When you’re in the business of turning drab and cluttered interiors into beautifully polished spaces, it’s important you look the part of someone that can successfully do that. In other words, when you’re staging homes to sell, you should stage yourself to sell. One of the easiest ways to catapult your business to success is to act as though you are already successful. Do you play the part of a very successful home stager? I’d like you to keep this in mind as you read through this article – are you portraying the image of a professional expert home stager, or a rookie?
Everyone starts somewhere, but nobody has to know you’re brand new at staging homes professionally. In fact, it’s a bad idea to tell a homeowner they’re your first home staging project. Don’t lie about it if you’re asked, but your demeanor, wardrobe, marketing materials and portfolio shouldn’t leave any room for the homeowner to guess you haven’t been doing this for years. This is the perfect time of year to work on this – in the summer before the real estate market really picks up. Dedicate some of your downtime to polishing your image for the months when real estate agents will be hunting for home stagers!
In everything you do that’s business-related ask yourself if it’s something a successful home stager would be doing. Pick a couple of the home stagers you look up to and keep an image of them in your mind. When you’re getting ready for a home staging consultation and wondering what to wear, visualize your model home stager and ask yourself what she or he might wear to a client meeting.
What do you wear to your home staging consultation appointments? Are you dressing like that successful home stager in your mind? Or are you wearing an old suit that went out of style five years ago? The way you look can not only change the way you feel about yourself, but it can change the way people perceive you. Especially since looking put-together makes you feel more confident in what you’re doing.
It’s important to carry yourself well – don’t act like your life depends on your next home staging project. Even if you are desperate don’t let that come across to your client. Do you think someone who has been staging homes for years giggles with excitement when they get awarded a job? Probably not in front of the client!
Consider your current personal image. What are you wearing right now? Is the image you’re putting out there in the world that of a wildly successful home stager? Even if it’s a day that you have no appointments and you’re at home you shouldn’t be walking around in pajamas. If you dress the part of that successful home stager you’ll find it easier to remain in professional mode and you’ll almost certainly be more productive.
What about your business’ image?
What would happen if a client called you right now? If you answer, would they hear screaming kids in the background? Worse, does one of your children answer? If you have children at home, either let your calls to go voicemail or hire a sitter! If you’ve started a home staging business to have more time at home with your children, that’s fine. But you should consider investing in childcare for blocks of time throughout the week so you have a few windows of time where you are able to focus on your clients and your business. It’s difficult to grow a business when you have small children and no childcare.
When your clients do get your voicemail, what sort of greeting do you have? Is it a hokey family sing-along-song or a professional message detailing your alternate contact information? You must inspire confidence in those potential clients that call you, and if they’re turned off from your phone image, you won’t hear from them again. In course 2 of the Staging Diva® Training Program, “The Business of Home Staging: What you need to start and how to grow,” there is a very specific script for a professional outgoing voice mail message that will let callers know they’ve reached a legitimate business.
How about your marketing materials? Do they present a professional image of yourself and your business? Do you have nice heavy business cards or some homemade perforated-edged business cards with faded ink? Your marketing materials represent your business when you’re not in front of your prospective clients. Look at your materials objectively. Do they look like something that would be produced by a mega-successful home stager? Or is it obvious they’re a do-it-yourself job? If you can’t afford the $75 it costs to get a year’s supply of cards printed, you should reconsider being in business for yourself.
Your website is also a very important piece of your marketing kit. You must have one. Staging Diva Graduates have the option to put up a profile page on the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers which is the next best thing to a website and it’s much less expensive to set up and maintain. Some stagers get so much business from their profile page on the directory they never get around to building their own site. In any case, a potential client is going to want a link to where they can look at some before and after photos of projects you’ve done and learn more about you. Invest in this. Your first home staging project should cover the costs, and if you’re not online you’re not going to be found very easily.
When you communicate with clients via email, you really shouldn’t use a “hotmail” or “yahoo” account. Gmail seems to be more acceptable than the others, but it’s still not as good as email@example.com. Even if your website isn’t ready yet, when you purchase your domain name you can still set up an email account. When you send an email, make sure you write a descriptive subject line and have set up a proper signature line. Your signature should include your name, business name, email address, phone number and link to your portfolio. Make it easy for people to find out more – they don’t really want to call you. In the event that your email is forwarded to someone else, you really want them to have all your contact details.
Your home staging portfolio should be professional, polished, and impressive. Even if you’re new to this, you should have lots of photos from staging your own and your family and friends’; homes. DO NOT use stock photography. This is cheating and it’s just not a good idea. Some new stagers think this is a good way to fluff up a portfolio, but it’s tacky and it falls under the “deceptive advertising” category. All of your credibility can be lost if (or when) you get caught passing someone else’s work off as your own.
So when you consider all of these items, are you staged to sell? Would you hire yourself based on the image you’re projecting?
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is president of Six Elements and creator of The Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with 900+ Graduates worldwide. Debra is the author of two home staging guides and offers a Directory of Home Stagers to help homeowners and real estate agents locate home stagers who will decorate homes to sell for top dollar.