April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
14 Jan 2021

Grow Your Inventory Business By Adding This Service

Appraisal

The Appraisal Examiner specialty can help you expand your inventory services business. Whether working with our Associate Member ValuePros or with local appraisers, your expertise can be valuable. The knowledge gained in the Appraisal Examiner course will provide you with information that will help you confidently talk to your inventory clients about their high-value items. Suggesting an appraisal of these items is a very easy up-sell, as well as an important step for them to protect their belongings properly. You can grow your business just by offering this additional service of being a Certified Appraisal Examiner (CAE).

By contacting your current client base to inform them of your newly earned CAE, you will have an opportunity to reconnect. This might also encourage them to hire you to update their current inventory or create an entirely new one (if they’ve made major changes). And, of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to ask them for referrals.

Your CAE designation will enable you to market your services to local appraisers. While appraisers do whole-house appraisals, most don’t provide inventory services. Though people need to know what they own, it is rarely necessary to have all items appraised. Appraisals are normally completed on high-end contents. A whole-house appraisal is more costly than an inventory, and most often a contents inventory is sufficient to aid the client in being able to remember and report the value of their belongings. By meeting the appraisers in your area, it is a high possibility that you could find a few who will refer you to their clients. And, as the course discusses, you might also be able to become a sub-contractor for those appraisers.

07 Jan 2021

Ohio Inventory Professional Achieves Appraisal Examiner Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Gina Wagner for achieving the designation of Certified Appraisal Examiner.

The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Gina Wagner, owner of Wagner’s Inventory, has 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. The purpose of a CAE designation is to establish recognition for this specialized service. This certification provides the education and the credentials needed to properly assist appraisers. 

Achieving the CAE enables appraisal firms to locate and subcontract certified, qualified examiners to assist with the collection of descriptions and photos of items to be appraised. The appraisers are then able to create an accurate Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) compliant certified report from this information provided by the inventory professional. Additionally, the home inventory professional is able to add this specialized service to their various home and business inventory specialties.

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 NICA 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 Specialist (CIS) designation are eligible to apply for this additional level. To achieve this designation, they are 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.

Based in Brooklyn, Ohio, Wagner’s Inventory offers residential and business asset inventory services to Northeast Ohio

29 Dec 2020

What You Can Do To Get Through These Tough Times

Question MarkDuring the many shut-downs and other restrictions we are facing this year, some members have expressed concern about being able to continue their home inventory business. Most likely, one-on-one meetings are few or nonexistent. The same with in-person networking meetings. Many organizations have canceled their group meetings until further notice.

So, what can you do now to help keep your business viable? Stay in touch with current and reach out to new prospects and referral sources. Use the extra downtime you have now to:

  • Update your website to give it a fresh look. (You might even want to put a notice on the home page that you wear a mask for your clients’ safety.)
  • Call current referral sources and let them know you’re still doing inventories.
  • Contact small business owners. If they are shut down, this would be a good time to do an inventory and not interrupt the workflow or be in contact with their employees.
  • Deaths and disasters are still happening, so these inventory services are still needed. Contact these professionals to let them know you’re still providing your inventory service.
  • Pop in to meet insurance agents (be sure to wear a mask!).
  • Call your current clients and offer virtual updates. You can use virtual apps or have them send photos.
  • Start a blog and/or newsletter.
  • Increase your social media presence.
  • Review your processes and procedures to update or refine what you are currently doing.

Believe in yourself, your business, and the need for your inventory services! Be creative! Stay positive!

16 Dec 2020

Marketing Minute – Conversion Headlines

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

What is a conversion headline? It is one that encourages the reader to do what you want them to do. With all the digital marketing options today, this can be directed toward those who visit your website, blog, or even a social media post. This conversion you are seeking can be filling out a form, signing up for your newsletter, visiting your website, etc.

You have less than 40 seconds to attract the attention of a “cold” prospect on the Web. Attract them with a great headline that educates them in some new way and appeals to their self-interest. The headline copy should also convey credibility…that you understand their challenges.

Examples:

  • How to Save Money on Your Homeowners Insurance
  • How to Track Your Small Business Assets

Customers purchase products and services to relieve some kind of pain they have about themselves. Through your headline, is it possible to “shock” the customer with a reminder of this pain, and convey the message that living with this pain is worse than the pain of changing. Ask a question. It is the same method used in radio ads to attract attention to the message.

Examples:

  • Could you list all the contents of your house if you had a fire or theft?
  • Do you know if your business is sufficiently insured to replace all items destroyed after a disaster?

Call-to-action (CTA) copy can be included in your headlines.

