April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
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.

18 May 2020

Results of the Survey for 2020 New Courses

surveyEach year we offer a survey for member input to help determine the topics of the new courses to be developed. This helps the association know members’ interests and enables NICA to fulfill your preferences.

The topics for the two new courses this year are blogging for business and marketing to the senior market and their family members. These 2 topics will be greatly beneficial for you to learn more marketing techniques and approaches to promote your home inventory business. Blogging for business will give tips and techniques to help you develop a professional blog and to be found by your target market. The marketing to the senior market will give tips and strategies to market directly to that specific market, plus professionals who can be excellent referral sources. Additionally, a section will cover how to market to the family members who are caring for or established executors of the seniors you are seeking to serve.

We thank all who responded to the survey, as this helps us serve our members by providing the education and knowledge they are seeking.

22 Apr 2020

During and After the Virus Work Interruption

Unless you are needed for a Loss or Estate Inventory, our industry is not considered “essential” so many have seen a drop in business while we participate in social distancing and wait for the Covid-19 Virus to run its course.

If you do choose to provide your inventory service, be sure to do all you can to protect yourself. Wear a mask and gloves and limit touching items as much as possible. Follow the guidelines for social distancing with your clients during the inventory process.

Since you most likely have some spare time now, there are things you can do to work on your business – possibly checking off tasks you’ve had to put off. We are including some ideas offered by NICA members, which they are currently doing to be ready to hit the ground running when the “all clear” is issued. There are even a couple of options that could help you generate revenue now.

Work on your credentials and your marketing:

  • Take courses and the Certification Exam to achieve your certification.
  • Take a course or two to earn your 5 required CEUs to be recertified for 2020.
  • Refresh your website and social media pages.
  • Begin a newsletter if you don’t already send one.
  • Call or send emails to current customers and referral sources just to stay in touch.

Promote your service:

  • Share the National Home Inventory Month information provided on the NICA website.
  • Contact estate attorneys to let them know you’re still doing the time-sensitive estate inventories.
  • Call current clients to see if they need an on-site update of their inventory; schedule it for May or later.
  • Contact those you’ve given estimates to; ask if you can put them on a list to schedule them once business is back to normal.
  • Offer DIY help as an activity to stay busy while they’re stuck at home (some might find it a daunting task and as a result call for your service once the stay-at-home directive is over).

Current revenue-generating ideas:

  • Contact current clients to check if they need an update on their inventory, and do it electronically.
  • Add a “consulting” service for a fee. Provide them with instructions, documents, and guidance, and then offer to keep their inventory for safekeeping (if you offer a back-up service).

An example of being creative to serve your clients was offered from NICA member Tricia Hoekwater. She shared that she did a partial onsite and partial offsite inventory for a mold remediation client.  While onsite, her client brought items outside and Tricia photographed each item. When it came to the bigger items inside the house and getting photos of the room overviews, the client suited up in his hazmat attire and they did a facetime session over several days where he would identify an item and Tricia snapped the photos. Though they weren’t the best images, the client and she were on the same page about accepting lesser quality photos due to the need to get the job done.

If you’ve had a unique experience, please email them to our office and we will share them next month.

03 Oct 2019

NICA Launches Marketing and Sales Course for the Home Inventory Industry

In our focus to continue to provide quality education to our members and others who are in the home inventory industry, NICA has recently launched the course titled “Marketing and Sales” which has already received positive reviews from those who have taken it.

Tricia HoekwaterThe introduction and outline of the Marketing and Sales Course are below.  Developed and written by NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, CAE, CIS (left) and Associate Member Mary Gillen (right), we are excited to offer this thorough and detailed courseMary Gillen. Tricia is the office manager for a law firm in the San Francisco Bay area and she also provides home and business inventories and appraisal services. Mary is a web developer, professional writer, teaches online marketing, and provides the information for the Marketing Minute in each of the NICA newsletters. We thank them both for their contribution to our association as they share their expertise in marketing and sales.

Here is what is included in this course:

Marketing and Sales

As a small business owner, you wear many hats. Marketing your inventory business sometimes takes a back seat, as there are only 24 hours in the day. One of the biggest challenges you experience is knowing how to efficiently market and sell your services so your business can grow. Do you want to discover how to attract more customers and sales? Are you already trying to market your business but are still not seeing results that meet your goals?

