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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.

02 Mar 2016

Small in a Biggie-Size World

In our world of BigSmallbigger, larger, or jumbo sized everything, I began to think about our industry and how the home inventory service companies are all small businesses. This is by design.

As the Managing Director of NICA, I have spoken to many of our members, and have learned from them that their desire to remain small is personal. I am asked periodically about our home and business inventory company, Hartman Inventory, and why we don’t work on growing it into something larger than just being a 2-person business. After all, we have been in business since 2004, so why aren’t we bigger than we are?

After some time contemplating this topic, I listed many reasons for a personal property inventory company to remain small. Most of them are what have encouraged us – and I assume others in the industry – to refrain from striving for growth.

Reasons home inventory companies remain a small business entity:

  • Confidentiality is a key element of this industry and the service provided
  • Total control over how the business is run (one thing many entrepreneurs “need”)
  • No employees – no employee issues
  • They want to give the personal touch
  • They enjoy getting to know their clients
  • The business image and the owners’ professional image are one and the same
  • It’s great having direct contact with the clients
  • Clients know they are working with the owners, which gives them a feeling of comfort and trust (many clients have told us this)
  • Small means there is an ability to adjust the process and customize the service to meet each client’s needs quickly, without going through a lot of corporate regulations to make a change

Now, I’m not saying it’s bad for people to want to grow a business, and many – in different industries – are working toward and achieving this initiative. Other industries are ripe for growth and it makes sense to become a larger company. However, with contents inventory being such a personal service, we see the value in remaining small and personal.

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.