How to Start a Professional Organizer Business: The Smart and Quick Way
Professional organizer businesses are recently one of the most popular side hustle and small business types to emerge over the past six years. There are compelling social reasons behind this. First, the overarching consumerism in the Western world caters to people purchasing perhaps more than what's needed and never letting go of it. Second, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social media sites as well as hit TV shows such as TLC's Clean Sweep and A&E's Hoarders have shown the amazing results of before and after photos and video of an organizing job well done, showing us all the possibility and power of a thorough organizing job. And lastly, we're entering an age where more and more people are thinking about mental health. One way to keep a clearer head is to keep a clearer work and living space.
Several surveys have shown that 86% of millennials choose to work remotely at least a portion of the time. This means that managing their life and work environments overlap. It also means that there is an influx of physical items in the homes of remote workers, which has the potential to increase clutter in general. Clutter in the work environment is distracting, interruptive, and simply put not ideal for staying focused and getting the job done. This however provides you with an opportunity to swoop in, offer your valuable services, and start a professional organizer business.
"We should be choosing what we keep - not what we get rid of" - Marie Kondo
- The Setup
Just about every business will want all the items on this list to give it legitimacy, build the brand, gain customer trust, and give future customers something to reference or ask about. Not all of these have to be setup or acquired right from the start and some of them require some investment or capital. The most important, in terms of how you can expand and market your business are noted with asterisks *.
- Business Entity* - Formation of an LLC, S Corp, or sole proprietorship is one of the legal steps any business will take so it can properly report taxes, hire employees, and start a business bank account. This may or may not need to be done right away depending on your area and local regulations.
- Name and Logo* - Of course a name is needed to form a business entity legally. But also this will be your brand. Some easy ways to make your business identifiable and searchable via Google (or Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc) is to name it something specific to either you or the area in which you service. A logo can be created easily, purchased, or commissioned out to a graphic designer. This doesn't have to be your one-and-done logo, it can go through iterations so don't worry if it's not "perfect".
- Website Domain* - The business name usually fits here, or compliments it in some way. The goal of a good domain is to be memorable, easy to type, and easily searchable through a search engine. Most domains that will be specific to your business will not be any more than $15 per year. This is only the domain purchase (ownership), not the actual website. When searching for a domain, be prepared to purchase on the spot. There are rumors that some of the domain registrars will increase prices on domains based on how much it's searched for in terms of availability.
- Gear* - Truck or vehicle that can at least haul garbage and unwanted items and materials (trailer, suv, hatchback). You will want some cleaning equipment as well, such as a broom, dustpan, gloves, non-irritating and pet-friendly cleaner, and wash rags.
- CRM and Business Management System - This might come in after you have your first few clients, but eventually if you want to grow your business, this is something that you will need. A Customer Relationship Management tool is a way to track your clients. The Business Management System will help you bill, collect payments, and track your jobs and projects. However, a good system will combine these tools under one roof, allowing you to fully run your administrative end of your business (see Paidtoday.com).
- Swag* - Business cards, a brochure, low-cost signs, work shirts, hats, etc. Brochures and business cards can be delivered to all of your clients, prompting them to tell their neighbors about it. A nice magnetic sign on your work vehicle is free advertising when you're on the job and your client's neighbors all see your business and logo. Nice collared work shirts can make the difference in the professionalism your business conveys when people see you or your employees working hard when on the job.
- Starting Out and Getting Your First Clients
Acquiring your first clients in other industries isn't always easy. For example, a graphic designer starting out might have some issues because not everybody is in the market for a new logo or a brand pack. However, for your professional organizing business, almost everybody knows at least one friend, family member, or neighbor that has some organizing needs, knows that they need to declutter, and is open to someone helping them with that job. If you're unexperienced in organizing, this is a great opportunity to start getting your experience under your belt. Also, be sure to declutter you own house and area for practice (goes without saying). These first exercises will allow you start thinking about a base price for packages and/or hourly rates.
As a note about how to think about what you'll charge, you can charge both an hourly rate and a set price (package). It's not uncommon to have a base package set for a minimum amount of hours to make sure and guarantee that they're not hiring you for one or two hours and then charge an hourly rate beyond the scope of that if the job goes on.
This is also an opportune time to start thinking about how your organizing business will differ from the other ones out there. The reason this topic is brought up here is the gut feeling for most people is to come in at a lower cost to the client. However this isn't the only deciding factor when people make purchases. You want your brand to justify the price, not have your price justify how good your services and client experience is. Some key contributing factors can be professionalism, quality, cleanliness, or the ability and willingness to remove the clutter items from the premises.
Once you have your first clients, feel free to ask them for referrals. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if they value your service and work most customers are happy to refer other people. Remember, every referral you receive is potential for another client at no additional cost other than providing your customers with amazing service. Word of mouth is a great way to acquire new clients because it leverages your client base as salesman for your business and service. Another natural advantage that your professional organization business has is that your customer's friends, family, neighbors, and party-goers will see the job that you've done and likely bring up your business name when they're talking about how it amazing it feels to have things fully decluttered.
