April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
13 Jun 2018

Upgrade Your Website to HTTPS NOW

Mary GillenHyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the procedure that delivers data between your browser and the website that you are viewing.

The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’, which means all communication between your browser and an HTTPS website is encrypted. This is especially important when protecting transactions like online banking and shopping order forms.

The most popular Web browsers (Edge, Firefox, and Chrome) display a padlock icon in the address bar as a visual clue that a HTTPS connection is in effect.

HTTPS

Changes are on the way
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in use today.

Beginning July 2018, the Chrome browser will mark all HTTP websites as ‘not secure’.

This means that if a prospect uses Google Chrome to browse your HTTP website, he/she will notice a red message in the address bar:

Not Secure Notice

This red message sends a clear signal to the user: leave now or you could be exposing your personal data.

Once someone sees this message, there is a good chance visitors and prospects will hit the browser’s Back button fast…never to return. This can affect your business’ reputation…and your bottom line.

Other Reasons to Migrate to HTTPS
According to Search Engine Watch, there are other important reasons why you should update your current website to HTTPS:

HTTPS benefits user trust. When adapting to modern security requirements, you demonstrate that you are trustworthy, and you work on your reputation. Your users feel safer visiting your website, which works in your favor.

  1. Security and privacy. When your site is secure, there is less chance that your users will lose their data.
  2. SEO ranking boost. This makes webmasters happy and can bring you more traffic.
  3. More detailed stats. You will be able to see actual referral traffic stats in Google Analytics. If your website runs on HTTP, all your referral traffic simply appears as “direct”.

Upgrade to HTTPS NOW
Contact your webmaster. Ask him/her to geta SSL security certificate and install it on the server.
Your webmaster will know the details, depending on your hosting and server setup.
NICA is using Let’s Encrypt, a great free, open SSL certificate authority.

REALITY: The secure web is now a best practice when promoting your business online. If you don’t upgrade, you will be competing with secure websites that have the additional advantage of using HTTPS.
Associate Member Mary Gillen is an Associate Member of the National Inventory Certification Association.  She uses her 23 years of Web development experience to build responsive, accessible websites for tech companies, associations, non-profits and small businesses, blending professional design with measurable business results. She is also an experienced Website Accessibility Compliance Auditor, providing website testing & remediation for compliance with ADA, Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 A, AA & AAA Guidelines.

30 May 2018

New Courses To Be Added in 2018

CurriculumOne of the goals that were established by the Education Committee is to add two new courses to the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) curriculum each year. The purpose of this is to offer more detailed and topic-focused courses in addition to the general, foundation courses. For example, the Collections Inventories course hones in on that one specific type of inventory, following up on the general overview of the Residential Contents Inventory course. In addition to industry-specific topics, the committee also felt a need to offer business-related courses, such as Time Management and Customer Service.

With this in mind, we surveyed you to learn what topics interest you the most for new curriculum. The results are in and we thank each of you who took the time to respond. The three courses that received the most requests are Loss Inventories, Giving Presentations, and Sales & Marketing.

We are currently securing professionals to create these courses. Two will be available this year. The Presentation course is tentatively scheduled for a June release, followed by Loss Inventories available in the fall. The Sales & Marketing is tentatively scheduled to be released in early 2019.

Releasing two courses per year enables us to remain true to our Mission Statement that says, in part, “To provide quality education and certification for inventory professionals by creating a business- and industry-related curriculum that contains the knowledge and skills required to achieve success.”

By you giving just a minute or two of your time, we are able to focus on the topics that you, our members, have stated interest. As always, we appreciate your input on these brief surveys.


16 May 2018

Time To Plan For Your 2018 Taxes ( … Already???)

TaxesYour tax returns were just completed, and now you have to start thinking about 2018 (if you haven’t already). With the new tax legislation, it’s best to meet with your accountant in May or June at the latest. Since they just finished the 2017 season, it is a good idea to give him or her a few weeks of R&R before asking for an appointment.

When you do meet with them, even if not until June, you will most likely still have time to make any necessary adjustments. Based on articles written since the new legislation was signed by President Trump, it appears the majority of small business owners – including home inventory professionals – will benefit from the changes.

An article in Business News Daily is quite informative, so we have summarized a few key items. For the entire article, click on this link to learn more about small business taxes.

  • Deductions. The new bill provides a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businesses.
  • First-year bonus depreciation. This deduction is going from 50 to 100 percent. This means that businesses purchasing eligible equipment can deduct the full amount of the purchase, instead of writing off a portion of the expense each year (depreciating it). 

