Maggie Panagakis, founder of Strategies for Organizing in Chicago, focuses on organizing home and small-business offices.
She came to the field from her previous career in executive-level administrative and support department management, where she had to juggle human resources, information technology, and accounting. Quite a balancing act! The work, however, enabled her to take advantage of a natural inclination toward organizing.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Maggie about her work with small businesses, meeting new clients, and the importance of professional organizers. Here are some of her responses.
A life in organizing: Talking with Maggie Panagakis
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: How did you come to professional organizing?
Maggie Panagakis: In 2011, I was listening to a webinar on managing personal documents and the speaker was a professional organizer. I learned that there are many avenues for professional organizers: unpacking and organizing after a relocation, downsizing, decluttering, working with the elderly, and photo organizing are just some of them…
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: So what’s the philosophy behind your business?
Maggie Panagakis: The focus of Strategies for Organizing is working with people who have small business offices or home offices to make these spaces more efficient. This includes furniture arrangement, filing systems, supply and storage placement, document storage, purging files, email management, commercial storage, and preparing for and managing an office relocation.
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: What is your strategy when you meet a client?
Maggie Panagakis: There are several points that are critical when working with a new client. First, during the initial interview, the key is to listen carefully to what the client is describing as the problem to solve. Careful, non-judgmental questioning provides the basis of the arrangement.
Some clients know exactly what needs to be done and just need some help to get started. Other clients are unclear about why they are so disorganized and are counting on a professional to help them out.
Secondly, arrival at the client’s location is the key opportunity to set the tone for the session. The client is about to invite a complete stranger to see and work on the one area that is the most troublesome — and often most embarrassing! It is important to reassure the client that I have done this before, this project is not the worst I have ever seen, and that we can get to the goal that we have set for ourselves.
Thirdly, as the project proceeds, it is important to periodically check in with the client to assess how he or she is feeling about it.
Lastly, I get an assessment from the client when the project is finished. Is the client happy with the results? The answer needs to be yes!
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: Why would a person seek out your services — or the services of any professional organizer?
Maggie Panagakis: People hire professional organizers for many reasons. The most frequent reason is that they need a kick-start to begin a project. It is easier to work through emotional attachments to objects with a professional, because we are neutral parties. We do not have any agenda beyond accomplishing the goals set by the client. We are safe.
Uncle Bob’s Self Storage: What would you consider your most important skill?
Maggie Panagakis: Being an active listener and really understanding what the client wants to have happen. I need to be flexible and make sure the solution matches the client’s personality and needs. When organizing office spaces, it is essential to understand how the client uses the space and why it isn’t working. It is also important to understand the client’s business and how they want to conduct it. With this understanding, it becomes clear what the solutions may be.
Ready to get organized? It’s time to check in with Uncle Bob’s Self Storage. We offer affordable self storage and commercial storage options in 25 states across the nation. Check now to see if there is Uncle Bob’s has self storage facilities in your city.