National Inventory Certification Association – Education and certification for industry professionals
16 Aug 2017

Code of Ethics: Customer Service

We are very pleased about the growth of the National Inventory Certification Association, and with that grow has been the addition of Associate Members. Five have joined us to date, so we felt it was a good time to mention this Customer Service Code of Ethics statement:

Serve customers with respect and courtesy.

As we are all aware, there is often more than one customer or client per project. When working with or for an Associate Member, you have two direct clients.

The first customer is obviously the client. When you are providing a service for another company, you are in essence representing that company as well as your own. Always provide the ultimate in customer service, such as being on time, removing or asking if you should remove your shoes, being courteous, etc.

The second customer is the Associate Member or other company that has hired you to perform your service. Once you’ve completed your part of the project, it is of utmost importance to complete your tasks professionally and on time, and delivering them to the customer as expected/requested.

Example including an Associate Member

For example, Nugent Appraisal hires you for an Appraisal Examiner project. You serve the homeowner customer by providing your service, and doing so on time, efficiently, and politely. Nugent is also a customer, as you are providing them with your expertise and the photos and typed report. This report must be presented to Nugent professionally and on time, so they in return can complete their part of the project completed and delivered to the homeowner by the promised date.

For both (or more) customers you will have with each job, remember to:

  • Respond to all correspondence quickly and completely
  • Confirm your appointment
  • Notify the hiring company when you have completed your on-site process
  • Clarify any questions prior to or while on the job (if possible)
  • Notify the appropriate person if you have difficulties

Keeping all customers in mind at all times will ensure a successful relationship with our Associate Members and the opportunity to work with them (or any company who sub-contracts you) again.
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11 Aug 2017

Florida Inventory Professional Achieves Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Dwight Saxon for achieving the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist.

PRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that Dwight Saxon, owner of  Saxon’s Inventory, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms his knowledge to provide quality residential and small business contents inventory services.

 

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property prompted. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider.

 

To earn the CIS home inventory industry designation, Saxon passed specified courses developed by NICA, agreed to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and accumulated a required number of Continuing Education Units. He then passed the Certification Exam, which is the final step in achieving this designation.

 

Being industry certified is not required for the contents inventory professional. Choosing to invest in  continuing education shows  Saxon’s desire to learn the industry. This informs his clients that he has gone the extra mile to ensure that Saxon’s Inventory provides quality inventory services.  He stated, “As a retired firefighter, I saw so many people lose everything they own. If each of these people would have had a document of their belongings, I know the recovery process would have been easier, faster, and more financially equitable. I can now help people prepare in case they face a loss; it’s a great feeling knowing what good my service will do for others.”

 

Based in Wellington, Florida, Saxon’s Inventory offers residential and business asset inventory services throughout Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and Saint Lucie Counties.

09 Aug 2017

The Real Power of Accessible Websites: Not Just Compliance Protection, But Increased Business

A few years ago a colleague I respect named Gordon emailed a message to let me know he was having trouble reading the content of my-then-new website. I thought the website was well-designed and beautiful.

“Mary, I found the wide, column-to-column centered text difficult to read. I had a stroke 16 months ago and have narrow vision in my left eye and none in my right. I use margins to help me guide my one good eye. The only criticism might be a website with higher contrast menu links and short length content paragraphs.”

What a wake-up call for me…as it should be for all business owners who have websites. I was grateful Gordon emailed to tell me about the problems he was having understanding my site content.

How many other people with disabilities…dexterity, cognition or sensory issues…had a hard time using my website and simply hit the browser back button, never to return?

Is this happening to you? Do you know?

SOME HISTORY

I have been developing websites since 1995. I eventually became familiar with 508 compliance…meaning all users, regardless of disability status, should be able to access your website content, be it text, video, podcasts, etc. For years I integrated the basic recommendations into the websites I designed. I thought it was enough. But there was something missing. Thanks to Gordon, I realized my website design/content was frustrating possible prospects and scaring away additional business. I needed to do more.

