Hiring a Professional Organizer can be a bit scary.
The whole idea of having someone come into you home and go through your things can be a bit unnerving. Perhaps I can help you navigate the process. I recently did a consultation for a couple that were looking to hire a Professional Organizer to work in various parts of their home. We chatted for a bit about the challenges in each room and then did a tour. I asked questions. They asked questions. I took diligent notes and key photos and then we sat down to talk again. I was impressed by their level of preparation, They had excellent questions prepared for me and actually conducted a proper interview! I was happy to see that they were truly interested in hiring the right person for the job. After all, as a Professional Organizer, I would be going through their things – handling personal items, paperwork, photos, mementos, etc. It was reassuring to see that they were sizing me up.
So what should you look for in a Professional Organizer? What kinds of ‘interview’ questions should you ask? Well here are a few good ones that they asked me:
Why should we hire you?
Good question. What qualifications or skills do I have that make me a better choice than my competition?
Most organizers work as sole proprietors and frequently work alone with a client. I am fortunate that I work with my twin sister (and business partner). Even though we are identical twins, we have very different competencies. Lisa is more “Type A” and process oriented – making her superb at project management, filing systems and logistics. My brain has a more creative edge and I like to inject styling and decor into my organizing solutions. So I make sure that function meets form and contributes positively to my client’s lives. Lisa and I collaborate on every client plan and figure out the best of both worlds. In general, being a Professional Organizer is about connecting with people, building trust and making their lives better.
I also continually take courses to better my knowledge and improve my ability to help my clients. In the past year, I have taken 12 courses through the Professional Organizers in Canada and have just written my Trained Professional Organizer exam. I am on the executive and attend monthly meeting where we learn about disposal of hazardous waste, Feng Shui, new organizing products/systems, etc. I have also taken 23 courses through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) this year to advance my knowledge of chronic disorganization, hoarding and seniors. I am planning to write exams in these areas in just over a month to get my level 2 certification. It’s fascinating stuff and I am going to keep moving forward! Certification takes time, effort and commitment – isn’t that the kind of professional organizer that you want to work with?
How do I handle different organizing styles between a husband and a wife?
We all have different ways of managing our “stuff” so of course most couples differ in how they like their home to look and where their “stuff” should go. I like a tidy and clutter-free home but my husband is a slob (sorry honey)! By asking the right questions and determining how the family uses the space then I can recommend appropriate options for organizing the room. Some people are more visual and like to see everything. Some people love labels and want each item to have a home with an attractive label to denote its place. There is always a happy medium and if it comes down to it, I make them arm wrestle (just kidding).
Do I offer any discounts or package rates?
In short, no. Good thing to ask about though. My reasoning is that every client makes decisions and works at a difference pace. Every solution that I come up with is a custom plan. No two situations are alike so I don’t try to pigeonhole my work into a package. I stick to an hourly rate and do my best to work as quickly as possible in the given situation and with respect to the speed that my client is comfortable. Also, once you start organizing, sometimes there are surprises...
Do both of us need to be in the room with you when you work?
Yes and no. For working on the husband’s home office, then only the husband needs to be there. For working on the living room, then both of them should be there - so the space can be organized in a way that suits the whole family. Sometimes I work independently – only consulting the client when a decision needs to be made; and sometimes I work directly with the client – both of us sorting and purging items together, one-on-one. It comes down to what works best for the client! My job is to figure that out and get the job done.
Are you insured?
Absolutely. Bonded and insured. Don’t hire an organizer that isn’t! If they are pulling books out of a bookshelf and it falls on them in your home and they DON’T have insurance then guess who is paying? You are – through your home insurance. If the organizer has subcontracted other organizers or service providers (handyman, cleaners, junk removal, etc.) to help them with a bigger job, then are those sub-contactors insured? Better find out.
So, those are just a few things to think about when hiring a Professional Organizer. If you have a whole-home kind of project, then consider doing a trial organizing session of 3-4 hours to see how you work together. This way, as the client, you can see if this is the right organizer for you, and the organizer can properly assess the pace of work and better estimate for the rest of the job!