January marks the beginning of a new year and for both my partner Alana and myself, it also marks the start of our ninth year in business. This is no measly accomplishment. With all the hype that the field of home staging gets, its one of the hottest careers and has housewives and people with ‘decorating flair’ dreaming of dollar signs. Since we started our business, we have seen the number of home staging companies in our area grow exponentially and every year about this time Rooms in Bloom is inundated with resumes, emails about advice on becoming a home stager and inquiries about job openings. It’s a little overwhelming and it always makes us wonder if these aspiring stagers know what it takes to succeed in the business.
So how do you become a home stager? We touched on this topic in our post on our Top 10 tips for becoming a home stager so if you want a refresh, we recommend reading that post to get an idea of what it takes to make it in this biz. In this post we are going to discuss some of the do’s and don’ts so you can learn from our experience and create a plan that works for you and your business.
DO take a staging training course. The staging industry continues to grow and evolve and it’s less about de-cluttering and more than ever about creating aspirational spaces for buyers to fall in love with. Investing in training tells potential clients that you take yourself and your business seriously and keep up with current trends.
DON’T give away your expertise for FREE. From free consults to free vacant quotes, we see stagers every day who make this critical mistake. Remember that anything given away for free has no VALUE so your clients won’t take you seriously. Additionally, and more importantly, you are running a business – not a charity – and the knowledge & expertise you offer clients can help them improve the marketability of their homes so that they sell quickly and for market value or above. This kind of expertise is WORTH being paid for! If you don’t get paid then ultimately, you won’t be running much of a business.
DO take every opportunity to expand your own portfolio. Our business is essentially 100% visual so it’s important to be able to showcase your own work and thereby convey your expertise & skill. Keep your portfolio fresh and ensure it’s visible on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube … and many more. This is how potential clients will find you – and decide if you are someone they want to call.
DON’T use stock photos or pictures of other stager’s work. It doesn’t matter the situation – it’s misleading at best and completely unethical. When potential clients make decisions about whether or not they are going to hire you based on your portfolio, if it isn’t reflective of your work, it’s going to get you in trouble.
DO invest in branding of your business that includes a logo and custom business materials to make you distinctive. With so many stagers out there, this is a key way to set yourself apart and look professional.
DO invest in staging contracts drawn up by a lawyer and have them updated every year. Limiting your liability on the job and letting your clients know how you work makes you look more professional and can be the difference between a major disaster and a minor hiccup.
DO invest in getting professional photos taken of your staged homes. This exponentially helps improve your portfolio and helps you get more business. Either hire a professional photographer or buy a good camera and learn how to use it!
DON’T overpromise and under-deliver to clients. Know your strengths and play to them. If there is a specific niche you want to get into, learn about it first – don’t just assume for example that staging condos is like staging luxury homes. It’s not – it’s a whole other level of staging. Be sure you have the expertise & resources to pull it altogether for your clients before you make any promises. Remember – their home is their single biggest asset so you want to be mindful of that. If you can’t take on a project, refer it to a colleague who can take it on.
DO join RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) and go to local Chapter meetings. It’s a great way to network with other stagers in your area – or beyond – and learn more about how to make your business successful. Not only does RESA offer great support and educational opportunities to stagers, it has the only industry awards that are coveted by it’s members!
DO find other professionals that can help you be successful. From an accountant who can do your books to painting teams that you can refer to clients, you need resources. In order to be successful you need people and trades you can rely to help you be the best stager you can.
DO get insurance – you never know what could happen on a job but insurance is essential if you are working in other people’s homes. It’s also incredibly important if you want to have your own inventory. Life is unpredictable so protect yourself and your business.
DO have a professional website and DON’T do it yourself (unless you are skilled at designing websites). Make sure its mobile friendly and that it has lots of examples of your work. Keep text simple and to a minimum as people prefer pictures over words.
DON’T be afraid to dream big. The staging industry is still in its infancy and the people who are successful have both a dream and a vision for their business that goes beyond the day to day staging of homes. Grow slowiy, keep educating yourself and be open to opportunities. You just never know what that next phone call can bring.
DO decide if you want to carry an inventory or not. The trend right now is to own warehouses full of furnishings that you can rent out but this isn’t everyone’s business model. If you decide to invest – as we did – grow slowly and use other furniture rental services to supplement until you are financially ready to make the leap to owning everything yourself.
Have more tips? Share them with us!
Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. is an award winning home staging provider in the Waterloo Region. We specialize in staging vacant properties and builder model homes and are the premier home staging company in the Tri-Cities area. To view our portfolio, visit our website and learn more about the services we offer. To contact us directly, call us at (519) 804-STAGE.