A great organizing project starts with a great consultation! For home organizers, the consultation is the most important opportunity you have to share who you are and what you do with your clients. It’s also a way for you to collect valuable information that will allow you to create a lasting solution for your client. How do you do this? By understanding who your client is and how she uses her home.
I know that it's easier said than done. As is true with everything, the more practice you get, the better you will be at running them. Over time, you’ll develop better skills and improved communication. But, I'm hoping that the steps I share here can catapult you further and faster. Here are my four strategies to run an effective organizing consultation.
The first impression that your clients make of you matters. Treat the consultation like an interview. It’s not an interview per se. But, it has elements that are similar to one. Show up on time, dressed in a way that represents the aesthetic of your brand. That might be a cute outfit, or it might be leggings and a shirt with your company logo. There is no one right or wrong way to dress. Do what feels comfortable for you. But do keep in mind that how you present yourself matters.
After that first impression is established, you need to have the right tools to deliver exceptional service. I always bring a measuring tape because no organizer can effectively organize without measurements. By measuring the spaces at the consultation, you are accomplishing two things: proving to the client that you are prepared and saving yourself time. If she hires you after that consultation, you can immediately order the right products to bring on day one. This will allow you to get the job done quickly and correctly (and ensures that you have time to get any back-ordered products).
Secondly, I bring a notebook and pen to take detailed notes and to record measurements. Writing down everything you can during a consultation will pay dividends later when she hires you. Asking the right questions here is critical. Find out how she uses her space and what her specific pain points are that caused her to reach her breaking point. If you don’t get detailed information on the exact problem, you won’t know if you are providing the best possible solution that will be maintainable.
Finally, I bring my phone. With the client’s permission, I take photos of the spaces she is hiring me for. This has saved me a ton of time, sped up the entire organizing process for both of us, and shows the client how serious and ready I am to take on her project. It also has the added benefit of serving as your “before” shots, which you’ll inevitably forget to take once you get to work on day one.
When preparing for a consultation, it’s natural to feel nervous. And it’s easy to think about how you're going to come across to the prospect. After all, consultations have some similar traits to an interview. But, it’s equally as important to recognize that this is more nerve-wracking for your prospect. Nine times out of 10, she feels like she is on display even more than you do. She is inviting you into her home because she believes it is such a mess that she isn’t capable of tackling alone.
It doesn't get much more vulnerable than that.
So, bring your compassion, friend.
But, don’t just stop at compassion. Empathy will allow you to dig deeper and really understand her fears and hopes. When helping your client decide if hiring you is the right fit, don’t focus the conversation on the process or cost. That’s the fastest way for her to lose enthusiasm. Instead, focus on the outcomes and the problem you are solving for her. Discuss and demonstrate to her how easy her life will be once the work is done. Talk to her about how easy it will be to maintain this space once it is purged, organized, and labeled to perfection. Of course, talking price and process are necessary, too. But quickly move on to talking about how you will alleviate her daily pain points.
One major question that many organizers overlook is how your client thinks. Does she need to see everything out all at once, because if she doesn’t see it, it doesn’t exist to her? Or does it still feel cluttered if she can see everything even when it’s organized and put away? Clients usually have a very strong opinion on this once they’re able to visualize the difference. But they never, ever articulate this on their own without being asked. Why does this matter? Because it will inform what products you purchase for your clients. You’ll need to make a decision if you'll use clear bins or opaque baskets. And knowing how your client thinks should be the biggest determining factor in that decision.
Let’s face it: The organizer’s consultation is a short, intense meeting during which a lot of information is passed between you and the client. The best advice I have is to make it about her and really listen. If you go in with an open heart and a positive attitude, you’ll be able to immediately set the client at ease. She won’t be able to wait to get started! Best of luck with your next consultation. I know you’ll be amazing.
If you need more information on starting and running your organizing business, you might find this post helpful entitled "How to Start an Organizing Business: Three Tips to Get you Started Now"
Looking for even more, hands-on support? A few times a year I open up Organizers Academy, my intensive group coaching program, to a small cohort of organizers. Together, we reimagine a sustainable, profitable version of your business that can thrive in any environment. It’s an opportunity to work directly with me and my team so we can provide feedback on your business and help you grow and scale. I’d love for you to apply. Shoot me an email if you want more information!
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