Did you know that my business almost failed before it ever really got off the ground? It’s easy to see a business that has been around for years, and assume that it has always been successful, but the truth is that many new businesses struggle, and mine was no exception. In fact, most small businesses fail in the first 5 years!
#1: Identify Your Ideal Client
In the spring of 2010, my dad was experiencing some health issues and found himself in the hospital for about a month. I drove the 3 hours to be with him and my mom and helped out any way that I could. I was back and forth for approximately a month while he was hospitalized, and my business took a back seat.
One day, while I was sitting with my dad, he said something to me that took me by surprise. He said, “You know what honey? You gave it a really good shot, no one can say that you didn’t try.”. I was confused! My dad had always been my biggest supporter, and here he was acting as though I was closing the business and giving up. The truth was though that for the month that I had been helping out him and my mom, there wasn’t exactly anyone missing me and my business. That certainly gave me pause, and I decided to do a little reflecting. I knew that I wanted to be a home stager, and I knew that I was good at it, so when my dad was released I headed home and went back to the business plan to see what I could be doing to grow my business. When I had initially created my business plan, I had identified my ideal clients as homeowners and real estate agents. While that was technically correct, it was not nearly specific enough.
This was where my marketing was failing. When you market to everyone, you market to no one. You need to dive deep and determine specifically who your homeowners and real estate agents are – only then can you identify what they will value, and how to craft your marketing message for them.
What characteristics do they have? And what in turn do they want from you?
Let’s take real estate agents for example:
Do they work for a large brokerage or a small one?
Are they an individual agent, or a part of a team?
How long have they been in business?
What is their personality?
What other characteristics do they convey?
You may not have specific answers to all of these questions, but this should give you a guideline of the types of criteria that you w
ill want to examine in determining your target homeowners. This is probably one of the hardest things to do in your business, but it is also the most critical, or everything else that follows is challenging. By identifying who your ideal client is, you will be better equipped to find them. This is not to say that you will not provide services for other clients as requested, but it will allow you to better focus your marketing plan.
Once you understand who your client is, and what their needs are, you can position yourself and your company accordingly. This will
affect everything from how you brand your company, to the events that you attend, where you spend your marketing dollars, and of course, how you set your pricing.
#2 Evaluate Your Value
Now it’s time to do some evaluating. Take some time to reflect on your value, and identify what makes you and your company awesome. This is probably one of the greatest challenges when it comes to building your business – you’ve been taught all your life to be humble and modest, and now you need to be confident and boastful!
Your value is EVERYTHING that you do that enhances the overall experience for your client. Brainstorm, and write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. Some examples may include:
Formal training, including continuing education (i.e. events, market research, etc.)
RESA member (are you a RESA-Pro, or a member of leadership?)
Do not limit yourself to the above list. Even if other home stagers are offering these same value-points, it does not take away from the value that it provides to YOUR clients, and it helps to define your company’s overall brand. Remember, what makes you valuable is not just the services that you provide every day, but it also includes how you got to your level of expertise. Reflect on the path that you took to get to where you are today, and make that a part of your story.
Value doesn’t need to cost you a ton of money – if you feel that you are coming up short for where you want to be in your market, look at what may be added to your services for little to no cost, such as the SRM policy, a Client Care Package, or a unique upsell/upgrade service option.
#3 Create Your Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement that summarizes why a client should buy from you. This is your foundation for creating your marketing material and will help you to establish your unique selling position (USP). Ask yourself these two important questions:
Why am I here?
What do I bring to the table that no one else does?
Identify how you solve your client’s problems. Be as specific and concise as possible for this. What makes you different and unique?
#4 Communicate your value
Now that you have identified what makes you valuable, and what makes you unique, you need to communicate this effectively to your clients and prospects.
Start with your mission statement – if you don’t have one yet, create one, and share it on your website and other promotional materials.
Review your logo – does it portray the image and brand that you want it to?
