April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
30 Oct 2019

The Course That is the Foundation of the Home Inventory Industry

CertifiedIf you haven’t yet achieved your CIS designation, Residential Contents Inventory is one of the required courses. It is really the foundation of all other courses for those who are professional home inventory providers. It was created by reviewing home inventory service websites and interviewing members to learn what techniques and processes they use. Therefore, this online, self-directed course provides a variety of information from documenting clients’ belongings to compiling the information into a finished product to pricing options – and you can take it from the comfort of your home and at the pace that fits your schedule.

This is also a great course for those who aren’t yet ready to become certified but are just wanting to learn the basics to start their business. Some even take the course to see if this industry is right for them. Whatever your goal is, this course is essential for anyone in the home inventory industry. Following are the Modules and information you will receive when taking this course.

Module 1 – Home Inventory

  • Definition of Home Inventory
  • Definition of Personal Property
  • Insurance Basics
  • Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
  • Additional Reasons for a Home Inventory
  • The Growth of the Industry

Module 2 – Documenting the Inventory

  • Office Equipment
  • Touring the Home
  • Determine Your Process
  • Photographic Record
  • Written Document
  • Tool Kit
  • Optional Tools

Module 3 – Providing Your Home Inventory Service

  • Establish Your Inventory Routine
  • Assets That Require Special Attention
  • A Systematic Approach for Your Service
  • The Final Product
  • Determine Your Fees
  • Additional Inventory Services
  • Best Practices
  • Safety
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.

04 Jan 2017

Collections Inventory Course Authored by Home Inventory Professional

NICA member authored a course for the National Inventory Certification Association’s Continuing Education Program.

HoekwaterThe National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) recently released an online, self-directed course, titled Collections Inventory. Extending the Continuing Education Program curriculum, this course was written by Tricia Hoekwater, Certified member of NICA and owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

The association seeks to provide continuing education for members and others in the industry. The growing trend of having valuables and collectibles documented encouraged the creation of the Collections Inventory course. Often business and residential clients are not seeking an inventory of all their assets, but want to have an itemized inventory of their collectibles, such as figurines, stamps, weapons, artwork, books, sports memorabilia, etc. Others who choose to hire a home inventory professional to document all the belongings in their home also want the collectibles documented item-by-item, which is a more specialized service.

Collections Inventory Course

Cindy Hartman, Managing Director of NICA, stated, “Tricia is a member of the association and has extensive experience in providing itemized inventories for client’s collectibles. I was pleased when she agreed to share her experience and knowledge with the entire industry by authoring this course.” Topics include the purposes for collections inventories, examples of how to document specific types of collectibles, process strategies, and how to market a collections inventory service. Creating a collections inventory can be overwhelming. This course breaks it down into manageable steps to ensure a quality result for the client.

Hoekwater views her membership in NICA as an opportunity to serve the asset inventory industry. She explained, “I always strive to provide the best service to my clients, which is why I became a Certified Inventory Specialist. NICA is a resource for continued learning, which has helped me grow professionally and financially. Writing this course gave me the opportunity to help fellow home inventory professionals pursue this specialty.”  

In addition to providing comprehensive home inventory, collections inventory, decluttering, photo archiving, and paper management services, Tricia speaks to senior and community groups on the topics of Home Inventory, DeCluttering, Digital Legacy, and Digital Photo Libraries. For more information, call 925.206.0103 or visit Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

Click on this link to purchase the online, self-directed Collections Inventory course, which is available on the NICA website.

09 Jun 2016

Project Management Course Released

ContinuingEdIn our continued effort to add a variety of topics to our Continuing Education Program, NICA has recently released the course, Project Management. Our initial online, self-directed course offerings were Code of Ethics (to set a standard for our industry) and Inventory 101 (which covers the various types of inventories). Also included in our first course releases were Residential Contents Inventory and  Business Contents Inventory. These offer a variety of approaches one can take to provide inventory services to home owners, renters, and business owners. By offering the various techniques, it enables beginning inventory professionals to have a concise road map of successfully applied processes from which to choose as they create or refine their own personal property inventory services.

Once these four foundation courses were developed, our goal was to offer a variety of topics that will benefit small business owners of any sector. Many of these courses, though, include examples of how the information can be applied to the inventory industry.  Our most recent addition to the NICA curriculum, released today, is Project Management.

