LightBox Valuation: A customer success story
LightBox recently caught up with Richard West, MAI and head of valuations at AEI Consultants, which provides building, environmental, land, and sustainability assessment and consulting services throughout North America. He explained why LightBox Valuation is a key part of the company’s workflow because its flexibility and power make it a one-of-a-kind solution.
How did you start using Valuation? What problems did it solve?
We started using Valuation as soon as we launched the business. Our commitment to our clients is to be on time, with high quality, and no surprises – LightBox Valuation is a critical tool for executing our vision. As assignments come in, Valuation allows us to take any approach we want—it’s very nimble from that perspective. We also like the way the data is injected into the workflow. The system helps identify the subject accurately and aggregates data into the platform, saving data entry time and reducing human error.
Apart from streamlining manual work, has Valuation helped eliminate or solve other problems?
The Valuation platform gives us access to LightBox zoning data, which is very valuable. It allows us to review and analyze zoning information rather than dealing with different government organizations to ingest that data.
A key part of our future growth strategy is to focus on what we’re good at: customer service, analyzing the results of aggregated data, and communicating those results to clients. LightBox Valuation allows us to spend more time on that important work and less time gathering information, entering data, and doing calculations—as the system now handles that for us.
Our goal is to hire the next generation of top appraisal talent. The average age of an MAI is 67 years old. We expect we will need to attract and retain many new people into the business, and having a platform like Valuation helps us with that effort.
Did you experience a long acclimation period?
Valuation is extremely powerful and with that power comes a certain level of complexity. So, training is needed. When employees start, we tell them that whatever they’re looking for is probably already in the system, they just have to figure out where it is and how to use it. We rely on the LightBox training materials for all our new hires, and the LightBox team has been great about assigning a dedicated CSM and providing video tutorials and other resources.
Some companies make products too easy to use because they don’t want people to go through a long learning and adoption period—and I think that’s a mistake. The level of analysis we need to deliver to our clients requires a complex system, and we appreciate the fact that LightBox hasn’t dumbed down the product. It gives us the power to handle any task our clients give us.
Does Valuation eliminate the need for other subscriptions appraisers would typically use?
Yes. Because the system has national property data and national zoning information, and we can use it for tasks such as modeling discounting cash flows and market analysis from REIS, it has streamlined the number of subscriptions we carry. We also appreciate features such as the income and expense database. The platform is designed in a thoughtful way—we can use it to find information which would otherwise be difficult to track down, and this makes our reports better. I would add that many of our clients use LightBox, which makes it easy for us to connect with them, an added bonus.
What would you tell a colleague or peer considering Valuation?
Don’t think you can build your own software. Leave it to experts like LightBox.