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

Changes to the Blogging Course – One is now Three

Change is GoodAs stated in last month’s newsletter, Member Tricia Hoekwater and Associate Member Mary Gillen co-authored a very thorough and in-depth course about blogging for the personal property inventory industry. It was scheduled to launch this month.

HOWEVER, once it was completed, we realized that it was just too in-depth for one course. The details and information when “digging deep” into marketing strategy and how to develop a blogsite are needed, but cramming all of this into one course would not be in your best interest. It was the epitome of “too much information!”

Therefore, we decided it would be best to break it down into three courses instead of cutting out a lot of great information. By doing this, it also allowed for additional information to be added, making these individual 3 courses even better!.

Dividing, editing, and adding information, obviously, delayed the projected timeline of having the Blogging course available in March. We are working on this now, and the first course – Introduction to Blogging – should be available very soon.

Blogging can seem overwhelming and intimidating, so the basics and details are included to give you a great start with a solid foundation of knowledge. It’s easy to put blogging on the back burner. Like any new undertaking, it takes a commitment, willingness to learn, and a plan that can be executed and followed. Starting a blog and keeping it alive is a noteworthy achievement. We are confident this course gives the information to do just that! The modules in Introduction to Blogging are:

Module 1 – Building the Foundation

  • Introduction to Blogging
  • What is a Blog
  • Why Blog
  • Start Right
  • Pros and Cons

Module 2 – Creating Content for Your Blog

  • Generating Content Ideas
  • Types of Content
  • Content Formats
  • Developing Fresh Content
  • Images

Module 3 – Naming and Branding Your Blog

  • Naming Your Blog
  • Branding Your Blog
  • Promoting Your Blog
  • Resources
01 Apr 2021

April is National Home Inventory Month

National Home Inventory MonthNICA’s mission is “To provide awareness and education.” Establishing April as the awareness month to focus on the need for a home inventory supports this initiative. Along with our Association, many personal property inventory professionals inform others about this industry on a regular basis. The various means by our members and others continue to raise awareness of the life events that require or benefit from having this information prepared and kept up to date.

With the country finally opening up after a long year of tough times due to Covid, this is perfect timing to promote your home inventory services. Remember to contact your prospects and referral sources, let them know what precautions you are currently taking, and that (when you’re ready), you are once again providing your services to homeowners, renters, and small businesses.

We welcome all home inventory professionals to participate in National Home Inventory Month. NICA members benefit from additional resources, which can be accessed upon logging in with your member credentials.

17 Mar 2021

Marketing Minute – How to Build Traffic to Your Website

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Are you wanting to build more traffic to your Web site? Yep – that’s a silly question; who wouldn’t want more traffic?

One easy way is to post comments on blogs where you will attract your prospects’ attention. How do you find these blogs? Follow these steps:

1) Go to Google > http://google.com
2) Search for “top [niche] blogs” – replacing the word [niche] with your niche marketing term.
Examples: “top home inventory blogs” or “top estate planning blogs” or “top homeowners insurance blogs”
3) Gather the URLs of 30 or so of these blogs that accept comments AND allow you to include a link to your Website. Leave an appropriate comment that aligns with the blog information and include the link to your website with your comment.

10 Mar 2021

Folsom, California Inventory Professional Achieves Industry Designation

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Cynthia Breazeale for achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

Cynthia BreazealePRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Cynthia Breazeale, owner of Trusted Inventory, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms she has gained knowledge and experience to provide professional residential and small business contents inventory services.

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

There is a growing 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 an inventory professional. Earning these credentials informs clients that Ms. Breazeale has gone the extra mile to ensure that she provides quality inventory services for homeowners, renters, and business owners. 

The key reason for entering this industry is summed up nicely by her: “The emotional toll resulting from tragic events eclipses the ability for a person to recall the sum total of the contents of their home or business. As a result, the insurance settlement process is slowed significantly and often falls far short of replacing hard-earned possessions.” 

Based in Folsom, California, Trusted Inventory provides residential and business asset inventory services in northern California. For more information, visit https://trustedinventory.com

03 Mar 2021

New Course – How to Build a Successful Blog

E-learningMany members have stated that they want to start a blog, but just don’t know how to create one, where to find content, etc.

We listened! We reached out to Associate Member Mary Gillen and Member Tricia Hoekwater. Both have written courses before and we’ve always received positive comments about the content and thoroughness of information.

They once again came through with an exceptional course – far exceeded expectations! Once you’ve completed How to Build a Successful Blog for Inventory Professionals, you’ll be ready to tackle the project of starting and maintaining your Home Inventory Blog!

Following is an outline to see what you can expect. The course should be available before the next newsletter is distributed. Look for it mid-March!

Module 1 includes the whys and hows of setting up a blog:

  • What is a Blog
  • Blogging vs. Traditional Websites
  • Why Blog
  • Benefits of Blogging
  • Develop A Successful Blogger Mindset
  • Pros and Cons of Blogging
  • Content Marketing and Content Marketing Strategy for the Inventory Professional
  • Naming & Branding Your Blog
  • All the steps required to set up your professional blog

Module 2 provides tips on Generating Content Ideas:

  • Identify Relevant Topics and Key Takeaways for Your Readers
  • Focus and Harness Your Train of Thought
  • Content Research
  • Questions Straight From Your Target Audience
  • Identify Your Inventory Niche Communities to Generate New Ideas
  • The Most Effective Types of Blog Content
  • Repurposing Content
  • Content Promotion Strategies

Module 3 shares tips and tools for successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Brief Intro to SEO
  • Understanding Search Engines
  • Keyword Research
  • Basic Site Setup For SEO
  • The Best SEO Plugin For WordPress
  • Optimizing Your Page Titles
  • Optimizing Your Meta Descriptions

Just as important as creating a successful blog, it is also necessary to know when to take a break. The Conclusion shares information on how to take productive breaks.

