April 2015 Meeting Summary

April 15th, 2015

The April 2015 NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Fairfax, VA.  There were 26 members and 4 guests in attendance. 

The meeting started with active networking.  Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by 1 to 1 Discovery – Juli Monroe and B-Thrifty – Alonso Zamora.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

Linda Pray introduced our guests. 

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:




Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Errol and Betsy Unikel

Rainmaker Video

Dr. Dale Keeton/Alonso Zamora


Linden Coyne

Junk in the Trunk

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery


Educational Program

This session was videotaped and will be available on the NAPO-WDC member’s only website approximately 1 week after the meeting and remain available for 30 days.

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program:  

Google Your Small Business – Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting

1.   Why use Google for your business? Google allows your business platform to be on one server – computer, phone, apps, and backup. One or two (laptop/phone) devices that are connected to Google allow the business to run without being tethered to a location.  

Google Apps for work includes Mail, Calendar, Docs, Hangouts, Sites, and Vault using Google as the infrastructure. Allows multiple users for accounts for associates and Google Take Down allows removal of info when associate is no longer with the business.

Google Vault allows secure storage of information with access rights, time frames and limits.  Controlled access can be granted to other users as needed.

2.  How not to use Google – don’t use to become Google stupid (don’t Google everything). Use it for business support:

  • Marketing – majority of Americans are connected to the internet – Be found; Be heard; Be connected.
  • Google My Business – get your business on the web www.google.com/mybusiness 
    • Photos, videos, information posted for free.
  • You Tube allows you to put a face with your brand/business.
  • Google+ Hangouts – live product demos that then pass along to YouTube.
  • Host paid classes, workshops and tutorials with Hang Outs and Webinars on Air or other webinar formats.  
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Project, time, document & task management through Calendar, Tasks and Gannter
  • Google Docs
  • Google Slides
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Forms
  • Google Draw

Chapter Business Meeting

MARCPO update – Suzette Smith

MARCPO will take place on Saturday October  24, 2015

A call for speakers is being sent out – please submit any names you have and forward to those you know who might be interested in speaking.

Lisa Montanaro will be holding a Kick Business Boot Camp on June 5, 2015 with NAPO-WDC. A Constant Contact will be sent out in the next few days with more information.  


April 15-18 – NAPO 2015 – Los Angeles, CA

April 9 – Virginia Book Club Meeting

April 27 – Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

May 4 – NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Bethesda, MD

May 14 – Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

May 19 – Maryland Book Club Meeting

May 21 – Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

The next chapter meeting will be held on May 4, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

Four Organizers Dish on Professional Boundaries

March 31st, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

This blog was first published last year, but it has relevance today. Enjoy!

As Professional Organizers, we each have to define the amount of personal information we share with our clients.

Each situation is different. Some of us are extroverts and some are introverts, and the same goes for the people we work with. While there are no hard and fast rules, most of us agree we each need to create personal boundaries – boundaries that keep us within the NAPO Code of Ethics as well as within our comfort zones. But how? 

I recently asked four organizers for their insights on sharing personal information. While some of their viewpoints differed in small ways, I’d like to share the main points we agreed on. Thank you Tiffany Mensing, Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, Janet Schiesl and Susan Unger for your input!

First, we all agreed that many new clients want to know how we got started in the professional organizing business. It’s a logical question we’re all willing to answer. Often clients ask about our families, and we’re all willing to share basic information such as the city we live in, number of children, marital status and our age.

We view our answers as information that helps establish a personal connection. After all, we’re in the client’s personal space – going through financial information and/or personal belongings. They’re in a vulnerable position, and part of our job is to help them feel comfortable with us and the services we offer.

When working with long-term clients, we all tend to share more information about our lives – but we keep the conversation client-focused. For instance, we’ll share a personal story that relates to a specific task we’re working on together. Our clients like to know that our homes aren’t always perfect, and that we have organizing struggles too. That said, we all agreed the focus needs to remain on ways the client can use our information to make progress on his or her project.

Like you, we’ve all been asked inappropriate questions. One client asked how much money an organizer had in the bank! Another asked how much an organizer paid her employees. I have a client who consistently asks me for advice on the stock market. We all agreed these questions need to be redirected in a friendly, professional manner.

Finally, I asked each organizer if she spends social time with her clients. The unanimous answer? No. In a few instances, organizers took a client out to dinner or coffee after the completion of a difficult job, but kept those meetings on a professional level. Each organizer felt it important to keep the boundaries of client relationships business-centric to protect both the client and the organizer.

