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.


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.

28 Sep 2017

Working With Your Associate Members

MembershipAssociate Members of the National Inventory Certification Association have invested in their membership, just as each inventory professional has. They see the value in our industry, and the value in working with each of us. Their support of each member as well as the contents inventory industry is appreciated. Consider your needs as a home inventory professional and review the websites of those who support us and have chosen to work with NICA and all members.

Do you want an additional income stream? Nugent Appraisal!

Do you need a new or ADA compliant website? Mary Gillen!

Do you want to help save the plan and have a new service to introduce to your contacts? Renovation Angel!

Do you need or want to have legal assistance for your personal and/or business needs? LegalShield!

Are you ready to start your home inventory business or know someone who is? Nationwide Inventory Professionals!

In a previous post, Mary Gillen shared information about website ADA compliance. We value the relationship we’ve developed and her eagerness to share his knowledge. Watch for future blog posts as these Associate Members contribute.

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.

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.

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!


17 May 2017

Just Starting Out? How To Get New Business

Mary GillenHow do I get new business?” the new consultant asked me as we sat, having coffee. Good question.

I was not conversing with a dumb fellow. The man who sat across the table had almost 30 years of solid HR/corporate training experience.

He is not alone.

There are many folks who have left the corporate world — by choice or downsizing — who have never had to drum up business in their lives. There were always sales teams to bring in the bacon, supporting everyone on the corporate farm. So when these folks go out on their own, what’s to be done?

I answered his question:

“Find what it is that your competition feels is ‘beneath’ them to do. That’s where the business is, and that’s always where the dough resides,” I told him.

He looked confused.

“What does that mean?” he inquired.

“You know your business better than anyone,” I told him. “But when it comes to new business prospecting, small business people and consultants make a huge mistake by only going after ‘the big kill,’ the contract everyone is fighting over. Meanwhile, there’s smaller business hiding in crevices out there that you can take to the bank. The small potatoes fill you up, my friend. Think about it. It’s out there.”

So we finished our coffee and went our separate ways. A month later, he called me, very excited. He had his first contract.

The “little guy” wins big.

“For days I thought about what you told me,” he said. “One afternoon I was driving along the highway and noticed a work crew along the side of the road. There was one guy supervising them. It made me think, ‘Hey, maybe those supervisors need training.’ When I got home, I visited the state’s Web site, and sure enough, there was an RFP for management training of the state’s road crew supervisors. I did a proposal, went to see ’em, and got a year’s contract. And you know what? They told me they had trouble finding a professional who would take it on.”

Plain hard work.

This is no fairy tale, folks. He worked extra hard that first year. He traveled all over the state, teaching some people who could’ve cared less, others hungry for the knowledge. It was not a glamorous gig. It was something his suited competition would never consider taking on. But my friend treated every class as if he was still in the corporate training room, and it paid off for him in many ways:

  1. He gained solid, real-world experience on his own that lead to bigger business.
  2. He had receivables he could count on to support his family.
  3. He made more money that first year than he would have made if he was still employed by a corporation.

Remember the quote from master Thomas Edison: “Many people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Great advice from Associate Member Mary Gillen. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for new business, Mary can help you with her full-service marketing services – Website Development, Copywriting, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media. Mary is a Web developer, writer, technical trainer and online marketer…all under one roof. She uses her 22 years of Web development experience to build websites for tech companies, associations, non-profits and small businesses, blending professional design with measurable business results. See Mary’s portfolio at http://marygillen.com

03 May 2017

Introducing NICA’s Newest Associate Member, Renovation Angel

Renovation Angel LogoA few months ago, Steve Feldman of Renovation Angel and Ray Nugent of Nugent Appraisal Services, held a conference call for NICA members. After explaining how they work together, and their vision of including home inventory professionals to assist with these projects, we determined that there is an obvious synergy with Renovation Angel. We are pleased that they have chosen to become an Associate Member.  

Renovation Angel is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Providing their recycling services in all 50 states, they are North America’s premier luxury kitchen renovation and furniture recycling enterprise. They have conducted thousands of projects including members of the Forbes 400, celebrities, sports stars, and high-net-wealth property owners.

It all started when Founder Steve Feldman saw a “Demolition in Progress” sign at the former residence of Farah Pahlavi, the Last Empress of Iran, who had lived in a 10,000 square foot Rockefeller mansion. When he drove up the driveway, he found that the house was gone. Completely demolished, with  nothing saved or recycled!