This article also included some helpful tips regarding taxes:

  • Consult with a CPA. A tax professional can ensure your business is taking advantage of all the deductions available and also make sure you’re paying everything you owe.
  • Think about taxes all year long. Small business owners should not treat income taxes as a once-a-year event. Waiting until the last minute makes tax preparation more complicated, and it might limit money-saving options. 
  • Don’t make assumptions. Tax planning, to some extent, is a gamble. Never make business decisions assuming that particular tax breaks will pass, or that certain policies will be enacted.
02 May 2018

De-cluttering: The Stuff You Have That Your Kids Don’t Want

Tricia HoekwaterDe-cluttering. It is always on my mind and I regularly look around my house for items to get rid of.  I don’t want to leave my kids with the unpleasant task of discarding a lot of clutter from my home.  I recently read an interesting NextAvenue article titled The Top 10 Items You Have That Your Kids Don’t Want by Elizabeth Stewart. It offers some helpful insight.

Your house, and what it contains, is a minefield in the eyes of your grown children. They can see from your example that collections of stuff are a curse; such objects are superfluous to a life well lived. They want a clean, clear field in which to live their lives. Your grown children will not agree to be the recipients of your downsizing if it means their upsizing.

No. 10: Books
Unless your grown kids are professors, they don’t want your books.

No. 9: Paper Ephemera
Things like family snapshots, old greeting cards and postcards are called paper ephemera.  Take all your family snapshots and have them made into digital files.

No. 8: Steamer Trunks, Sewing Machines and Film Projectors
Steamer Trunks are so abundant that they are not valuable, unless the maker is Louis Vuitton, Asprey, Goyard or some other famous luggage house.

Likewise, every family has an old sewing machine. I have never found ONE that was rare enough to be valuable. 

And every family has a projector for home movies. Thrift stores are full of these items, so, unless your family member was a professional and the item is top-notch, yours can go there as well.

No. 7: Porcelain Figurine Collections and Bradford Exchange “Cabinet” Plates
These collections of frogs, chickens, bells, shoes, flowers, bees, trolls, ladies in big gowns, pirates, monks, figures on steins, dogs, horses, pigs, 
cats, babies, Hummel’s, and Precious Moments are not desired by your grown children, grandchildren or any other relation. Even though they are filled with memories of those who gave them to your mom, they have no market value. And they do not fit into the Zen-like tranquil aesthetic of a 20- or 30-something’s home.

No. 6: Silver-Plated Objects
Your grown children will not polish silver-plate, this I can guarantee. If you give them covered casserole dishes, meat platters, candy dishes, serving bowls, tea services, gravy boats, butter dishes 
and candelabra, you will be persona-non-grata.

No. 5: Heavy, Dark, Antique Furniture
There is still a market for this sort of furniture, and that market, in the fashionable areas of the U.S., is most often the secondhand shop.

No. 4: Persian Rugs
The modern tranquility aimed for in the décor of the 20- to 30-somethings does not lend itself to a collection of multicolored (and sometimes threadbare) Persian rugs.

No. 3: Linens
Go ahead, offer to send your daughter five boxes of hand-embroidered pillowcases, guest towels, napkins, and table linens.  She might not even own an iron or ironing board, and she definitely doesn’t set that kind of table.

No. 2: Sterling Silver Flatware and Crystal Wine Services
Unless the scrap value for silver is high enough for a meltdown, matching sets of sterling flatware are hard to sell because they rarely go for “antique” value. Formal entertaining is not a priority these days.

No. 1: Fine Porcelain Dinnerware
Your grown children may not want to store four sets of fancy porcelain dinnerware, and frankly don’t see the glory in unpacking it once a year for a holiday or event.

SOURCE: The Top 10 Items You Have That Your Kids Don’t Want
Tricia Hoekwater is a Member of NICA and a Certified Inventory Specialist dedicated to providing peace of mind for home and business owners through the process of educating and helping people be prepared for life’s unexpected twists. Through her company, Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions, the services she offers are Home InventoryCollectibles InventoryDeclutteringPhoto Archiving and Paper Management systems.

25 Apr 2018

Do You Distribute An Electronic Newsletter? This Is A Must Read!

E-newslettersNICA’s Associate Member Mary Gillen is an exceptional web developer and internet “go-to professional.” She always stays up to date with the ever-changing landscape of the internet. If you send out electronic newsletters, this article, written by Mary, is full of important and time-sensitive information.

New European Privacy Rules – The General Data Protection Regulation – take effect May 25, 2018.

These regulations were passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data. In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt.

