How High Hourly Rates Can Lead to Low Project Costs: A True Story

Potential clients sometimes ask me about my rates. With hundreds of class hours and thousands of client hours, I am more experienced than 80% of professional organizers. Most clients are willing to pay more for organizers who are educated, experienced and trained. I charge a bit more per hour but have saved my clients thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time. Read on to discover how.

A new client calls needing a file system for her small business. She wants an experienced organizer who is familiar with file management and confidentiality. After we speak, she is ready to move forward and books an appointment.

A few days before the appointment, client calls to tell me that she’s found someone ‘exactly like’ me, but at a quarter the cost. If I can meet that rate, client will hire me. I decline the job.

Several years pass. In that time, I have attained my CPO and my rates have nearly doubled. 

Client calls back. The person she hired has not worked out. Client is not sure why, other than she has spent nearly $10,000 and her business file system is just not working. When I ask what happened when working with the other organizer, all client can say is that the organizer did not allow her (client) in the room when she was working and she is not sure why, but the file system doesn’t seem all that different from what she had when she started. And, because she cannot find things when she wants them, she feels like she looks unprofessional. This is costing her money as she is unable to book new clients in her business.

I tell the client that my rates have nearly doubled since we last spoke. Client says: ‘I don’t care how much it costs; I want you to set up my business file system. It needs to be done right.’

I work with client for several sessions to set up her new business file system. Client is involved in the process to the extent that she needs and wants to be. Together we set up guidelines for the system. Client checks in periodically and we discuss the system and the progress we’re making.

There is a final session during which we spend an hour or so reviewing the system and answering her questions. I provide a customized, color coded File Index as a reference so client knows where things are located. Over a period of a few weeks, the system is completed and implemented.

Total cost for my services, even at approximately six times the hourly rate of the other, less experienced organizer, is $1900. And the client has a file system that works for her and her business.

Lessons Learned (as quoted by the client):

  1. A lower hourly rate does not necessarily mean a lower final cost.
  2. It is a huge breach of ethics to ‘not allow’ the client in the room when organizing.
  3. A good file system, set up with the client’s specifications in mind, leads to a better outcome both in professionalism and in more income for the client.

The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) explains how Certified Professional Organizers (C.P.O.®) are different from other professionals:

“The CPO® credential distinguishes professional organizers who have documented a specific number of paid hours in which they are transferring skills to their clients, passed the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers (BCPO®) examination, and agree to adhere to the BCPO Code of Ethics.”

“CPOs demonstrate a strong commitment to continued learning and maintaining ethical business practices. To maintain their status, recertification is required every three years through continuing education or re-examination. Find a CPO in your area.

Need an experienced organizer for your upcoming project? Contact Lisa today to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.

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