My mother, Terrylynn Fisher, was able to sit down and talk to Melissa Marro about her business and expertise. I thought it would be nice to share the information here. I was lucky enough to finally meet Melissa (and her business partner, Bevin Googer) in person at our Orlando Expo. They are wonderful to talk to in person and have so much business knowledge to share.
Melissa founded First Impressions Home Staging & Interior Redesign in 2005 and helped it become one of the premier staging and training companies in the southeast. While still helping clients with their local staging needs, she also helps other stagers begin and grow their businesses. Melissa volunteers her time to help grow the Real Estate Home Staging Industry and holds several organizational leadership positions including IRIS South Carolina Chapter President and RESA/SIF Roundtable Moderator. In 2007/2008 she also held the RESA Southeast Regional Vice President Position and was nominated for the 2007 RESA Staging Innovator of the Year and 2007 RESA Staging Professional of the Year awards. Winner of 2009 RESA Professional Stager of the Year Award and nominee of 2009 RESA Staging Innovator of the Year.
Q: Melissa how many employees do you have?
A: Technically we don't have any employees, however there are five of us on our team. Everyone is an independent contractor for First Impressions Staging & Interior ReDesign.
Q: How large is your warehouse?
A: We have a 2,700 square foot warehouse with office and classroom space and enough inventory to stage approximately 40-45 homes simultaneously.
Q: How many houses do you think you've staged in your career?
A: Wow, tough question! I haven't tracked the actual number of units. We have staged over $90 million in homes actively on the market in the last 3 years. As a company, we average 30+ vacant staged homes at any given time.
Q:In this down economy what are three action items that you recommend a Stager do to ensure that they stay in business and actually continue to grow their business?
A: 1) Stay Focused. Have a written goal plan and daily plan of action. Stick to it.
2) Stay Positive.Nothing will get you further in this business than having a positive attitude. If you are having a bad day, who cares, when you are working this business you need to have your stuff together, a smile on your face and be ready to take on the world!
3) Remember that it's about the Client.Too many sales people (yes, we are in sales) worry about getting the deal. If things are slow, they get desperate and lose focus of the fact that we are providing something of value to the client - something that helps them. Don't worry about the sale. If you do what's best for the client, your business will grow and the money will follow.
Q: Why did you decide to take part in the StagerLIST Expo Series?
A:I think it's a great venue to help stagers. Many stagers haven't been given the tools to grow their business and don't know who to ask, or even what to ask much of the time. Gathering successful companies in the idustry to share their knowledge, answer questions and help offer opportunities is something we definitely felt we needed to be part of. Besides all of that, I'm looking forward to meeting others in the Real Estate Home Staging Industry who I've never me in person, but through online contact feel I'm already friends with.
Q: What workshops will you be teaching at the Indianapolis Expo and why do you think they will be of value to those attending?
A: I'll be teaching about Marketing and Portfolio Presentations. These are perhaps two of our strongest arenas as a company. They are also two components that can determine whether you'll be successful in this industry. In the marketing course, I'll be teaching the primary ways our company markets itself, why and how it works, ideas that work in any area of the country. After working as a manager in one of the largest real estate companies in Charleston, I learned how agents think. These ideas cut to the chase, providing stagers with clear cut timelines, guidelines and farming techniques that agents respond to.In the portfolio class, well discuss photography techniques and learn how to put all their skills together to make a compelling portfolio. This will help overcome objections, show off their staging skills and help make their statistics work for them.
Q: In your opinion what is the most important development in the Real Estate Home Staging Industry today?
A: Lately I've noticed a lot of opportunities for stagers to network with other stagers - StagersLIST Expos inlcuded. StagersLIST, RESA, Roundtables and online forums really help new stagers learn their craft, learn what is acceptable and what isn't and help answer burning questions in ways that weren't previously available. I think these are of tremendous value and stagers need to be taking advantage of them.
Thank you Terrylynn for arranging to interview this industry leader, and thank you Melissa for sharing your expertise with the rest of us!