- Administrative and Marketing
In terms of marketing starting out, word of mouth is going to be your best friend. You can however also start build your web presence, so at least potential customers can find you online. Start by claiming your Google My Business "page". Having a Gmail account and setting up your Google My Business will create several results all which help potential customers find your business. A base Gmail account will give you at least an email you can use and and the ability to create a YouTube channel. If you don't have much marketing material at the moment, you can start gathering some of the before and after photos of your trial and first clients. Take some photos of different angles, and try to re-capture those same angles after the job is complete so it's a direct comparison that prospects and leads can view.
A Facebook page isn't a bad idea either. It's free, widely used, and can net you some prospects. However, you'll want to post at least semi-regularly to your page (a great place for before-and-after photos of your work!).
Use your CRM to make notes of your clients, track their jobs, and send them their invoice or order. With a robust system like PaidToday, your clients can log into your portal (included with every PaidToday Subscription) and pay their bills immediately. You can quickly see which of your client accounts is current. Additionally in the portal, your clients will have the opportunity to see when their next scheduled site service visits will be.
Whichever system (hopefully not systems plural) you use, the goal of your backend administrative system is to:
- Bill clients with invoiced-style details
- Collect payments online, making payment easy for your clients
- Collect and track basic contact information
- Ability to reach out and ask for referrals
- Manage larger projects (for example, if your business moves into hardscape services)
- Integrated website with CRM for lead generation and customer feedback to avoid any data entry
- Keep your team on the same page
In terms of marketing, make sure that you have a process set up for collecting referrals from your customers, especially your happiest ones. A self-signup for a referral program may work to your advantage here instead of asking your clients for referrals. You may opt to run some paid advertising on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Make sure to capitalize on your unique business name or area, especially if you're running search ads. And always remember, referrals and word of mouth will be your most effective advertising and marketing in terms of cost of acquisition for several reasons: it doesn't cost you anything aside from a fixed referral fee and keeping your customers happy, it's a static cost and isn't likely to go up, and the referring prospect is already primed to have a great experience because they heard about it from someone they have at least some degree of trust with already.
- Scaling Your Business
At the point where you're ready to hire more than two employees, you're looking at scaling. You may want to invest in some better equipment, such as pickup truck or a trailer you can use for hauling. You will want a training program for onboarding new employees to make sure that they are as trained as they can be to keep the level of quality your business built it's name on (PaidToday offers in-app courses as well as step-by-step Projects). You will want to form a business entity by now, as well as invest into insuring your business.
You can start offering new services now also, such as bi-yearly pre-scheduled pre-decluttering to make sure that things don't stack up and get out of hand.
A CRM, business management system, and formalized processes for training and service fulfillment will be required to give every customer the same high-level of care as when it was just you on your own.
If you'd like to more aggressively scale your business out, you can reach out to some realtors. Partnering with a realtor or a realtor business may become very fruitful if the homes that are being sold require some declutter and organization, prior to staging for sale. Sometimes this is handled by the interior designer or the home owner, but it's never a bad thing to inquire about.
- The Raving Fan Effect
As spoken about before, servicing your customers with the type service that allows them to be proud of their home and the space they live and work in will only create more leads and prospects for you, filling the pipelines of your business. They won't hesitate to tell their friends and family about it. What's even more interesting is that if someone hears about your service and the topic of conversation comes up in a different circle of people, they may even drop your business name just because it's a business that they have heard of and heard good things about, but haven't even hired your services.
- Extras and Ideas
What things can differentiate your professional organization business from the others? Professionalism? Quality? Speed? Ease of scheduling?
How can you make the experience of working with your company preferable? What about shooting a text when you're 15 minutes out?
Manage your customer's expectations. Every job will be radically different, in terms of moving items out of the house, organizing, the space which you are organizing in, and the client's personalities and proclivities themselves. If you need to offer a free quote to survey the the area and get to know the client a little, a short meeting may save you the headache of taking a client or job that you cannot make happy with your services.
Offer speed / on-demand services which cost more than a normally scheduled job?
Decide on how to handle and charge for the waste and clutter removal, as it will likely end up going to the local transfer station or dump. If you offer packages, you can build in certain weight amounts into the package so it comes as an all-fees-included price.
Make sure that your work vehicles(s) always have business cards in them and that your customers always feel comfortable to give feedback, especially if it's something constructively negative.
Offer customized seasonal packages such as bi-yearly pre-decluttering.
Who could I partner with for a mutually beneficial referral source to keep the business pipeline full? What unique value can I offer that referral source?
Go Forth and Create!
*This article is sponsored by PaidToday, the simple business management platform, but it is not required for owning and running a successful Lawn Care business.