How do these viewpoints compare with yours? Are you more relaxed about sharing personal information? Less relaxed? No matter what our individual style, it’s important to identify our boundaries and respect them. This frees us up to focus on our clients’ needs while building a comfortable, professional relationship.

A Team Approach To Selling A Home

March 24th, 2015

A Team Approach to Selling a Home
Getting Referred Business from Stagers and REALTORS®

The ReadyStageMove™ team, — Jean Marie Herron, Professional Organizer, Maria Rini, REALTOR® and Bernadette Flaim, Accredited Home Stager, were guest speakers at the recent NAPO-WDC chapter meeting.

Whether you are new to organizing or would like to take your business to the next level, this workshop covers what it takes to work with real estate agents and stagers. It also explains how to formulate strategic partnerships and the basics of working by referral.

Below are some of the tips and recommendations they shared to help you find the “perfect” strategic partners.

How do I find a REALTOR®?

When searching for a real estate agent to join your partnership, we encourage you to interview and vet those agents who are open or understand the concept of a team approach to selling a home. Some ways to identify potential REALTOR® partners include:

  • Do I know someone who recently sold a home who can recommend their REALTOR®?
  • Go on the Internet and see who is selling houses in your geographical area.
  • Visit open houses.
  • Network, network, network.

Offer to do a presentation at a local real estate office or at a local Board of REALTORS®. Stay in touch with your database by asking for their referral to a REALTOR®. Do you see how networking might help your business in more ways than one?

How do I find a stager?

Teaming up with a stager will offer your clients the expertise necessary to properly package and present the home after the organizing is complete. Here are some ways to find a stager that is the perfect fit for your triad:

  • Research association websites like the Real Estate Staging Association or any of the staging designation websites
  • Call your local real estate offices and ask for a stager referral
  • Look at real estate listings online and contact the listing agent of a “staged” home
  • Use Google

How do you take it to the next level?  

Once you have identified your strategic partners, here are some things you can do to take your “team approach” to the next level.

  • Collaborate on projects together (before/after book; resource list; co-sponsor an event, etc.)
  • Cross-endorsement for each other
  • Start a mastermind
  • Pay it Forward – do nice things for your resource and referral relationships

Key Ingredients To Develop Strategic Partnerships

In order to develop effective strategic partnerships, you will need to “decide to decide.” Make a decision to be part of a team and then to be a good team partner. Some key ingredients that work best are:

  • Develop an effective strategy to work by referral (high-quality leads with less effort)
  • Build, sort and qualify your database (sphere of influence, friends/family, social circles, business relationships, online networks)
  • Decide to be “relational” (trust, value, top-of-mind)
  • Surround yourself with a team of productive people

The ReadyStageMove™ team brings 40 years of experience to the real estate, organizing and staging industries. They have mastered a systematic way to de-stress clients who want to sell their homes with the most profit and a quick turnaround time. The efficient methods employed in selling, organizing and staging is a packaged product the three of them have learned as a skill set and utilize in each and every sale they work together on.

Maria Rini is a Broker-Associate with RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd. in Oradell, New Jersey. She has been helping people sell homes since 1994 and works with her husband and partner, Richard Gneiding. She specializes in residential properties and has been collaborating with home stagers and professional organizers since 2005. Maria is a Graduate Realtor Institute, Certified Residential Specialist, Member of the New Jersey Association of Realtors Distinguished Sales Club and the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.

Jean Marie Herron is a professional organizer and the owner of POSSE Partners, LLC. Since 2005 POSSE has been specializing in residential organizing with private clients. Additionally, she publicly and privately presents “Clutter Corrals™”, workshops and classes on many domestic organizing topics. She is a Golden Circle Member of NAPO and the Director of Professional Development and Programming for NAPO-Northern New Jersey.

Bernadette Flaim is founder and Principal Designer of The Flaim Group LLC. She has  been in the home staging and interior redesign industry since 2004 and is an accredited and certified home staging professional and RESA-PRO, specializing in vacant properties and luxury homes. She also provides interior redesign services to her clients, including one-day room makeovers and color consultations. Bernadette is President of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) – NJ Chapter.


Election Results for NAPO-WDC’s 2015–2016 Board of Directors

March 18th, 2015

Congratulations go out to the new NAPO-WDC Board of Directors.

