What You Should Ask, Before You Hire A Professional Organizer
As a Professional Organizer, I am constantly answering the same questions over and over again. Here are the top questions to ask YOUR Professional Organizer, before you hire them, and a few that are general and you can skip (I'll answer them here):
ASK Before Hiring:
Do you offer free in-person or virtual consultations? If so, how long and what can I expect from it? If they don't, that's ok too! There's a split in the industry between those that offer a free consultation and those that charge. BUT, if they charge, the fee should be applied to the package purchased. If they don't do that, weigh your options. Normally at a consult (I don't charge for these, as of August 2020), I will tour the home, hear what's working for them, and what they want to improve on. I may take measurements if there is design or small renovation involved. Most importantly, I decide if the client is a good fit. This is a 30-minute appointment.
Have you done a project like this? If you are not confident in the Pro Organizer you contacted, first off, you probably shouldn't go with them. BUT, if you've seen their work (most are on social media or have their work on their website), and you have a unique project, it is ok to ask if they can confidently take on the project.
Do you have any special training or hold any certifications in organizing or related areas (chronic disorganization, coaching, Feng Shui, interior design, etc.) that make you stand out from other Professional Organizers? Although having a certification doesn't make or break you in this industry, having specialized certifications definitely do. Most won't have these, but with each year, more and more organizers are recognizing the connection between physical and mental clutter. For example, I have a Certification in Feng Shui because, personally, that has transformed my life. Additionally, I have a Practitioner Certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), again because I find it useful to fully supporting the client. But, I also offer these services outside organizing and respect those that do not wish to utilize these skill-sets. Lastly, although I am happy to do small renovations or room makeovers, I do not have a degree in Interior Design, so I make this really clear to my clients.
Will I work directly with you, or will you assign an employee and/or subcontractor? This is a super important question to ask. Everyone does it differently, but most will want to work with you, but have the option to work without you. Others, if they bring in an employee or subcontractor will either be there full-time or check-in periodically. If you have a preference, let them know!
What is your fee structure? Many charge by inclusive package while others have a daily rate or hourly. Make note, if they charge by hourly, they probably have shopping, driving, or research time that gets billed out at the same or a discounted rate. I always prefer packages both as the Professional Organizer and as the client, it is simply less stress which I am the rest of the world are all about. Make sure you know how you will be billed and the terms of billing.
Do you work with a written contract? If they don't, keep searching...even if it's a friend. I know far too many friend relationships that have ended because of a misunderstanding. Not worth it!
What is your cancellation policy? They need to have one for sure! Most allow sessions or days to be moved by either party with reasonable notification to a mutually available date. If on the other hand either party has cancelled more than three times, that's reason to terminate the agreement.
General Industry Questions You DON'T Need to Ask:
Are you a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) or a member of the National Association of Organizational Experts (NAP or NAPO), a national organization of professional organizers and organizers? Certification is does not make or break a great organizer. To become a Professional Organizer, requirements vary by state, for legality purposes, but educationally, there is little required while there is a lot of fluff. There are Marie Kondo Certifications, NAP/NAPO, and CPO, to name a few. I would never hire a Pro Organizer based on their certifications, I would hire them based on their past work examples, reviews, and personality.
Can I speak to a reference/past customer? I've never been asked this, but I'd be pretty annoyed if someone did. It'd be like a parent asking their child's teacher to speak to the last Principal. You simply don't do that. For just about every industry, there are online reviews and testimonials that you can read about the business and you definitely should read them, on your own time.
So what do you do? If you've gotten this far and want to hire an organizer, you should have a pretty good idea of what a Pro Organizer does. More importantly, you've seen their work (on IG, TikTok, or their website). In my opinion, this is a wasted question. Instead of So what do you do? Ask: So, what's the first thing you can do in my space to make my life organized? Your Professional Organizers should work at your pace to help you find a system, a place and so on.
Do you clean? Nope! Many, not all, will dust a shelf if they are cleaning it out, sweep in the corner if they've cleared it, but do not expect them to do much more. Ideally, you'd be working with them and you could do these jobs, or after they have left. If there are rodent droppings or dead rodents, this would be reason to terminate the agreement. Do not expect them to touch this as it is very hazardous. If you have either, clean that up as quickly as possible.