the chance to get out and see more of the country than he would have otherwise.
“In the early years,” he says, “it was kind of fun for me because as an appraiser, we’re generally local. We don’t do a lot of travel. I mean, some do that might specialize in certain property types or maybe they’re doing a lot of expert testimony—but I had not. And so in building Valbridge, we began to meet in different cities across the United States.”
And for those who can’t attend these meetings, there are other methods of communication through which members of Team Blue can connect and share their knowledge or learn.
“If people in my office need some help with something,” Hall says, “we have an Intranet where we post questions or ask help from somebody else who might specialize in a particular area. And so they can post a request out there and everybody’s always been so helpful… There’s just such a spirit of cooperation.”
PROMOTING EFFICIENCY THROUGH TEMPLATES & TECH
While business insights, specialty referrals, and the chance to travel around the country have all been perks of being part of Valbridge, what initially drew Hall to the first meeting in Boston was the prospect of gaining efficiency through better technology.
“We had plenty of work,” he says. “We just needed more efficiency.
“When I went to the meeting,” he adds, “I realized there were some very sharp businessmen and women in there and that really drew me even more to partnering up with them.”
Sure enough, this intuition has paid off—and so has the tech.
“We’ve got people that specialize in Word and those that specialize in Excel,” he says of the Valbridge technology team, “and they’ve been able to build some wonderful templates for the different property types. And that’s just something that I never had the time to do.
“And they’re always updating the database or always updating templates. And so that has been a big deal—a real advantage—and I look forward to seeing where we’ll go in the next ten years with the advances in the technology and the templates.”
While Hall says he has greatly benefited from the technology to date, he is looking forward to the rebuilt database the Valbridge technology team will be working on over the next couple of years.
“The better technology you have,” he says, “the more efficient we will be as appraisers.”