Interview with Professional Organizer Terri Closs
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The spotlight today is on Terri Closs of As You Wish Organizing, LLC. She provides residential organizing for boomers and seniors in Macomb, Oakland, and St. Clair Counties in Southeast Michigan, and is a member of NAPO, NAPO Michigan Chapter, and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
Terri, how did you come up with your business name?
I wanted a name that spoke to my target audience – seniors. I didn’t want them to feel I’d come into their home and tell them what to do, what to throw out. To be honest, they typically get enough of that from their family. So I chose “As You Wish…” as a way to quietly let them know that they’d be making the decisions in this relationship and that they’d be the ones who remain in control. It’s worked perfectly so far.
Has your business changed since you first started out?
I’d have to say no. I was lucky because I worked with Seniors for 14+ years prior establishing my business. With that depth of experience, I gave a great deal of thought to their specific needs and set up my business accordingly. Having said all that though, after four years in business there are parts of my work I enjoy more than others. As an example, I enjoy decluttering and reorganizing a home but enjoy less packing and unpacking for a move. At some point down the road I may drop the latter of these services. This is something I had to live with for a while before I learned that insight about myself.
At what moment did you consider yourself successful?
For me “successful” came when I was working 15-20 hours a week and I was booked 2-3 weeks in advance.
What would you do differently if you were starting your business today?
In the beginning I built myself a nice but not spectacular website (template based). It didn’t have the look or feel that represented me or my business. After two years, I dropped that site and had a professional build me a new one. That combined with a webmaster who sees to it that I’m optimized properly and that I show up on the first search page has made all the difference in the world business wise. I wish I had done that from the beginning.
How do you approach a new organizing project?
For me, it’s all about relationships. My in-home assessment can last as much as 3 hours in length. I do the typical question asking and looking at what they want organized but I then spend the rest of the time allowing them to get to know me (building trust) and for me to get to know them. It is rare when I don’t have a client sign up.
What other services or products do you offer?
Currently nothing, but I’m working on a Vital Records product for do-it-yourselfers.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about running an organizing business?
Because I worked with Seniors in the past, I knew I would be made a confidant right from the get-go. What surprised me was that trust and familiarity extended itself to their underwear drawers and other private areas. I never saw myself folding their underpants and girdles.
What is the biggest challenge you currently face in your business?
Motivation once I get home. I have to tend to the business when I’m not working within the business. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re all alone.
Tough call! I’m very fond of the Planner Pad. I’m a low-tech girl and immediately saw the beauty and simplicity in the product. My clients, for whatever reason, were struggling to keep order in their life. Introducing the Planner Pad and having all their appointments, to-do lists and errand lists in one place really simplified their life.
If they are also inundated with paperwork, notes, invitations, bills, etc., I will introduce them to a tickler file. I marry the two together so they see how one compliments the other to make their life simpler.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to travel but don’t do it often. I like peace and quiet. I enjoy music – listening to it, attending concerts, singing. I’m learning to play banjo and the ukulele. And I really like being at home (back to the peace and quiet thing!)
Thanks for sharing, Terri!
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