I was talking with another organizer in our state and she mentioned that there is an organizer in her area, offering services for less than half of her hourly rate. We, as organizers, do not talk to each other about what we charge. Although I was in a similar situation early in my career – I spoke with a possible client who wanted some additional services I didn’t provide. I shared the name of an organizer I knew of who would provide those services. When I made my follow-up call with this possible client, she shared that the other organizer was offering her services at about half of what I charge. This was disappointing as this was another NAPO organizer.
So, why do professional organizers charge what they do? It’s not about wanting to prove that they have expertise. It’s not that they want to become rich. It’s about the technical business side of things.
First and foremost, this rate is before taxes. Professional organizers, like other independent business people, have to pay their own taxes – and this means that they are earning a fraction of what you are paying them. This is true as long as they are functioning as a legitimate business. When you think about what their rate is, do you consider what your mechanic’s hourly rate is? Or your doctor’s? Or other professional people you deal with?
Second, when you are running an actual business you have other costs – like insurance and bonding. There are fees for being registered with the state and then the membership fees for organizations that educate and support the organizer. In all my years in business, I have only had one client ask if I was insured (that was a lawyer), although I’ve mentioned it to a few clients. Insurance and bonding protect both the organizer and the client from any unpleasant accidents. Unfortunately, I know that there are NAPO organizers who do not carry insurance or bonding for themselves and their clients. Maybe this is the reason they might charge significantly less.
Third, there are other expenses. Websites cost money, both to register and maintain – and in this day and time – a website is critical. Personally, I want to always expand my expertise and learn more – hence why I attend the national NAPO conference, read books, and listen to teleclasses and webinars. Since professional organizers travel to the client, their car needs gas and maintenance. These costs serve the client as well.
I had a client once who asked this question – and I shared these answers with her. Her response was that I should charge more since it is hard work. It’s not hard work to me, I love what I do, and the amazing people I get to meet and work with. I’ve even surprised myself by enjoying the business side of running an organizing business. What’s unfortunate is how not many people realize what goes into setting one’s price – whether you are a professional organizer or some other independent business.