I would like to explain to you how I work.
This is not meant to offend, just to educate you on the steps I take when I start the home staging bid process and when you'd like me to stage your property in the next day or two from initial contact, I'd like you to understand the process I undergo before we can even begin and I hope you understand why I can't do it with a snap of my fingers.
I only wish it were that simple. BELIEVE me I do!
Let's set the scenario:
Day 1: I get a phone call let's say on a Wednesday : (actual) Client says:
"Hello, I have a (vacant) house that needs staging, how does it work and how much does it cost & can it be done possibly this Friday?"
My reply usually goes like this, "Thank you for contacting me, of course I can explain the home staging process but may I ask you some questions first?"
(I have a list of questions I ask prior to even getting to their question and I can thank my friend Michelle Minch for this idea on a blog she wrote a while back)
- "Where is the house located? (if it's not in my area I will refer)
- How many square feet?
- Is it already listed on the MLS? If yes, how long?
- What is the list price?
- Have you had any feedback or offers?
- How did you find me?"
For my area, and I stress MY AREA, North, TX, the general, ball park, average figure to stage a vacant property is 1 to 1.5% of the list price of the house (which includes, rental furniture, accessories, professional staging and de staging once sold, delivery and set up for 3 months or until the property sells).
To explain further in the North Texas market, we have large homes that are not as large dollar as the rest of the country (we've never been in a "bubble") so please don't send me comments saying that that would never fly where you are - it's a ball park figure and it flies here much of the time if you're pricing it right. And pricing is not the point of this blog to begin with.
After about a 10- 15 minute phone conversation (sometimes longer) I send the client on to my website if they have further questions or I schedule an appointment to "go see" the house and write a bid.
I do offer a variety of options though as well, from verbal to written reports (for the diy'ers) rental furniture options with accessories, they do part, I do part or all etc.
There is no "one size fits all" in my book when it comes to home staging.
People who are budget conscious need a variety of options. Those who aren't need quick facts and price. Period. No sense wasting their time or mine.
Let's say we proceed from there.
- We schedule a mutually convenient time to meet at the property
- Or (in the case of out of area people and there are many here in that situation) I call their Realtor and schedule a mutually convenient time to meet at the property to see what needs to be done.(trying to make it as soon as possible after the phone call)
- We meet.
- Usually after about an hour or less I have the photos and information I'll need to write up my bid.
- I do not offer advice on what could be done to further improve the property. However, if I see that there are some things that need focus/dollars more than staging can help, I will insist that I do see areas that are in need of addressing prior to investing in staging because in some cases, staging is NOT what they need to concentrate on but updating. This information will be provided in a paid report, not my "go see" for a bid. I have had much success in being up front & honest with my clients. Some I've only done a report for others it goes through to a staging contract, but I will be up front and honest about what should be done PRIOR to staging - always. Whether I get the full job or not.
I return to my office at some point during the day (and believe it or not, your property is probably not the only one I'm seeing today nor is it the only thing I do in a day. This doesn't even include the days that I'm actually staging either or presenting reports to clients which are often done after 7PM when clients return home from work)
FYI: Here are some other things I do regularly on my work days;
- I shop fast for inventory for other properties I'm scheduled to work on (my inventory runs low sometimes)
- I may be destaging another property that sold
- I drop or pick things up from my storage facility and itemize new inventory for my records if I'm dropping off new items
- I field/make calls from/to other potential clients, current clients, family and friends
- I schedule other appointments
- I attend meetings to network or help others learn more about the home staging profession
- I take care of problems that may occasionally arise with inventory at other staged properties ("oh darn, that inflatable bed has a leak?")
- I prepare contracts and other bids I've been working on
- I pay bills, make deposits (all the general office stuff)
- The list goes on but....
- Once back at the office I start the process of preparing the bid exclusively for your property.
Let's take it from there:
- Once back at the office (sometimes not until 4 or 5 or later depending on the day) I prepare my company's end of the bid (staging and accessory fees) and the furniture choices needed for the property (this is a process unto itself since I don't carry large furniture myself, I utilize the services of national furniture rental companies for my clients. I choose the furniture that will compliment YOUR home specifically based on the rental companies collections)
- I write the furniture quote and send it off to the rental company for their "official" bid. They get back to me as fast as they can, but again, I'm not the only stager or person they need to get back to so it can take up to a day and a half to get the quote from them.
- In the meantime, I estimate what the rental furniture will cost (and I will play hardball with the rental company if it doesn't come back close to the figure I quote you - I want the best price for YOU)
- I prepare and send you the bid for your property via email
- I wait for your call
- I sometimes hear back after days or weeks from the time I sent the bid, sometimes never again at all(I've called and left emails but it is your decision if you wish to proceed)
- I get a phone call.
- You want to stage? Great!
- You want to do it by when? Friday?
- Today is Wednesday.
- I am already booked. I have already scheduled more appointments and a de staging that day.
- The furniture rental company needs at least 48 hours to schedule your job.
- You need to sign and return their contract with payment.
- I still need to send you my contracts.
- You'll need to review and sign the contracts.
- We need to set a date.
- I'll need initial payment (yes I take Credit Cards, no I don't take payment after closing)
- I'll have to start pulling inventory for your property to compliment the furniture collections already selected.
- No, I'm very sorry I can't do it this Friday.
I truly wish it were as easy as the asking for it, but the process of home staging is not instantaneous at least where my company is concerned.
The process can be quick if all parties are on the same page and scheduling permits and the stars are in alignment that week.
But please understand the next time you contact a professional stager, that although they wish to work as quickly for you as they can, in many cases that it is impossible to work on less than 48 hours notice.
Client and Professional Stager feedback most welcomed here!