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How To Build A Successful Home Staging Business

If you are looking to start a home staging business, this blog has you covered. You will learn why home staging is important, how to start a small business, as well as how to price and market your home staging business.

What is Home Staging?

Picture of a kitchen that has been staged beautifully by a professional home stager

Home staging is the process of preparing a property for sale in the real estate market. The goal of home staging is to make the property as appealing as possible to potential buyers.

Homes that are staged tend to sell faster and for more than non-staged houses. Staging a home helps create an emotional attachment between the buyer and the home because buyers can visualize how they would live in your home.

Staging Statistics

According to recent 2020 report by IAHSP (The International Association of Home Staging Professionals), properties that were staged sold up to 30 times faster and for up to 20% percent more than other local properties. 

In a research study conducted by IAHSP, IAHSP surveyed 100,000 houses to see whether or not home staging had a positive effect on home sales.

Researchers took un-staged properties that had not sold on the market and staged those SAME properties. Those properties which had been on the market from 1 to 5 months, now sold within 3 weeks. The report also went on to conclude that 60% of staged properties appreciated at least 3% percent due to staging. 

Starting A Home Staging Business

Getting Started

If you are looking to start your own home staging business, I would highly encourage you to do it. According to a 2020 report by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals, an estimated 1 million properties were staged in 2019 in the United States alone. 

The same study also found that in the United State alone, there were around 10,000 home stagers. To put that into perspective there were 100 staged homes for every 1 stager. In other words, one stager on average staged around 100 homes a year. 

Getting into the home staging can be a highly lucrative business. With its relatively low competition and high profit margins, a home staging business can easily make over 6 figures in the first year alone. 

Setting SMART Goals

Picture of a business calendar book

In order to succeed in any business, you need to set goals for yourself. Home staging businesses are no exception. If you want to succeed, you need to set yearly, monthly, and even weekly goals for your business. 

Successful goals usually follow the SMART template. SMART goals stand for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. 

Specific

Goals need to be specific because you need to know what you are achieving. Goals that lack clarity will simply confuse you. For example, instead of saying “I want to grow my business this year” you could say “I want to increase the number of properties I stage.” 

Measurable

Goals need to be measurable so they can be attainable. You need a tracking system to evaluate and quantify your progress. For example, we could say something like this, “I want to increase the number of properties I stage from 100 homes to 1000 homes.” 

Attainable and Realistic

Goals also need to be attainable and realistic. Setting goals that are unrealistic are damaging because you feel that you are faced with an impossible task. Working off the last example, we could say, “I want to increase the number of properties I stage from 100 homes to 150 homes.”

Timely

Lastly, goals need to be timely. Your goals should have a clear timeline with a beginning and end date. We could add a timeframe like “I want to increase the number of properties I stage from 100 homes to 150 homes in a year from now.” In this example, the beginning date is “now” and the ending date would be a “year from now.”

Following these guidelines for your goals will put you on the right path of success. In our last example, we used the smart template to transform our goal from “I want to grow my business” to “I want to increase the number of properties I stage from 100 homes to 150 homes in a year from now.”

When crafting your own goals for your home staging business, make sure that they are SMART, or specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  

How To Succeed

There are 5 keys to success in home staging. If you want to build a successful staging business you will need:

Attitude

The most important thing in any business is the right attitude. Without the right attitude, your business will fail when things become tough. You need the attitude that no matter how many times you get knocked down or you hear “no”, you will get back up and keep going.

Marketing

Home staging is all about marketing. If you want to be a successful home stager, you will need to learn how to market your home staging business to home sellers and real estate agents. You will also need to start building your social media presence to attract new opportunities. 

Business Expertise

Running any type of business requires business skills. You need to know how to create and present presentations, pitch to clients, create portfolios and generate referrals in order to build a successful business. 

Staging Skills

If you want to build a successful staging business, you obviously need staging skills. However, stagers need to be aware of the latest staging trends within the real estate industry.

Communication

Communication is at the forefront of any business, especially staging. Real estate agents and home sellers need to be educated about the benefits of staging. How you communicate with potential clients is also key to your success.  

Staging Business Requirements

Important legal paperwork that a business owners need to do

Before starting any business, there is always legal paperwork to go through. Whether it is setting up a bank account or getting incorporated, it is always better to be over prepared than underprepared. Here are a couple of requirements to think about when starting your home staging company,

Naming Your Business

When choosing your business name, make sure that people can easily recognize that you offer staging services. For example, “Premiere Home Staging” is a great name that shows you’re in the business of home staging. 

Meet With Your Accountant

When starting your business, it is always important to get legally incorporated. You do not want the IRS to come after because you forgot to fill out a couple of forms. Decide whether you want to be a sole proprietor or a partnership and research what local forms you will need for your small business. 

Finding Your Business Address

Another aspect of getting incorporated is deciding on your business address. Oftentimes home stagers will put their home address as their business address which is completely fine. If you live in an apartment you can put suite to give your business a more professional look. 

Opening a Commercial Checking Account

Having a commercial checking account is part of running a good business. A commercial banking account will help you differentiate your business expenses from your household expenses.