With a desire to raise funds for other non-profit organizations, this gave him the idea to start a demolition donation program. The idea turned into a pilot project, and in 2005, Steve started Green Demolitions. In nine years they became America’s leading recycler of luxury pre-owned kitchens and showroom displays. Then in 2012, Renovation Angel was formed as the official donation program of Green Demolitions, and has since supported dozens of non-profits, with the number of programs continuing to grow.

Homeowners receive financial benefits of tens of thousands of dollars in savings for qualified projects. The clients receive

  • a full tax deduction
  • free, white-glove, insured, professional removal/pack/transport
  • no disposal fees.

Since 2005, Renovation Angel has created over $17 million in jobs, donated over $2.2 million to charitable programs, recycled over 4,700 kitchens, and diverted over 27 million pounds from landfills!

Teaming up with NICA is a benefit for Renovation Angel, our inventory professional Members, and Associate Member Nugent Appraisal Services. Tapping into the NICA membership, Project Angel can save travel time and expenses by utilizing your expertise. When Renovation Angel receives a recycling project, NICA members located near the renovation site (preferably those who have achieved the Certified Appraisal Examiner designation) will have the opportunity to assist. You will inventory the items to be donated, which entails measuring, logging descriptions, and taking photographs. Since these donated items need to have a value assigned for tax purposes, Nugent is called on to provide the appraisals.

This is what NICA has envisioned since its inception, and we are very excited to see it coming together, bringing all an additional benefit of membership. Working together on projects and calling on each others’ expertise is very exciting. Associate members have ready resources, and the inventory professional members have access to additional income streams – this enables all to find new opportunities and business growth.

10 Apr 2017

What Is It Like To Be A Certified Appraisal Examiner?

Nugent Appraisal Services is utilizing their Associate Membership to benefit their business while also providing new revenue streams for our members. This business relationship is displaying the purpose and anticipated results of Associate Memberships with NICA.

Putting the newly-earned Certified Appraisal Examiner designations to good use, Nugent Appraisal reports that they have been able to secure jobs for our members since putting this working relationship together. This enables our home inventory members to add a revenue stream while Nugent saves time by reducing his hours of travel to document items out of his local area.

What does an Appraisal Examiner do?

We asked four of our members to share their experience as an Appraisal Examiner for Nugent Appraisal Services, and it appears that they all had positive results and are looking forward to future opportunities.

Kate LeGrand, a member located in Plainfield, Indiana and owner of Capital Counts Inventory said, “I totally enjoyed working with Ray and appreciated his professionalism, especially since it was my first examiner job. It was an estate, and only specific items were to be appraised. The executor walked with me from item to item, sharing the provenance of each piece.” Kate enjoyed hearing the stories and felt the client had become a new friend by the time the job was completed.

Member Tricia Hoekwater of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions in Pittsburg, California stated that her complete time onsite was just about an hour. The client wanted to donate furniture and art for a tax write-off, which included living room furniture, four pieces of art, some large picture frames, and a sleigh bed with wood and steel frame. “This particular project did not garner the gathering of much information about the pieces other than the purchase location and approximate year so it was very easy to document and gather the photographs needed for the appraisal. Being a certified appraisal examiner is fun and what is particularly enjoyable is having the front-end work of marketing and communication with the client done so I could come in and get right to work for the client. The template provided by Nugent Appraisal is wonderful and makes the job so easy. The back-end work was minimal and it’s a great income source for my business.” 

Documenting two Tiffany lamps in Pennsylvania was the scope of this appraisal examiner project completed by John Maida, owner of Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based WJ Home Inventory. He took many photos, descriptions, and measurements of the lamps. “The appointment went well and Ray was happy. It was a small assignment, but quite interesting nonetheless.”

Debra Palmer of Palmer Home and Business Inventory Professionals, LLC in Tampa, Florida was providing examiner services for Nugent Appraisal Services years before they became an Associate Member of NICA. Debra shared, “I became aware of Ray Nugent and Nugent Appraisals a few years ago as I was starting up my inventory business.  Through various teleconferences/webinars I was able to connect with Ray and he offered me the opportunity to do appraisal examinations for Nugent Appraisals in my business territory, Central Florida.  Ray has given me several appraisal examination assignments that have included a wide range of items such as art and collectibles collections, gun collections, coin collections and office furnishings. Project size has ranged from just one fine art item to over 100 items.  Each project has been so interesting and I have found working with Nugent’s clients to always be a pleasure. This collaboration with Nugent Appraisals has helped to grow my business and gives me great hands-on experience with dealing with higher value items in clients’ properties. I look forward to continuing to expand the appraisal examination aspect of my inventory business and completing the NICA Appraisal Examiner Certification in the very near future.”

