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How I Raised My Prices and GAINED Business

How I Raised My Prices and GAINED Business

We have all had the frustration of feeling underpaid and overworked, all while fielding requests to cut pricing – so how can we comprehend raising prices? So many of us fear even the thought of raising prices. Why? Well, in an industry where pricing and other factors are not regulated, and services are often subjective, it can be easy to under-value the services that you provide. You may have set your prices early on in your business, without fully understanding the ins and outs of each service, or the industry as a whole. You may have felt that you should be charging less than your competition, due to inexperience (which of course is NOT a great pricing strategy, but that’s for another post). You are likely afraid that by raising prices, you will stand to lose a long-standing and loyal client, or turn off potential new clients.

Here are just a few benefits to raising your prices:

  • Get paid your worth, and enjoy your projects more
  • Attract higher quality clients – someone will always look for the cheapest price – don’t compete on price, compete on value
  • Make more money!
  • Position your company as a higher-standard or “premium” business

Before raising my own home staging consultation fees, I needed to do an evaluation.

  1. How much did I want to raise my fees by?

To determine this, I calculated how much time I spent on each project, as well as what my expenses were (both direct and indirect). This is something that your accountant can help you with, but it’s really quite simple – all you need to do is sum up any material costs, labour fees, and your own time. Your accountant can provide you with a general overhead cost based on your annual expenses. Next, I outlined the value that I provided, in order to determine how much money I felt that I needed to make in order to feel that my time spent was valuable. I also reviewed competitors to see where our current pricing structure fell in relation.

  1. How many consultations would I need to do to make the same amount of money?

What do I mean by this?

Ok, bear with me, we need to do a little math.

Let’s say that you charge $200 for a consultation, and want to raise your prices to $250 (please note that these prices are not intended to be guidelines of what your prices should be, and are simply intended as an example for the purposes of this exercise). At $200, in order to make $1000 in a week, you need to provide 5 consultations. At the new price of $250, you would only need to provide 4 of these. What does this mean? It means that you can afford to lose 1 consultation a week, (or 20% of your clients) and still bring in the same amount of money, while also giving you more time to spend on other aspects of your business. Play with these numbers until you get to one that you’re comfortable with.

Once I determined how much I wanted to raise my prices by, I set out to create a plan of action, including setting a timeline to implement the change, and introducing the increase to my current client base.

Every home stager works differently, and as such, they each provide variations of a standard home staging consultation. So why is it that despite what our consultation includes, we feel that we should all be priced the same? You will always have price shoppers – you know, the clients that are looking for the cheapest and quickest fix to any problem, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be your clients. By changing my pricing structure, and raising my prices, I began to attract a better quality client, and was able to provide a better quality of service to each of my clients.

What do your consultations currently include? Is there anything that is included that could be removed, while still providing a full-service consultation? Is there anything that could be added to increase the value (think of what you could add that would not significantly impact you financially)?

There were a number of aspects of my home staging consultations that were of great value, but not appreciated by some of my clients. Meanwhile other agents were asking how they could add more value to the staging services that we provided to their clients. If you have ever signed up for any sort of “plan” or “package” (cell phone company, online cloud storage, etc.), you have probably seen a tiered pricing structure. I realized that this worked well for these companies, and so I adapted it into my pricing structure. The reality is that there will always be those clients that want the cheapest, quickest, and easiest. While these may not be my ideal client, it doesn’t mean that I want to turn away a paying client, especially because these are often the real estate agents that are doing the greatest volume of business.

Here’s how my new tiered pricing structure worked

  • I removed some elements of my existing consultation (without compromising the quality of the service of course), and kept the pricing the same
  • For my existing consultation, with all of the great bells and whistles, I raised the price
  • I then added a third package, which included some additional home staging services

We then emailed all of our real estate agents to notify them of the new pricing structure:


Subject: BTSH Introduces 2 NEW Home Staging Consultation services!!

Email:

Over the last several years, BTSH has worked to continually improve the quality of the services that we provide and we are excited to announce two new versions of our current home staging consultation services! We appreciate your on-going support, and for making us your #1 choice in Waterloo Region, so we want to ensure that we continue to offer you both quality and value when you invest in Home Staging. You spoke, and we listened – based on feedback from our clients, including both homeowners and real estate agents, we will be rolling out our new consultations starting <date starting>. Now with 3 comprehensive home staging consultation packages available, we’re sure to have one that suits your client’s needs.

