Without a doubt, the key to your success in finding an organizer who is right for you is through the conduct of a thorough interview. Before you conduct any interviews; determine your specific goals and level of organizing for which you are looking. Knowing what you hope to achieve will save you valuable time, money and frustration.
You may want to consider incorporating any or all of the following concerns into your interview and decision-making processes in finding a match that most accurately meets your specific needs.
- Inquire as to how the long the organizer has been working in the industry and what training and/or past work experience qualifies them to perform the job.
- Ask how the organizer stays current with updated education and industry changes/trends. Some organizers may be self-taught, while others gain training and experience through membership in a professional organization or through taking online courses. No one method is better as another as long, as the organizer continues to seek qualified and updated information. That being said, there are two things to keep in mind :(1) Professional Organization is not a regulated industry; therefore organizers do not answer to a governing body and certification is not a requirement in determining qualification and (2) courses taken online may not be provided by professionals with a long working history in the industry – anyone can hang a “teacher” sign on the Internet without regard to qualifications. One of a few exceptions is the National Organization of Professional Organizers (NAPO), whose over 4,000 members national wide seek training and industry updates. And, while not everyone who joins NAPO as a member is certified, this should not be deal breaker. Certification and training take time. NAPO requires that members seeking certification work a minimum of 1,500 hours within the industry over a 3-year period and complete continued training to maintain their certification.
- Regardless of professional affiliation, inquire about the organizer’s standards of conduct. A professional organizer will have work standards. They also know when a specific job is beyond the scope of their experience and will refer you to another more qualified professional rather than take on the assignment. Ideally, the organizer will provide their standards in writing.
- Inquire about the type of system the organizer will be using to help you achieve and maintain a workable organization system. There is a wide variety of systems, and one size rarely fits all. Each system should bear in mind your specific mental, emotional, physical, and financial considerations. Furthermore, you will more than likely want an organizer who follows up with you to ensure the system that has been put in place continues to work for you and enables you to tweak your processes as your needs change. Encourage the organizer to describe their organizing approach.
- Ask if the professional organizer guarantees their work and are willing to put it in writing.
- Determine if the organizer makes you feel empowered. A responsible organizer will seek to train you, keep you informed, and gain your continued feedback. It is very difficult for you to have full buy-in and accountability if you are provided no further guidance than “musts/must nots” and “shoulds/should nots.”
- Does the organizer expect you to buy storage materials immediately before beginning the organization process? It is not in your best interest that a professional organizer expect you to buy storage items without first having gone through your possessions with you to determine what items will remain in place.
- An organizer working solely with your interests in mind will not ask you to get rid of your possessions. Their purpose should be to guide you in making a decision that works best for you.
- Inquire as to whether they carry liability insurance.
- Discuss their fee structure and work schedule.
- Determine if they will provide you a written contract.
- Find out if they have a written cancellation policy.
- Ask what makes them different from other organizers.
- Get references and review their websites.
- Do Google and social media research to weed out potential problem areas. You may want to reconsider hiring anyone with consistently negative client reviews, a criminal background, history of financial problems, or those who show up on the national sex offender’s list (yes, women are on this list as well).
- Make sure the professional is approachable and has a full understanding of your expectations. Appropriate expectations and boundaries should put you in the driver’s seat at all times.
- Clarify the nature of the work and determine who will perform each task. There are three (3) main types of organizers of whom you should be aware: (a) Those who serve as a consultant (in-personal or electronically), and the client does all the work (they should follow up regularly on your progress); (b) Those who do all the work and then bring you into the situation to discuss the final outcome; and (c) Those who collaborate with you and work with you side-by-side to accomplish your goals
- Find out if you will be working directly with that person or be assigned to an employee and/or subcontractor.
- If you have tried to achieve organization in the past and failed, find out how this experience will be different.
- Look for organizers who interview you as well. If they are not asking you questions relative to accomplishing your goals, they will not have a full understanding of your specific objectives.
- Last, but not least… go with your gut reaction to select an organizer with whom you feel comfortable in sharing your personal pain and that you feel respects you, your family, your desires, and your belongings.
Please feel free to share your own personal knowledge and experiences below.