How do I get Comfortable Working in Stranger’s Homes as a Professional Organizer?

I am often asked if I feel safe going into strangers’ homes to organize their spaces. And I have gotten questions from new professional organizers wondering how they can feel more comfortable going into homes of people they do not know. So here I’m going to show you how to prescreen your clients so you will feel safe meeting with them in person and get warm leads from people within your network so that you are not working with strangers. 

Hi, I am Professional Organizer Katherine Lawrence. I help you live a life with less clutter so you can have space for the things that truly matter. 

There are three techniques I use so I feel comfortable going into homes of people that I am meeting for the first time. 

Strategy # 1 Prescreen your Clients (by phone or video chat)

The first method I use is to pre-screen my new clients. I want to find out a lot of information about them before I knock on their door. It gives me time to get to know my potential client and determine if we are going to be a good fit. I listen to their story and pick up on anything that seems out of the ordinary or triggers a red flag.

You always want to listen to your intuition.

Most people who contact me are lovely and we do end up working together. However, I have seen several red flags over the years mainly around marketing scams via email. Typically, these people do not even want to discuss their organizing project with me over the phone, which of course is an indicator that they are not a legit client.

I have two forms that I use for pre-screening.

One is my client intake form which allows me to make notes about the client’s home life during an initial phone consultation or video chat. The other is my client questionnaire. Both forms are available in two of my classes, Introduction to Professional Organizing and Essential Forms for Professional Organizers.  

Here are the highlights –

It is important you ask open-ended questions. This allows you to get to know them better and will trip up anyone who is working off a script or has an agenda other than having their home organized. 

I like to ask questions in these 5 categories –

  1. “Get to know you” Questions
  2. Project Questions
  3. Marketing Questions
  4. Is the Client CD (Chronically Disorganized)
  5. Will I encounter hoarding

In addition to the pre-screening questions, you can find your client on social media sites like LinkedIn and Google the address to confirm that the home meets the description of what the person told you over the phone. 

Strategy # 2 Work with Referrals from Existing Clients

My next strategy for you is to not work for strangers at all and instead get leads from people that you already know. A common example of this is to ask for and receive referrals from your existing clients. When you are working with friends or family members of an existing client, you are not going to feel like these people are strangers to you. 

One way to get referrals is simply to ask your clients: “Do you know of someone who could benefit from using my services?” or by saying, “I really enjoyed helping you transition your space, do you have friends who are in a similar situation to you who may also benefit from this type of service?”

You can also offer your clients some financial benefit to refer clients to you. I offer a gift certificate towards future services to my existing clients once they refer a paying client to me. You can remind your clients of this offer through handwritten letters or follow-up emails. It is a win-win for both of you. 

Strategy # 3 Work with Referrals from Business Partners & Colleagues

Another way to get warm referrals so that you are not working with complete strangers is to get referrals from your network or colleagues. This is when a related business like a hauling service or a closet design company refers you to a client with whom they are already doing business.

The business referral source can vouch for the client, that they are on the up-and-up, and could be a great client for you as well. 

One way I built my business quickly was to offer my organizing services in addition to other professional organizers that were providing a service.

Let me explain. I really enjoy organizing paper and information. I can help people with large paper filing systems or organizing information in a digital system. However, there are some organizers who just are not interested in offering that type of service. They would rather stage spaces or organize closets. So, I connected with other organizers at networking events and we talked about the type of work we enjoy doing.

Two experienced professionals who had been working in the industry much longer than me, referred their clients to me so that I could organize their paper and digital systems. This was a win-win for everyone because the referring professional organizer was able to offer all the services that their clients needed even if there were particular services that they did not enjoy or were not an expert in providing. And of course, I did not feel like I was working for a stranger because the client was already engaged in business with my colleague.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can get warm leads so you are not working with complete strangers or how to pre-screen your clients so you feel comfortable when you are meeting someone for the first time. 

I teach a complete lecture on personal safety in my Introduction to Professional Organizing course.  

Thanks for reading and I wish you success!