17 Feb 2021

Marketing Minute – How To Get New Content Ideas

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Use Your Search Engine’s Autocomplete Feature

Want your blog posts to be easily found by Search Engines? When writing your blog post titles, be sure to make use of the Search Engine Autocomplete Feature. Google and other search engines will show you the keyword phrases that your prospects are actually using when searching for your services. Use these phrases as your blog titles for better indexing.

For example, here are results from a recent search for “Marketing ideas”:

  • Marketing ideas during covid
  • Marketing ideas for 2021
  • Marketing ideas for service business
  • Marketing ideas for restaurants
  • Marketing ideas for new businesses
  • Marketing ideas for insurance agents
  • Marketing ideas for dental office

Pick the ones that apply to your home inventory business and use them as your titles to match what people are using to search.

Discover New Content Ideas via Wordtracker’s Tool

Need new content ideas? Use Wordtracker to get new content ideas.
Click on https://wordtracker.com, type in the word or phrase (we used “estate inventory”) and see the results that people are searching for. The top 5 were:

  • Theft from estate before inventory
  • Estate inventory checklist
  • Real estate
  • House inventory
  • What is included in an estate inventory

Obviously, not every “find” is appropriate, but you’ll receive some very good ideas

Make Google Alerts & Twitter Tweets Do the Work

Monitor trends that will give you fodder for your next blog or newsletter article. Use Google Alerts – https://www.google.com/alerts – to create email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

You can also take advantage of TwitterSearch – https://search.twitter.com/  – to see Twitter’s real-time topics.

03 Feb 2021

Member Refers Member

Thank youWhen you joined NICA, you most likely read the list of Member Benefits. Though there are many benefits to being a member, we believe that giving referrals is one of the most beneficial. Whether it’s a service you don’t provide or the location of the inventory is too far away, using the Directory can help you find someone to who you can refer.

Our office received a letter from member Tricia Hoekwater, owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions (dba Norcal Inventory), telling us of a referral she received from Donna Courtney, owner of Courtney Inventory, located almost 3,000 miles away, that turned into an excellent inventory job. Not only did Tricia show the benefits of members working together to benefit clients throughout the country, but she also provided some great tips for those who choose to tackle the arduous task of loss inventories.

Thank you, Tricia, for allowing us to share this letter…

“In 2020 my colleague, Donna Courtney, received an inquiry for a loss inventory that occurred outside of her normal work of South Carolina. The client was filing an insurance claim due to the California, San Rosa fires and needed help documenting the personal property that was lost. Donna referred the client to me as I was physically closer.

This opportunity required getting to know the client, their personal preferences, where they shop, their original home layout, and their sense of their possessions. During our meetings, I was able to establish a good rapport with the client from our initial meeting and each subsequent communication gave me more insight into the items they lost in the fire. This level of knowledge allowed me to efficiently spend my time researching the Internet for the same or similar items.  

With the client’s permission, I was able to deal with the insurance company on their behalf to ensure the proper documentation was being provided. Using an Excel worksheet template provided by the client and initial correspondence with the claims adjuster, I was able to document in detail each item listed in the insurance claim.

The client gave me “artistic license” to research and add items to the inventory for their review and approval.  As I submitted each update for review, I received positive feedback confirming that they had those items. This process would also jog their memory for more specifics on name brands and quantities.  As an example – while documenting their extensive wine collection, I was able to research specific wineries and vintages in the Sonoma Valley, where they lived, which met the price point provided by the client. This allowed the clients to confirm that they had owned specific bottles of wine. Knowing the client flipped houses, a second example involved researching tools and equipment that would be used in flipping a house. This included everything from handheld tools to heavy equipment and end of project cleaning supplies and tools.

The insurer required a great deal of detailed information including:

  • Item name
  • Item description
  • Quantity
  • Item price
  • Extended price
  • Source of information (url). 

I also included notes for each line item if there were changes to the insurer’s valuations or descriptions. The final report was 1 spreadsheet with 34 individual worksheets that linked back to two summary worksheets. 

This was a great experience. I enjoyed being able to take this tedious and time-consuming task off the client’s plate. I was able to save the clients’ money, allow them to release the stress of creating the inventory, and they were able to continue with their travels and other commitments.

A very special “Thank you” to Donna Courtney. This was an incredible experience and I am more than grateful for her referral.”

Again, we thank Tricia for sharing this great story. If you have a similar example of working together with other NICA members, please send them in so we can share them in future newsletters.

21 Jan 2021

Marketing Minute – Do You Blog? If Not, Should You?

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

One big question that most small business owners ask, is … how do you stay in touch and find new referral sources or potential clients? The answer is … start or beef up your blog! Following are helpful tips from Mary Gillen:

  • Always include an image with your blog post.
  • Include Call-to-Actions at the End of Blog Posts.
  • If you have a newsletter, add an email subscribe box at the end of every blog post. Be sure to offer some quality content such as a case study, white paper or a discount coupon as a thank you for the subscription.
  • Create an “About Me” video that welcomes visitors to your blog. Embed it on your About Page.
  • Do you have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of information on your Web site? Repurpose these frequently-asked questions as blog posts so the info is indexed in the major search engines. This leads to more traffic from potential customers.
  • Use your blog to post the offer of a free consultation to anyone who leaves a thoughtful, business-like comment.
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