Have you seen this happen in your city?
Someone sees those HGTV shows on home staging & design and "knows" they'd be great at staging homes for sale! Excited and full of optimism, they eagerly take a course on home staging (where they may be told that making money is easy and that very little investment is required). They figure out a name for their business, obtain liability & inventory insurance, start buying inventory (sometimes just accessories at first until they get a feel for what they might need) and figure out storage options.
Next they order business cards, have an attorney review their home staging contract, register with their city & county, and start thinking about how they'll market their home staging business. There are so many small details to take care of!
Soon they'll need to set up a website, learn about search engine optimization so that consumers can find them online, and join one of the professional home staging organizations to network with their home staging colleagues, working to educate the local market about the benefits of home staging. It seems like an uphill battle at times since many people - both Realtors and Homeowners -- don't yet fully realize the value that home staging has in reducing market time & bringing better offers.
Things seem to be going well! The first year is a learning experience ... but once they get their first paid job they find that it leads to another .... and to the next one. Soon, local Realtors recognize their company name & logo and more phone calls come in for home staging proposals for vacant properties and/or occupied homes.
They're hoping that all of their hard work will pay off before long!
Now they're wondering ... should they hire some help? Moving furniture from storage facilities in & out of a home isn't that much fun -- it's hard physical work! Should they hire general labor -- and where can you find someone reliable? Also they soon find that staging all day and often past dinner time isn't much fun either. So they need to consider hiring someone with design sense to help with the staging. But is there enough profit in the business yet to hire anyone? Better look into whether hiring employees or independent contractors is better for your particular situation. Time to consult with that attorney again -- and also a good CPA to advise on the nuances of accounting for a home staging business.
Sometimes home stagers grow their business too quickly and don't plan for the long term; they may buy a lot of furniture "just in case" more model home jobs come along ... then they'll need a larger warehouse space for when that inventory is picked up again. Now is about the time they think they'd be better off if they buy a delivery truck -- and of course have it painted with their company name & logo (add insurance costs & maintenance for the truck into your business expenses).
By now with things going well it's easy to think this home staging business is going great! However they may be shocked to hear from their CPA that expenses still equal (or even exceed) income ... oops! Trying to trim costs is a real challenge. What's the best way to balance the need to keep buying inventory for particular staging projects and hiring more help -- and still keep expenses in check? And how can one properly plan for the "slower months" when the real estate market is traditionally much quieter?
Even though they've been recognized as a talented home stager .... eventually they find that they cannot make money in the home staging business. In the end, we see another "home staging inventory liquidation sale" advertised on Craigslist. Here in Portland, there are more than a dozen home staging companies who met this fate in the past year or two ~ and some of them were once large and thriving. This doesn't even include the number of stagers who have taken part-time jobs to help make ends meet.
What went wrong? What can we (as an industry) do differently to make sure it doesn't happen to more "newbie" stagers? How do we help educate them to see the "real world" of establishing and managing a home staging business?