REALITY: Folks with disabilities are also professionals who have money to spend. 

According to Fifth Quadrant Analytics:

“The disability market represents 1.3 billion people globally who face challenges across three general areas—dexterity, cognition or sensory issues. Equivalent in size to the population of China, the disability market represents an annual disposable income of $1 trillion—and $544 billion in the US alone.”

That’s a lot of people…and a ton of disposable income.

REALITY: Accessibility makes good business sense.

Goodwill, smart business, and pending governmental regulation should compel organizations to make websites accessible to all potential customers.

If your website is designed to generate revenue, obtain email addresses for newsletter subscriptions, and invite prospects to fill out forms, accessibility compliance can help increase conversions because you have designed for all people.

Without a compliant web presence, you are frustrating possible prospects and losing business.

REALITY: SEO Benefit.

A little-known benefit of accessibility compliance is an SEO boost. Search engine optimization relies on web crawlers that read a website. These web crawlers have an easier time crawling sites that are accessible because they have a straightforward design, text-based versions of media, and clear descriptors. Their structure also allows crawlers to access and evaluate content more easily. As a result, websites are indexed more accurately and are more likely to appear as a relevant result in a web search.

WELCOME TO WCAG 2.0

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.

These guidelines specify how to make content accessible, primarily for people with disabilities, but also for all user agents (also known as web browsers), including assistive technology devices.

So I dug in to the WCAG 2.0 A, AA & AAA specifications and studied. I created new layouts, tested HTML5 code, hammered on JavaScript and CSS3 stylesheets, figured out how to apply accessibility to code generated by content management systems like WordPress. All along testing what I had learned on all sorts of devices using online tools and assistive technology devices.

REALITY: Compliance laws are changing.

Until now, website accessibility hasn’t been a big concern for most business owners and marketers. But legislative changes are on the way. As of February 2018, The Department of Justice (DOJ) will take the position that websites offering goods or services to consumers are places of public accommodation and must be accessible to the disabled as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and its regulations do not specifically address websites. The DOJ, however, says that websites offering goods or services to consumers must be accessible by complying with guidelines from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 A & AA. Whether the DOJ will implement web accessibility standards is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” However, waiting until it’s the law may make your site legally vulnerable in the meantime if you aren’t in compliance, as organizations such as Winn Dixie, Chick-fil-A, Realtor.com, Peapod, Target, Reebok, and the NBA have already found out. All have already been sued for website accessibility non-compliance.

REALITY: What Disabilities Do You Have to Consider When Developing a Website?

Just as a brick ‘n mortar store has accessible wheelchair ramps and restrooms to accommodate folks with disabilities, a website should be able to serve all website content to those who want to access the informatio. Take into account these disability types your website design/content needs to serve:

Visual – blindness, impaired vision, color-blindness

— Blind people will need the content of the screen to be converted to text with available voiceover.
— Partially sighted people may require that the contrast be altered or use a screen reader to magnify it.
— Colorblind people will need the means to differentiate between colors.

Hearing – deafness and hard of hearing

— Deaf users need subtitles or sign language.
— People with impaired hearing would need a clearer and louder audio.

Motor – inability to use a mouse, slow response times, limited fine motor control.

— Those with impaired movement would need to use voice input or other input devices.

Cognitive – learning disabilities, poor or impaired memory, inability to focus on large amounts of information.

— Those with cognitive impairments would benefit from simple layouts, which are clear and consistent.

Epilepsy

— Elements that use flashing light would need to be disabled by a user with epilepsy.

REALITY: If you are promoting your products and services via the web, you need an accessible website…now.

You might be hesitant to overhaul your website to be accessible because of the effort involved. However, undergoing an update can positively benefit your bottom line. When more people (and web crawlers) can access a website, the site can generate more business. Use website accessibility guidelines to increase your company’s reach. It is possible to meet the needs of more potential customers, regardless of disability, by improving the usability and accessibility of your website.

