Managing a professional organizing business involves many, many elements. When you start your professional organizing business, you may think documenting how you do your business is not essential. But, once you start working with multiple clients at once and managing their organizing projects, it will be much easier if you have your business policies and procedures documented in an Operations Manual for consistency.
Procedures are how you perform your business tasks. One procedural example is the client process from start to finish. From my experience, the client process consists of three distinct phases: (1) initial client contact, (2) client needs assessment, and (3) completing the client project. To give you an example of a documented procedure, let’s break down the first phase, the initial client contact.
Client Intake Procedure
Step 1 – Filtering
When a prospective client calls, answer your phone with a professional greeting. After the caller has introduced themselves, ask the following questions first to filter out any clients you do not want to work with because of location, what needs to be organized, personal concerns, or your availability:
- What is their location? Is it within your working radius? If not, you may want to pass the opportunity on to another professional organizer.
- What is their time frame for getting the job done? If you are not available during that time, you can let them know, and they may have more flexibility.
- What area(s) need organizing? If it is an area you are not skilled in or prefer not to organize, you may want to pass the opportunity on to another professional organizer.
- What pets do they have? Suppose you are allergic to certain pets or uncomfortable around certain animals. In that case, you may want to pass the opportunity on to another professional organizer or ask that the pets are not present when working with a client.
- Are they a smoker? Suppose you are sensitive to cigarette smoke or odors. In that case, you may want to pass this opportunity on to another professional organizer, or you can request that clients not smoke when you are present.
Step 2 – Yes or No
Based on their responses, you will decide if they are someone you would consider a good fit.
If they or their project are not desirable, thank them for calling and briefly explain why you don’t feel their project is one you can take on at this time. Ask if they would like to be referred to other professional organizers.
If you would consider working with them, continue with the following questions to gather more information about their project and organizing history:
- Tell me about your situation. What organizing help are you needing?
- What’s not going well?
- What are you currently doing to change this?
- What obstacles, challenges, and struggles are you regularly bumping into?
- What will eventually happen if you don’t change anything or continue to ignore this?
- What do you want to see happening as a result of working together?
- What will it feel like if that doesn’t happen?
- How will achieving this make a difference in your life?
Use this time to qualify your prospective client and decide if you’re a good match for each other. Listen carefully to hear how they are feeling. Then repeat back to them what you’re hearing. For example, you might say, “It sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed about how to get started.” You’ll appear empathetic and approachable. Then briefly explain your process for working with clients.
Step 3 – Be Ready for These Questions
From there, ask what questions they have. They will most likely want to know:
- Your fees
- Your availability
- What are typical projects that you work on
- Your credibility (training and experience)
- How you work with clients (your process for completing projects)
- The benefits of working with you
Step 4 – Closing the Conversation
At this point, your prospective client either needs more time to think about it, will want to talk to other professional organizers, or is ready to work with you.
If they need more time to think about it, ask them what additional information they need to move forward. If they want to talk with other professional organizers, let them know you understand that it is essential to have the right chemistry and trust whoever they choose to work with.
If they are ready to work with you, thank them for the opportunity and then ask at a minimum these questions:
- How did they hear about you?
- What is their organizing budget?
- When can they start?
- What is the best day and time of day to work with you?
- What is their address and directions to their location?
- What is their phone number?
- What is their email address?
- How do they prefer to be contacted (phone, text, email, other)?
Step 5 – You Have a Consultation Scheduled—What’s Next?
- Email confirmation of appointment
- Enter the appointment in your calendar
- Enter the client information in your contacts database or CRM
- Send your Letter of Agreement and Business Policies
- Send your invoice
- Prepare a client file, including:
- Intake information
- Directions (because GPS isn’t always accurate)
- Client Needs Assessment Questionnaire
- Organizing Plan of Action Template
The next client process procedure to document in your Operations Manual is the How to Conduct the Needs Assessment. If you want to learn more about the three phases of the client process and everything else you need to know about operating a professional organizing business and working with clients, register for our Trained Organizer Course or our Certified Organizer Course.