The personal property inventory service industry is growing at an amazing rate. In 2004, there were only about 20 service providers in the United States. There are now over 500!
I believe the main reason for this growth is due to the increasing number of disasters. This has created more common knowledge of the need to have an inventory of the contents in homes and businesses.
Another reason for this industry growth is that people just don’t want to do the inventories themselves. For the same reason they hire a lawn service, painter or cleaning service, to name a few, people prefer spending time with family members and friends or on other interests. Many also know they won’t keep their inventory up to date, so having a professional service provider keep track of this information is worth the investment.
The baby boomer generation is also a factor in the increasing number inventory services. This group of the population is focusing on estate planning. First, many are either assisting their parents with estate planning, or are executors of their parents’ estates. Either way, they are learning that it is best to have the inventory documented prior to one’s death. Secondly, many boomers are completing their own estate planning. Having an inventory is beneficial to them for the already stated reasons, but also in case they experience a disaster. The inventory will help secure their financial future by enabling them to recover properly from their insurance policy. This eliminates the need to pull funds out of their investments to recover the damaged or destroyed items that weren’t replaced by their insurance.
There are a variety of business models for the home inventory service industry. Some have chosen to work their business on a part-time basis while others have chosen to develop theirs as full-time. You’ll find some who are a one-person operation, while others work as a team of two. Most are home-based.
The types of service are just as varied. Some providers serve only the residential market while others offer their asset documentation to commercial clients as well. Others extend their inventory services into the retail market.
Documentation processes are also different. Video cameras are preferred by some, while others take digital still photos. Written reports are on spreadsheets, special software or sometimes in a dialog format. There is no right or wrong process; only one’s preference.
Though natural disasters, thefts and fires continue to steal, destroy and damage our personal property, everyone can at least take responsibility to recover properly. Hiring an inventory service to compile that information is a great way to be proactive.