Time to learn something new.

Knowing the difference between marketing and sales is the first step towards developing a professional marketing plan that can help you generate new business or more business from the customers you already have. Understanding your prospect’s “pain points” and how you can help them solve their problems become the foundation of your marketing messages. Taking this a step further, you need to learn how to develop strategies for pricing, sales, and service, based on your ideal customer. To be successful in this online age, you also need to know how to research the keyword terms that prospects and customers use to find your services in the major search engines. By incorporating those terms into a professionally-designed responsive website, you can help prospects discover your services in your local area so you can generate new leads. You will also need to turn those leads into paying customers. To build on your success, you’ll also need to know how to develop and nurture a referral network based on your satisfied customers.

Module One – Introduction
1. The difference between marketing and sales
2. Why do people buy? Discover your customer pain points.
3. Who is your ideal client?
4. How to create your ideal customer profile

Module Two – How to Create a Marketing Plan
1. What info is included in a marketing/sales plan?
– Target Market/Market Research
– Positioning Statement
– Offering to Customers
– Price Strategy
– Sales Strategy
– Service Strategy
– Promotion Strategy
2. Sample marketing plan

Module Three – Building Your Online Marketing/Sales Digital Framework
1. Conducting keyword research
2. Creating a website that works
3. Setting up social media accounts that are best for promoting professional services
4. Best ways to generate leads
5. How to turn leads into paying customers

Module Four – Building a Referral Network
1. The importance of educating new prospects
2. The professionals you should network with for consistent referrals
3. How to ask for referrals

You can purchase this course – along with all the other courses available – on the Professional Development Page, where all courses are listed alphabetically.

15 Mar 2017

New Jersey Inventory Professional Achieves Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member John Maida for achieving the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist.

MaidaThe National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that John Maida, owner of WJ Home Inventory Services, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms his knowledge to provide quality personal property inventory services.

To earn this certification, Maida was required to pass specified courses developed by NICA, agree to conduct business according to the industry Code of Ethics, and accumulate a required number of Continuing Education Units. He then passed the Certification exam, which is the final step to achieve the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist.

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge and the busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider.

Maida shared exactly this issue, saying, “After I completed my own home inventory, I realized the importance of documenting your personal assets. It took me five hours to complete the task and realized I was under-insured. My own experience, in addition to talking with my family and friends, encouraged me to own an asset inventory business. I’m sure there are many homeowners that want to do their own inventory but simply do not have the time or patience. This is a great business opportunity for me to help others so they can save time and money and also know they have proper insurance coverage.”

Achieving certification is not required for the contents inventory professional. Choosing to invest in  continuing education shows Maida’s desire to serve this industry and his clients well. John explained, “I wanted to get certified to show that I take the extra step to enhance my knowledge, dedication, and commitment to the asset inventory profession.”

Cindy Hartman, Managing Director of NICA, said, “John started WJ Home Inventory Services a year ago, so he sees the benefits of being certified. There is value to continuing education and being associated with other industry professionals.”  

Based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, WJ Home Inventory Services offers residential and business asset inventory services in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. 

22 Jun 2016

Curriculum Survey

SurveyWe are so appreciative to all members and also professionals in the industry who are not members for responding to our surveys. Your input is very important to us. The board will review all the tabulated results and will use this information for our 2017 planning session. Knowing what you want from your industry education association will help us provide more of what you want, and less of what is not of as much importance.

This Curriculum Survey will be the final survey for quite a while. We’ve accumulated enough information to move forward with your preferences in mind. We thank you for giving us your opinion in the previous surveys, and thank you in advance for taking the time to give us your input once again.

Curriculum includes a good mix of topics

The April survey informed us that you are happy with the mix of topics we offer. And now that we have achieved a good balance of industry- and non-industry-related courses, we will continue to strive to provide two new courses per year. To meet your needs, we want to know your interests. Growing our curriculum is essential so you can maintain your CIS designation. We want to ensure that we provide topics of interest so you can meet the 5 CEU annual requirement of continuing education.

