The joys of being self-employed…an organizer’s advice to potential clients

Nothing better than a happy client!

Nothing better than a happy client!

It’s a bit amazing how many people are surprised that I’ve been through college…and I have chosen to be a self-employed professional organizer and senior move manager instead of a venture capitalist or a banking executive or an accountant, or just about any other “white collar” profession.  Yes, I’ve chosen self employment.  I also chose to be in a field that requires some manual labor in people’s homes.

Being self-employed, or I should say a sole-proprietor, requires you to wear a lot of hats.  You are the boss, you are the labor, you are the marketer and sales force, you are the writer, you are the website manager, you are the creative force, you are the bookkeeper and tax preparer, you are the social media director, you are the bill collector, you are the “everythinger”.

A lot of people still see us as “glorified housekeepers”.  Housekeeping is a very honorable profession.  But that’s not our profession, and we have to work hard with many clients to get them to understand the difference. As professional organizers, we also have to work hard to get paid in keeping with our skills, and our needs to be able to offer our services and stay in business.  If it’s expensive for you to live in the bay area, it’s just as expensive for us.

So, how can you, the consumer, help us best serve you?  Here’s some advice:

1.  Please do not demand “a free consultation.” Most organizer’s who have been in business for several years and really know their profession, will offer an “assessment session” for a fee,  rather than a consultation.  The paid assessment gives us a chance to really give you something of value – a complete and thorough assessment of what is going in your home and how to fix it.  You should get a plan and resources.  You should be satisfied that your assessment fee has been worthwhile to you.

2.  Please do not ask for “discounts on rates”.  Trust me, no organizer is getting on a plane to have lunch in Paris, on your money.  Often our fees have to take into account not just being at hour house performing specific tasks, but also the traveling to and from your house, loading and unloading our cars with supplies for your job, answering your emails and phone calls, paying for insurance to cover us at your house, being a member of a professional organization and taking classes to keep up our skills, as well as a whole host of expenses associated with running a business.

You should tell an organizer what your budget is for the job you have so that you and your organizer can negotiate on which services are offered that will best  fit that budget.

3.  Please don’t argue when we say we may not be the best fit for your particular project.  It’s always a surprise to me when I do my best to interview a potential client about their project and determine that my areas of expertise do not fit.  Instead of recognizing that I am saving them time and money by making suggestions that another organizer would be a better choice, they want to argue with me that I should provide the service anyway.  It’s not “one size fits all”.  Each organizer has a particular skill set and does better with one type of client than another.  If your mother is a hoarder, I am going to recommend an organizer who specializes in working with hoarders and that is an honest benefit to all.

4.  Please pay your invoices in a timely manner.  Your organizer should have given you the terms of their billing in advance and you should be prepared to honor those terms if the work has been provided.  It’s very frustrating to have put in your best efforts for a client, present an invoice and then be told that  they can’t find their check book, or have to mail the check later for a variety of reasons. And if they don’t, you are left chasing them around for money.

5.  It’s really nice when a client thanks you for your efforts on their behalf.  You’d be shocked how many people don’t.  I can tell you we finished a large move very successfully and when we were leaving I asked the client if they were happy and they said  “well, nothing was stolen”.  Well, okay, thanks!


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