Examples:

  • Contact Us Now for a Complimentary Report on Homeowners Insurance.
  • Learn How a Personal Property Inventory Can Save You Time After a Loss.
  • Call Us Today at [phone number] for Your 15% Discount.
  • Watch this Video on Key Reasons Why You Need a Home Inventory.

Once your headline has grabbed their attention, you’ll have a higher success at converting this “cold” prospect into a client.

02 Dec 2020

Marketing to Seniors Course is Now Available

Online LearningWe previewed this course last month, and are happy to announce that it is now available on the NICA website. It has very helpful information on how to interact with seniors, what their preferences are, and specific proven strategies recommended for those who are seeking to grow their business in the Senior Market.

As a home inventory professional, you realize the various reasons one needs an inventory. The need is even greater for older adults, as they often transition into a smaller home, assisted living, or move in with family. Moving is one of the top life stressors to begin with. Now consider the fact that most Seniors have been in their home for many years and have accumulated a lifetime of memories and belongings. Most likely, they do not know what they own, as many now have full garages, sheds, basements, attics, and even spare bedrooms which have kept these items out of sight and out of mind.

A personal property inventory can make downsizing and moving much easier. It will also help with decision making and provide peace of mind, knowing exactly what they own before items are being shared with family members and friends, discarded, donated, or sold. Many seniors – if they haven’t already – complete their estate planning. Having an inventory is a key element of this planning process.

It is helpful for inventory professionals to understand the needs of the Senior market. Knowing their needs and wants is the first step in developing relationships with your prospects. There is often a two-tier prospect level, as often an adult child is assisting their parent in making their decisions. If not their adult child, Seniors often reach out to their trusted, professional advisors for advice and guidance.

The course includes:

Module 1 – Marketing to Older Demographics

  • Understanding the 50+ Demographic
  • Marketing to Seniors
  • Social Media
  • Time Well Spent

Module 2 – Marketing Methods for Senior Clients

  • Strategies for Marketing
  • Listen for Opportunities
  • The Importance of Educating Your Prospects
  • Sales and Marketing Tools

Module 3 – Referral Opportunities

  • Trusted Advisors
  • Associations
  • Additional Opportunities

As with all NICA courses, Marketing to Seniors is offered as an on-line, self-directed course. This allows you to learn the information and take the quizzes at your own pace and when you can fit it into your schedule.

18 Nov 2020

Marketing Minute – Free Holiday Writing Prompts

Mary GillenOne of the new courses that are currently being written and will be introduced before the end of the year covers the topic of Blogging. NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, CAE and CIS of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions and Mary Gillen, NICA Associate Member who writes these Marketing Minute articles and is also a marketing professional and website developer, are co-writing the course.

As a “teaser” for this course, Mary provided this Marketing Minute of ideas for your holiday blog posts and beyond (if you already write a blog). If you currently do not blog, now is a great time to start! If you aren’t yet ready to launch a blog, but know it’s in your future, be sure to save this information. After taking the NICA Blogging course, you will most likely find that it’s a great way to promote your business and to share your knowledge for this industry.

The Marketing Minute today is to encourage you to visit Bryan Cohen’s Build Creative Writing Ideas Website for free creative writing prompts. He says, “These creative writing prompts act as your launching pad to help you use your brain to start a story right away.

“If you have a story idea in mind, but you aren’t sure how to start it, try one of these prompts to get you out of the starting blocks. It doesn’t have to be a perfect start, you just need to start! If you never put down word one of the greatest story ever told, it will never be told.”

Just click on this link: http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/creative-writing-prompts.html and let your writing begin!

05 Nov 2020

New Course – Marketing to Seniors – Now Available!

CEU Approved

As a home inventory professional, you realize the various reasons one needs an inventory. The need is even greater for older adults, as they often transition into a smaller home, assisted living, or move in with family. Moving is one of the top life stressors to begin with. Now consider the fact that most Seniors have been in their home for many years and have accumulated a lifetime of memories and belongings. Most likely, they do not know what they own, as many now have full garages, sheds, basements, attics, and even spare bedrooms which have kept these items out of sight and out of mind.

A personal property inventory can make downsizing and moving much easier. It will also help with decision making and provide peace of mind, knowing exactly what they own before items are being shared with family members and friends, discarded, donated, or sold. Many seniors – if they haven’t already – complete their estate planning. Having an inventory is a key element of this planning process.

It is helpful for inventory professionals to understand the needs of the Senior market. Knowing their needs and wants is the first step in developing relationships with your prospects. There is often a two-tier prospect level, as often an adult child is assisting their parent in making their decisions. If not their adult child, Seniors often reach out to their trusted, professional advisors for advice and guidance.