  • President – Vanessa Seifert, Squared Away Living, LLC 
  • Vice President – Mary Malmberg, Mary Pops in Organizing, LLC
  • Secretary – Janet Bloom, The Wise Organizer
  • Treasurer – Christine Fopma, Clutter to Clarity
  • Director of Administration – Cara Bretl, Re:Solutions by Cara, LLC
  • Director of Communication and Technology – Cecilia Anderson, Splendidly Organized
  • Director of Membership – Linda Pray, Organization Rehab
  • Director of Marketing – Suzette Smith, White Space 
  • Director of Corporate Partners – Lori Krause, Building Bridges Partners

The incoming board will take office on May 15th, 2015, but are already training for their new positions and planning future chapter meetings and events. Please volunteer your time and talents to a board member, join a committee and learn more about chapter leadership.

March 2015 Meeting Summary

March 9th, 2015

The March 2, 2015 NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Bethesda, MD. There were 29 members and 6 guests in attendance. There are now 102 chapter members.

The meeting started with active networking…. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Book Bliss Online – Sharon Bliss

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

Linda Pray introduced our guests.

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Errol Unikel

Rainmaker Video

Dr. Dale Keeton


Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Guests: Ben Knowlton, Olympia Moving

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program:

A “Team Approach” to Selling a Home: Getting Referral Business from Real Estate Agents and Stagers by ReadyStageMove – Jean Marie Herron (organizer), Maria Rini (realtor), Bernadette Flaim (staging/design).

  • How do you find a Realtor?
    • Know one already?
    • Walk in to a local office?
    • Go to the Internet?
    • Visit open houses?
    • Network, network, network?

IMPORTANT: offer to do a presentation at a local real estate office or local Board of Realtors. Stay in touch with your database by asking for their referral to a Realtor. Networking will help your business more than you think!

  • How do you find a Stager?
    • Already know one?
    • Know a designer (who may also be a stager or know a stager)?
    • Walk into a real estate office and ask if they know a stager?
    • Research association website
    • Look at real estate listings online and contact the real estate agent of a staged home
    • Use Google or other search engines
  • How do you take it to the next level?
    • Collaborate
    • Co-sponsor
    • Guest writer or blogger
    • Cross endorse for each other
    • Start a mastermind group
    • Pay it forward – do nice things for your resource and referral relationships
  • Key ingredients to develop strategic partnerships
    • Develop an effective strategy to work by referral (high quality leads with less effort)
    • Build, sort and qualify your database (sphere of influence, friends/family, social circles, etc. to build your level of expertise/viewed as the ‘home expert’, serve as an information hub)
    • You become ‘greater than the sum of your parts’
    • Decide to be “Relational” (trust, value, top-of-mind)
    •  Surround yourself with a team of productive people
  • It’s all about education
    • Never assume they know what organizers do
    • Provide proof of your work (before and after photos; stats)
    • Become a student yourself – learn about strategic partners/partnerships
    • Keep in touch with your partners; referrals and clients

 SYSTEM Saving You Space Time Energy and Money

TEAM Together Everyone Achieves More

Chapter Business Meeting

Website improvement – SEO updates for NAPO-WDC website has gone live. Twenty pages of content were updated.

MARCPO will take place on October 24, 2015 in Bethesda. Volunteers are needed – contact Suzette Smith



MARCH 17 Maryland Book Club Meeting

MARCH 19 Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting – Meeting at More Space Place in Chantilly

MARCH 23 Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 11 Arlington/Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

APRIL 6 NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Fairfax, VA

APRIL 9 Virginia Book Club Meeting

APRIL 15-18 NAPO 2015 – Los Angeles, CA


Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner was Peggy Goetz (guest)


The next meeting will be April 6, 2015 in Fairfax, VA.

Using Video for Protecting Your Assets to Preserving Family Memories – a Company Reinvents Itself

March 6th, 2015

Creating video inventories of your home and business possessions provides important protection for your own or your clients assets in the event of major disasters like fire, storms or theft.  Without proof, insurance companies do not replace or pay for all that may be lost and police do not return stolen goods without proof of ownership.  Maintaining video inventories and digitized supporting documentation solves those problems.

Our company, Home Contents Videos was doing that for several years and has now reinvented itself as Rainmaker Video.  We still do the video inventories, but have now discovered a number of other video needs that clients have.

It is amazing how many people think about their parents and grandparents and do not know as much as they would like to about their family history and heritage.  The strongest intention of people is to connect past generations with present and future generations.  There always seem to be laughter and tears in equal proportion.

Besides video for entertainment, another interesting area that has become quite a rage in our lifetimes is video marketing.  We have been watching television all our lives and with the advent of YouTube, personal computers, tablets, smart phones and the like, we are inundated with possibilities to watch videos.  There are over one billion YouTube users.  One statistic says there are over 5 billion YouTube views per day.  And that is only YouTube.  Entrepreneurs and small companies have realized that video needs to be an element in their marketing programs and they strive to connect more personally and effectively with potential customers.  These are not just advertising videos, but they also include valuable content and other information useful to the viewers.

