April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
09 Jul 2020

Code of Ethics Course

BooksA Code of Ethics is extremely important, especially when offering a service where you are invited into clients’ homes and businesses. Therefore, we are highlighting the course titled Code of Ethics this month. Included in this course, the sub-category of Customer Service details the many facets of providing excellent customer service to your clients.

This course is the foundation that establishes the standard for all inventory professionals to conduct business. These standard business practices help to ensure a reputable and respected industry. Members of the National Inventory Certification Association agree to adhere to the standards set forth for the betterment of each individual professional and the inventory industry as a whole.

The four modules in this course cover the topics of Professionalism, Integrity, Confidentiality, and Customer Service.

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?

15 Nov 2018

Code of Ethics: Confidentiality

ethicsWe periodically review the National Inventory Certification Association Code of Ethics. It’s good to always remember what standards have been set for our industry, and what you have agreed to abide by when you became a member of NICA.

One of the points under the category Confidentiality is a key item to remember when sharing your testimonials – “Publish customer testimonials only with their written consent.”

We all can agree that placing testimonials on your website is one of the best ways to let prospective clients learn about you. Often people are happy to give you a written recommendation, but most don’t take the time to do it. A quick request to your clients will result in a few very kind responses that highlight your professionalism, your work ethic, the quality of your finished product, etc.

The best way to receive testimonials is to ask. You can always ask them face-to-face or on the telephone, but it’s best to send an email or a letter with a form included requesting this information. Either of these 2 methods will give you the information in writing, which will serve as proof of their consent to use their remarks publicly. Be sure to let them know whether you’ll be using their full name or just their initials, or you can ask how they prefer to be listed.

If there is a need to edit the comments in any way, be sure to send it back to them for their approval.

Click here to review the National Inventory Certification Association Code of Ethics.

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.

19 Oct 2016

Integrity In The Home Inventory Industry

integrityThe level of integrity of a business owner can make or break any business. In the home and business contents inventory industry, it is critical.  The need for integrity is highlighted in our Code of Ethics, under which all members of NICA agree to perform business.

As a service professional providing a home inventory, you are being entrusted with possibly more information than many family members have. And when inventorying a business, you might see or hear confidential information. Keeping that information to yourself builds credibility.

There are three specific subcategories under the Integrity section that we want to focus on  today:

  • Answer all questions truthfully and honestly prior to, during, and after services rendered.
  • Display honesty and integrity in all business and personal relationships.
  • Promote and advertise services honestly.

Honest and truthful – a key element of the Code of Ethics

Being honest and truthful during the entire inventory process is extremely important. Answering questions fully is essential for a successful outcome of the sales process as well as the inventory process itself. If there is a misunderstanding, it is imperative to discuss and reach an agreement before proceeding. Likewise, advertise your services honestly. Whether you are promoting your business in print ads, through promotional mailings, or face-to-face at vendor events, always ensure that your information is straight-forward and honest.

Developing positive customer and personal relationships will help you receive further business via referrals due to your clients’ comfort level with your integrity.

Examples of recent phone calls regarding integrity

Following are examples from recent phone calls. These were not regarding any member of NICA, and we are very proud of this! Some specific things happening in the industry that are not in line with our focus on ethics:

  • Asking for and receiving copies of a person’s inventory records – this is a breach of privacy and is regarded as very poor business practices. When becoming certified, NICA does not ask for these records for this reason. Those requesting to be certified must state that they have completed at least 2 inventories, and state that this is a true statement. We will never ask for your clients’ inventory records.
  • Selling names in a database – this goes without saying. Keeping your database confidential is – or should be – part of your standard confidentiality agreement. The only time it is proper to share thie information is with the clients’ consent, such as when asking for testimonials to place on yoru website.
  • Not showing up for an appointment – we can’t imagine not showing up, but it happens, unfortunately.

Click here for a full list of the Code of Ethics.

16 Sep 2015

Confidentiality – A Must For This Industry

CodeOfEthicsOne of the NICA and Inventory Industry Code of Conduct items states, “Do not disclose information about customers (i.e., data, photos, reports, etc.), in verbal or written form.” This code regarding client confidentiality was displayed very well recently by a member of the National Inventory Certification Association.

Some associations and certifying organizations require proof of client work before their members can receive certification. Due to the confidentiality expected in our industry, we do not (and never will) ask for copies of inventory documents. These are proprietary between the inventory service professional and their clients.

So, how do you handle a request from a potential clients to see a completed inventory when you promise that you won’t share this information with others? Do you show it to them anyway, especially when it could be a great opportunity to add a new person to your list of clients?

Declining the opportunity

A NICA member was asked by a potential client (“Mr. X”) for a copy of a completed home inventory that he could review. They offered to show Mr. X a sample of what the finished product would include, explaining the confidentiality expectations of our industry. He continued to request that he see a “real” one that was prepared for a client.

When our member further stated that there is identifying information in the written report and the photos, Mr. X suggested to just have that specific information be removed or blacked out. By doing this, the member would still be sharing confidential information and again explained that they could not abide by his wishes (how do you black out any possible identifying information in photos?).

This NICA member acted properly. Though it would have been a very lucrative job, this member declined the opportunity due to their professionalism and adherence to the Code of Ethics.