Here is what you will learn in this course that will earn you 2 CEUs:

Module 1 – Marketing to Older Demographics

  • Understanding the 50+ Demographic
  • Marketing to Seniors
  • Social Media
  • Time Well Spent

Module 2 – Marketing Methods for Senior Clients

  • Strategies for Marketing
  • Listen for Opportunities
  • The Importance of Educating Your Prospects
  • Sales and Marketing Tools

Module 3 – Referral Opportunities

  • Trusted Advisors
  • Associations
  • Additional Opportunities

 

14 Oct 2020

Marketing Minute – Tips for Your Marketing Copy

Mary GillenThis Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary Gillen. Check out her website for more information about her services.

You spend a lot of time writing blogs and articles to help promote your home inventory business. Our tips today include helpful writing techniques as well as what to do when someone plagiarizes your material.

The “Inverted Pyramid Style”

Journalists are familiar with the “inverted pyramid” when composing news stories. You can use the same technique when writing your blogs, newsletter articles, or press releases. Start with the most important information first, smack dab in the first paragraph. The reader has access to the conclusion immediately, in case there isn’t enough time to finish the entire article. The supporting information is then added in the subsequent paragraphs.

The point: state the crucial info first so the reader can grab the facts quickly. Make sure the reader has immediate access to the who, what, when, where, and why info.

Words That Work in Marketing

New
Magic
Now
Money Off
100%
Sale
Latest
Introducing
Proof
Reduce
Easy
Amazing

Use the Active Voice

Use the active voice in your marketing copy. It makes the message shorter and more powerful.

NOT ACTIVE: “The new video developed by our company can show you why you need a home inventory.”
ACTIVE: “Our new video explains 10 reasons why a home inventory is essential.”

Has your work been plagiarized?

A free online plagiarism checker can help you detect if your content is (ahem) being used elsewhere on the web. Go to www.duplichecker.com, type a few phrases from your article or blog in the site’s text box, or upload your article as a .txt file to be checked.

If you find that your work is being used without your permission, contact the writer, and request that he or she take down that specific content. Also, state what you will do if they don’t do as requested, and give a date to have it completed. If you find they have not complied, you might want to send a cease and desist letter to them.

02 Oct 2020

Get to Know Your Customers Day

ConsultingNow that parts of the United States are opening up, and others are slowly taking steps to do so, people should be more apt to schedule an inventory now or in the near future. Promoting Get to Know Your Customers Day is an opportunity to re-connect with your current clientele. According to National Day Calendar, this day is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter. October 15th is the upcoming day that can help draw attention to your business.

Use this opportunity to reach out to your current customers. Get to know a little more about them, make each of them feel like they are your most important customer of the day. Following are some tips to help you decide what would work best for you:

  • Ask your customers questions. Find out what services they need (updates, appraisals, even an entirely new inventory) and possibly offer a “special customer” discount if schedule by a set date.
  • Follow up after the inventory process. Ask your customers for feedback regarding your process, response time, and your deliverables.
  • Use social media.  Invite your clients, referral sources, and prospects to follow you on social media. It is a great tool to introduce your inventory company, to announce your “re-launch” after the shutdown, or just to share the different services you offer.
  • Network with other businesses. Learn and share best practices for getting to know customers from other successful businesses.

Take the time to get to know your customers. You’ll be planting a seed that will flourish, which can bring repeat business and/or encourage them to recommend you to their friends, referral sources, and other business owners.  

18 Sep 2020

Marketing Minute – Do You Have An Interest in Pinterest?

Mary GillenPinterest is a “visual” social media platform. It is unique, as photos and images (rather than text) are shared. This can be quite helpful for home inventory professionals, as you can show your final report format. We know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so by including images representing your services, such as photos of collectibles, antiques, full-room views, jewelry, power tools, etc., will draw interest. Also, photos of fire, tornado, and hurricane damage and theft help draw attention to your loss services. And don’t forget to find photos that represent estate inventories, collections inventories, and your appraisal examiner options. By also showing a variety of business contents items, you will display the diversity of your commercial clients and the types of assets that you inventory.

Following are three key tips to help you have success with Pinterest:

  1. When you create your Pinterest pins (your images), be sure to always link back to your original content, whether it’s on your web site or blog. This helps improve your standings in the major search engines.
  2. When you add a description for your Pinterest pin, this content becomes the image ALT tag for the image you pin. Be sure to use an important keyword phrase in the description for better SEO.
  3. To gain followers, spend about 30 minutes a day “liking” and commenting on other people’s pins. This process draws more traffic to your Pinterest content.

Mary Gillen has 24 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 Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 A, AA & AAA Guidelines. Her experience also includes testing and fully remediating Adobe PDFs, Microsoft Office documents and pre-recorded videos.