Project Management Course Description

Personal property inventory professionals are often called to document the contents of extremely large homes, multiple properties, and commercial buildings. These are projects that offer great revenue, but many decline the opportunity due to the size or complexity of the job. The reason for turning down these great opportunities is that they don’t have the knowledge to approach it with confidence.

Basically, it all comes down to project management. Even a small inventory is a “project” that must be managed. Sometimes even small ones can have a unique twist to them, creating a question of, “How do I begin?” or “How do I approach this?” No matter the size or type of inventory – whether it is a couple hours or a few weeks – managing it is essential for a professional outcome.

To ensure quality for this online, self-directed course, as with all others, the author of this course has credentials and experience in this field. In addition to being a Project Management Professional (PMP), the course creator is a Certified Inventory Specialist. Having both of these certifications, and the experience to go along with the education, we are confident that you will find value and a great foundation to gain the confidence in accepting the projects that require this expertise.

The course was written using the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) principles from the Project Management Institute and lays down the foundations of project management. The topics in this 3-module course are as follows:

Module 1 – What is Project Management?

  • Definition of Project Management
  • The Five Project Management Process Groups
  • Knowledge Areas
  • Project Management vs. Operations Management

Module 2 – Scope and Activities

  • Scope
  • The Stakeholder
  • Managing Customer Expectations
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • Defining the Activities
  • Estimating the Duration of a Project

Module 3 – Monitoring and Identifying Success

  • Monitoring the Project
  • Project documents
  • Success criteria
  • Project Management Definitions

Click on this link to access the Project Management course.  The cost is just $60, and only $30 for NICA members (remember to apply your member code to receive the 50% discount). Once completed successfully, you will receive 2 CEUs to be applied towards achieving certification or to the required annual 5 CEUs of continuing education.

06 Jun 2016

NICA Member Tricia Hoekwater Authors Project Management Course

NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, certified in Project Management and Asset Inventory, authored the Project Management Course for the home inventory industry’s Continuing Education Program.

HoekwaterPRESS RELEASE – It is imperative that the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) contract with qualified authors to create online, self-directed courses for the Continuing Education Program. The most recently released course, Project Management, was created by Tricia Hoekwater, a member of NICA, who is certified as a Project Management Professional, a Certified Inventory Specialist, and owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

“We thought it would be difficult to locate someone with experience in both the Project Management and the Home Inventory sectors, who also has the writing skills required to create a quality course. We are very fortunate to find this in one of our certified members,” NICA Managing Director, Cindy Hartman said. With the asset inventory industry mind, Hoekwater included examples of how specific steps throughout the project can be applied specifically to personal property inventory projects. However, the course is written with the intent to serve any professional who seeks to gain the knowledge required to manage projects that will help ensure a successful result.  

Tricia earned her PMP certification in 2008 from the Project Management Institute. Prior to achieving certification, she studied Project Management at U.C. Berkeley and received an honors certificate in Project Management. Tricia shared her background by stating, “I have worked as a Project Manager since the late 90’s in a variety of industries including law, telecom, digital media consulting, direct sales, and the cruise industry.” She used the certification professionally in website development, facilities management, marketing projects, and most recently as an Inventory Professional in the San Francisco Bay area.

What ended up merging these two interests began in 2006 when Hoekwater experienced a home robbery. She practiced as an inventory professional indirectly when she had to put her project management skills to work.Tricia explained, “I had to identify what was lost, create an items lost inventory for insurance and the police report, and then subsequently, created an inventory of my personal assets where none existed before.”

In 2008 during the weak economy, Hoekwater lost her project management position and was unable to find replacement work in the private sector. She discovered an 11-week mini-MBA program (Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment) and  launched her home inventory business 30 days after graduation.

Many home and business inventory professionals fear taking on a large inventory project due to a lack of knowledge in tackling a multi-unit or multi-property opportunity. As an inventory professional, Hoekwater uses her project management skills to assist in identifying her clients’ needs, developing the contract and managing her team of onsite and back-end support – all necessary to successfully complete a project.

Hoekwater sees the value in continuing education, which encouraged her to accept the course-writing project. She concluded, “In an ongoing quest to provide the best service to my clients, I became a Certified Inventory Specialist. Having NICA as a resource for continued learning has been so gratifying to me and helped me grow professionally and financially. My business has always been about helping people document their assets, minimize paper, and have an organized system for tracking their assets. Writing this course gave me the opportunity to assist others in this industry.”  

