The Appraisal Institute recognized it was time for a change and wanted to closely examine all aspects of its education offerings–from development, to delivery, to the training of instructors–and its entire business model.
The group’s classroom education, which includes national and chapter offerings, averages 35,000 students annually, which generates approximately $5.5 million in revenue per year.
“It was time to take a hard look at what we’ve been doing and see how we could do it better, more profitably, and how we could stop competing with ourselves, meaning our chapters,” said Sue Siradas, the Appraisal Institute’s director of education resources.
There were also newer competitors in the market encroaching on the Appraisal Institute’s space. The group needed to find a way to get back into the position of being “the top appraisal educator out there,” Siradas said.
The Appraisal Institute partnered with Avenue M, which led a multipronged research initiative that gained perspective on the Appraisal Institute’s past as a leader in its profession for more than 85 years, to better inform its future.
The approach included an immersive deep dive into the group’s educational offerings, one-on-one interviews with staff, qualitative research with key stakeholders, a portfolio assessment, and a survey of the group’s current, former, and prospective students.
After analyzing the extensive research, Avenue M recommended creating operational efficiencies to save money, like streamlining the group’s portfolio, since it maintained more than 150 programs–submitted to 52 different jurisdictions–many of which were not being offered anymore.
Avenue M advised implementing a new marketing strategy to expand the group’s reach, increase participation, and foster increased loyalty by refreshing the group’s brand, including improving the website experience and updating its logo to attract younger professionals, increase visibility in the market, and promote and build value into existing strengths.
Because so many competitors were offering less expensive education offerings, the Appraisal Institute needed to determine how to brand itself as an education provider–without compromising its reputation for providing quality education. Avenue M recommended clarifying and updating its pricing strategy to make it more consistent, which could increase registrations and lead to more revenue.
“If we are consistent in our pricing, people will know how to schedule their education,” Siradas said. “And we can keep them instead of having them go to 10 different places.”
Avenue M recommended implementing best practices for education instructors and developers, which is key because the group went through a database change, a staffing change, and then the pandemic. “We haven’t been able to focus on our instructors these past two years,” Siradas said. Keeping them up to date on changes in the classroom–including all the new virtual teaching methods that emerged during the pandemic–is crucial.
The group found itself competing with its own chapters when it came to how they were delivering education (e.g., synchronous or asynchronous), so Avenue M recommended improving the group’s delivery model–both nationally and with its chapters. To succeed, the group needs 100 percent buy-in from its chapters, so it can involve them in every step of updating the delivery model to ensure it is a collaborative process where everyone is on the same page.
Working with Avenue M validated how important it was for the Appraisal Institute to make some critical revisions. “As long as we had the recommendation from the consultant that it was something the organization needed to move toward, it helped put power behind it,” Siradas said. “I couldn’t be happier working with Avenue M.”
Additionally, all of the changes and the updates will have ongoing assessments built into them to make sure everything stays on track and the goals remain timely and relevant. “I’m excited about this project with Avenue M because every two years we’re going to go back, look at what we did, and ask if it’s still working or if we need to make tweaks,” Siradas said.
This is especially important in the wake of the pandemic, with a rapidly changing business environment, and so many younger people coming into the profession. “This is the right time for all of this to happen,” Siradas said. “I’m excited about it because we really need a change.”