Below is a list of questions that prospective clients with clutter-related challenges have asked me over the years. This list is a helpful tool for professional organizing consultants and clients who aren’t sure what to ask when contacting a professional organizer.
This checklist can help professional organizers who:
- Would like to create their own FAQs and add them to their websites.
- Want to differentiate and distinguish themselves from other professional organizers.
- Are new to the industry and want to practice + prepare for consultations with prospective clients.
Find an Expert
In addition to finding a pro organizer who is diplomatic, empathetic, willing to listen, non-judgmental, creative, patient, and trustworthy, ask about their associations and memberships. Find out if they belong to any well-known, established organizations such as:
- NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals in the USA (www.napo.net)
- In addition, many states have their own NAPO chapter(s). For example, in my home state of North Carolina, the local chapter’s website for NAPO-NC is www.naponc.org.
- POC, Professional Organizers in Canada (www.organizersincanada.com)
- Institute of Professional Organisers (http://www.iopo.au/) including Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.
- APDO, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organizers (https://www.apdo.co.uk/) in the United Kingdom.
Many English-speaking countries spell the word “organise” with “S” not “Z.” So, look for a professional organiSer.’
When interviewing professional organizers, ask a few of the following questions:
- What are your areas of expertise? Answers may include: clients with ADHD, time management, wardrobes and closets, financial matters, computer-related challenges, speaking, coaching, writing, estates, seniors, home staging, relocation, etc.
- Do you have business liability insurance?
- How do you stay abreast of current trends and techniques (take classes, attend conferences)?
- Do you have local references who’ve worked with you in the past three or four months?
- Do you belong to any professional organizations? **see above. I advise hiring a professional organizer who is involved in at least one or two professional groups or well-established organizations as it demonstrates not only a commitment to the field, but it’s another way to verify that they are invested in their business.
- How long have you been in business?
- Which days and times of the week are you available? (Make sure that the organizer’s availability is a good match for your availability.)
- Do you bring the necessary supplies, or do you provide a shopping list of what I’ll need?
- If you purchase supplies or materials at a discount, do you “upcharge” or add an hourly shopping fee?
- Do you make arrangements to take away donations, consignments, and trash? If so, do you charge an additional fee?
- Do you work alone, have a team of employees or independent contractors? Will you be overseeing the project or providing hands-on services?
- Is there advertising on your car? (Ask this if you want discretion; some prefer that co-workers or neighbors not know they are working with a professional organizer.)
- Do you take photographs of my property? (Again, if privacy is a concern, a professional organizer who takes photos may not be the one for you or create rules around this practice.)
- What is your fee & how do you charge? (Of course, I don’t need to tell you to inquire about prices. Many options may be available, including hourly, by-the-project, or bundles of hours. Ask about termination and cancellation fees; whether a minimum number of hours is required per booking; consultation fees, etc.)
Remember that most professional organizers are not housekeepers, therapists, decorators or nurses. Professional organizers help you take control of your environment, time, paper, and systems.
NAPO defines Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant as follows:
Professional Organizer: supports evaluation, decision-making, and action around objects, space, and data, helping clients achieve desired outcomes regarding function, order, and clarity.
Productivity Consultant: supports evaluation, decision-making, and action around time, energy, and resources; helping clients achieve desired outcomes regarding goals, effectiveness, and priorities.