Many inexperienced stagers offer a free one hour staging consultation. It's a fast road to burn -out and business failure.
Imagine the number of tire-kickers you'll get!
Consider the time it takes to prepare for, schedule, travel to and attend these meetings, plus the inevitable phone calls you'd make after the fact to try and get the client to hire you.
Conservatively, I'd estimate the free "hour" takes you at least two or three hours when all is said and done.
As soon as you walk through the front door, you'll be giving them advice. They'll ask you direct questions:
- "What color would you repaint the living room?"
- "Do you think this room shows well?"
- "What should I do with my family room?"
- "Do you think I need to replace my appliances?"
- "Does it matter that our dining room is being used as a playroom instead?"
- "What would you do with the outside of my house?"
If you're there for a "free consultation," you'll have to answer these questions and more. Then why would the client feel compelled to hire you later? More often than not, they'll take all your advice and put it into action on their own. They may not do it as well as you would, but they don't necessarily see that.
Not getting the job only to visit the house later on an open house, and seeing how they really didn't show it as well as you would have done is cold comfort when you've wasted a few hours of your time for no money.
What about making a bid on a job?
If you're telling yourself, I don't offer "free consultations" but I do go out for free to bid on a job. All of my above comments still apply. How can you do a bid without giving advice? As soon as you walk through the client's door you'll be telling them what needs to be changed, what you would add, etc.
I don't care if you're there to do an estimate on staging an empty home. You'll be figuring out what each room needs and telling them. That's valuable information and you should be charging for it if you are a professional home stager and not a hobbyist looking to fill your days!
When you're a professional home stager, you're in a service business. You have your time to sell. Every hour you spend in someone's house for free is an hour that you didn't sell to someone else. If your hourly rate is $100, that's how much this Free hour is costing you! It's only free for the client and that's no way to make a living!
This is an excerpt from my comment in one of the many discussions currently taking place on the Staging Diva Network Online Discussion Group. We also discuss this and related topics in the Staging Diva Training Program, course 3, "Taking the Mystery out of Home Staging Consultations", a $199 audio course that you can have sent to you by email when you order.
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