NEXT STEP: Have your existing website professionally tested for WCAG 2.0 A & AA accessibility.

Be sure you are provided with a full report and a series of checklists that you can provide to your web developer so your site can be fixed to fit compliance regulations.

 

Mary GillenMary Gillen is an Associate Member of NICA offering her services as a web developer of accessible responsive websites. Mary can provide a page-by-page accessibility audit of your website:

WCAG 2.0: 110 checkpoints covering A, AA and AAA W3 accessibility guidelines

Section 508: 15 US federal guidelines covered by 47 accessibility checkpoints.

Mary IDENTIFIES changes or updates that need to be made in order to comply with ADA Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 A, AA & AAA Guidelines. She provides you with a full report and a series of checklists that identify items on your website that need to be fixed in order to be compliant. These checklists will also guide your web developers on how to fix these accessibility issues. Mary also provides Website Remediation Services. Once testing is done, Mary can IMPLEMENT the necessary changes across your website to make it compliant. She will then run a final test to VALIDATE that the changes made meet accessibility requirements. She can then DEVELOP a customized plan for on-going accessibility monitoring and support.

Visit Mary’s AccessibleWebSiteServices.com <link: http://accessiblewebsiteservices.com> website to find out more.

02 Aug 2017

Owners of Texas-based Lonestar Inventory Achieve Appraisal Examiner Certification

Congratulations to NICA members Hassan Saiyid and Nash Khan for achieving their second industry designation.

PRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that Lonestar Inventory owners Hassan Saiyid and Nash Khan recently earned the designation of Certified Appraisal Examiner (CAE).

 

Growth of the personal property inventory industry has created an opportunity for contents inventory professionals to serve as Appraisal Examiners. This certification provides the education and the credentials they need to properly assist appraisers.  By collecting the required information, the appraisers are able to create an accurate Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) compliant certified report.

 

The purpose of a CAE designation is to establish recognition for this specialized service. This enables appraisal firms to locate certified, qualified examiners, and helps  Certified NICA members grow their businesses through additional revenue opportunities.

 

When completing an inventory service for residential and commercial clients, the inventory professional is often asked if they know the value of items, or if they can refer an appraiser. The CAE designation signifies that these contents inventory professionals have the knowledge required to collect and then submit the necessary information for an appraiser to assign value. This allows for a two-way referral opportunity between these two industries.

 

To help ensure that the inventory service provider is prepared to serve the appraisal industry, the National Inventory Certification Association Education Committee, consisting of NICA members, an established property appraiser, and the Association Directors, determined the requirements to achieve an Appraiser Examiner Certification.

 

Only those who have earned their Certified Inventory Expert (CIE) or Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation can apply for this additional level. The inventory professional is also required to successfully complete the Customer Service and Appraisal Examiner courses, plus an elective, chosen from the NICA curriculum. The Appraisal Examiner course was co-written by a property appraiser to ensure integrity and provide hands-on processes for accurate collection of information.

 

NICA’s Managing Director Cindy Hartman states, “Our industry is growing and the interest in the Appraiser Examiner certification has been very positive from clients and inventory professionals. Using the skills and knowledge of local inventory professionals, appraisers can reduce their travel time. This saves the client from paying additional expenses and adds another income stream for our members.”

 

Based in Friendswood, Texas, Lonestar Inventory offers residential and business asset inventory services to Houston, Texas and the surrounding area.

 

26 Jul 2017

Affordable Legal Assistance for Small Businesses

LegalShield LogoHave you ever thought, “I wish I could afford an attorney” when someone asks you to sign an agreement or a contract? Then, since you are on a tight budget, you cross your fingers, sign it, and hope all works out OK.

You aren’t alone! Nearly 90% of Americans say they do not have any form of legal insurance or legal protection service, but 60% are interested in having legal protection.

LegalShield (an associate member) offers the ability to talk to a lawyer on any personal or business legal matter without worrying about high hourly costs. For one flat monthly fee, you can access legal advice, no matter how traumatic or trivial the issue.