Your value points should be noted on your website, on printed promotional materials, and in your communications. Create bite-sized videos answering questions about your company’s processes, about your training, and more. Update your internal intake forms to list your value points so that you remember to note these items as a part of your initial call with clients. And most importantly, LIVE YOUR VALUE. The best and easiest way to communicate what your company stands for is to live it every day.
Ready to take your business to the next level? SLS Academy’s Business of Staging course provides you with the business strategies that you need to operate a successful and thriving home staging business. From setting your pricing and policies to sales techniques, understanding today’s buyers, and what motivates them. We will walk you through the steps that you need to take to create your business plan, plus we will help you to identify your mission statement, understand your value proposition, and run the day-to-day business. PLUS, you will get the tools and templates that you need to make running your business easier, allowing you to spend your days assisting your clients. We will even teach you proven sales techniques and strategies to help you to close more deals, and keep your cash flow…well…flowing. Learn more and get started today by clicking here.
Hindsight is 20/20 – we’ve all heard this, but it’s never more true than immediately following a terrible mistake that you have made in your business, that often can be costly. Have you ever had that moment of clarity following a disaster where you thought “I wish someone had told me that!”? Trust me when I say that every home stager and every entrepreneur, regardless of what level they are at in their business, has had that moment.
Well I polled the industry’s best, and I asked for their best tip for home stagers, whether it’s a business tip, a staging hack, or just something that they wish they knew sooner. I have compiled them here for you in this Top 10 List (in no particular order) to help you to grow, learn, and above all else, hopefully avoid some mistakes that we have made!! Check out what they have to say:
1. Transform Old Books and a Simple Option for Staging Built-Ins
Stagers have a love / hate relationship with built-ins. Some love them and some want to avoid them at all costs. With this simple solution you’ll be able to update your old (or newly acquired) books while also giving a slick and time saving look to mix into your stagings.
For years we wrapped our books with wrapping paper so they all had a uniform and neutral look. However, after many trips to and from various staged homes, the wrapping would wear down, rip, and we’d have re-wrap them. We are now spray painting all of our hard cover books to give them a consistent look that is cost effective and durable.
The best paint we found is pictured below and can be purchased at Home Depot. Feel free to try other colors, but this Satin finish of Heirloom White has proven to give us the best and most versatile look.
You can see a close up as well as a photo from one of our stagings.
The painting is quite easy and requires no taping. Simply open the book in the center, turn it face up on a paintable surface (we use large sheets of cardboard and paint outside on the rear driveway of our warehouse) and spray both front and back covers simultaneously. Once it is dry you are ready to go. No need to do anything with the pages.
If you need a good source for hardcover books I recommend searching Craigslist for “Free Law Books”. There are many times when law offices are getting rid of their large collections of legal books and generally will give them away for free or a very nominal cost. We’ve gotten hundreds of free hardcover books this way.
As you grow your business you will find yourself hiring people. I recommend you take the time to meet with your ENTIRE staff (delivery people, packers, consultants, administrative support, installers, etc.) to instill a common vocabulary across your company. This will help reduce misunderstandings and also provides an opportunity to elevate and brand your business. (Think Starbucks…Short, Tall, Vente, Grande…see what I mean?) Remember, what you have in common UNITES you. Let the words you choose not only brand your business but also unite your team!
The number 1 tip I like to give to stagers: Create your quoting system, working with packaged pricing per room. Yes, all homes are different but if you look closely, 90% of the time, a living room or bedroom needs the same amount of staging items. Estimate and calculate what you need per room for furniture, artwork and accessories as well as your staging time and destaging time. In case a room needs one extra piece of art or an extra chair, it is easy to add to your price. By quoting with set prices per room, you save yourself so much time in calculations, inventing the wheel over and over. In my first years, I calculated every vase, flower and piece of art, generating quotes that were more or less the same. Now working with set prices per room, there is no more guessing. You can make a quote in 5-10 minutes. A huge time saver.
