Fordham University Research Study
Recently, students at Fordham University conducted a study to identify the perceived value of hiring a Professional Organizer. This study identified reasons for hiring a Professional Organizer, the functional results of having hired a Professional Organizer and the perceived value of having done so. A notable result of the survey was the perceived value of a reduction of stress. In conjunction with the June theme of “stress management” this latest research supports the positive effects of hiring a professional organizer or productivity consultant.
THE VALUE OF A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER? Priceless.
Courtesy of Judith Kohlberg, FileHeads Professional Organizers, Member of NAPO Information & Research Committee
So, you’re working in your client’s home. You are doing all that magic you do to make space for possessions where before there had been none, identifying excess for donation or give-away, and enabling your client to access what they want when they want it. But when your client hands over the payment, do you know what they value the most? According to a survey entitled “Customer Value Perception of Professional Organizers”* conducted by researchers at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, nearly half of the respondents reported that hiring a professional organizer is associated with spending more quality time with their family and friends. What clients feel they are paying for, most of all, is a social value of getting organized. Getting organized is also highly correlated (49%) with reducing stress. Although the price of paying a professional organizer is not reported as “economical,” the perception is that it’s really worth it for its “social” value.
Another primary finding of the survey is that our clients want to be heard. Of the clients surveyed, 65% of respondents report that the “empathetic nature” of a Professional Organizer builds trust. They value the conversations we have with them and the time we take to hear their stories. Our experience and our confidence in ourselves is also perceived (over 90%) as a trust-builder. Building trust makes it possible for our clients to accomplish what the researchers identify as one of the foremost psychological values of getting organized: overcoming the emotional attachment to stuff. Fifty-eight percent of respondents cite this as a specific value of hiring us. But an even more prominent (66%) psychological value is that following the instructions of a professional organizer is easier and less stressful for our clients than making an organizing plan on their own.
From a functional point of view, 55% of respondents experienced greatly increased confidence when organizers shared organizing processes such as sorting, labeling and storing. These benefits are notable, but the most valued outcome for our clients is the capacity to find what they are looking for quickly. A full 74% felt increasingly more confident or greatly confident that hiring a professional organizer would help them in this area. Boom.
Now let’s talk bottom line: Ours and our clients. Our clients do not perceive hiring a professional organizer to have a strong financial value as measured by typical residential organizing indicators like paying bills on time, buying fewer new items, or avoiding duplicate purchases. Because neither productivity consultants’ clients nor business clients were the focus of the survey, the perception of the financial value of organizing definitely deserves more research.
However, what about our bottom line; what can we do to increase business with the knowledge we now have? Most importantly, we can be the kind of organizers who know how to communicate well with clients, to show empathy and to listen to their needs. NAPO and many coaching organizations offer classes that can “up your communication game.” Our research partners at Fordham University recommend that professional organizers also sharpen their sales pitch to clearly define the social and psychological benefits of getting organizing and not just the functional value. And lastly, it wouldn’t hurt if we implement innovative pricing schemes to make our services more economical, if we are not already doing so. Concepts such as sliding scales, pricing packages, or special discounts are examples that are economical but do not undercut our value-rich rates.
There is much fertile ground for ongoing research. One fact that leaps out from the survey is that both we organizers and our clients are overwhelmingly female-identified. Would the results of the survey be different if the sample included more male respondents? We simply do not know…yet. But we do know that the market for bringing men into the profession and into our client base is wide open. The motivation of millennials (26-35 year olds) for hiring professional organizers is least well-known. Over 80% of respondents were over 46 years old. Perhaps millennials are too young to need us…yet. But we should get ready. They’ll be here. Let’s be sure we’re reaching out to younger people to join NAPO. We may find that their cohort clientele will have totally different perceptions of the value of professional organizing and productivity consulting.
* NAPO professional organizers and productivity consultants volunteered the names of clients to participate in the survey. The researchers contacted the clients by email. Assuring anonymity, 96 clients actually completed the survey. Background research was also gathered from industry-related blogs, articles, white papers, personal interviews with professional organizers, and websites.
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