April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
14 Dec 2016

Deadline to Retain CIS Designation Nears

ceuNational Inventory Certification Association’s standard for retaining the CIS designation calls for an annual renewal.  Certification CEUs are accumulated on a calendar year basis. Therefore, if you achieved your certification in 2015 or earlier, and haven’t yet accumulated the required 5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) this year, you still have time. The deadline is December 31.

Have you taken seminars, webinars, or courses offered by other organizations? If so, please email that information to the NICA office. The Education Committee will review and confirm your CEU earnings.

If some do not meet our criteria, we will notify you of how many more CEUs are needed to meet your requirement. Just two NICA courses will provide the total of 5 CEUs. All courses are online and self-directed so you can achieve the continuing education at your convenience, on your time schedule. Earning these credits will enable you to remain in good standing as a CIS through 2017.

If you have any questions, please contact the NICA office immediately.

23 Nov 2016

Collections Inventory Course Now Available

ceuA course on Collections Inventory was the most requested topic in our survey about continuing education topics. With your needs in mind, we are pleased to announce that the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) has recently released the Collections Inventory course. For your convenience, it is an online, self-directed course to enable you to fit it into your busy schedule.

Our member and Certified Inventory Professional Tricia Hoekwater of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions, is the author of this very detailed instructional online, self-directed course. Tricia has found collections inventories to be a niche that she enjoys and has been quite successful in this market. Therefore, we couldn’t think of anyone who would be a better fit to provide her expertise on this topic. We have great appreciation for her willingness to share her knowledge with fellow members.

In addition to learning the inventory processes and procedures to thoroughly document collections, this course also includes information regarding how to market a collectibles inventory service, creating additional business through “upselling” this service, the tools and materials you’ll need, and how to price your collections inventory service.

The Collections Inventory course includes three Modules, as noted here:

Module 1 – Introduction to Collections Inventory Services

  • What Is A Collections Inventory?
  • Insurance
  • The Difference Between Home Inventory and Collections Inventory
  • Purposes For Collections Inventories

Module 2 – Process Strategies

  • Proper Documentation, Storage, and Updates
  • Develop Your Strategy
  • Appraisals
  • Challenges You Might Face
  • Materials and Tools

Module 3 – Monitoring and Identifying Success

  • Marketing Your Service
  • Partnerships and Alliances
  • Pricing Options
  • Attention to Detail

Upon successful completion of the Collections Inventory course, you will receive 3 CEUs that can be applied towards the required 5 CEUs per year to retain your CIS designation.

13 Jul 2016

Renewing Your Designation

RenewalWe have just a little more than 5 months remaining in 2016. Therefore, we wanted to remind everyone who became certified prior to this year that it’s not too early to begin working on the 5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) required annually to maintain your Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation. Continued education is a key element of professionalism, and our recent surveys have shown that this is a highly valued component of being an inventory provider.

Course Choices

We have developed courses related to our industry, as well as general topics appropriate for any small business owner. Some of these are Customer Service, Time Management, Social Media, and of course, our newest, Project Management. For the full list of all available courses, and to get started on earning your CEUs, click here.

Members receive a 50% discount off all courses and the certification exam. If you don’t remember your code, please contact the NICA office and we’ll be happy to send it to you. We are including a chart that shows how you can achieve your 5 CEUs. It is also on the Professional Development page of the website.

5CEU

Earning non-NICA Continuing Education Units

If you have participated in synergistic industry webinars, seminars, or courses (insurance, appraisals, adjusters, etc.), or general business education, these may qualify toward your CEU requirement. Send the information to nica@nationalinventorycertificationassociation.com. The committee will review the material and let you know if it can apply to your 5 CEU requirement.

If you have any questions about a specific course, feel free to contact the NICA office.

28 Oct 2015

Top 8 Questions About Certification

ceuWe have compiled the most common questions received since streamlining the certification process. This change was in response to feedback from members. One common issue that was shared with us was that having the membership renewal and the certification renewal dates being different cause confusion. Also, needing to remember what year their certification was to be renewed was a third date to remember. Major changes included certification renewal to be per calendar year (previously every other year). Feedback has been great, as it’s easier now for members to track CEU achievements, based on the calendar rather than what month they received certification. And since it is an annual renewal, they no longer need to remember in what year their continuing education credits must be met.

Of course, change brings more questions, so we are sharing the top 8 questions we’ve received in the NICA office concerning Certification.