Realize your value, and what you are bringing to the table. Don’t sell yourself short or get talked into discounting your pricing. Remember, someone else’s financial issues are not your financial issues, unless, of course, you discount you’re pricing for them!
You are increasing the value of the home, shortening the time on market, reducing the need for price reductions and lowering your Realtors marketing cost. Know with full assurance you bring a great deal of value to the process of selling a home. If you always have the clients best interest at heart, stand tall and tell them what needs to be done to get the house to stand out in the market and what it will cost to make it happen. When you talk to your clients with confidence and show them you have their best interest at heart, explaining why these things need to be done and how it will help them sell, they will trust in you and in the process.
It is always best to deal directly with the client, the person who owns the property, so you can explain why you are recommending what you are recommending and show them you are knowledgeable, that you care and that you want to help them sell their house. They need to trust you and believe in you! That won’t happen though email or their Realtor® relaying the information. Make a point to “Sell” face to face when you can! Use marketing terms instead of design hot phrases, they will see you as a professional who understand the Real Estate Industry.
When you appreciate your value, talk with confidence and always have your clients best interest at heart you will be able to close most deals face to face with the decision makers.
The first thing you should invest in when starting your home staging company is a good home staging contract (assuming you’ve already taken a comprehensive home staging course). Do this before you have a website or business cards. It will be the backbone of your company and it will give you confidence knowing you have this very important piece of your business puzzle in place. Your contract should lay out the terms of how your business will operate. It should set your boundaries so it is clear what you will and will not do. It should help eliminate any questions your client may have and provide them with a road map for working with you. You should consider your contract a “living” document that will change over the years to incorporate different guidance to cover you for events you never imagined encountering. A well-written contract will help you to sleep at night, knowing you and your business are covered.
Have some type of inventory system – it doesn’t matter how big you are or if you only have accessories. If you are renting items, you need to know how much money these items are generating for you. If you have something that is just sitting on the shelf taking up space, get rid of it, every square inch of your storage space should make you money! An inventory system is also good if you have theft or disaster. Your insurance company will want to know what you paid for things if you want a payout. An inventory system doesn’t have to be complex, a simple spreadsheet will do. Get into the habit of entering your purchases as they come in. Also spend money on racking your storage space to store as much as you can: go as high as you legally can.
Starting a Home Staging company was exponentially harder than any other job that I have had. Evaluate your time and commitment. You will not instantly have success and you will be wearing many hats as you grow. Operating well across a variety of areas: sales, marketing, finance, operations, HR, etc. Your first order of business is to create a product that showcases value and is an irresistible solution to the target agent.
Whether starting a home staging business or being an established veteran the key to success is consistency. You need to be consistently upholding your company’s systems, marketing platforms and relationships to make your business more visible and viable for that matter. Aristotle says:
So my question to you is, what do YOU do daily in your business and is it directing a positive narrative for your brand and your clients? If it’s not, make a conscious decision to remain consistent by having a plan and knowing your objective.
My biggest tip for home stagers is that, like it or not, marketing will always be an important part of growing your business so you might as well embrace it. If you want to attract your ideal clients and create a lucrative business that makes you happy, you need to become a savvy marketer or pay handsomely for someone else to do it for you. Either way you need to be clear about who you are marketing to and have a solid strategy to attract clients.
Have a signature accessory that identifies your company for realtors who view the jobs frequently. I have silver birds – they’ve been in every home we have staged for past 8 years and have made their rounds to every room!
If you are considering home staging as a career, you might be underwhelmed by the amount of information about how to get started. While some colleges offer some basic courses on home staging, it can be difficult to figure out where to get your training, and whether or not it’s even something that you need.
If you are planning to offer home staging services, it is recommended that you enroll in a reputable home staging certification training program. Here’s the skinny on this – home staging is NOT a regulated industry, therefore, you are not required to receive any licensing, diploma, or certificate in order to call yourself a home stager. In fact, you can wake up tomorrow, call yourself a home stager, and *poof*, you’re a home stager.
