April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
19 Dec 2019

Marketing Minute – Use Google Alerts For Business Prospecting

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

When you find a possible new business prospect on LinkedIn you would like to connect to, it helps to determine if this person and your business are a good fit. Using Google Alerts makes it easy to learn about them.

Include the person’s name and company name to conduct some basic business intelligence on this person.

Go to google.com/alerts in your browser.

  • Enter a search term for the topic or person you want to track.
  • Choose Show Options to narrow the alert to a specific source, geographic region, etc.
  • Select Create Alert.

To change your settings, click Show Options. You can change how often you get notifications and the types of sites you’ll see. When you’ve completed your changes, click Create Alert.

You’ll get emails whenever matching search results are found. This makes your research easier and specific to the type of professionals or clients you’re seeking.

11 Dec 2019

Specific Requirements for the California Consumer Privacy Act

CaliforniaThe CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) now includes a specific requirement for anybody doing business with California residents. This applies to all NICA members who are located in California or have clients located in the state of California.

Privacy Policy 999.308 states that privacy notices be accessible and have alternative format access clearly called out. This takes effect January 1, 2020, with fines ranging from $2500 to $7500 per instance.

The privacy policy shall be designed and presented in a way that is easy to read and understandable to an average consumer. The notice shall:

  • Use plain, straightforward language and avoid technical or legal jargon.
  • Use a format that makes the policy readable, including on smaller screens, if applicable.
  • Be available in the languages in which the business in its ordinary course provides contracts, disclaimers, sale announcements, and other information to consumers.
  • Be accessible to consumers with disabilities. At a minimum, provide information on how a consumer with a disability may access the policy in an alternative format.
  • Be available in an additional format that allows a consumer to print it out as a separate document.

This information was provided by Mary Gillen, who 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.

03 Dec 2019

As You Plan For 2020

2020For most business owners, the end of the year usually means reviewing their Business Plan. Two key areas most concentrate on are setting new goals and adjusting areas for improvement. Thinking about your business image is a key element when reviewing your successes in the past year.

One of the NICA and industry Code of Ethics is Professionalism. This helps provide a focus on being professional, establishing the way you will conduct business with clients, other business professionals, and those with whom you network.

Two key items in the Code of Ethics under the category of Professionalism are worth remembering when putting your business plan for 2020 together:

  • Fulfill all obligations in a respectful and business-like manner.
  • Conduct business in a manner that will not denigrate this industry or other inventory professionals.

What can you do to improve or add to your current policies and procedures to show your high regard for professionalism?

27 Nov 2019

Are We Friends?

Social MediaDo you follow NICA on Social Media?

We post links to our courses, inform of our Code of Ethics, welcome new members, promote each of our members on a rotating basis, promote our Associate members, and give general information about NICA. We also find and share articles that will help you grow or manage your business

Follow us so you don’t miss any information about your association. Just click the links below:

Friend us on Facebook

Link up with us on LinkedIn 

Additionally, sharing NICA’s posts will give you valuable content to share from your own social media accounts.

13 Nov 2019

Marketing Minute – Email Sign-up Forms

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

It’s important to continually add new subscribers to your list, as most email list owners lose about one-third of their subscribers every year.

Following are some quick and easy-to-do steps to help you grow your lists.

  • Place your email subscription forms at the top right corner of every page of your website.
  • Include a Facebook App on your Facebook Page that allows your fans to subscribe. TIP: Check with your email service provider about a Facebook App that will work with your subscription process on your Fan Page.

Other places for your Email Signup Forms:
1) At the bottom of each blog post
2) Integrated into your slide shows or videos
3) At the bottom of the last page of your site articles

Only ask one thing on your form. More folks will sign up for your email subscription list if you only ask for an email address.

30 Oct 2019

The Course That is the Foundation of the Home Inventory Industry

CertifiedIf you haven’t yet achieved your CIS designation, Residential Contents Inventory is one of the required courses. It is really the foundation of all other courses for those who are professional home inventory providers. It was created by reviewing home inventory service websites and interviewing members to learn what techniques and processes they use. Therefore, this online, self-directed course provides a variety of information from documenting clients’ belongings to compiling the information into a finished product to pricing options – and you can take it from the comfort of your home and at the pace that fits your schedule.

This is also a great course for those who aren’t yet ready to become certified but are just wanting to learn the basics to start their business. Some even take the course to see if this industry is right for them. Whatever your goal is, this course is essential for anyone in the home inventory industry. Following are the Modules and information you will receive when taking this course.

Module 1 – Home Inventory

  • Definition of Home Inventory
  • Definition of Personal Property
  • Insurance Basics
  • Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
  • Additional Reasons for a Home Inventory
  • The Growth of the Industry

Module 2 – Documenting the Inventory

  • Office Equipment
  • Touring the Home
  • Determine Your Process
  • Photographic Record
  • Written Document
  • Tool Kit
  • Optional Tools

Module 3 – Providing Your Home Inventory Service

  • Establish Your Inventory Routine
  • Assets That Require Special Attention
  • A Systematic Approach for Your Service
  • The Final Product
  • Determine Your Fees
  • Additional Inventory Services
  • Best Practices
  • Safety
17 Oct 2019

Marketing Minute – The Importance of a Responsive Web Design

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Most likely, your most valuable and far-reaching marketing tool is your website. And equally as likely, people are viewing your website on their desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

A website should have one codebase to efficiently serve all mobile devices. This is called “responsive web design” (RWD). Responsive Web Design is the approach that a website should be flexible enough to adapt to the various screen sizes and platforms. This is important, as it will best serve your customers and prospects. This also makes the best use of your web development budget because the burden and expense of needing to maintain multiple versions of a website disappear.