  1. What is the CEU requirement to retain designation? Only 5 CEUs, earned annually, will keep your CIS certification current.
  2. How often and when do I renew my CIS designation? The new, more streamlined certification renewal is on a calendar year basis, making it much easier for everyone to remember and track the required CEUs. Upon completion of the 5 CEUs each calendar year, send an email to NICA@NationalInventoryCertificationAssociation.com, listing your 5 CEUs and where you achieved them (topic, organization, and # of CEUs received for each).
  3. Please use the subject line “5 CEUs for 20xx” and include the calendar year.
  4. Can I use other CEU courses towards this requirement or must I take only those offered by NICA? There are a number of ways you can accumulate the CEUs. Of course, NICA courses are faster and easier for you because we record them for you. You can also achieve CEUs by taking the webinars offered by the Inventory Institute. Another option is to take CEU-assigned courses, webinars, workshops, and seminars offered by ancillary industries (insurance, financial, adjusters, etc.). Other webinars and seminars will be considered, depending on the topic (small business planning, project management, financials, etc.), and must be reviewed by our committee before granting the CEUs. This number will be dependent on the number of CEUs or contact hours assigned by the organization providing the education. There are other activities that can enable you to earn CEUs, such as writing a course for NICA, participating in the National Preparathon, and others.
  5. How do I know the number of CEUs awarded to each NICA course I take? The CEUs are listed with each course description on the website.
  6. Are the webinars I attend with the Inventory Institute automatically added to my NICA profile? Since we are separate companies, we don’t have access to their records. Nor to we have access to other entities’ records from where you might receive CEUs. The best way to keep track of these is to create a document and list the date and how each CEU is being earned.
  7. Where do I find the complete list of CEU-earning options? Please consult the chart on the NICA website, or call the NICA office for specifics to receive approval prior to attending.
  8. How do I prove I participated in theNational Preparathon so I can receive the CEUs? Copy the form you completed, submit a link to your social media account and provide a few samples of your posts, or submit a document that verifies an event you sponsored or participated in.

Though we strive to have a comprehensive website, we know that all specific questions cannot be answered. If you have a topic that is not covered, please contact the NICA office via email or telephone. We are here to provide information for members and non-members of this industry.

14 Oct 2015

Networking For Business Course Now Available

ContinuingEdIn our continued effort to grow the course options, we are pleased to add the course Networking for Business to the Continuing Professional Education Program. Written with the home inventory service professional in mind, it is also general enough that all business owners and company representatives will benefit from this information.

Networking is not about selling, but about building relationships. These relationships, then, will in time result in sales or referrals for sales. All too often people enter a networking meeting, hand out business cards to as many people as they can, grab some food, and then leave. These are also the people who are saying that networking doesn’t work, they never get a sale at a networking event, and that it is a waste of time.

In actuality, people do business with people they know and trust. Trust takes time.  Approach networking events without expectations of walking away with a new client. Instead, attend these meetings with the goal of reconnecting with those you already know, and meeting a few people you don’t know.

With social media so popular today, many believe they can do all of their networking online. No matter how many friends and followers you have on your various social media sites, it is still essential to participate and contribute to face-to-face networking. Nothing can replace a live, in-person conversation. It is impossible to stay in your office, spending hours on social media, and expect to develop solid business relationships.

The most successful networking approach is a combination of social media and in-person events. Your plan should include a balance of your time for both online and offline networking.

Though many groan about the need to attend live events, this course will give you the guidance and knowledge necessary to network with purpose. Topics covered are the three phases of networking: preparing prior to attending the event, tips to achieve the most benefit while in attendance at an event, and what steps to take afterward to help ensure your time was not wasted.

Module 1: Prepare for Networking Success

  • Face-to-face networking
  • How to choose the right events
  • Prepare for the event

Module 2: Attending Networking Events

  • Have a plan
  • Techniques to work the room
  • Be a conversationalist

Module 3: After the Event

  • Review your results
  • Follow up
  • Building the relationships
  • Evaluate

This online, self-directed course provides 2 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to be applied toward certification or annual CIS designation renewal.

01 Sep 2015

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMANational Preparedness Month begins today, September 1. We believe that it is important to educate the public on being prepared for disasters. Therefore, once again we are awarding CEUs for proof of your participation in this program. This year’s theme is, Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.

 Encourage people you know and your clients to create a family disaster preparedness plan. It’s easy to inform via your social media account(s). You can either use the information provided at the links below, or just follow National Inventory Certification Association on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NICAssn) and Twitter (@NICAssn) and share our posts.

 The month-long event concludes with National PrepareAthon! on September 30, where they (and you) encourage action in the form of practicing a family emergency plan to make sure everyone knows what to do and has the phone numbers with whom they need to stay in touch.

If you choose to join NICA in America’s PrepareAthon, click here: www.ready.gov/prepare. Then click on Be Counted, and add your activity.