Now that you’re calling yourself a home stager, what exactly makes you a home-selling expert? Why should people hire you? Why should your clients take your advice?
Sure, there are some great online resources available today that will provide you with some general information about staging a property for sale, but to become a qualified and successful home stager, you want to be sure to arm yourself with the best resources. Who do you trust with your money? Do you have a financial advisor, or an accountant? I’m sure that they have likely received some pretty extensive training; after all, you are trusting them with your money. What about your doctor, they received some training as well, didn’t they? I mean, you are trusting them with your life. When working with homeowners to sell their home, you are working with their largest asset, and they are trusting you to do great work – this means selling their home in the shortest timeframe possible, for the most amount of money.
You might be thinking that you have “staged” and sold many of your own homes already, and your friends have probably told you that you should pursue a creative career because of your natural eye for design, and this is certainly a valuable skill when it comes to becoming a home stager, but it isn’t the only skill needed.
Did you know?
Home staging is just as much about marketing, as it is about decorating.
Home staging is about properly merchandizing and marketing a property for sale. Even if you have received formal training to become an interior designer or interior decorator, you will find great value in taking a home stager certification course. While many concepts of the two industries overlap and inspire each other, home staging is a part of the real estate industry, and operates with very different guidelines, processes, and “rules” (whether official or not) – your home staging certification will teach you which design elements to use and when. Setting up a home for sale takes a lot more than a little cleaning and decluttering. Here are just a few things that your certification training program should outline and teach you:
The ins and outs of the Real Estate Market, the key players and how home staging fits in
The various business structures, creating your business plan, and registering your new home staging business
Creating your staging plan by addressing buyer perceptions, decluttering, and eliminating distractions
Furniture selection and placement for optimal flow and buyer appeal
Step by step review of the home staging evaluation – what to look for, and what to address with your home sellers
Accessorizing techniques for selling
What role textures and fabrics play in home staging and design
Organizing spaces for selling and living
Repairs and updates – what to address and how to understand the value and impact of each recommendation
Creating curb appeal and lasting first impressions
Identifying design styles and working within them
Creating and preparing accurate floor plans
Colour theory – using the colour wheel as a tool in colour palette selection; understanding the components and significance of colours
Preparing your home sellers for the process of selling their home, including managing seller expectations and resistance
The home staging consultation, from start to finish
The people factor – the importance of working with the homeowner throughout the process, and understanding their needs
Managing your owner-occupied and vacant home staging projects, start to finish
Building your portfolio (especially when you are first starting out)
How to set up your office to run efficiently and effectively to keep you out meeting with clients and building the business
Contracts – what clauses to include, policies to consider, and how to create these to ensure that they are ironclad
How to work with subcontractors
Health & Safety, and how it applies to your home staging business
Insurance – what you need, to ensure that you are properly covered
How to set your policies and procedures for smooth operating practices
Inventory management and best practices (applies regardless of whether or not you choose to own large furniture pieces)
How to outline your services and set your pricing (including identifying the various services that you can offer to help your clients, such as color consultations, shopping, decluttering, organizing, project management, and more)
In addition to teaching you how to run your home staging projects, a quality home staging certification program will provide you with the tools and templates that you need to be successful – this is invaluable! I can’t even begin to explain the amount of time that this alone will save you when you are first starting your business. Why re-invent the wheel? From outlining what your services will include, how to provide each service, pricing your services (to get paid your value as an expert in your field), plus contracts, insurance, and SO MUCH MORE! Mistakes can be very costly, so arm yourself with the tools and the information to safeguard yourself, and your business.
Becoming certified as a home stager will also add to your credibility. Keep in mind that the very real estate agents that you will be working with are required to take an intensive training course before working in the industry, and they are also required to earn additional credits through continuing education courses throughout the year, in order to maintain their license. They expect that the people that they work with as a part of their home-selling team are just as qualified, and have invested a similar amount of time, money, and energy.
Above all else, in taking a home staging certification course, you receive the thrill of learning something new, and I promise, you will learn something new. For more about how to choose the right home stager certification training program for you, check out our blog here.