Project Management was our first course released this year, responding to this request in the 2015 survey, two additional courses are currently in the initial planning stage, both also suggested in the 2015 survey.

Curriculum survey will help determine future courses

Your responses to this Curriculum Survey will help us plan future courses. Here is the link to the Curriculum Survey. It should take only about a minute of your time. Results will be reported in our July newsletter and also here on the website.

01 Oct 2014

National Inventory Certification Association Improves Certification Process

To receive Certified Inventory Specialist designation, asset inventory professionals will earn CEUs through life experiences, formal education, and NICA-approved courses.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) has announced improvements to their Certified Inventory Specialist certification process. Creating these revisions for the asset (personal property) inventory industry places NICA’s professional development program within the standards established by the leading association organizations.

Developed by NICA and operated in conjunction with the Inventory Institute, these two professional inventory organizations have established a checks and balances to ensure an ethically developed and managed certification program. This is accomplished through the Inventory Institute determining the prerequisites to achieve certification while NICA develops the education courses to meet those needs.

In addition to passing the required online self-paced courses offered on the NICA website, the candidates will be able to also earn credits for formal education, seminar attendance, military experience, years in business, and other life experiences. These requirements indicate that the asset inventory professional has shown proficiency and skills deemed necessary for a quality inventory service provider. Upon earning the determined number of CEUs, the candidate can apply to take the certification exam to achieve the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS).

NICA Managing Director, Cindy Hartman, stated, “Our industry is growing. The timing is right to develop a quality, nationally-approved certification program to help bring cohesiveness and accountability to the asset inventory industry. An inventory professional will benefit by being affiliated with these two organizations and agreeing to conduct business according to the industry standard Code of Ethics. Achieving their CIS certification will gain them additional recognition as a leader in the industry.”

Non-members can also apply for and achieve CIS designation. All NICA members receive the benefit of a 50% discount on all Continuing Education Courses and the Certification Exam.

Remaining within the guidelines of association industry standards, Certified Members will be required to meet a set number of CEUs to renew certification every two (2) years.

23 Jul 2014

Introducing the NICA Board of Directors

With anintroduce initiative to establish a structure that is in line with the standard business practices for associations, we have created a Board of Directors. This board will guide the National Inventory Certification Association through continued growth and improved processes in the functional areas of NICA – education, certification, and association management.

The board members were chosen based on their ability to lead as we move forward, and to advise according to their professional skills and knowledge base in the combined areas of technology, business, management, education, and the asset inventory industry.

Meet the NICA Board of Directors

  • Mike Hartman, CIE- Executive Director of NICA
  • Cindy Hartman, CIE – Managing Director of NICA
  • Debbie Mahler – CEO of Internet Tech Specialists
  • Johanna Curtiss, CIS – CEO of The Inventory Institute
  • Sean Hartman, CIS – Business Development Executive of Nationwide Inventory Professionals

Please visit the About/Contact Page of the NICA website to learn their backgrounds and qualifications. We are very proud that they have agreed to give their time and expertise to assist us as we move forward! Additional members will be invited to join the Board of Directors as the association grows and finds the need for an additional knowledge base and/or skill set.

01 May 2014

Get Caught Reading

BooksMay is “Get Caught Reading” month. As an association developed to create education and knowledge for the asset inventory industry, this focus on reading caught our attention.

There are so many opportunities available today to pursue reading. Book stores offers shelves and shelves of books covering every topic you can think of. Ordering on line allows you to purchase reading material without leaving the house. And with today’s electronic options, you can read eBooks, order downloads to your electronic reader, or just peruse articles on the internet via your computer.

Zig Ziglar said, “You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope-building people.”

This sounds exactly what our vision is for the National Inventory Certification Association. We are a young association and have the vision to grow. But not only grow, but to grow with the focus of education and membership benefits leading each decision made. We are creating continuing professional education courses and have a strategically centered collection of materials offered on our website.

Knowing that one needs more than industry-related education, we also provide material that is helpful for all small business owners. Topics covered are goal setting, self-maintenance for your computer, networking, and achieving success. We encourage you to visit the Book Store for these downloadable books and audio files. Get caught reading!