I ask myself this question as I continue to learn, develop and tweak my processes and how I do things with my business. I could be completely wrong about this and I do think that most people start a Home Staging business because they think it’s fun or they want to do something that involves pretty things. Thankfully I come from the business world of Corporate America, so I’m used to completing mundane tasks that focus on the business aspect of my business. What I’ve seen so far is that at least 85% of what is done involves the business aspect and maybe 15% involves fun and pretty things.
One of my mentors is at a point where she and her team have staged so many homes, they couldn’t care less about shopping for furniture and accessories. They’re at a point where Home Staging is a job and shopping for furniture and décor isn’t very exciting. I’m not at that point yet and that’s why I’m focused on cherishing the early years, to the point where I write these blogs because what I’ve experienced (and continue to experience) is what Home Stagers don’t talk about. Yes, you’ll see the pretty pictures on social media and probably compare where you are in your business to those pictures.
The truth is, those pretty pictures don’t tell you: 1) How much financial debt that person has put their family through in order to stage that home, 2) How their extremely reasonable prices have resulted in them having clients who constantly nickel-and-dime them, 3) How they ruined their credit overspending what they couldn’t afford for their business 4) The relationships they’ve ruined because they don’t have the personal or professional development to be able to effectively handle business situations, 5) How their health, wellness and family are being impacted because of the stress they’ve put themselves through trying to manage a business, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, staging a home can be physically demanding, even if you're hanging pictures, placing throw pillows and decor pieces. Everything that glitters ain’t gold!
My honest opinion is to be ready to deal with WHATEVER you have to deal with in order to have a business and move forward with your business. For example, I know a Home Stager who just relocated to another city, therefore she’s looking to build up her business in the new location. One day she inquired on Facebook about the most effective way to connect with realtors. She’s reached out to realtors and they haven’t been proactive in returning her calls. She’s dealing with a reality that many of us deal with. You have to be able to take action, even when you see ZERO RESULTS! It can take up to 15 “touches” in order for someone to feel comfortable enough to hire you. The reason is because these people are going to pay you at least $1k to stage their home and they’re paying this money to a total stranger.
Another Home Stager posted on social media the other day about being so busy that she’s “running around like a chicken with her head cut off”. This is someone who doesn’t understand the law of supply and demand. Do not start a business without knowing things like this. With life in general, especially in business, people find themselves stressing over and suffering over things they have no knowledge about. It’s the equivalent of trying to lose 20 lbs, yet you’re eating German Chocolate Cake every other day. You’re setting yourself for failure if you do that.
A word about discounts. Ninety-five percent of the people you meet will inquire about a discount, so get ready for it. You will meet people who will attempt to use what they think is their relationship with you to ask about a discount. I think most of them mean well and they lack knowledge about home staging and its pricing. When it comes to money, people will do and say anything. A couple of ways to deal with this is: While being gracious and kind, say 1) My price is firm due to the fact I have to pay for increasing storage costs, furniture and movers, or you can 2) Give them 3 options when providing a bid: A basic, standard and luxury package, each with its own cost and know that your basic and standard packages will be cheaper than the luxury package. When/if they inquire about a discount, say “Sure, which one of the rooms listed in the package do you want me to remove?” That way, you’re communicating to them that you’re not giving anything away for free. They will definitely ask you and will have no shame about it.
Last and certainly not least, be willing to address and own your personal and professional development opportunities. Yes, there will be trials and potential breakdowns in your business and for the most part, the root cause of it stems from your own opportunities. For example, there are home stagers who give discounts because they have issues saying “no” or they aren’t great at setting boundaries with people. I’ve also seen a home stager hire someone to be on her team, only to have that person ditch/steal money from their clients. These aren’t business issues and they’re opportunities that point to that person’s lack of personal and professional development when growing their team.
Be willing to look at your blind spots and be willing to be responsible for them because it can cost you your reputation in the long run. Hopefully this dose of wisdom helps you figure out if home staging is the right career for you.