As a Real Estate Agent, when you hire BTSH for your home selling clients, you get more than just a walk-through consultation, you get our commitment to a successful home sale by offering you the following:

<insert your value here>


Notice that we didn’t say anywhere in that email that we are raising prices?

When evaluating whether or not to raise your prices, I want you to think about this – who is holding you back from raising your prices? We all have that client that makes a lot of noise any time we enforce a policy, or introduce something new to our business. Think about this – 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. And 80% of your stress comes from 20% of your clients. Sometimes you just have to shut out the noise and do what is best for you and your business.

Need more help with outlining your service and pricing? Check out SLS Academy’s Business of Staging course, designed with all things business in mind.

When over 400 people are laughing at you…

When over 400 people are laughing at you…

A story from our President, Shauna Lynn:

At RESACON Las Vegas earlier this year, I was asked to assist by providing a microphone to audience members that wanted to ask our keynote speaker, the amazing Sabrina Soto, questions. This was great exercise for me in a room of over 400 people eager to ask Sabrina their most pressing questions! I ran from table to table, and logged a bunch of steps on my new Fitbit Blaze.

Sabrina Soto, RESACON 2017

Sabrina Soto, Keynote Speaker at the RESA Convention 2017 in Las Vegas, M Resort

I LOVE to mix patterns and styles, and I do this both with my designs, and my own personal style. While many have often commented that I am fashionable, I would never say that I am trendy – instead I have a tendency to wear what I want, and am frequently told by others that they could never wear what I’m wearing. That’s fine – they don’t have to :). I buy items that are on sale because no one wants them, and mix and match to make something that suits me.

Shauna Lynn Simon, RESACON 2017

Shauna Lynn Simon, SLS Academy President, at RESA Convention Las Vegas, M Resort

So when Sabrina was asked what style/trend she saw on it’s way out (I believe the precise question was “what style/trend do you wish would just die?”), she answered without hesitation – “Chevron”. Of course, I’m standing next to the person who asked the question, and I couldn’t help but look down at my skirt. Those at the tables close to us immediately saw what I saw…my chevron skirt. They began to laugh…as did the tables around them, and the next thing that I knew, the entire audience was laughing! Poor Sabrina hid behind the podium, feeling perhaps a little as though she may have answered just a little too quickly. Little did she know that I was laughing along with everyone else, and it’s safe to say that most who attended her talk will remember me long after!

After her talk, I had a number of people approach me to apologize on behalf of the crowd, and tell me how bad they felt for me. To be honest, I was stunned! I had no idea what they meant, but soon realized that they were embarrassed for me for being called out on my choice of attire. I reassured them that I was no worse for wear , and that I had had a truly awesome day – Sabrina Soto gave me a memorable moment that I will cherish for years to come, along with my chevron skirt (which still gets lots of use). I met up with Sabrina, and thanked her for her candor, and we enjoyed a good laugh. I explained to her that it would take a lot more to hurt my feelings.

Shauna Lynn Simon and Sabrina Soto

Shauna Lynn Simon and Sabrina Soto

The moral? Be yourself, and most importantly, don’t forget to laugh at yourself now and again…sometimes we can be our best entertainment!

 

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!

10 Quick Facts about the REAL Shauna Lynn

10 Quick Facts about the REAL Shauna Lynn

Shauna Lynn, Owner and Founder of SLS Academy and Beyond The Stage Homes, is known for her creative designs, upbeat personality, unique look and style, and of course, her dedication to her students, and her clients and their homes. But do you really know who she is? Here are 10 quick facts about the REAL Shauna Lynn, some of them might surprise you!

1. She was in a marching band (and went to band camp).

2. She was President of the Math club and the debate team in high school, and President of the Business Club in University – first class geek!

3. She’s a crazy cat lady – Shauna Lynn fosters families of cats through the KW Humane Society, plus has three rescue cats of her own. It’s not unusual to have anywhere from 5-10 cats in her house at any given time.

4. She loves anything peanut butter and chocolate

5. She completed two Tough Mudder’s in 2013 – don’t ever let anything limit you!

6. She had a pyrotechnics license in her younger years, and performed a fire show at the classic Inner City Nightclub!

7. She’s left-handed, so she’s always right.

8. OCD – Okay, if you’ve ever met Shauna Lynn, then this isn’t exactly a secret. To further this, she hates yellow highlighters and believes that they fail to properly do the job they are intended to do. Subsequently, she has banned all yellow highlighters from the BTSH office.

