Training the competition?

Home Stager with Restage Inc.

I recently started receiving quite a few emails and phone calls from new stager's requesting to apprentice with our company.

What would you say?

I personally felt that it was a conflict of interest as why would I train my competition and supply insider information?

How does our company benefit?

Besides the obvious free labour for a short term the downsides I felt far outweighed the positives. I would not ask another company to train me so I could learn how to start my own company it seems unethical.

We do not offer training courses or our policies may have been different.

I tried to see both sides but still felt after a company meeting that it was not something that we felt comfortable doing. Of course everyone is different and has different opinions.

We would love to hear from you on your thoughts.

Comments (12)

Lisa VonBargen
Photography7522 - Estes Park, CO
Estes Park Real Estate Photographer

Interesting. Non-competes really don't protect you, either. I suppose a certain length of apprenticeship might be a good idea, but stuff always happens with that too. I think you need to trust your first instinct.

Nov 24, 2009 01:48 AM
Kim Suecroft - Hanson
Restage Inc. - Calgary, AB

I thought of non-compete's and non-disclosures but really they are not fail safe. I agree and felt that we made the right decision. I really don't understand people's thinking when they ask for a position and tell us exactly what their plans are. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Thanks for your comment/

Nov 24, 2009 01:54 AM
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Kim, isn't it surprising that they would tell, from the onset, their plans.  At least you know and that's rather refreshing. 

My only thoughts, other than I probably wouldn't do it, is that you might set them straight on the "realities" of staging and they might reconsider becoming your competition.  Anyone that has wanted to shadow or apprentice with me is usually turned off when they discover how much lifting, packing, carrying, ironing, steaming and WORK is involved in the staging day.  Perhaps if you let them know that this is what being an assistant entails they would back out?   Most of my assistants only lasted a few hours.  (NO ONE likes to IRON.)

My current assistant tells me at the beginning of each job..."remember I DON'T IRON"...then she does it anyway.  (-:  She's a keeper and will never be a competitor.

Nov 24, 2009 02:14 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Kim ~ There was a large staging company here in our city that took on "apprentices" after they'd completed their staging training course.  The staging company would get free labor for staging projects, and the newbie stager would learn a lot about how the company operated.  Of course, none of those newbies ever stayed long with the company since they were there to learn what they could and were offering free labor.   In my business, I prefer to pay everyone assisting me on staging projects, and do so on every job.  They also sign an independent contractor agreement that my attorney prepared.  It protects the company from claims against injuries, damage, etc. and is very important.

Nov 24, 2009 05:27 AM
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

We offer a job shadow program, and like Ginger said; "Anyone that has wanted to shadow or apprentice with me is usually turned off when they discover how much lifting, packing, carrying, ironing, steaming and WORK is involved in the staging day."  And that isn't even all of it as you know.  Most people who want to job shadow think it will be "fun".  They really have no idea how much goes into it until they help one day.  If they want to do it again, we let them come back.  In fact, that is how Ryan and I met... I needed help and he was there to help me.  Then we started a partnership.  We have ended up with some great assistants who are only involved with the staging, packing, and destaging.  I have no fear that just because I allow someone to job shadow, they will take my business. It would take them years to get were we are now, and we still would be far, far ahead of 'em. ;))

Nov 24, 2009 12:59 PM
Wanda Richards
Shows Great Home Staging and Web Solutions - Roanoke, VA
Shows Great Home Staging

Great post with interesting comments.  I am approached almost weekly by people that either want to "follow me around for the day" or work with us.  I like the idea of the shadow program and I agree with Lori, it would take them years to get where we are today and it takes more than just knowing how to place the furniture.  There are all the back end things that go on like marketing and following up.  Thanks for getting me thinking about this again.  Right now I have sub contractors that I work with plus I have two subs that work with me weekly which will probably switch to employees in 2010

Nov 24, 2009 09:30 PM
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

When I get calls like that, I try to discern whether they want to start their own staging business, or just want to work for someone else as a stager. Not everyone has the desire or stomach to start their own business. Once I explain the degree of physical labor and the investment of time and money required, many say thank you and I never hear from them again. Mostly I don't give competitors a second thought. I am on friendly terms with many stagers in my area. I don't consider them competitors, but collegues. I'd rather not waste energy worrying about competitiors.

Nov 25, 2009 02:34 AM
Dana Smithers
PRES Staging Resource Centre - Vancouver, BC
PRES Staging Training, Redesign Training & Busines

Kym I too have that situation come up and I own and operate the PRES Staging school in Vancouver BC. When I am approached for someone to job shadow me I tell them I only take my students into client's homes because of the insurance. When someone is in training they are covered by their own home insurance. However once you are a professional like you are, if you have someone on the job with you TECHNICALLY they should have their own insurance. I would suspect if your read your insurance policy you would see that anyone that CONTRACTS with you must have their own insurance. So, you could tell them this.

On the other hand, I think it is a natural for potential stagers to want to connect with someone already doing the work. They are doing their due diligence which I think is wise for anyone looking at home staging as a career.

Nov 25, 2009 06:27 AM
Kim Dillon
Creative Eye Home Staging - West Chester, PA

Good post since we all get these calls and letters frequently.  So far, I haven't taken any one up on the offer.  They are usually too far away for it to be of any real help to me or them.  If they happened to call at the right time, I would not be adverse to letting them help.  We all had to learn the ropes somewhere, and as was stated earlier, they would have a long way to go to develop the relationships I have worked so hard for.

Nov 25, 2009 10:02 AM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"

All great comments, another deterrent is getting schedules togehter, since I do this full-time, I can pull an all nighter and have some help that can do so as well, (that's not something I ask of them to do, they are fantastic) and have before, quite a few times.  Not because I've wanted to, but things happen, schedules change, construction dates are moved back etc.  I think most people think you go to the house and move things around.  They don't realize, it has to be pulled, packed, loaded, unloaded, and then staged in the elements.  Then there's the little things that catch you up they may take an extra hour or two or longer.  Most people don't realize everything that goes into it.  I didn't!

Nov 25, 2009 04:38 PM
Connie Tebyani
Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro - Calabasas, CA
Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County

Funny, I read this and thought of a completely different scenario. I am friendsand share information freely with many Stagers in my area, and like Michelle I see them as friends and colleagues and not competitors.  However there is one established Staging company in my own back yard (within a few miles literally) who seems to contact me on a regular basis about any number of items: vendors, rentals, pricing, you name it.  Because of their close proximity I DO consider this company as "competition" and I always seem to feel rather urked that they would call ME and ask me for MY trade secrets.  I guess imitating is the best form of flattery. But MY secrets are what sets me and my company APART from my"competition" and I don't feel it's in my best interest to train my competition.


Nov 27, 2009 02:57 AM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

I enjoyed reading the varied comments here.  I think the point is with most of these people, even those that would consider it, that there are certain times when they would not and certain companies or people they would not share with.  It just depends, but go with your gut.  Sometimes that person who is talented but unrealistic could be a terrific employee with longevity.  The hard part of business success is everyone wants to be you, or take your spot.  Just do what you do best and, as many of those who answered you, you'll be just fine whether you do it or not.  Best of luck.

Nov 27, 2009 06:04 PM