Nationwide Appraisal Network describes itself as a women-owned national appraisal management company. Chief Business Development Officer Joni Pilgrim co-founded the company as a young female entrepreneur. She tells MPA what it was like starting the company and gives advice to women who are thinking of entering the industry.
MPA: How was your experience starting in the industry as a woman?
Joni Pilgrim: When I first went into this business, I think I was like 24, so a young female entrepreneur in the mortgage and finance business. So I think (that in order to be taken) taken seriously, we’ve had to fight tooth and nail and really prove that we’re here to stay. … I think that obviously we’ve had to fight a little bit harder than most of our competitors had to, and really just prove that we’re a credible company and that we’re here for the long haul. And I think we’ve done that time and time again with as many issues that the industry has faced over the last 13 years … Dodd-Frank, the refi boom, everything. We have stuck through it and come out on the other end, left fairly successful with our reputation intact, and I think we’ve built a company that appraisers like to work for and lenders like to work with.
MPA: Do you have any advice to women who are just entering this industry?
JP: I would say, for me, it was being consistent and persistent. So be consistent in what you do every day. And if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t be afraid to fail, because that’s where you learn the most. You know, even failures can be successes, because you go, ‘Okay that didn’t work out, now I know exactly what to do.’ You know, implement it in a different way and it can become hugely successful. So consistency, persistency pays off. Just because you’re being told a thousand no’s…I mean, when we started the company, we had to get a panel of appraisers. … (T)he concept of appraisal management companies wasn’t that big back then. I don’t think people really knew what they were early on. So we would call appraisers all over the place. Okay, we’re opening this AMC. We’re going to start marketing the lenders. Do you want to be one of our appraisers? And that’s all we did for a week: just pick the phone and call appraisers in Florida. We got told a thousand no’s before somebody goes, ‘Yeah actually we want to work for you guys.’ …. Two years later we were completely nationwide, because we were persistent with it. Listen, if there is one yes out there, there’s got to be a hundred other yes’s somewhere. We just have to find them.