There is an old saying in business about how a service can be fast, good, or cheap. According to the saying, a business can be two of those things, but not all three.
At Suncorp, our primary focus is on quality. Delivering a quality product means having professional staff who are trained and qualified; ensuring our reports meet or exceed industry standards; and having layers of internal quality control to ensure error free reports that are credible and reliable.
The journey to a quality product always starts with an accurate proposal. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings between Suncorp and the client, and that we provide the precise service that is needed.
The first step in the process, is for us to simply listen. Effective listening involves hearing what the client wants and needs. This leads to effective communication to explore options; ask questions to increase clarity and understanding; and then agree on the terms of reference for the service to be provided.
The next step is to produce a proposal which documents the agreed terms of reference. There are a number of vital elements for each proposal.
The “client” and “intended users” must be clearly and accurately identified in the proposal to establish the boundaries of the consultant/client relationship, and to maintain confidentiality so that data is not inadvertently disclosed to unauthorized third parties.
It is vital as well to accurately identify the subject property. This sounds simple, but a civic address or an asset list alone is often not accurate or complete. We need to determine at the start precisely what assets are in scope.
It is important to know the intended use of our service, which is what the client needs the report for. Examples of intended uses include for secured lending, insurance coverage, some type of litigation, buyer or seller due diligence, accounting for tax reasons, etc. Once we know the intended use, we can then determine the purpose and premise of the service which will be documented in the proposal as well.
Finally, the proposal must identify any special assumptions or conditions. These can include such things as assuming certain work or repairs are complete, assuming re-zoning, or basing the cost or value opinion as of a date different from our inspection date for example.
The draft proposal is then provided to the client for review. If all terms are in order as agreed, then the proposal is signed, and our work begins. A detailed an accurate proposal ensures that our team knows exactly what needs to be done, how, and by when.
Although Suncorp has highly qualified and experienced staff and quality control procedures in place, let’s be honest, mistakes sometimes do happen. Although this is rare, once we become aware of an issue we do everything in our power to rectify the situation without delay. As an extra measure Suncorp also carries liability insurance to protect both ourselves as well as our clients and intended users. This aspect is another differentiation between Suncorp and our competitors, many of whom either do not carry liability insurance because of the cost, or have very limited coverage because it is cheaper.
There are many examples of why rules matter, and why it is important to always follow industry standards and best practices. Two examples include Foremost Financial Corp. v. Cushman & Wakefield Ltd. (2022 ONSC 1622); and Ryan Mortgage Income Fund Inc. v. Alpine Credits Limited (2016 BCSC 1582). In both these cases, unauthorized third parties sued both the appraisal firm and the appraiser’s client for alleged damages. However in both cases, the courts dismissed the action because neither of the third parties were identified as an Intended User.
The moral of this story? When you need credible and reliable professional services, always go to a top tier firm that cares about quality. At Suncorp, we care about quality and about doing the job right. Every assignment lifecycle starts with listening and understanding the client’s needs, and then ensuring a complete and accurate proposal is in place. We then follow the “rules” to ensure our reports meet or exceed industry standards, and meet client’s needs.