You have gone through the necessary training, got certified, and even interned for a few cleaning companies. Now you are ready to set the ball rolling on your own business. However, you don’t know the first thing about charging for your services. This is understandably one of the most challenging facets of being a professional organizer. In this detailed guide, we will all through all the tips and tricks of getting it right.
How to charge for professional home organizing
The most important thing is to know your niche as an organizer. Once you do, package your services well then establish your expenses. Next, get researching online to know the market prices of other organizers. Finally, determine your pricing strategy (hourly, project-wise or something in between).
Step 1: Establish your niche
Like all other careers, professional organization has different areas of specialization. Granted, you can choose to be a jack of all trades but finding a niche is always recommended. See, when you niche down to what you love most or are good at, you tend to offer more value than doing anything and everything. This is why organizers are constantly coming up with specific methods and strategies of standing out (think Marie Kondo, Digital Organizing, and Senior Move Management).
To know which area suits you best, you need to know where your greatest passion for organizing lies. Do you love working around young kids? Does organizing a messy kitchen appeal to you? Perhaps, doing house or office calls seems like a better idea for you. The heck, maybe you love working with clients with special needs including dementia, ADD, or hoarders.
Besides passion, experience and skill level also determine your niche greatly. What did you use to do before becoming an organizer that can be useful? If, for example, you were a good accountant, you might make a good career from digital organizing. Some of the niches in home organizing include:
- Office organizing
- Home staging
- Closet design
- Project management
- Organizing your kids
- Financial organizing
- Working with clients with chronic disorganization patterns
Step 2: Package yourself appropriately
Once you know your niche, the next step is to create a package of your skills. Packaging yourself is perhaps the most important step in this list. The minute you nail this in the head, you are halfway done with the battle. I am sure you have been a client of a service of some sort at one point in your life.
Nothing encourages you to take action than a service provider who knows how to package their value. The kind that knows what they bring on the table like the back of their hand. If you want to make a good income off of organizing, take your time and communicate your skills right.
Ask yourself these questions, “What do I need to do to motivate a stranger to hire me instead of another service provider with the same skillset and experiences?” “How can I communicate my value in a way that is convincing?” What does the client get in exchange from letting me do the cluttering work for them?” Do your services create more time for them, reduce their grocery budget, or motivate them to make healthier meals?
Step 3: Determine your expenses
Whether you run your organizing passion as a business or freelance career, you will have business bills to take care of. Having a rough estimate of the figure will help in determining how much to charge for home organizing. As a newbie, it can be quite a challenge to put this figure down. One formula that has worked across the business divide is having the end number. What I mean by this is, first determine how much you want to earn from your business then calculate your expenditure by working backward.
You will likely make a few mistakes during your first year but as you gain solid ground, calculating your fees will be a breeze. Some of the common business expenses include:
- Financial expenses (fees on sale online, bank charges, processing credit cards)
- Legal advice
- Professional associations
- Insurance for both the business and property
- Annual conference
- Car maintenance
- Office bills (Wi-Fi, software, stationery, energy, and phones)
- Website costs.
Step 4: Research market prices online
To know what your competition charges for home organizing, it might be a good idea to look around. There are a ton of places you can get that information with relative ease. The number one place that comes to my mind is Angie’s List website. I went ahead and peeped in there and found out that the average hourly rate of a professional organizer is $30-$80 according to the website.
Home advisor puts the figure at $55-$100 while Thumbtack says the national average should be $40-$50. From these three giant organizing websites, you can tell that professional most professional organizers charge anything between $30 and $100 dollars per hour. Frankly, the actual figure depends on the location (big towns charge more than small ones) and your training and experience level. To be more accurate, check local websites for the same information.
Step 5: The pricing strategy: hourly or per project?
The final step is the juice of the matter. How do you actually bring all the steps above into one and put a number on your services? Let’s explore the two popular charging methods:
Most organizers use this strategy because it is direct and hassle-free. The reason is you are in control of things and how many coins hit your bank account. However, if you are not careful, this strategy can shortchange you big time. An example is when a client decides to change the time needed to complete the project to suit them. Let’s say you agree to do a closet organization for them. You drive all the way, access the project, and realize that it will take you about five hours to be done. On the contrary, the client thinks you can get the job done for way less time. That can create quite some tension between you and him.
Ideally, hourly projects work better if the project parameters are clear. Both parties should know what to expect and sign a contract beforehand. If more work needs to be done, for instance, the client should be willing to pay for it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you should do all you can to maximize the time needed to do the work. Never take advantage of your client, they can tell.
Charging by the project is asking a certain figure for a specific project. Let’s say you agree to do a kitchen organization project for $500. This means that no matter the time needed to complete it, the cost remains the same. Again, this strategy comes with pros and cons of its own. One of the pros is that you can easily earn a good amount if you are fast. This is especially true if you have plenty of years in experience on your belt.
On the flip side, if you are really slow, you might end up running losses. This pricing method is also hard to navigate especially if you don’t know how to evaluate the requirements of the project in totality. It can be hard to nail down all the nitty-gritty of getting the work done. Eventually, you will end up spending a lot of time and money for too little pay.
As a beginner, you might want to stick to the hourly pricing option. Once you get comfortable, feel free to switch between the two. The actual hourly rate will be determined by your value, local rates, your experience and training level, and expenses. Start at the bottom and work your way up.