The GDPR sets a higher bar for obtaining personal data than we’ve ever seen on the internet before. These requirements include:

  1. Any time a company collects personal data on an EU citizen, it will need explicit and informed consent from that person.
  2. Users also need a way to revoke that consent, and they can request all the data a company has from them as a way to verify that consent. It’s a lot stronger than existing requirements, and it explicitly extends to companies based outside the EU. For an industry that’s used to collecting and sharing data with little to no restriction, that means rewriting the rules of how user info is collected online and stored.

Most importantly, the GDPR gives companies a hard deadline: the new rules go into effect on May 25th, 2018 – so if you’re not following the rules by then, you’re in trouble. The result has been a mad dash to adapt current practices to the new rules and avoid one of those crushing fines. 

You are probably thinking, “I just do local home inventories, so this doesn’t apply to me.” This is addressing what happens to information when someone signs up for your newsletter. Since there is no control over who subscribes (or from where), it is imperative to abide by these rules.

What You Need to Do Now If You Have an Email Newsletter Subscription Form on Your Website

Email consent needs to be separate. Never bundle consent with your terms and conditions, privacy notices, or any of your services, unless email consent is necessary to complete that service. A solution is to add an (unticked) checkbox to the bottom of your subscription form just before the Submit button. The explanation needs to be simple and understandable. The checkbox needs to be a required element on the form, which means the user will not be allowed to submit the information on the form unless the checkbox is selected.

What You Need to Do If You Have Contact Forms on Your Website

Add an (unticked) checkbox to the bottom of your Contact Form just before the Submit button with a consent message to collect and store the data.

GDPR not only sets the rules for how to collect consent but also requires companies to keep a record of these consents. It is important to know that this does not only apply to signups that happen after May 25th, it applies to all existing subscribers on your email list as well.

If your existing subscribers have given consent in a way that’s already compliant with GDPR—and if you kept a record of those consents—there’s no need for you to re-collect consent from those subscribers. If your existing records don’t meet GDPR requirements, however, you have to take action.

What to do:
  1. Audit your existing email list. Figure out who on your email list already provided GDPR-compliant consent, and ensure that you have a clear record of those consents.
  2. Implement a re-permission program. If for any of your contacts you don’t have GDPR-proof of consent—or if you are unsure about whether or not their consent is compliant—you’ll have to run a re-permission campaign to refresh that consent or remove the subscriber from your mailing list.

This is a lot to digest. Please feel free to contact Mary with your questions. Also, please pass this information on to other website owners you may know. It is important that they receive this information as well.

If you need help implementing these changes on your website, Mary can help you, and can also assist you in creating a mailing for a re-permission program. Please don’t ignore this. Make these changes before the May 25th deadline.

11 Apr 2018

Colorado Member Achieves Industry CIS Designation

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Mandy Wiedeman for achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

certifiedPRESS RELEASE – April 9, 2018 – The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Mandy Wiedeman, owner of Hearts Ease Home Inventory, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Completing this accomplishment confirms her knowledge that enables her 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. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for professional inventory service providers.

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

Having an industry certification is not required for the contents inventory industry. Choosing to invest in continuing education shows a desire to learn and excel as a personal property inventory professional. Earning these credentials informs clients that she has gone the extra mile to ensure that Hearts Ease Home Inventory provides quality inventory services.

Wiedeman stated, “It was firsthand experience, serving as co-executor of a friend’s estate, that laid the foundation for Hearts Ease Home Inventory. In the aftermath of losing my friend and settling her estate, I carried a weight that abruptly exposed itself in the form of persistent, overwhelming anxiety and depression. Thoughts of responsibilities and identical commitments made to serve in this capacity for others stimulated a desperate sense of urgency to get my own affairs in order, and do so in a way that would alleviate potential impacts this process holds for surviving family and friends.”

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Hearts Ease Home Inventory offers residential and business asset inventory services for disaster preparedness and recovery, estate planning, estate settlement, and separation of assets for homes and businesses.

04 Apr 2018

A Great Time To Start Your Home Inventory Business

Nationwide Inventory Professionals LogoWith April being National Home Inventory Month, Associate Member Nationwide Inventory Professionals believes it’s a great time to start your home inventory business. Many subscribers to the NICA newsletter are researching the industry. For those who are planning to start your inventory service, this awareness month is a perfect time. With fellow professionals promoting the industry more than usual, the attention created will give a catalyst to get started.