Getting Liability Insurance

Although most people will skip over this step, liability insurance helps protect yourself from potential lawsuits. Because you are dealing with other people’s houses and furniture, it is essential to protect yourself against accidental damages. 

Your Home Staging Business Plan

Picture of business materials on table with a laptop

Your business will not succeed if you do not have a business plan. A business plan will help you differentiate you from your competition. For home stagers, a business plan will help create the foundational structure for your home staging business. A business plan consists of 5 essential elements.

  1. The Mission Statement
  2. Your Goals
  3. Identifying your Target Market
  4. The Daily Activities
  5. All The Details

The Mission Statement

Your mission statement is the starting point of any business plan. A mission statement represents the life of your business. In to create an impactful mission statement ask yourself these questions;

  1. What is my business about?
  2. What services does my business provide?
  3. Who is my target market?
  4. What is the purpose of my business?

When crafting your mission statement, make sure that it is short, clear, and concise. Most mission statements are no longer than a sentence. For example, the mission statement for you home staging business could sound like this,

To provide home sellers and real estate agents with the highest quality of staging services to help them sell their properties quickly and for the highest possible price.

Identifying Your Target Market

Identifying what your market is key to starting any business. After all, you need customers to buy your product or service to become successful. In home staging, your target market is going to be dependent on your geographical area. 

You can choose to target a very large geographical area like Southern California or just a city like Dallas. If you do not like driving, you can choose to target customers in your own city. However if you make your geographic market too small, you are potentially losing out on customers in a nearby city. 

A good rule of thumb I use is that if a customer calls me, I will go regardless of the distance. If a potential client lives far away, I usually factor in a traveling fee and factor traveling expenses into the bid proposal. 

Daily Activities

The daily activities are the things that drive your business forward. Your daily activities should always be in line with your weekly or monthly goals. For example, if your goal is to meet with one real estate agency a week, then your daily activity could be scheduling phone calls or writing emails to agencies.

Daily activities should be planned out ahead of time so you can hold yourself accountable. When crafting your daily activities try to be as specific as possible. This will help you stay on task with your work.

Daily activities should follow a list format. For example,

  • Monday – Create a list of 100 real estate agencies to reach out to within my target geographical market.
  • Tuesday – Email your potential client list to set up an appointment.
  • Wednesday – Follow up with your entire client list with a phone call to create potential leads.
  • Thursday – Visit real estate agencies in person to create an appointment. Bring a gift basket as a marketing tool.
  • Friday – Follow up with any email, phone, or in person leads, and schedule an appointment for next week.

Services Provided By Home Staging Companies

An accredited home stager giving a consultation to a home seller

Home Stagers offer more than just staging services. In addition to staging, home stagers also offer bids and consultations. The entire process of staging a client’s home is done in a series of steps. The first includes either a staging bid or a staging consultation. 

Staging Bids

A staging bid and consultation are similar in a lot of ways. However, the main difference between a staging bid and consultation is that there is no charge for a staging bid proposal.

When a client calls you and requests a staging bid proposal, you are essentially giving them a quote for how much you would charge to stage their homes. If a client accepts your bid proposal, you just landed a staging project. 

To prepare a staging bid, take a tour of the property with the homeowners. An initial tour is a great opportunity to meet with the homeowners and create a friendly relationship.

Creating a friendly relationship will increase their trust in you and make them more likely to accept your proposal. A property tour will also allow you to see the property and ask questions about any current problems.

After the initial tour, make sure to go back and do a detailed walkthrough. This is where you will take notes about how you would stage their home. During this walkthrough, make sure to take a lot of photographs that you could reference back. Photographs are a great way for you to visualize how you would rearrange furniture, and other changes. 

The entire process up till now should take no less than 45 minutes. If you want you can spend extra time talking to the homeowners in order to create lasting impressions on them. Trust is the number one factor when it comes to landing clients. Remember, people just do not buy the service they buy into the person as well.

Preparing the Bid

A bid in essence is like a quote. When you are preparing a bid for a client, you are essentially quoting them for how much you would charge for your staging services. When creating your bid/quote sheet make sure to include:

  • Each room that needs to be staged
  • Outdoor areas that need to be staged
  • Staging fee
  • Traveling cost
  • Loading and unloading time
  • Rental furniture cost
  • Furniture removal cost
  • Hired labor cost

Make sure to differentiate the costs between one time and variable costs. For example, if you decide to rent furniture they will charge you on a monthly basis. If you hire additional labor like movers or assistants, they will charge on an hourly basis. As a home stager, your job is to estimate the time and cost of variable expenses and present them in a fixed quote to buyers. 

Staging Fees 

Staging fees should be charged on a project level basis, not by the hour. For example, you should not quote a home seller that you would charge $150 dollars per hour. Home sellers are much less likely to hire you if you charge by the hour, because they want to know how much it will cost. 

Instead, you should give them a fixed fee. Your staging fee could be 1,500 dollars or 2,000 dollars or more depending on the size of the project. 

When setting your fees, take into account your business expenses like utilities and insurance. Expenses like these are oftentimes forgotten, and can decide whether or not you make a profit.

