You’re now a professional organizer. You’ve taken all the right steps, put the word out, and got your first lead. You have booked a consultation. Now what?! Asking the right questions while talking to a client can give you a better sense of the home and family and how you can create an organized, functional space for them. But what do professional organizers need to ask a client to get the job done right?
Professional Organizers Need to Ask…
Question 1: Can you tell me about your family?
This is a loaded question that will probably need several follow-up questions. You need to discern how many members live in the home, their ages (if there are kids), and what kind of lifestyle they live (Are kids involved in sports? Do they travel often? Do they work from home?).
Whether they have pets, hobbies, and how they use their home.
Question 2: How do you use this space?
Professional organizers need to ask how a space is used and who uses it— you can’t make it functional otherwise. You obviously know that clients use a kitchen to cook and a bedroom to sleep, but you’ll want additional details. How many people cook in the space? How large are the meals clients are usually preparing?
While we’re talking about the kitchen, do the kids do homework and crafts at the table or is there a separate space for that? Does the table also act as an office space?
Question 3: What’s working in this space?
This may seem like a silly question and we can almost guarantee clients will answer, “Nothing!” but encourage them to stop and reflect. Perhaps their mudroom has amazing bones, but there’s just too much inside it. Maybe there’s a hook for their keys that they ALWAYS use and therefore never lose their keys.
Finding out what works well for clients can help you create systems that work for them.
Question 4: What’s NOT working in this space?
Again, this might seem silly. After all, clients are calling you because there’s a lot not working. Try to zoom in on smaller aspects of the space. Explore, poke around, open cabinets (with permission), and let them look at their space — odds are they will compile a pretty long list.
Let them get more specific. Maybe their shelves are just too full of small items like spices, but they’re all shoved in and they can never find the spice they need without everything toppling over. Maybe they can never find a matching pair of socks. Listen to their complaints, write them down, and then figure out how you can fix them.
Part of what also might NOT be working is the client themselves. Consider the client’s habits and whether they’ll be able to maintain an intricate organizational system.
Question 5: Are there items here that you’d like to purge/sell/donate?
The first step to the organization process is to declutter! If our clients aren’t ready to purge, we can still rearrange their items to be more orderly, but the real magic happens when decluttering happens first.
Asking this question prepares clients mentally for your session.
Question 6: Are you interested in purchasing materials for the space?
Some clients have been watching The Home Edit, following them and other organizers on Instagram, and want to contain and decant everything. Bring on the acrylic (and the $1000 bill).
Related Reading: Watching That Organizing Show on Netflix? What you need to know.
If they are interested in purchasing materials, be sure to discuss budget and the look they’d like in their space.
Other clients do not know how “designer” organizing has become and are saving all their pennies to hire an organizer to help them conquer their chaos and don’t have an extra few hundred dollars to spend on bins. Decluttering can still make a massive difference in a space. You can use bins you will find in the client’s home and they can always upgrade later if they’d like to.
Question 7: What expectations do you have for your children?
This is a crucial question, especially when working in a child’s space. Are the parents giving their children the tools, routines, and education to maintain the system independently, or are parents doing all the work?
If parents ARE doing all the work, how do they feel about this? Do they want you to create systems in which they can use more independently, or do they want systems that they themselves will maintain?
If they are interested in having their kids taking ownership of their space, you can set up a space differently and even teach kids how to use it and maintain it. Sometimes as professional organizers, we need to not only have organization conversations with adults, but with their children as well. Staying organized is a habit, we need to encourage them to practice those steps!
What Professional Organizers Need to Ask
No two organizers ask the same questions in the same way. Everyone has their own style, and that’s okay. Use this as a guide, but also incorporate your own questions. Ask follow-up questions when they’re warranted.
Did we miss anything? What else do you ask during consultations? Drop a note below and let us know.
Thanks for the reminder that professional organizers can also be hired when when getting some decluttering done. I’d like to do that in my home office soon because I want to clear out the shelved in there. That way, I will have more space to use for more documents.