Thank Goodness for Mulligans..

By
Home Stager with Room Service Home Staging
http://activerain.com/droplet/4XQK

Thank Goodness for Mulligans…

Most of us who’ve been in business for any amount of time have learned lessons...some the hard way and others that thankfully were learned before too much damage was done.

This month Grant Schneider  is hosting the ActiveRain Contest: balanceWho Says There Are No Do Overs?  He has asked us to share mistakes we’ve made in our business that we were able to do over.

Mine was a common mistake that many who are in business for themselves make, and that is putting too much emphasis on pricing your service to get the business and not enough on pricing to make a profit.

Of course, I could not have started at a worse time in the housing industry...2007-2008.  We’d moved back to Florida where the concept of home staging was very new.  In fact many agents, I discovered, were not familiar with what it was.

Add to that the fact that many sellers were reluctant to pay anymore than they had to to sell their home, and things did not look bright for a home staging business in South Florida.

But, I wanted the business.  I’m a bit competitive and the thought of saying “I’ll pass.” to a client just didn’t compute.   The Hunter-Gatherer in me needed to gather jobs.

And so, I priced my services to get the client.

At the lowest point in our local economy, I even offered a $99 Walk n Talk Consultation for a limited time.

I’d hoped that this would encourage agents to try to sell this to their sellers.  

How many of these were requested?  NONE

Calls for staging vacant homes started coming in but once again, rather than price to make money, I priced to get the job. (somewhat like agents who will agree to a low List Price just to get the listing.)

I covered my actual expenses, but was I making money?

The consultations I performed cost me no more than gas and my time but, as my husband (and many others) said your time is worth something.

For my vacant staging fees, when I broke everything down to how much I made an hour, it was pitiful.

 

What did I do?

I knew that to make this a business and not a hobby, I had to look at it as such.

I began by speaking with as many stagers as I could.  Some were once active here on ActiveRain( Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging , just to name one who taught me a lot!!!)  and my sounding board Sharon Tara .

Many were in areas where home staging thrived and was the norm.  I learned how they arrived at what they would charge for their service, keeping in mind that it would have to be tailored to Palm Beach County.

Next I went to Cort Furniture Rental to see how I could work with clients, use the services of Cort but take me out of the picture as regards to renting the actual furniture myself.

 

The last thing I did was create a spreadsheet. I included every expense and hours that it would take for a vacant staging.

I took such things  into consideration as the extra time involved to stage a high-rise condominium, for example.  Depending upon where the freight elevators are, it can take you at least twice as long to bring your inventory in.

Armed with this, I was ready to stage vacant homes and make money.  As for the consultations, I set a fee and stuck to it.  

 

I also allowed myself to turn down jobs and refer them to others.  This is the best thing I’ve done for me in what I do.

 

 

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Rainmaker
1,956,021
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Been there and certainly done that!

When I first started, I was charging $40 an hour and offering 1 hour consults.  It's not worth leaving the house for $40, nevermind the drive to and from (sometimes 40 mins.) and the fact that most of the consults were more like 90 mins. without any additional fee charged. 

Live and learn!

Dec 02, 2016 10:13 AM #14
Rainmaker
806,462
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Kathy ~ so many home stagers who are successful today started out around the same time (I launched my Portland staging business in late 2006 and joined AR a few months later), and we found such great camaraderie here on AR and shared tons of helpful information.  Most of us who learned to price our services correctly are still in business!

I had so much business resulting from exposure including through AR posts that it led to being unable to continue at the same blogging pace ... I ran out of time  due to a packed staging schedule as well as my role with the Real Estate Staging Association, where I served as national president of the board for three years.  I still log on to AR daily and enjoy reading posts about the always-evolving world of real estate!   I like helping newer stagers too, and pass on to them the importance of pricing their services correctly so that they'll be profitable and be able to stay in business.  All of us learned that by trial and error 

Dec 02, 2016 10:39 AM #15
Ambassador
2,617,523
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Kathy - Many of us have been in the same situation starting out. You made the right adjustments for long term survival, and it has obviously paid off well. Have a great weekend!

Dec 02, 2016 02:17 PM #16
Rainmaker
2,574,006
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Kathy,  Well done.  If we do not see the value in what we do we are hard pressed to be able to sell it to someone else.  Some folks will never see it because all they care about is getting a discount.  We get what we pay for. 

Dec 02, 2016 02:49 PM #17
Rainmaker
2,133,075
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Every successful business usually has a very good business plan.  It sounds like you formulated your's, stuck to it, and it has worked!

Dec 02, 2016 04:28 PM #18
Rainmaker
4,550,184
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thank you  very much for sharing some of your personal business experience.