9. She had a pet lizard named Soako for several years. He passed away 9 years ago.

10. Her favourite colour is yellow, not pink.

 

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!

Everything I Know… I Learned from Bartending ~ by Shauna Lynn

Everything I Know… I Learned from Bartending ~ by Shauna Lynn

When I began bartending in my third year of University, I had no idea the long-term impact that this would have. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, which is why I studied Business as my minor, but little did I know that the best business lessons I would learn would come from my real-world hospitality experience. I often joked that I was getting paid to make drinks and socialize – two of my favourite past-times! I didn’t realize then that I would later attribute much of my success to this fun industry. Bartending helped me to graduate from University debt-free, while still allowing me the time I needed to complete my studies. Following school, it acted as a great “break” from a stressful career as an analyst. And when I was laid off from my last corporate job with mortgage payments and bills to pay, it provided me with a full-time income and the time to re-evaluate my life focus and next steps.

As I began my career as a Home Stager and Designer, bartending provided both the financial and mental relief that I so often needed to get through until my new career became a success.

In the spring of 2013 I officially bartended my last shift at a local restaurant, and the day was met with somewhat mixed feelings about this. Everything I am, and how I have shaped my business to where it is today, can be attributed to the hospitality industry. You can take me out of the bar, but you’ll never take the bartender out of me. Some things that I have learned through my bartending over the years and will continue to apply in my business, as well as in life:

  • If you don’t have the answers, ask someone. When that fails, fake it and hope no one notices. 
  • No matter how badly you screw up, apologize, take responsibility, fix it, and smile.
  • When things get crazy, keep moving forward – you’ll get to the end eventually.
  • It doesn’t feel like work if you’re having fun.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • It never hurts to ask.
  • Snapping your fingers or waving money around does not get you things faster, but sometimes a smile will.
  • “Shut up and listen” is an effective strategy.
  • Don’t be afraid to state the obvious – “that sizzling plate is hot”, “the suicide wings are spicey”, “be sure to make the bed before showings” 
  • Everyone has a story, don’t pretend you know what it is.
  • When all else fails, cheers to another day!

 

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!

 
Interview with a Home Stager

Interview with a Home Stager

Your front row view of the Home Staging Industry – check out our interview with Shauna Lynn Simon from Beyond The Stage Homes, and see what advice she has for new or soon-to-be home stagers.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as a home stager?

A: It’s hard to pinpoint one as the biggest, there are many challenges to be faced in this industry every day, but I would say that the biggest probably relates to the education of others as to what Home Staging is (and what it isn’t). We spend a great deal of time educating homeowners, real estate agents, and suppliers not only to what our process and services include, but what it is that we are working to achieve. What we do is take style, function, and flow of each room into consideration to create a unique staging plan. We don’t just furnish a room, we bring it to life and create a memorable experience for the buyer.

Q: Is home staging just another form of decorating?

A: You certainly need to have an eye for home styling, however home staging and home decorating are very different. In decorating, you take the homeowners’ tastes and style into consideration, you personalize the space, and you ensure that you make practical decisions for the lifestyle of the people that are living in the home. In home staging, you are not only depersonalizing the space, but you are creating a design that will appeal to how the buyer will utilize each space. There is an element of behavioral profiling that goes into each home staging project. You need to identify whom your potential buyers are, and the lifestyle that they may live, and ensure that you create a plan to provide them with the solutions that they will need for their everyday life. In addition, you are responsible for identifying and addressing all possible distractions that buyers might find in order to assist the homeowners to eliminate these prior to listing. Realistically I would say that decorating probably accounts for only about 15% of what we do day-to-day.

Another important distinction between home staging and decorating is in creating the proper flow of a space – while it is certainly something that is taken into consideration in decorating, this is critically important in home staging as buyers will be walking through the home, and a room that is not properly laid out can disrupt their flow, and in turn, their experience.

Q: What is the #1 misconception that new stagers have in your mind?