And you say that April is just a few days away, right? With the Nationwide Inventory Professionals Business Package and License Agreement, you can be ready to do business within 30 days…before Home Inventory Month is over! You’ll receive:

  • Personalized website
  • Personalized newsletter distributed for you to your database
  • Shared logo that helps create brand recognition
  • Private website with a downloadable manual as well as business and marketing templates
  • Support and mentoring from the founders
  • And very important –1st year membership in NICA and all courses required to achieve certification as a CIS

What great timing … starting your home inventory business during National Home Inventory Month!

Nationwide Inventory Professionals is not affiliated with or endorsed by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

31 Mar 2018

National Home Inventory Month – April 2018

Home Inventory MonthNICA, as a member-driven association, has made great strides in bringing awareness about home inventories to the general public. To increase this awareness, a committee worked with Managing Director Cindy Hartman to establish National Home Inventory Month. One more shout-out to the committee members Debra Palmer, Jo Soard, and Tricia Hoekwater for a job well done – and in a very short time!

A press release was distributed mid-March, announcing that NICA declared April as National Home Inventory Month. We are very pleased that many other press release sites picked up the article and posted it on their sites. Members also shared the press release on their social media accounts – thank you to those who took the time to help promote it. The press release is also published on the News page of the NICA website, so you can easily share that article on your social media posts.

As April is just a few days away, the committee would like all home inventory professionals to watch for the NICA social media posts and share the information. There is also a prepared list of posts for members to share on their social media accounts along with graphics created specifically for National Home Inventory Month 2018.

Please visit the page dedicated to this awareness month on the NICA website. There is a brief section telling visitors the reasons for establishing this special month, followed by a list of activities every home inventory professional can embrace to help share the information and inform their followers.

National Home Inventory Month will be as successful as each home inventory professional decides to make it. This is a great opportunity to pull together and make a concerted effort as an industry to bring attention to the services each home inventory professional offers.

Let’s see the month of April full of activities, social media posts, press releases, and efforts to share the opportunities to create awareness. Please send photos of what you’re doing. If you don’t have photos but would like to share what you did to contribute to our industry’s recognition, send an email. We’ll include all member photos and contributions on the News page of the website and in the May newsletter.

12 Mar 2018

NICA Designates April as National Home Inventory Month

NHIM LogoPRESS RELEASE — The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) announces that April has been designated as National Home Inventory Month. NICA provides education and certification for home inventory service providers who create written and photographic documents that serve a variety of life events for homeowners and renters. The focus of National Home Inventory Month (NHIM) is to raise awareness of the value and benefits of a home inventory.

NICA’s mission is “To provide awareness and education.” Establishing a specific month to focus on the need for a home inventory supports this initiative. NICA members agree that a concerted effort by the association and all inventory professionals together will raise awareness of the many life events that require or benefit from having this information prepared.

“Bringing home inventory professionals together through a universal curriculum and industry certifications has resulted in a cohesiveness in what was once a very segmented industry, explained Managing Director Cindy Hartman. “Establishing a National Home Inventory Month is very exciting for our members. Additional awareness throughout the US will benefit each professional as well as the homeowners and renters who now understand and see the value of having a document of what they own.” 

Recurring disasters, increased thefts, and a growing desire to protect one’s assets have encouraged the growth of this service industry. In addition to helping policyholders remember and prove ownership when filing an insurance claim, home inventory documents also assist with estate settlement, financial and estate planning, separation of assets, pre-nuptials, and documenting collectibles. Busy lifestyles have encouraged many to hire an inventory professional to compile this information for their residences, vacation homes, apartments, and off-site storage units.

NICA welcomes all home inventory professionals, members and non-members alike, to participate in this initial campaign of National Home Inventory Month during the month of April 2018. Social media hashtags are #HomeInventory and #HomeInventoryMonth. A page dedicated to this event has been added to the NICA website.

12 Mar 2018

Southern California Inventory Professional Achieves Industry Designation

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Michael Hill for achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

certified blue check markPRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Michael Hill, owner of Inventory Management Systems, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms he has gained knowledge to provide professional 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. 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, Hill successfully completed required courses developed by NICA, agreed to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and accumulated a minimum number of Continuing Education Units. He then passed the Certification Exam, which is the final step in achieving this designation.

Having an industry certification is not required for the contents inventory industry. However, choosing to invest in continuing education shows a desire to learn and excel as a personal property inventory professional. Earning these credentials informs clients that Hill has gone the extra mile to ensure he provides quality inventory services for homeowners, renters, and business owners.

Based in Palm Springs, California, Michael Hill and Inventory Management Systems offer residential and business asset inventory services.