Dec 02, 2016 05:00 PM #19
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Thank you Gita Bantwal 

Barbara Todaro my mantra..."my way or the highway."  LOL

Thank you James Dray 

Sally K. & David L. Hanson so many have this leson to learn. 

Dec 02, 2016 05:47 PM #20
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Gabe Sanders There are many successful stagers who've learned this lesson. 

You are so right about that Wayne Martin 

And you as well Scott Godzyk 

Dorie Dillard I know a fellow stager who regretted her big discounts because it was so hard to back off of them. 

Dec 02, 2016 05:49 PM #21
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

That's the key, isn't it Sheila Anderson 

Michael Jacobs in the beginning, I'd also drive a lot further than I do now. 

You're too kind Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint I was lucky to have my friends here in the community and stagers elsewhere. 

Dec 02, 2016 05:52 PM #22
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Thank you Ron and Alexandra Seigel And, I don't even play golf!

Lottie Kendall trust me, I would not have been able to do this without the help of others. 

No kidding Sharon Tara No matter how much we'd like to help sellers with the sale of their home, it's a business. 

Dec 02, 2016 05:56 PM #23
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging so good to see you here.  I would have been lost without your help!!!! I had lunch earlier this year with a stager in the next county who is getting started.  I was my turn to "pay it forward" 

Dec 02, 2016 05:58 PM #24
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Dick Greenberg  I'd always worked for a company prior to doing this.  Fees, rates, etc were something that were set for me. Being on your own is an eye-opener. 

Kathleen Daniels I've learned exactly that.  Clients whose main concern is a discount are just not for me. 

Dec 02, 2016 06:01 PM #25
Ambassador
3,266,922
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Myrl Jeffcoat I no longer have a need be the stager for everyone.  And, that's a good feeling. 

Roy Kelley Thank you...Hoping you and Dolores have a wonderful weekend. 

Dec 02, 2016 06:04 PM #26
Rainmaker
996,993
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

I sometimes think of some of my transactions by the hour and yes it is better to NOT think this way sometimes!

Dec 02, 2016 06:28 PM #27
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2,921,693
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Glad you were able to readdress your pricing and marketing strategies to make your business thrive and profitable.

Dec 02, 2016 07:48 PM #28
Rainmaker
2,670,710
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kathy it is always good to learn early in our business rather than late... yes I remember CORT when I was in Boston, MA they were even offering one month rent as a commission to Realtors and that was 20+ years ago... Yes you have to stick to your principals... as a land seller sometimes I lower my normal asking fee and every time I do that.... I regret it...Endre

Dec 02, 2016 10:04 PM #29
Rainmaker
1,497,171
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Kathy Streib - this is an awesome example.  I can relate to this and I am sure others can as well.  I like the fact that you mentioned the $99 special with no takers.  I have been there.  Your creative thinking showing value makes me and other on Active Rain thinking of you as one of the Staging Gurus.  Thanks for sharing.

Dec 03, 2016 09:52 AM #30
Ambassador
2,489,187
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

There is the temptation when starting a business to cut the rates to try and make up the differential in volume, which only means you lose faster. If we don't think enough of ourselves to charge our value a client won't either.

Dec 03, 2016 02:44 PM #31
Ambassador
1,290,070
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Kathy, parellel pathes we have lead. I learned from being a wearable artist about the pitiful pittance I was making doing something that was a labor of love and I was passionate about, but just didn't make money in the end...I blessed it and said goodbye. Fast forward--very fast--I started  in real estate in '07 and like you, I had people really trying to rake me over the coals, because I was new (and these were neighbors'friends, for God's sake)! I was invited by friends to list their very large and expensive home for a 3% fee. My principal broker in his wisdom said that it ultimately was my decision but that was really low, especially if I was splitting the commission 3 ways. I didn't take the bait. Later, when they didn't sell, they tried to do the same thing to me and I refused again. The place never sold and they STILL live here. Funny how things happen, but yes, a valuable lesson in self-worth. 

Happy holidays, honey!! You're one of the BEST HUMANS!!!

Dec 24, 2016 02:45 PM #32
Rainmaker
636,814
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Hi Kathy Streib 

Sorry to be so late to the party. I know I am your editor-at-large and you needed me here. I think you meant that agents take HIGH (not low) listings just to get the listing.

Your experiences are valid when it comes to pricing services to make a profit. But many in our industry want to make a killing with a single listing so they don't have to work so hard (or so much). Many in our industry don't realize that fees in excees of $500 per hour are just too much. I say BE REASONABLE.

hAVE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A VERY PROFITABLE 2017.

Bill Roberts

 

Dec 30, 2016 12:37 PM #33
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Kathy Streib

Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224
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