In addition to Home Inventory services, Tricia speaks to senior and community groups on the topics of Home Inventory, DeCluttering, Digital Legacy, and Digital Photo Libraries.  

The online, self-directed Project Management course will be available by mid-June on the Professional Development page of the NICA website.

11 Nov 2015

Customer Service Is Key Says Survey

CustomerServiceHow important is your customer service? More importantly, how important is your customer service reputation?

One of the difficulties with customer service is that it is difficult to measure. How do you put a number on the result of your interaction? Often people ask for a response on a scale of 1 to 5. What is the difference between 3 and 4, or 4 and 5? Does anyone deserve a 5? Would that mean they are perfect, or just that your recent situation left you extremely satisfied?

Often people turn to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to receive feedback regarding a company’s customer service. Unfortunately, one bad report will receive attention, while many might have been extremely happy with the service they received, but because of peoples’ nature, don’t report it.

In a recent survey, 64% of the respondents said that a company’s customer service reputation is “very important” when they are comparing and choosing which company to do business with. Good customer service is appreciated, but often it goes unmentioned. However, a company that provides bad customer service has found themselves blasted across the social media platforms and it spreads very quickly. Another 35% said it is “somewhat important.”

Knowing this, it is obvious that it is extremely important to provide a service that leaves the client feeling good about you and your company. This is true when seeking new clients, as well as being able to retain your client base. There are standards in the asset inventor industry, and this is addressed within the Code of Ethics. The National Inventory Certification Association offers an online, self-directed course, titled Customer Service. Topics covered are a variety of skills and techniques that can be utilized to aid in the success of an inventory business, as well as any service-based business.

Check it out, and learn some helpful information to help ensure that you have a great reputation for excellent customer service.

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.

08 Jul 2015

No Flip-Flopping This Summer

FlipFlopDo you have an educational goal on your life plan that you haven’t yet achieved? Has it been on that list for quite some time? What’s holding you back?

Summer is often the time of year when people tend to “take time off” even more than other months. One minute you think, “I’m going to get this done,” and the next minute you’re telling yourself that it can wait another day.

What harm will result by delaying it just one more day? After all, you have things to do. Like enjoy the sun, go on picnics, take a vacation, go to a concert, or have a cook-out with friends.

All of these are great activities and summer should include them. However, what about your desire to move forward and improve your life and/or your business?

Goals that are worthy of your time:

  • Take an online course
  • Attend a conference
  • Read a business book
  • Learn a new business skill
  • Attend a seminar or webinar
  • Achieve certification

Though it’s tough to talk yourself into self-improvement activities when the toasty-warm sunshine is calling you to the patio, consider how great it will be to reach that goal. Checking it off your list, sharing your accomplishment with others, and benefiting from the event or activity is well worth the hours it will take to achieve your goal. Then you can have a big cook-out in celebration!

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.

22 Apr 2015

Inventory YOU

WonderingWhen is the last time YOU took inventory?

This is a question I am often asked, since one of my businesses, Hartman Inventory, is a personal property inventory service.  As an asset inventory professional, you probably immediately thought about your last job, too.

But this time, I’m not talking about home or company contents. What I’m wondering is, when is the last time you took inventory of yourself?

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we must always keep an accurate inventory of what we are doing. We must continually check our focus, goals, and achievements. Do we bring value to our industry, in general, and to our business(es), specifically?

Knowledge and Wisdom

A couple areas that might need to be updated are knowledge and wisdom. Taking time to evaluate ourselves is often something many just don’t do. Busy with the day-to-day busy-ness of life, this valuable process of pondering, dreaming, planning, etc., is often forgotten.

Stop right now and take an inventory. When is the last time you read a self-improvement book,  took an online continuing education course, attended a seminar or webinar, or participated in a networking event? Without regularly taking inventory of your progress, there is a high chance that you and your business will not grow.

Gaining new knowledge regarding our specific business is essential. Knowledge of our industry in general is also imperative to become or remain a leader.  Continued learning will result in greater wisdom. Wisdom, to me, is using the knowledge you have – and using it appropriately. We can use it to improve our business skills, industry expertise, and ourselves (the most important of the three).

When is the last time you took inventory of you?