Requiem for a Home Stager ~ What went wrong?

By
Home Stager with Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR

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.

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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.

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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?  portland oregon home stagers 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.

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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?

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Room Solutions Staging offers expert home staging services in Portland, Oregon to homeowners, real estate agents, builders, banks, and investors. Our proven home staging techniques will help reduce your property's market time and maximize your equity. We'll prepare your property or listing to look appealing to your target buyer for the online photos as well as for in-person viewings. Our owner and principal stager Maureen Bray is a nationally-recognized home staging expert who enjoys sharing her passion for staging with others.  For a free home staging proposal contact us @ 503-246-1800.

Room Solutions Staging

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2014 Top Ten Professional Stager of the Year - U.S.

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~ President of the Real Estate Staging Association National Board ~

 

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  1. Debby Dutilh 08/21/2009 01:01 AM
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Comments 43 New Comment

Rainmaker
648,551
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR

Diane ~ Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.  It's good that you've found other activities related to staging and real estate to keep you busy in a slower market.  Let's hope that business picks up soon!  As you said so well, persistence and stamina are necessary -- along with that positive attitude!

August 21, 2009 05:13 PM
Rainmaker
633,045
Cindy Bryant
"Houston Home Staging Pro's"
Redesign Etc. Home Staging

Had to revisit this, what a great idea to send to newbie stagers that call, I think I'm going to find some previous posts and maybe do a blog, and say here is the information you need!  Or, I'll just use your's and not dig any deeper since I'm still on vacation.  That within itself should tell a newbie the job never stops!

August 26, 2009 12:10 AM
Rainmaker
648,551
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR

Cindy ~ Enjoy your vacation -- you deserve it!  Newbie stagers need all of the help and advice they can get from experienced stagers.  There are lots of good comments here to help them.

August 26, 2009 01:33 AM
Rainer
56,633
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC

Maureen and Everyone,

Great, great comments and insight! This is a very rough industry, rough time of year, etc. Since I started Staging, two of my strongest competitors became agents and some other companies just disappeared (there are still a few out there, too). There is something to be said for staying power. In thinking about people who want to get into Staging and don't realize HOW MUCH WORK AND BUSINESS SENSE it takes to be successful, it reminds of the public perception of Interior Designers. Those that are successful in interior design work their butts off!!  It takes a lot more than picking out a color and a fabric and calling it a day. In life to be successful at anything it takes a lot of hard work and I don't know why so many people don't realize that about Staging before getting into it.  

October 13, 2009 01:06 PM
Rainmaker
648,551
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR

Tori ~ Professional home staging surely is more than selecting fabric, color, etc....as you said.  SO much more hard work!   Maybe people just think they'll be the exception to the rule and jump right in and make a mint .... if so I wish them lots of luck since they'll need it.  :-)

October 13, 2009 05:59 PM
Rainmaker
648,551

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging

"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"
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