There aren’t many industries that have been around for a couple decades and still be in – what would appear to be – its infancy. But the home inventory industry is one of those.

In the fall of 2008, I published an article titled Home Inventory Service – A Growing Industry. It was true then, as I cited there were only about 20 known service providers in the United States in 2004 and by 2008 over 500 had been established. The numbers continue to grow.

Unfortunately, I hear of many inventory companies not achieving success. This, then, has hurt or slowed down the success of others. For instance, when we first met with insurance agents, we had a fair amount of naysayers. More than one agent told us of previous home inventory service providers who quit their business without notice. The insurance professionals had been referring their clients and then found they had no one to continue to take care of the inventories as promised. Thus, we were told to come back in eighteen months or two years, and if we were still in business, they would refer us. That is a long time to wait! It reminds me of a college graduate who can’t get a job because he has no experience – how do you get experience when no one will provide the opportunity for you?

Another reason for it taking a while to become a known service is the variance within the industry. Mostly a mom-and-pop type of ownership, there is little consistency from one to the other. Some use video while others take still photos. The written reports (for those that even offer one) vary as well. Through my research, I find that some inventory service providers offer online backup, others keep CDs in safety deposit boxes, and still others don’t offer any type of backup at all. There are just as many options for updating an inventory from none offered to annual renewal options to updating the information on an annual basis.

The customers, or target markets, are just as varied. Some companies offer just home inventories while others serve the commercial market as well.

Possibly the reasons people want this service are the biggest differentiators. Disaster preparedness and recovery were and remain the key known purposes for a personal property inventory. When you don’t know what you own, and have to file an insurance claim, you will recover from a disaster with a higher settlement when you can remember and prove what you own by referring to this document.

There are other needs served by an inventory, but slight differences in some of the processes. For example, when creating an inventory for estate settlement, knowledge of fair market value is imperative. Some inventory service provides might not have the desire to offer this type of service. This explains the inconsistency in what type of inventories are provided from company to company. Additionally, some inventory companies offer after disaster inventory assistance, while others choose not to.

This industry is without regulation - no certification or registration required. This makes it important for those who want to purchase an inventory service to get a referral. To help create standardization, there are groups forming to share ideas and there is now a turnkey package where all the Group Members are trained and receive continuing mentoring from the founders to help create consistency within the industry. This will ensure a standardized process throughout the country, with a group of companies all providing the same process, working together to offer solid, professional services.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory, a woman-owned business that provides business and home inventory services. She and her husband Mike own Hartman Inventory Systems, a complete turnkey home inventory business package for those who want to establish their own inventory company. Hartman is also a distributor for MonaVie, the leading network marketing company in the health and wellness industry.