In order to account for your business expenses, make a list of all your expenses and total them up. Then include your business expenses in the form of a business fee in your quote. 

Staging Consultations

A stager sitting down with a homeowner to talk about real estate

Most leads will actually come in the form of staging consultations. In fact, most home stagers receive more staging consultation requests than staging bid proposals. 

Before conducting a staging consultation, it is important to take the time to learn about the house. This will give you an idea of how long and how much to charge for your consultation. 

Here are some questions you should ask a real estate agent;

  • What is the square footage of the entire property?
  • Has there been any price reductions?
  • What is the list price of the home?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms there are?
  • Has a pre-inspection been conducted?
  • What do you know about staging? 

Walkthrough and Report

In a typical home staging consultation, a home stager will take an initial tour with the owners around the property. During this time, you will get an idea of how big the property is, how many rooms there are and how long it will take you to conduct a home staging consultation. After this quick tour, explain to the homeowners how you will conduct a second and more detailed walk through of the entire property.

During this detailed walk through, you will take notes and photographs of the things that need to be fixed. After the detailed walkthrough of the house, prepare a preliminary home staging report with your findings in it. You will also use this time to give the homeowners an estimate of your consultation fee.

Next, make a formal consultation report using any photographs you had taken earlier. In a formal consultation report, write down any suggestions you have if you were to stage the property. Make sure to receive payment before you hand over the formal consultation. 

Once you have received payment, sit down with the homeowners and go through each suggestion answering any questions the homeowners would have. 

When conducting a staging consultation, it is equally as important to educate the homeowners or real estate agent about home staging and the benefits of it. This will help you later convert your consultation into a potential staging project. 

How Much To Charge For A Home Staging Consultation

Figuring out how much to charge for a consultation is not an exact science since your consultation can vary dramatically. The amount of time to conduct a consultation and craft a report depends on the size of the house, the floor plan, and the amount of staging that needs to be done. However, on average, a staging consultation will usually cost under 500 dollars for most houses.

Some stagers use the square footage of a home as a guide to help them determine what to charge for their consultation report. For example, for 

  • A 1,000 – 2,000 sq ft home, you might charge $250 
  • A 2,000 – 3,000 sq ft home, you might charge $350
  • A 3,000 – 4,000 sq ft home, you might charge $500

This method is a fairly simple and easy way to price your consultation, since it is based on the size of the house. The bigger the house the more rooms you will have to look at and the more recommendations you will make.  

On average, a consultation will take 2 and half hours of your time in addition to travel costs. To put that in perspective if you charge $250 dollars for a consultation, that is around $100 dollars per hour as a professional home stager. 

Starting out, you may price your consultation a little bit lower or higher than the average market price. However, learning how to price your staging consultation comes with time and experience as every house and seller is different. 

Yearly Salary

Home staging can be a highly lucrative business. In your first year alone, you can easily make upwards of $75,000. 

For example, if you

  • Stage four properties and charge $1,500 each = $6,000
  • Consult on four properties a month for $275 a month = $1,000
  • Total gross income for one month = $7,000
  • Estimated gross income for the year = $84,000

If you stage and consult four properties a month, you could be making $84,000 a year in a matter of months. If you stage five or 6 properties a month you could make over six figures. 

Marketing Your Home Staging Business

Marketing is essential for a successful home staging business. As a home stager, people need to know who you are, how you can help them, and what services you provide. 

In fact, most businesses fail because of insufficient marketing. As a home stager, you need to go out and network with professionals. Networking is the key to your success. 

When you start your staging business, there are two important markets you need to hit: home sellers and the real estate market. On average, the real estate market is easier to market to because most real estate agents have heard about staging. On the other hand, home sellers are more difficult to target because they need to be educated on home staging and its benefits. 

In order to reach both these markets, you need to develop a marketing plan. 

Marketing Plan

A person crafting a marketing plan with a book and a laptop

A marketing plan is very similar to a business plan. In short, a marketing plan is a road map that will help you get clients for your small business. Your staging marketing plan should cover:

  • How are you going to reach your target audience? For example, are you going to email or set up one on one meetings with real estate agents. If you are doing in-person meetings, are you going to give a presentation?
  • Are you going to join any local professional associations? Local real estate associations will help you meet the community as well as real estate agents. Homeowners and builders associations will also help you reach sellers and builders alike. 
  • Are you going to build a website? Websites will help showcase your work and reach people in your area. 
  • Are you going to run ads? If so, are you going to do facebook ads, pinterest ads, etc. 
  • What kind of marketing materials are you going to develop? A portfolio book, presentations, sales pitch, etc

Portfolio Book

A portfolio book open showcasing their work

A portfolio book is the most important thing that will help you land clients. If you are meeting with a real estate agent, or doing a consultation or bid proposal make sure to bring your career book with you. A portfolio book is designed to be left with potential clients so that they learn about you.. 

A portfolio book contains all the past work you have done. You can reference past jobs, testimonials, and your home staging certification. Make sure to put before and after pictures of the homes you have staged, as potential clients love pictures. 

In short, a portfolio book builds trust and credibility in your work and services. Having a portfolio book will definitely land you more staging projects. 

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