Preparing for a successful staging start-up

Services for Real Estate Pros with InvisibleAssistant Services

Visualize the process

If you've never done a consultation or staged a home for a client before, it can be hard to know exactly what to expect. But going in unprepared, or worse, intimidated, will show. As everyone knows, first impressions count, and you're not going to get repeat business from a realtor that thinks you don't know what you're doing. So take the time beforehand and visualize the whole process from start to finish.

To help with this, visit open houses, and watch how homebuyers walk through a house. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend taking some kind of staging training. I'm not here to recommend one form over another, but advice you get from an experienced professional can be priceless. Then sit down and decide things such as:

How you will tour the house

Whether you will include the realtor & seller on the first tour, or do it alone

How much information you'll give out at a consultation

How you will bill (hourly, by project, or a combination)

When you will collect your fees, etc.


Have your forms ready

Many people have some marketing materials, and maybe a contract, ready when they officially open for business. But to you show that you're a professional, and you mean business, you need to have everything ready. The last thing you want to do is rush to create forms if your business suddenly takes off. Once you've visualized your process, you should have a good idea of what documents you will want to use. Inspection and consultation forms, email responses to requests for information, telephone consultation forms, and bid/proposal sheets are a good place to start. Try to have everything ready before you ever speak with your first client.      


Brand everything

            It may seem obvious, but your business name and logo should be on anything a client could possibly see. Receiving a professional proposal on a well-designed letterhead really makes a great impression. But so does catching a glimpse of your professional looking telephone consultation form as you refer to it while in their home. Effectively branding will make you memorable with local realtors, and help build your business.


Research Is Key

Know your costs. It's easy to say "I want to make $30 an hour, so that's what I'll charge". But you may only physically "work" a few hours a week on a project. Factor in time spent shopping, doing administrative work (or the cost of contracting that out), and marketing your business. Additionally, make sure you cover the costs of monthly bills like telephone and internet services, and average out the costs of materials like brochures and business cards, paper, print and fax cartridges, inventory, etc.

Know your market, for both home sales as well as your competition. Being up to date on what the seller/realtor is facing in the local market helps as you discuss the property on a tour. You wouldn't want to make a completely incorrect assessment of the house, would you? And make sure you know how you compare to other stagers in the area. If you are really low or really high, reevaluate your costs and your expectation of income.


Be confident in your rates, and exactly what they include

Don't apologize when you quote your rates. If you've gone through the above steps, you know that you're giving them a good value for their money. Quote it confidently, and expect that they will pay for your professional services on whatever terms you have decided for your business. If a service they are asking for is above and beyond what they're paying for, have the confidence to tell them that it isn't normally included, but that you would be happy to give them a quote for it.

If you have trouble confidently quoting your rates, try this great trick I got from another virtual assistant...Practice saying "My hourly rate is (double your rate). Once you practice saying this for a while, your real rate will sound like a whole lot less.

Think long & hard before undervaluing your services. It's tempting to lower your rates to get business in the beginning, but think about this. Once you've established yourself as a local staging professional, how difficult will it be to raise your rates then? Do you want to risk the contacts and reputation you've worked so hard for by changing your prices? This isn't to say you can't decide you need to increase your prices in the future. But starting off well undervalue will mean you will have to raise your rates by a lot to be at a fair value to you.


To get the full, FREE Staging Start-Up Checklist, visit our website at . While you're there, check out our Staging Start-Up Kit, along with other great resources for new Stagers.

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