From a pair of lamps to over one hundred items, comments from these members show the variety of projects that are and will be offered, as Ray anticipates growth through expansion due to interest in the Certified Appraisal Examiner opportunities. Those members who have achieved their Certified Appraisal Examiner designation will be given preference when there is more than one inventory professional within the geographic area of the job. NICA will assist Nugent with finding qualified members and distributing the jobs to all in areas where there are multiple CAEs interested in receiving these assignments.

20 Mar 2017

Meet Mary Gillen, New Associate Member

We have received many compliments about the new NICA website. Some have stated that it’s clean, easy to navigate, has great information, and a quote that says exactly what we were going for – “I love the positive visuals.”

There is one person to thank for this, and she is our Associate Member, Mary Gillen. Here is why we are so glad to have her as one of our members, ready to create website, marketing, and social media assistance for our members.

Using her more than 20 years of Web development experience to build sites for tech companies, associations, non-profits and small businesses, Mary Gillen blends professional design with measurable business results. The perfect example of her work is to peruse the new NICA website when it launches (she did a fantastic job!). Whether you need a few tweaks or an entirely new website, you will find Mary is extremely talented and professional. From adding a blog page to an existing site to creating a fully searchable directory, your issue becomes her successful project.

Websites, SEO, Copywriting, Content Marketing

  • Keyword Research – How do your prospects find you on the Web? You can expect shifts in how people search, perhaps due to market conditions or changes in product or service demand. So, if your Web site was optimized for keyword phrases a year ago, it may be time for a keyword phrase “tune-up.”
  • Copywriting for Both Web & Print – Copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing and print business communication. Effective copy sells your services. She has written hundreds of brochures, technical manuals, and Federal government RFP proposals in addition to writing for the Web and producing online marketing copy for commercial and private organizations.
  • Content Marketing – Every business person serious about marketing his/her business today must publish blog posts, Twitter tweets, Google+ shares & YouTube video content consistently throughout the business week. Why? Search engine optimization. Consistently publishing quality content to your blog, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube accounts is the way to get there. She has developed a Content Marketing Plan that can be used for Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Government (B2G).

For all of your website, content, and social media needs, Mary Gillen can help you reach the next level with your business.

13 Mar 2017

Associate Member LegalShield Provides Benefits For Small Businesses

LegalShieldLogoIn a continuing effort to bring quality services to our list of Associate Members, we believe that it is important for all businesses to have access to an attorney. LegalShield provides our members with this option.

Often small businesses do not have the funds to hire a lawyer. When someone asks you to sign an agreement, do you cross your fingers and hope it’s going to be OK as you sign on the dotted line? Or you might need to create an agreement, contract, or other legal document for your home inventory services or when establishing a business relationship. Do you usually copy a document off the internet and hope it provides you with the protection you might need? These scenarios happen because of the out-of-reach hourly rate an attorney will charge your small business.

Another situation is when you are having difficulty collecting your service fees. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an attorney send a collection letter from their firm, on their letterhead, requesting payment?

LegalShield offers these services and more from their nationwide network of provider law firms to help you run your business confidently. For a low monthly fee, LegalShield has been offering legal plans for 40 years, creating an opportunity for everyone to be able to access legal protection – and afford it. Unexpected legal questions arise every day, and with LegalShield, your business will have access to an experienced law firm for covered situations. Just pick up the phone and call them – no worries about how many minutes you’re being charged – it’s part of your monthly membership.

For a low monthly cost, you can lead your business with the peace of mind that you’ll always have access to legal advice and services for your business when you need them.

LegalShield Small Business Services include:

  • Legal consultation on an unlimited number of matters
  • Contract and document review
  • Debt collection assistance
  • Legal correspondence
  • Trial defense services

Rate chart for LegalShield

Join the other 47,000 business owners who have found LegalShield to be an affordable way to have legal assistance and representation. Following is the rate chart and benefits for businesses with less than 10 employees. There is no enrollment fee, and you can cancel your LegalShield membership at any time without penalty.

Sign up to begin receiving these legal services, or contact the NICA office if you have questions.