Search engine optimization is also important, as 80% of business conducted today starts with a search. Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design. Rather than have sites for different devices that serve up the same content, make use of a single content site that Google can index efficiently. It also helps solve the SEO problem of being penalized for hosting duplicate content.

We thank Mary for her continued and excellent marketing tips. As an associate member of NICA, she knows our industry. Mary has created or updated many members’ websites, but they all have their own unique look. If you are seeking an upgrade or an entirely new website, the staff at NICA want you to be aware that she is excellent in creating responsive websites.

03 Oct 2019

NICA Launches Marketing and Sales Course for the Home Inventory Industry

In our focus to continue to provide quality education to our members and others who are in the home inventory industry, NICA has recently launched the course titled “Marketing and Sales” which has already received positive reviews from those who have taken it.

Tricia HoekwaterThe introduction and outline of the Marketing and Sales Course are below.  Developed and written by NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, CAE, CIS (left) and Associate Member Mary Gillen (right), we are excited to offer this thorough and detailed courseMary Gillen. Tricia is the office manager for a law firm in the San Francisco Bay area and she also provides home and business inventories and appraisal services. Mary is a web developer, professional writer, teaches online marketing, and provides the information for the Marketing Minute in each of the NICA newsletters. We thank them both for their contribution to our association as they share their expertise in marketing and sales.

Here is what is included in this course:

Marketing and Sales

As a small business owner, you wear many hats. Marketing your inventory business sometimes takes a back seat, as there are only 24 hours in the day. One of the biggest challenges you experience is knowing how to efficiently market and sell your services so your business can grow. Do you want to discover how to attract more customers and sales? Are you already trying to market your business but are still not seeing results that meet your goals?

Time to learn something new.

Knowing the difference between marketing and sales is the first step towards developing a professional marketing plan that can help you generate new business or more business from the customers you already have. Understanding your prospect’s “pain points” and how you can help them solve their problems become the foundation of your marketing messages. Taking this a step further, you need to learn how to develop strategies for pricing, sales, and service, based on your ideal customer. To be successful in this online age, you also need to know how to research the keyword terms that prospects and customers use to find your services in the major search engines. By incorporating those terms into a professionally-designed responsive website, you can help prospects discover your services in your local area so you can generate new leads. You will also need to turn those leads into paying customers. To build on your success, you’ll also need to know how to develop and nurture a referral network based on your satisfied customers.

Module One – Introduction
1. The difference between marketing and sales
2. Why do people buy? Discover your customer pain points.
3. Who is your ideal client?
4. How to create your ideal customer profile

Module Two – How to Create a Marketing Plan
1. What info is included in a marketing/sales plan?
– Target Market/Market Research
– Positioning Statement
– Offering to Customers
– Price Strategy
– Sales Strategy
– Service Strategy
– Promotion Strategy
2. Sample marketing plan

Module Three – Building Your Online Marketing/Sales Digital Framework
1. Conducting keyword research
2. Creating a website that works
3. Setting up social media accounts that are best for promoting professional services
4. Best ways to generate leads
5. How to turn leads into paying customers

Module Four – Building a Referral Network
1. The importance of educating new prospects
2. The professionals you should network with for consistent referrals
3. How to ask for referrals

You can purchase this course – along with all the other courses available – on the Professional Development Page, where all courses are listed alphabetically.

26 Sep 2019

Marketing Minute – Expand Your Contacts List

Marketing Minute – Expand Your Contacts List

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Growing your list of contacts, meeting new people, and reconnecting with those you’ve lost touch with are ways to increase your list of potential clients. When you go shopping, attend social functions and parties, and any time you have the opportunity, grab the chance to meet someone new.

Use Meetup.com to Make New Prospect Connections

If you want to connect with new prospects, you need to take an interest in what interests them.
Check out Meetup.com, which is the world’s largest network of local groups. Through Meetup, you can organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. Because of Meetup, over 130,729 groups get together in local communities each day.

Always Talk to Strangers

Always make an effort to chat with or sit next to someone you don’t know at a networking function, chamber luncheon, party, etc. With prospecting, it’s “who you don’t know” that counts.

Drum Up the Alum

If you attended a big university and you’re currently living near a large metropolitan area, there is a good chance that there’s an alumni association in your midst. Check with your university for an alumni directory that can help with local prospecting. Also, contact a few of your fellow grads who are living in your area to see if local alumni meetings are held. If not, consider starting one yourself!

19 Sep 2019

Georgia Home Inventory Professional Achieves Industry Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Trace Sargent for achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

PRESS RELEASE — The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Tracy “Trace” Sargent, president of Ryker Enterprises, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms she has gained knowledge to provide professional residential and small business contents inventory services.

To earn the CIS designation, Trace 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.

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.

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 Trace has gone the extra mile to ensure that she provides quality inventory services for homeowners, renters, and business owners.

The home inventory services that Ryker Enterprises provide fit in nicely with her vast background that includes 20 years in security, law enforcement, training, and executive protection detail, and 12 years of experience with Homeland Security. With the focus of helping others during her extensive professional career, meeting the many needs for a home or business contents inventory is a great fit.

Based in Cedartown, Georgia, Trace offers residential and business asset inventory services in Georgia and Alabama.