Regardless of whether or not you intend to invest in owning your own home staging inventory, you are still a business, and your business takes place in other people’s homes. Not only will the insurance protect you from any liability (such as mistakenly leaving a light on that later bursts and starts a fire, or accidentally knocking over a precious heirloom), but it will also establish you as a professional and genuine company.
Over-decorating or not enough
Less really is more when it comes to staging, but you still need to ensure that you are meeting the main principles and goals of your service – to clearly define the space, showcase the features, and sell the experience of living in the home. Every item used in home staging should serve a purpose – use the goldilocks method – not too much, not too little, but just enough! Keep things neutral, but not sparse. You want to create an experience, and sell a lifestyle, while maintaining effective flow and marketing the home.
Improperly scaled furniture
Effective home staging will showcase a home. One of the most important tasks that home staging intends to accomplish is to properly define each room, and that means defining the size of the room as well. This means selecting the proper scale of furniture to best showcase the space. Staging a room can help buyers to better visualize the space, and show them the optimal furniture selection and placement for the room. A common mistake made by new home stagers is the use of furniture that is either too large, or too small, for a room. This can adversely affect the flow and perception of the space, and overall creates an unappealing room.
Decorating instead of merchandising
Home staging is an effective marketing technique that integrates decorating with marketing to create an experience for homebuyers. It is about more than just furnishing a room – it’s about selling a lifestyle. Just because something is pretty, does not mean that it should be used to stage a room for sale. Staging items should not overpower the features of a space, but should accentuate them.
Marketing to the masses and not understanding your niche and position in the market place
If you are trying to market to everyone, you are often reaching no one. Take the time to understand who your ideal client would be, and create your marketing messages to resonate with them. Be deliberate with your marketing. Identify where your ideal client hangs out, and connect with them on their turf. Do you want to work with large real estate teams, or smaller, independent real estate agents? Do you want to work in luxury homes, starter, or mid-level homes? It’s not to say that you won’t work with a client just because they don’t fit your avatar, but having a clear marketing plan with a specific target will help you to create a stronger relationship with those that you do wish to work with.
Not understanding the real estate industry, and the language of real estate agents
Many that enter into the world of home staging do so for a love of home décor, and while you might know your damask from your gingham and your finials from your fascia, understanding real estate terminology and dynamics is critical to success. This is something that your home staging certification program should cover, but be sure to clarify before you register to ensure that you will get the coverage that you expect in your course material.
Under-pricing/under-valuing your work and your expertise
Just because you are a new home stager, does not make you any less qualified – don’t undervalue yourself and your expertise. Set yourself up for success from the beginning by demanding to be paid your worth. Review industry standards, evaluate your expenses, and be diligent in setting your prices. You have invested in your home stager training, you have invested in the registration and launch of your business, and you have overhead, just like any other business. You deserve to be profitable, regardless of how long you have been in business.
It’s not uncommon for clients to request a discount on the promise of future business – instead of offering a discount now, provide value and show them that you’re worth it – they’ll be knocking down your door to hire you again! If you’re so inclined, reward them on future projects as a thank you for their loyalty.
Letting your clients run the show
It’s easy for a homeowner to create a pre-conceived staging plan in their mind – they are emotionally connected to their home, and often can’t see your final vision. While it is important to select staging items that will work well with the style of home, it may not always be to your client’s personal taste. Remember – home staging is NOT interior design – take the time to understand the demographics of the buyers that will be interested in the home, and direct your marketing to them.
Not treating your home staging business as a business
One of your greatest traits as a home stager will be your ability to empathize and relate to your clients. Because of this, it can be difficult to avoid letting your emotions get in the way of running your business as a business. Abstain from doing unpaid “favors” for that real estate agent friend, or giving more than you quoted to that client in the tough situation – do what you can for them based on their budget, and focus on providing them with low-cost solutions for maximizing their home’s potential. Remember, you have bills to pay as well.