Check out below to see how one company has decided to evolve and reinvent themselves in this most exciting arena.

We are proud to announce the launch of Rainmaker Video, formerly Home Contents Videos LLC. 

We create videos that matter in three key areas:

 1) Life Stories on Video preserve family history and memories.

2) Marketing Videos help you attract new customers.

3) Video Inventories help protect your assets.

Watch our launch video, visit our Rainmaker website, check out our work on YouTube or contact us to find out how we can make videos that matter for you.

Who’s In Your Network?

February 23rd, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Networking. For some of us, the word conjures images of slick haired sales people pressing business cards into our sweaty palm. It’s about going to Events. Listening to elevator speeches. Making yourself stand out. Stale cheese plates. Ugh.

The truth is that networking is something that happens every day if we choose to take advantage of a more natural, relationship based point of view. Think about these four categories of people with whom you can establish relationships. 

Clients are a natural part of our network. They have paid us well for performing a service, and it’s smart to keep in touch. They may need services down the road, or be able to refer to you people they know. We’ve heard it a thousand times – it’s easier to provide services to existing clients than it is to find a new ones.

Peers and colleagues are another good source of networking partners. Attending NAPO-WDC chapter meetings and neighborhood groups allow us to develop deep professional relationships that grow over time. Colleagues are also good referral sources – many of us consistently use each other for overflow projects or subcontracting.

Mentors and more experienced organizers are a valuable resource for all of us. Whether you’re a newbie or have been in business for years, we all learn from one another. Let’s use our collective experience to help each other be more successful.

Traditional networking groups are also valuable places to gain trusted, like-minded business referrals. Find a group that is a good fit for you, and work at establishing relationships that grow both your business and the businesses of others. People generally love to help someone who is willing to extend themselves for the benefit of another.

Real networking is about cultivating relationships that have mutual value. Find the people in your life who make that happen, and focus on helping each other.

The Secret Weapon to the Success of Your Business: Bookkeeping

February 18th, 2015

Starting and managing a successful business is challenge, I’m sure you would agree. If I were to ask you, what are the key roles crucial to growing your business, you would probably answer:

  • Sales and Marketing, because without that the business won’t make any money.
  • Client Services, because you have to perform the service for the client . . . or the business won’t make any money.
  • Staff Management, because you have to manage the team doing the work to make sure it’s done correct or else you won’t have happy clients . . . and the business won’t make any money.
  • And last and always viewed as least, Bookkeeping

Why is bookkeeping always last? Business owners often put off their bookkeeping because:

  • They are too busy
  • It’s intimidating to them
  • They feel they are not a numbers person
  • They have more important things to do

But what most owners don’t realize is that the most important key to having a successful business is their accounting system and its procedures. Why? Because if you don’t having a good accounting system and procedures in place to manage your funds and track what’s coming in and what’s going out, your business will not grow.

Although it’s often thought of as the least important of the key roles, since it does not directly generate any revenue, bookkeeping is actually a secret weapon that can be used to establish, sustain and grow your business – taking it to the next level.

Maintaining accurate financial records through bookkeeping can help you to gain insight into your business. Bookkeeping is an excellent business management tool because it can:

  • Provide useful financial information
  • Help you run your business proactively
  • Enable you to make important business decisions

Taking a few minutes each month to review your financial reports can help you to be proactive in your business rather than reactive. There are many reports you can run. Among them should definitely be a Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, Item Profitability, and Sales by Customer Summary reports. When reviewing these reports ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much did I make this month? How much did I spend this month?
  • What can I do differently next month to increase my bottom line?
  • Who are my best customers, and what type of businesses are they?
  • What services seem to make me the most money?

Once you are able to answer those questions from your reports, you now have a roadmap as to how you can do things differently moving forward. Just by doing this each and every month, you could change the course of your business, taking it to the next level!

Connie Whittingham is President and CEO of Y-OPA Consulting Group, a firm which focuses on providing bookkeeping, QuickBooks coaching and consulting services. Connie has been working with QuickBooks since 1996 and has been a Bookkeeper for nearly 20 years. She currently holds a certification in QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise and Online editions. Connie is currently a member of the AIPB (American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers) and the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Connie strongly believes that bookkeeping plays a key role in having a successful and profitable business. She enjoys working with business owners to help them to make bookkeeping a priority in their business, because she knows that it can have a positive and long-lasting impact on their business. It is her passion. In her efforts to make sure that every business owner learns how to avoid costly mistakes that hurt their business, Connie created a FREE CD entitled, “11 Critical QuickBooks Mistakes, and How to Do it the Right Way.”