Here are some things you can do to get started:

Download the National Preparedness Month toolkit  – You will find useful tips on how to promote preparedness promote through social media.

Check out Weekly Themes – A focus on a specific hazard will raise awareness to help you learn more about the hazard.

Register for National PrepareAthon! Day  – Continue your momentum; participate in National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30. Go to America’s PrepareAthon! to select your activity.

To receive the CEUs (to go toward your renewal of your certification), just send NICA an email stating you’re participation, then tag NICA in a post so we can verify your month-long participation.

05 Aug 2015

Certification Process Improvements

Blue Ribbon-Gold MiddleChange is inevitable when a determined mission is to always strive for improvement. That is what brought the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) to create a 2nd rendition of the certification program for the Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation.

These changes were not made on a whim. Instead we monitored the process, conducted additional research, and had discussions with some members of NICA and also members of other associations. We know that changes affect all members, and didn’t take the altered certification and renewal of the designation lightly. However, our findings have encouraged minor changes that we believe will be accepted in a positive manner.

Incrased CEU Requirement

The number of CEUs required to apply to take the CIS Certification exam has increased from 10 to 15. An almost unanimous agreement that 10 CEUs were not enough to cover an overall education, whether that education be experience, formal education, or online courses offered by NICA. The general consensus is that 15 is still very reasonable, but gives more credibility to the certification due to the increased effort.

The new itemized list of the requirements to achieve CIS certification can be found here on the NICA website.

This small change will help ensure a more well-rounded education, giving more credibility to our certification program.

Assistance during the transition

This improved format takes effect immediately, and everyone will be grandfathered into the new process. If you are currently working towards your certification, please contact the NICA office if you need clarification or assistance. We will work with you individually during this transition to help you achieve your goal.

In addition to your association creating new courses on a scheduled basis, the Inventory Institute is focusing on providing CEU-approved webinars and other opportunities as well to provide a variety of options to meet your CEU requirements for certification.

03 Jun 2015

Customer Service Course Now Available

CustomerServiceWe are pleased to announce that the course Customer Service has recently been added to the curriculum. There have been many conversations with members requesting this topic because it is such a crucial part of being a responsible and respectable company.

Good customer service (or lack of it) is commonly a topic of discussion when an individual or company does not provide the type of service expected. It is the desire of the Inventory Industry organizations to ensure that this industry succeeds in the area of exceptional customer service. To ensure the successful outcome of client experiences, we provide standards through courses such as this Customer Service Course and also through the established Code of Ethics.

You will be introduced in this course to methodologies that should aid you and your business in the development of a Customer Service Plan & Strategy that will help you offer positive customer service experiences to everyone you work with. Though created with the inventory industry in mind, all service-based small business owners will benefit from this knowledge.

Set in three modules, this online, self-paced course was written by Johanna Curtiss, CEO of the Inventory Institute, for the National Inventory Certification Association’s Continuing Education Program. The content outline is as follows:

Module 1 – Customer Service 101

  • Definition of customer service
  • Customer service is critical to your business
  • Who is your customer and what do they want?
  • Industry standards for customer service

Module 2 – A Customer Service Focus

  • Communication
  • Determine the format your customer prefers
  • Documentation
  • Methods of communication by customer type
  • Skills and characteristics

Module 3 – Customer Service for the Inventory Industry

  • Market segments
  • Guaranteed satisfaction
  • Outstanding customer service

Three (3) CEUs are awarded upon successful completion of the Customer Service Course. These CEUs can be applied toward your certification or renewal of your designation. The cost is $90 for non members; NICA members receive a 50% discount when applying the member discount code.

21 May 2015

Webinars, Seminars, and CEU Credits

webinarIn our continued effort to offer a variety of options to achieve CEUs, we are developing a series of webinars and seminars to present on a continuing basis. The Inventory Institute recently presented a Facebook webinar that was approved by the National Inventory Certification Association (all knowledge-based presentations must be approved by NICA). Attendees received step-by-step guides to setting up Facebook personal and business pages. Also discussed were tips on how to cross-promote, how to find Facebook friends, and ways to keep your company pages fresh. It was a well-received webinar, based on feedback from members.

The next social media webinar, LinkedIn, is tentatively scheduled for June 25. It will be one hour, and has also been approved for  .1 CEU.

Additional CEU credits

Are there topics you would like to have presented in a one-hour (CEU-approved) seminar or webinar? Remember that we are here to serve you, our members, so please contact the NICA office with your suggestions or requests.

Another option to earn CEU credits is to share your expertise through a webinar that you create and present. Once you’ve chosen a topic, contact the NICA office to discuss requirements. We welcome member contridubion to the education effort. Many find that when they develop a seminar, their knowledge level increases as well.