HOW TO HIRE A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER
If attempts to get organized on your own have not led to the desired results, it may be time to consider working with a professional organizer. Finding and hiring a professional organizer is no different than choosing a plumber, accountant, doctor, or other service professional. You'll want to work with someone who takes time to get to know you, understands your needs, and has the expertise to advise you and help achieve your goals.
What follows are some questions aimed at helping you think about your project and what you're looking for in an organizer.
What kind of professional organizing services are you looking for?
Some professional organizers offer a wide range of services, while others limit their practices to a specialized niche. For example, some organizers work with business rather than residential clients; some specialize in creating custom filing or closet systems; others may specialize in preparing for moves or organizing collections and memorabilia. There are even professional organizers who specialize in working with clients who are chronically disorganized or have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD). The clearer you can be about your specific requirements, the easier it will be to select a professional organizer whose expertise is a good match for your needs.
Where should you begin your search?
While you can use a search engine like Google to find professional organizers, NAPO Michigan's Member Directory is an incredibly efficient and effective way to locate an organizer suited to your needs. Using the search criteria in our directory, you'll be presented with a list of professional organizers in your area (listed by the counties they serve) and specialize in the type of service(s) you're looking for, as well as information about their businesses. Should you wish, you can contact any organizer via an email message sent directly through their directory profile.
Once you've narrowed your list to a handful of potential candidates, it's suggested that you visit each professional organizer's website to learn more about the services they offer, and to review their client testimonials, rates and other information. Contact each organizer on your short list by phone or email to ask specific questions to help you make the decision about who to hire.
What questions should you ask?
One of the first questions you should ask is whether the organizer is a current member of NAPO or other industry associations for professional organizers. While membership in an industry association such as NAPO does not guarantee the quality of the professional organizer's work, it demonstrates a commitment to continuing education and adherence to an industry code of ethics.
If you prefer to interview professional organizers in person before making a decision, note that some offer free consultations, some charge for the consultation and credit that fee toward services if hired, and others charge totally separately for assessments and services.
What should you expect to pay?
As with most professions, fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location, and competition. Many professional organizers charge by the hour, while others prefer value-based pricing and charge by the project. Some will give you options. Before you make a decision about who to hire, establish a budget for your project based on your discussions with the organizers you've talked to, and decide what feels most comfortable to you.
How do you decide which professional organizer is right for you?
Your relationship with a professional organizer will be a very personal one. An experienced professional organizer will ask a lot of questions about you, your work style, what you are looking for, and the issues you believe have thwarted your best attempts to get organized in the past. They want to get to know you, understand your objectives, and determine whether they will be a good fit for you. It is in your best interest to be as candid and clear as possible about your needs and what you want to achieve.
Avoid choosing a professional organizer strictly by price. Instead, focus on finding an organizer with a personality and skill set that matches your needs. That person is most likely to deliver the greatest value by achieving the results you desire in the shortest amount of time.
Also keep in mind that your choice of a professional organizer is not irreversible. Professional organizers should be nonjudgmental, encouraging, and supportive. They should be good listeners and recommend a variety of suggestions, alternatives, and solutions to create solutions that work best for you. If you begin working with a professional organizer and decide along the way that you are not comfortable with his or her particular style, be sure to let the organizer know how you feel. You are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship. More than likely, he or she will be happy to recommend a colleague.
Ultimately, the "right choice" will be the person who has the expertise, skill set, and personality that best suit you and your goals.
Special thanks to NAPO National for their permission to use the language on this page, which is borrowed from their website.