Using inventory from your own home and/or sub-standard inventory
Your clients are paying you for your expertise, and your quality home staging services, including your staging rentals – be sure that you deliver on this. If an item is marked down, there is often a good reason for it – just because it’s a good deal, doesn’t always mean that it is a good staging item. You will score some great finds – be frugal, and be creative, but don’t be shabby – provide quality home staging items and maximum value to all clients (that said, you wouldn’t be the first home stager to deplete your own home décor for the sake of a staging project – ensure the items are well-maintained, and only do so when absolutely necessary to get the job done).
As with any profession, proper certification and training is critical to success. The investment in a quality certification program is just like the one that you would make to become an accountant, a plumber, or any other skilled profession. While you may have a natural talent that will serve you very well in this industry, it’s your training that will make you an expert in your profession, one that your clients will be happy to pay for. Regardless of your natural talent or previous design training and experience, a qualified home stager training program will provide you with “techniques” for showcasing and merchandising a space, as well as an understanding of the home staging processes, buyer insights, managing your clients, and so much more. This will not only save you time and energy by providing you with essential skills, tools, and resources for home staging success, but it will also provide you with the support that you need, especially when you’re first starting out.
Interested in learning more about becoming a Real Estate Staging Professional? Check out our upcoming FREE training – REGISTER HERE!
Don’t you wish that there was an easy step-by-step guide to getting started as a home stager? I would love to say that this is it, but embarking on a new career is a BIG deal, and is one that should be given the attention that it deserves! That said, I can provide you with some tips for the first steps that you should take on your journey to becoming a home stager.
Do your research
Just like any career, you want to be sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into! Don’t be fooled into thinking that what you see on TV is the full picture. So how do you learn more about the industry?
Reach out to local home stagers – the best way to do this is to find out if there is a local RESA chapter nearby where you could attend a meeting. Home Stagers, like most entrepreneurs, work very hectic schedules, and given that they are working in the real estate industry, most of their work is very time-sensitive. While most love to help to educate others about what a career in home staging is all about, they may not always have the time to meet or chat with you. That said, if you do not have a local RESA chapter in your area, absolutely feel free to reach out to home stagers directly, keeping in mind that you are more likely to receive a response during a time of year when the real estate market is a little slower (this can vary by city, and in some areas, simply doesn’t exist).
What is the local demand for home staging services? Home staging has been a VERY lucrative and rewarding career choice for a lot of people, but keep in mind that some real estate markets will be much more advanced in their home staging awareness and adoption of this service into standard industry practice. A successful home staging business can be built anywhere, but if the home staging industry is less developed, some areas may take longer to build, and you will want to be prepared for this. In addition to speaking with home stagers, it would serve you well to talk to real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and others in the real estate industry to help you to gauge the demand of your services.
Job Shadowing – this is a great opportunity to get to see what home staging is like, first-hand. I once had a staging assistant who had a great interest in potentially becoming a home stager herself, and welcomed the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the industry by working alongside me. After only two home staging projects, she quit. She said that she “just wanted to be a home stager”, and if I had any work that was more or less “just staging”, then she would be happy to help. What she failed to realize was that every aspect of work that was assigned to her, in fact, WAS home staging! She wanted a real look at the industry, and we gave it to her, but it turns out that she really only wanted to work in the TV version of what she thought home staging was. Job Shadowing a local stager is a great way to see exactly what a career in home staging looks like.
Join a Facebook Group – we happen to have created one geared at people just like you! Click here to join the group and ask any questions that you would like!
Strategy Session – Are you someone that would just prefer to talk it out? Click here to book a one-on-one with me, where you can ask me anything!
Budget for Your New Career
What costs should you expect when first starting your business? What will your on-going operating expenses be like? How will you pay your bills while you are building your business? Will you own your home staging inventory, or rent from a third-party furniture rental company?
There are a number of questions like this that you will want to explore BEFORE diving head-first into the deep end. We answer all of these questions and more in our Behind-the-Scenes webinar.