You might have wished you had personal legal representation. Have you ever:

  • Signed a contract or document without legal guidance?
  • Been overcharged?
  • Received a traffic ticket?
  • Wanted to create a will?

As a small business owner, these facts are important to know:

  • Nearly 60% of small businesses have experienced significant legal events in the past two years.
  • Those who experienced a legal event in the past two years reported not hiring an attorney to help them, citing high costs as the reason.
  • Business owners reported spending an average of $7,600 in legal expenses per year.

LegalShield is a very affordable opportunity to have legal assistance. As a home inventory business owner, did you have an attorney advice for your contracts and agreements you created for your clients? If someone wants you to sign an agreement to work with them, were you able to have an attorney review it and provide advice to either sign it or suggest edits? 

Small business plans are just $39/month, and this includes a personal plan as well. Learn more here.

20 Jul 2017

Pennsylvania Inventory Professional Achieves Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Lavon Kearney for achieving the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist.

The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that Lavon Kearney, owner of Serenity Assured Inventory Solution, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms her knowledge to provide quality residential and small business contents professional inventory services.

 

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider.

 

To earn the CIS designation, Kearney passed specified courses developed by NICA, agreed to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and accumulated a required number of Continuing Education Units. She then passed the Certification Exam, which is the final step in achieving this designation.

 

Achieving certification is not required for the contents inventory professional. Choosing to invest in  continuing education shows Lavon’s desire to learn the industry. This informs her clients that she has gone the extra mile to ensure she provides quality inventory services. Kearney stated, “With my experience in the accounting field, I see the value and importance of having a record of what you own. This is true for homeowners, renters, and also business owners. The financial loss can be devastating after a fire, tornado, or other disaster destroys all of your contents.”

 

Based in Export, Pennsylvania, Serenity Assured Inventory Solution offers residential and business asset inventory services in Export, Pittsburgh, and the surrounding areas. For more information, visit http://serenityassuredinventory.com.

17 Jul 2017

New York City Inventory and Moving Professional Achieves Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Pamela Muller for achieving the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist.

 

PRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that Pamela Muller, owner of NouvelleView, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms her knowledge to provide quality residential and small business contents professional inventory services.

 

To earn this certification, Muller was required to successfully complete specified courses developed by NICA, agree to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and pass the final exam, which is a compilation of the content of those required courses. Additionally, she accumulated a required number of Continuing Education Units through various options.

 

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider.

 

Achieving certification is not required for the contents inventory professional. Choosing to invest in  continuing education shows Muller’s desire to learn the industry and let her clients know that she has gone the extra mile to ensure she provides quality inventory services.

 

NouvelleView is a New York and Hamptons based personalized moving service, for local and international clients. In addition to inventorying the contents, they take care of all the details of your move from start to finish. Clients’ valuables are always looked after with the specialized care of luxury, white glove, and fine arts moving. Moving is a perfect time to create a new home inventory, and NouvelleView have demonstrated the importance of this documentation by achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

12 Jul 2017

Renovation Angel Q&As

Renovation Angel LogoRenovation Angel is the National Inventory Certification Association‘s (NICA) newest Associate Member, and one who can provide some great connections for you to grow your home inventory business. They are North America’s premier luxury kitchen, renovation, and furniture recycling enterprise. Homeowners receive thousands of dollars in project savings through: 1) a full tax deduction, 2) free, white-glove removal/pack/transport, and 3) no disposal fees. Renovation Angel has conducted over 5,000 projects including a member of the Forbes 400, Celebrities, Sports Stars, and High-Net-Worth Property Owners.

NICA held a conference call a few months ago for members, and many were excited about the possibilities of being an Appraisal Examiner for Renovation Angel and Nugent Appraisal, which conducts the appraisal portion of the project.

Questions and Answers

A few questions were sent to the NICA office after the call, so we wanted to share them with you in the newsletter.

