The typical homeowner may not think about taking a home inventory until the unthinkable has happened. A home inventory is an account of every asset in a home, apartment or business that has positive value. Home inventories are used by insurance adjusters to determine compensation for flood damage, fires and other natural disasters inflicted upon insured parties. These documents are useful for estate attorneys, antique collectors and homeowners who need to claim deductions on their taxes. The growing demand for home inventories leaves an opening for entrepreneurs who are detail-oriented and trustworthy.
Generate a standard inventory form separated by room categories that will be used for every client. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has a list of typical household items like couches, televisions and microwaves needed for a full inventory. Leave empty spaces in each category to allow customization during the inventory.
Offer home inventories to your co-workers, friends and family members on a part-time basis. Home inventory businesses thrive more on word of mouth and grassroots support than big infusions of money, requiring a client list built gradually while the owner is making a living elsewhere. The home inventory business can become the primary source of income when the combination of new inventories and follow-ups can support the owner's monthly expenses.
Join the National Association of Home Inventory Professionals (NAHIP) once your business has been established. NAHIP has an online consultant search tool that acts as one part advertising and one part networking tool for home inventory novices. Your business should have a functioning website, a few customer testimonials and well-defined services before becoming part of the NAHIP network.
Set a firm line on your maximum service range when conducting home inventories. Calculate the amount of time it would take to drive round trip and conduct inventories at locations at 5-mile intervals from your home or office. Your business will struggle if you spend all day working with one client rather than hitting multiple clients around town.
Pack your bag with a digital camera, clipboard, pen and measuring tape before heading to a home inventory. Use your digital camera to take photos of major items on the inventory sheet to corroborate your review. Measure couches, tables and other oversized furniture to add greater detail to the home inventory.
Offer inventory backup options for your clients to allow easy access to their lists in case of natural disasters. Include free digital storage of the home inventory as well as a limited number of hard copies in your consulting fees. Charge premium prices for fireproof safes and lockboxes that can be used to store valuable materials in the home.
Leave your company's price list for services rendered transparent for prospective customers. Offer free quotes on your home inventory website based on hourly contracting rates, supply costs and follow-ups that are part of your standard procedure. If you offer a flat-rate service, add this rate to your pamphlets and advertisements to tie your company name to affordable home inventory services.
Ascertain the claims process for each client's insurance company individually to offer the best service possible. Review homeowners' and renters' insurance policies whenever possible to determine the burden of proof for policyholders in case of a claim. Your state's department of insurance may disseminate this information more easily, allowing you to complete inventories rather than surfing through insurance paperwork.
- Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media