Get Professional Training
Just like any profession, proper certification and training is critical to success. The investment in a quality certification program is just like the one that you would make to become an accountant, a plumber, or any other skilled profession. While you may have a natural talent that will serve you very well in this industry, it’s your training that will make you an expert in your profession, one that your clients will be happy to pay for.
Create a business plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Once you have been trained as an expert in your field, it’s time to get yourself out there and start generating some business! To do this, you will need to select a business name, what type of business you will operate (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, etc), and set out your company’s policies and objectives. All of this and more should be covered in a detailed business plan – do NOT skip this step! Remember:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Read my book (warning…shameless plug)
Oh yeah…did I mention I’m writing a book all about the ins and outs of becoming a home stager, and what you can expect as you embark on this career? Well, it’s not ready just yet, but you can check out an excerpt from it here, and we hope to open pre-sales for the book VERY soon!
Since home staging as a career has gained additional exposure over the last several years, there are now more options than ever for home staging training. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose which one is the “best” one to take. The answer to this question will depend greatly on what your goals and expectations are. There are several factors to consider in selecting the course that is right for you:
–How long do you hope to work in this new career for?
§If you plan to be in and out of the business in a short time-frame, will they help you with the exit-strategy?
§If you plan to make this your career for the next couple of decades, will they keep you up-to-date and current as trends and techniques change and evolve?
–Are you interested in expanding your services beyond home staging (i.e. home organizing, colour consultations, redesign services, and more)?
oIf yes, you’ll want to review what additional training they will provide you to ensure that you are properly equipped to provide these to your clients. Many courses offer advanced options in the areas of design, through continuing education, and others incorporate it into the home stager training course.
–Do you have any experience running a business?
oIf not, what sort of training will they provide you for managing the business, including registration, day-to-day operations, outlining your services and pricing, marketing, expansion, and more?
oAre they teamed up with resources that will help you to build and grow your business? Any reputable home staging program will have affiliates that they work with to provide you with valuable information, supplies, and discounts.
–How much time will the course take?
oThe answer you’re looking for for this question might not be what you think! The longer that the course takes to complete, the more comprehensive it likely is. Whether it’s an in-class or online training program, you’ll want to identify the time commitment before registering, to ensure that you are ready to make the commitment that it needs.
–What does the course content cover?
oWhat value will you get for your investment into your training? Review the type of information that you will learn, from home staging techniques, to design theory, to creating your systems and processes, and running the day-to-day business.
oWill they offer you templates and cheat sheets for starting your business, or will you be creating these yourself from scratch?
–What direction do you wish to take the business?
oDo you plan to own your own home staging inventory, or rent it? Do they teach you the differences, and help you to decide which is best for you?
oIs there a particular niche that you hope to specialize in? If so, what training do they provide in that area?
oDo you hope to add staffing to your business, or keep it a solo operation? How will they help with whichever direction you choose?
oSome courses will charge you a membership fee in order to keep your designation title, whereas others will charge you a fee to maintain your access to your training material. Be sure to clearly understand these fees upfront before investing, and ensure that you are prepared to pay them over the coming years.
oAre they currently operating a home staging business, or have they operated one in the past?
oIf they are not currently operating a home staging business, when was the last time that they worked hands-on with clients?
You’ll notice that price was not mentioned as a factor here, but in truth it should be mentioned. The reason that it was not outlined as a deciding factor is that most reputable training programs will be comparable in price, and therefore this shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If a program is listed significantly lower than the others that you have researched, the chances are that the training provided will be sub-par (you’ve heard the saying that “you get what you pay for”, right?).
At the end of the day, choose the one that best fits your needs and your expectations. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and contact them directly to ask your questions. Heading down any new career path is a big decision, and one that you want to make carefully and purposefully.
Want to learn more about what it means to be a home stager, what you need to know to get started, what startup costs you should expect, and how the certification process works? Check out our upcoming Behind-the-Scenes Home Staging Career Training – register here.
Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!