I was curious, as I’m sure the rest of you were when they announced this new program airing on HGTV on July 22nd, if it would be a true depiction of what the Staging life is like. I would have to say that it’s probably the most realistic of the shows that are out there today, but still doesn’t tell the whole story. Regardless, here are some things that I feel you could learn from the show.
1) Have a plan for your project. I’m actually a little shocked by the lack of planning and utter chaos that is depicted. Maybe it’s just for TV drama to make it more interesting, but realistically, if that’s how you are running your business, you NEED TO TAKE CONTROL immediately. My recommendation to you is a) always see the property beforehand, b) take before photos, c) map out plans for each room so that choosing inventory is more targeted and streamlined, and d) create a list of staging inventory needed. My Ultimate Staging Success Blueprint has all the tools to help you do just that. There is absolutely no reason why most projects should take more than a day. I would say 97% of the straight “staging” projects I’ve worked on was completed within 1 day. Anything that took more was because of the size of the project (5000+ sf home or multiple units) OR if there were delays on other related projects. When I first started my staging business, I was running back to the warehouse to pick up things we forgot or shopping at the last minute because we didn’t have what we needed, and I’m not saying that you won’t still have to do this occasionally, but you want to avoid these delays as much as you can and the best way to do that is to have a plan going into every single project.
2) Do be tactful with your clients. The Designers on “The Stagers” are good at keeping their opinions to a minimum in front the client. Some of the other Staging shows seem to enjoy poking fun at how awful a home looks. I’m all for being truthful and honest with your clients, but being tactful will definitely earn you more brownie points and help you maintain your professional image. Most of the time, they already know their property is not in “top selling” condition, that’s why they called you. There’s no reason to make a mockery of the situation. Perhaps again, the criticisms voiced are for ratings, but most real life people would not be too thrilled with you if that’s how you approached them.
3) Do Keep your Inventory Organized. This is always a challenge for any Staging Company. It’s a never ending struggle with having “too much” when it all comes back and not having enough when you’re super busy. The Dekora warehouse featured on the show is enormous compared to probably 99% of the staging firms out there. Most of us do not have the luxury of a 10,000 sf space with seemingly unlimited inventory available. I started off with storing my inventory in our 1 car garage and back stairs when my husband & I lived in a townhouse. We eventually graduated to one large storage unit, then two, and finally to an 1100 square foot warehouse. Then there was the challenge of keeping the zones organized – linens, kitchen accessories, bath accessories, floral/greenery, silk trees, lamps, chairs, art, etc. We toyed with the idea of building shelving so that we could capitalize on the vertical space in the warehouse, but then there was the safety issue with our team members going up and down. I can’t say we ever really perfected “Staging the Warehouse”, but one thing we always tried to do was unpack after a destage and put everything back into their respective zones so that it was easy to pull inventory for the next project. The more disciplined you are in this area, the more sane you can remain. I actually designated Fridays or a day when there were no Staging Projects scheduled as Warehouse days – time to reorganize, clean and repair inventory.
4) Do Keep in Mind Who the Prospective Buyers will be and Design the Staging Accordingly. This skill will set you apart from just being a “wannabe” stager to being a true Real Estate Partner and a Professional Staging Designer. There are many Real Estate Agents who are guilty of this as well. They don’t keep in mind who the target audience is – who would be your prospective buyer? Is it a young family? Are they empty nesters? Are they young bachelors/bachelorettes? These considerations must be top of mind when designing your Staging. It’s not about just adding artwork and putting furniture into a room. The personality that is added with accessories should portray the type of lifestyle that one would want to live in that home. This is one thing that the Designers on the show are good at exploring and working with.
5) Build a Staging Team. This is something all of you should work towards. Just as on the show, they have the Staging Boss, Senior Stager, Home Stager, Staging Assistants, Movers, Handymen, etc., so should you. My role was a cross between the Staging Boss and the Senior Stager as I was never completely hands-off. Building a team to work with not only makes each project more efficient, it also makes it a lot of more fun because you can bounce creative ideas off of one another. I’ve had people on my team at all levels. Movers who just helped move inventory to and from the staging sites (mostly large pieces of furniture so we can totally relate to the sofa not fitting in the elevator or door – I dreaded getting those calls), Staging interns who actually did hands-on staging work, but can be the perfect team member to help wipe down furniture, clean mirrors and art, iron bedding, pump up airbeds, etc. I also strongly believe there should be a Team Lead so that there is someone who is in charge on-site, otherwise it would be too chaotic.
Here are few other tips depicted on the show that you should definitely keep in mind for your own businesses (if you’re not already doing so):
* Incorporate feng shui principles in your staging (in some parts of the country, THIS IS HUGE – like So. Cal)
* Don’t forget to address curb appeal issues
* Paint over unattractive, unmarketable wall colors
* Add dramatic art and accessories for high impact
* Bring rooms back to its originally intended purpose
* Don’t fight with what’s not working, like trying to use the
* Use scale appropriate furniture
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Alice T. Chan, the Staging Designer’s Success Coach, publishes the bi-weekly ezine “Set the Stage for Your Success”. If you’re ready to skyrocket your Staging Design business and gain credibility in record time, get your FREE tips now at [http://www.SuccessfulStagingBiz.com]