A: I think that many new stagers think that if you’re good at, and enjoy decorating, then you can easily become a home stager, and the business will come flooding in as soon as you are open for business. This is a business, and like any business, it requires proper training, management, marketing, and relationships in order to be successful. On top of that, Real Estate can be a ruthless industry, and takes a strong person to be successful. If you enjoy decorating, that’s great, but further to my previous point, there is much more that goes into home staging than decorating, and if that’s your main motivation for getting into this industry, then you might find yourself disappointed. Being a home stager means being an entrepreneur and a small business owner, and everything that comes with that responsibility.

Q: Is home staging a low-cost investment start-up?

A: I go into further detail about this in my book, outlining the specific costs that can be expected when you start a home staging business, but it is certainly NOT a low-cost start-up. Even if you choose not to own a single accessory or piece artwork or furniture (which you will find pretty much impossible), you will still have your course costs, plus business registration and insurance, just like any other business. You’ll then need to spend money on marketing, lawyers, computers and mobile devices, software programs, website development, mileage, wear and tear on your vehicle, office supplies, etc. Before you have ever stepped foot in the door of a client’s home you can safely expect to spend around $8000-$9000, and in your first year, an additional $3000+.

Q: Advice for new stagers and those thinking of becoming a stager

A: These are actually two different answers, so I will try to address each point:

–    For new stagers, look for guidance from other stagers. There are a number of great resources available now and opportunities to connect with stagers across the globe! Keep in mind that different regions will have different markets, so you may need to adjust some ideas to suit your particular geographical area, but these can be very helpful. Keep in mind as well that most of these groups are private, to allow for free discussion of questions and concerns brought forth by fellow stagers, so you will need to have a registered business and website before you can join in. Some courses also offer networking opportunities with their other stagers, and of course, there is also the Real Estate Staging Association, which offers many benefits to stagers, including the opportunity to talk with and work with home stagers in your region. Bottom line is, ask questions wherever you can, it’s amazing what you can learn from others that have lived it.

–    For those thinking of a career, start by reading my book! Then, if you are still interested, the next step would be to research and determine the best course for your needs (I caution that selecting based on price might mean missing out on important tools that you’ll need down the road, so be sure to determine what your needs are). You’ll then want to research your own local market – is it a well-recognized part of the home selling process, or is it still an uphill battle gaining recognition and respect? I recommend doing this BEFORE you register for your course, so that you know what you are getting yourself into and can be prepared to build your business accordingly. Next, create your business plan. Remember, this is a business, and even if your first business plan doesn’t have all of the answers, it is an important stepping stone to get your business running. You can update your business plan as often as you like, so as you learn more about the industry, your clientele, and your market, you can adjust your plan accordingly.

Q: What does a typical day look like?

A: Well, I can’t given away everything from my book, but the short answer to this is that there is no such thing as a “typical” day in the world of home staging. That said, most days tend to include a lot of driving, phone calls, emails, and overall communication with clients and real estate agents, in addition to the numerous home staging consultations, preparing estimates and bids, keeping up with social media, and of course, selecting, packing, delivering, and placing the fun stuff, like artwork, accessories, and other furnishings.

Q: How many hours do you work in a week?

A: Pretty much all of the ones that I am awake for, but that’s not to say that you would have to! There are certainly some long days, but there can also be a great deal of flexibility, as long as you are willing to work around your clients’ schedules. Make no mistake though, this is a career that is intended to be a full-time one, and so I do not recommend it if you are looking for something as a part-time hobby.

Q: What inspired your upcoming book?

A: Questions like these, to be honest. If I had a dime for every time someone told me how “fun” they thought my job was, I would be retired! The truth is, I love what I do, and I really do think it is a lot of fun, but there are numerous not-so-fun aspects of it that many don’t see. Sadly I have seen too many new stagers perish in this industry because either it did not live up to their expectations of what they had hoped that it would be, or simply because they entered the staging world unprepared. Either way, my book will help you to make an informed decision about this industry, and whether or not it is right for you, hopefully before you have invested in the courses and business start-up.

Q: When do you anticipate that your new book will hit the shelves?

A: We are aiming for Fall of 2017, but we’ll be giving lots of notice when we have a specific release date.

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Shauna Lynn Simon is a Real Estate Staging Professional. She founded her company, Beyond The Stage Homes, in the Spring of 2008 and has been working closely with homeowners and Real Estate Agents ever since. In September of 2015, she founded SLS Academy, and has continued her passion for guiding aspiring home stagers.

 

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!