February 2015 Meeting Summary

February 9th, 2015

The February NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Fairfax, VA. There were 29 members and 3 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by RainMaker Video – Errol Unikel and ShelfGenie – Joe Johnson

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

Linda Pray introduced our guests. We now have 99 members!

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Errol Unikel

Rainmaker Video

Joe Johnson

Shelf Genie

Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Andy Reiman

Modern Image

Guest: Barbara Unikel, Rainmaker Video

Guest: Zibby Koppelman, Paradigm Experts

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partner speaker, Andy Reiman from Modern Image. He described his company’s services to its clients.

  • Meet onsite with client/review/send free estimate
  • Scan documents to PDF; photos to JPG
  • Multiple scanners for multiple purposes – picked up from the client and taken to the Tysons office
  • Time line varies by case
  • Client does not need to remove clips or staples
  • Each page/photo is hand checked for clarity
  • Delivery – uploaded (no taxes) with link provided to client; CD/DVD/Thumb drive (sales tax applicable)
  • Items returned to client or shredded onsite
  • $50 minimum order           

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Connie Whittingham – Bookkeeping: A Business Owner’s Secret Weapon to Success.  Connie is the CEO/Owner of YOPA (Your Own Personal Advisor). Connie described how bookkeeping can be an excellent business management tool by providing useful financial information, and enabling you to make important business decisions proactively.  A full description of her presentation will be available on an upcoming blog post on this site.  She offered a free CD for NAPO WDC members only – “11 Mistakes Business Owners Make” – go to www.y-opa.com to sign up for your copy.

Chapter Business Meeting

Penny Catterall, Director of Communications and Technology, announced that an updated version of the NAPO-WDC website will be going live within the next couple of weeks. It will be SEO optimized for better visibility, increase website traffic and members.

Suzette Smith announced that this year’s Mid Atlantic Regional Conference for Professional Organizers (MARCPO) is set for October 24, 2015 in Bethesda. Registration will open in July with early bird rates of $199.

Janet Schiesl, Immediate Past President, announced that nominations for Board of Directors is now open. Janet urged members to consider to volunteering for a board position. All 10 positions are up for vote. Nominations are still open for Programs and Marketing, as well as a new position of Director of Administration. Meet the candidates at March 2 meeting. 


FEB. 12 – Virginia Book Club Meeting

FEB. 19  – Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

FEB. 23 – Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 2 – NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Bethesda, MD

MARCH 11 – Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

MARCH 17 – Maryland Book Club Meeting

APRIL 15-18 – NAPO 2015 – Los Angeles, CA

Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner from Shelf Genie was Jackie Kelly.

The next meeting will be on March 2, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

What To Do When Business is Slow

January 27th, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

The dreaded lull in business. Depending on our client base and business specialties, some of us can predict slow times of the year. For others, it seems like there’s no telling why some weeks and months are busier than others. The important thing to remember is that it happens to all of us, and we can choose to use the down time to our advantage. Here are some tips:

Touch base with past clients by sending a card or email. You may trigger their desire to start a new organizing project. Even if they don’t have work now, staying in touch will keep you in mind for the future.

Renew connections. When business is slow, it’s easy to panic and go on a networking whirlwind. Cultivating relationships is important, but make sure it’s focused. Set up meetings with your best referral partners. See if there’s anything you can do for them, and ask for help in return.

Reach out to your trusted colleagues. There is no shame in going through a slow period, and yet we have a hard time admitting it to others. Develop a small group of organizer “buddies” with whom you can share your business ups and downs. One of them may be able to use you for subcontracting work, or refer you to a client with whom they would rather not work.

Work on your marketing materials. Make sure your website and Facebook pages are up to date and speak to your target market. There may be other marketing avenues you’ve been exploring, but haven’t gotten to. Now’s the time to take action.

Do some pro-bono work. There are always people in our lives who could use some extra organizing help. Use the lull in your business to help someone out. It’s good karma.

Expand your knowledge base. Take a class, attend a conference, read a book. There is always something new to learn. You never know where your next big idea will come from!

Stay positive. When we learn to expect lulls in business, they don’t seem so disastrous. Use the down time to focus on filling your client pipeline, keep in touch with your clients, and do the all-important business planning that can get overlooked when you’re busy.