Do you recycle residential only, or do you also recycle commercial kitchens? 
Mostly residential kitchens. However, good condition commercial kitchens we have taken – both from residences and restaurants.

What is the minimum dollar amount for a project to qualify (to make it worth our time to go on site to get photos to send for your review/acceptance)? 
Generally $10,000 or more of re-sale is the minimum. However, if it is good quality luxury items (furniture, a cooking range, chandelier), it could be $5,000 – $10,000

When you say you will take all contents of an estate, does that include dishes, pots & pans, linens, etc., or only specific items?
Generally we do not take dishes, etc. However, if they are part of larger, valuable donation, and they can be packed up in boxes, we will take them (it becomes one of the negotiating points on a donation)

For a whole-house contents donation, is there a minimum of fair market value that must be met before the estate qualifies; in other words, must all contents be “luxury” items? 
We take numerous donations where the items are very good condition mid-range furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, etc.

Do you pay for travel? 
If you are inspecting on our behalf, you would give us a quote for your fees, to include travel time, mileage, etc.

Once the examiner portion of the project is complete, how and when is the payment processed?
You would send your digital invoice to Robin Canfield, Director of HR & Finance, which is paid within 7 business days. 

Consider the opportunities!

 

07 Jul 2017

Update on the Appraisal Examiner Certification

update Post-it noteWe have had a great deal of interest regarding the Appraisal Examiner Certification.

Nugent Appraisal is pleased with the progress as we work through the bumps of implementing a new program. The successes have been many, with the NICA members reporting how much they enjoy working with Ray Nugent. You just never know what or how many pieces you’ll be called to collect information on. Jobs have included just one piece of art to a whole-house estate.

To date, the following have achieved their CAE:

  1. Brandon Ely, Inventory Defense
  2. Cindy Hartman, Hartman Inventory
  3. Debra Palmer, Palmer Home and Business Inventory Professionals
  4. Donna Courtney, Courtney Inventory
  5. Hassan Saiyid, Lonestar Inventory
  6. Jo Soard, American Home Inventory Professionals
  7. John Maida, WJ Home Inventory Services
  8. Kate LeGrand, Capital Counts Inventory
  9. Lavon Kearney, Serenity Assured Inventory Solution
  10. Mike Hartman, Hartman Inventory
  11. Nash Khan, Lonestar Inventory
  12. Tim Edwards, Elite Inventory
  13. Tricia Hoekwater, Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions

Congratulations on your achievement!

03 Jul 2017

Website Compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act

Mary GillenIn March we launched our new website, and we’ve received many positive comments on the new look, and ease of the online process to take courses and apply for certifications. One thing we didn’t mention is that the site is ADA compliant. As your industry association, we feel it is important to keep you up to date on this issue so you can meet the requirements set forth by the Department of Justice.

What does being compliant mean, and how does it affect you?

Mary Gillen, Associate Member who has 20+ years of experience in web development, informed us that “until now, website accessibility hasn’t been a big concern for most business owners and marketers. But legislative changes will soon be in place.By 2018, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to roll out official compliance guidelines concerning online accessibility for the disabled as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ will soon be expecting all websites (Federal government, state/local government, and private companies) to accommodate people with disabilities. Whether the DOJ will implement web accessibility standards is not a matter of if, but when.

“Waiting until it’s the law may still make any organization legally vulnerable in the meantime if they are not in compliance, as organizations such as Peapod, Target, Reebok, and the NBA have already found out. All of them have already been sued for website accessibility non-compliance.

“In the last year online businesses have faced a wave of demand letters and lawsuits alleging that their websites are inaccessible to the visually impaired and/or hearing impaired in violation of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”).”

What this means is that every website will be required to be ADA compliant. Some of our members have already met these requirements. We recommend that you not wait until 2018 is near, as all web developers will be overburdened with this task. Additional information will be in next month’s newsletter. If you want to begin planning now, contact your web developer or email Mary at mary@marygillen.com to schedule a phone call to discuss your website.