Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


The CRAPPY part of a staging business is JUMBO sized CHALLENGES!

 So you are or want to be a real estate stager? Well, it is a fun and rewarding business... but I would be lying if I said it was not with out it JUMBO challenges.

Since I have been blogging about staging I have "connected" with stagers from all over the United States AND Canada! I have spoken with amazing, fun, talented, creative people who love and are committed to their professions.

These conversations have been INSIPIRING and SAD. SAD? Yup... SAD! WHY SAD?

Because, while these folks are good at providing the on-property staging services... and now, after being out in the real world and applying what the learned, they find they are deeper into their profession in ways they NEVER thought about. They have gained a new appreciation and respect for staging and feel a bit lost when it comes to the day-to-day reality of BUSINESS OWNERSHIP... especially the staging business.

I understand their their dilemma... 2 years ago, when I presented the initial draft of our company's contract for staging services to our attorneys for their legal review, they were dumb-founded! Their replay was... "Craig, you have a VERY complex business model."

I see stagers attracted to the fun and "glamour" to the creativity necessary to prep a home for the purpose of helping it sell. But then reality sets in... in order to maintain and grow a successful company one does not think of ALL THE WORK in the other areas that MUST be given attention to and MASTERED.

These "jumbo challenge' areas include:

  • Sales
  • Advertising / Marketing
  • Services Delivery
  • Inventory: Growth & Management
  • Systems & Software
  • Human Resources
  • Strategic Partners
  • Office Space & Storage
  • Accounts Payable/Receivable
  • Outreach

If you are serious about owning and growing your own staging business.... Each of these areas must be looked at, defined and developed. WHY? Because if you don't actively understand and NURTURE these areas within your own staging company... your competition will and you will ultimately loose out to them.

Please feel free to share with me those jumbo-sized challenges facing you in your own staging business... and know that I am working on a solution to make those challenges less crappy.

stage it forward...



Comment balloon 39 commentsCraig Schiller • November 18 2006 06:29PM


The perfect photo!   Owning your own business can be pretty crappy at times.  I think lots of folks have NO IDEA what it takes.  My least favorite part is managing people... often referred to as adult day care.  And who would have thunk you'd need to keep up with the latest Labor Law Posters??

Posted by Linda Davis (RE/MAX Home Team) almost 14 years ago

"Craig The Reala Stager"

Crappy Dumbo on a Jumbo comes to mind!

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...aka Misty Is Back Boy Does She...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Staging is a great profession for people who like to MOVE everyday.  OMG...

It's certainly not something you can "take a stab at" and be successful.  It's one of the businesses you have to jump in with both feet first...before you have any idea if you will be successful at it.

Craig has the market cornered...

Posted by Kristal Kraft, Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022 (Novella Real Estate) almost 14 years ago

OMG, Craig - what a picture!!!!

Your posts are always educational and entertaining, and the pictures you use are awesome!!

Ann Cummings

Posted by Ann Cummings, Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent (RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine) almost 14 years ago
Oh my god..I near wet myself laughing at the photos!!!!!
Posted by Monika McGillicuddy, NH Real Estate Broker (Prudential Verani Realty) almost 14 years ago

That photo sure did catch my eyes. Pretty cool.

Thanks Jay 

Posted by Jay McGillicuddy, Real Estate Broker (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty) almost 14 years ago

Craig -

Sit down and relax -

Oh, maybe that's a poor choice of words!?!?


Posted by Marc Blasi almost 14 years ago


What were you talking about?  I couldn't get past the photo.  Fantastic!!!

Posted by Geri Sonkin, Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert (Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103) almost 14 years ago

Very apt timing.  I was just thinking about this.  I started down this road thinking that I would do staging on a part time basis, working with a few key realtors , to bring in some much needed extra monthly income.  When I left the corporate world after my second child was born our income was cut in 1/3rds!!

But I needed to have something to set myself apart from all the other 'one man bands' out there; so I started investing in furniture stock to offer vacant home services.

Now I realize that I would really like to be able to provide a truly professional, full range of service.  So I a looking to take the leap and commit financially and philosophically to creating a larger entity.  I am in drop back and punt mode here!

With regard to challenges; I have a couple I'm facing now.  Firstly, I have had quite a few realtors who just want to stage a few rooms in a vacant home and leave the rest bare (ie. not even doing a master bed or bath).  I don't know how to get accross how essential it is to complete the home.  How do you successully convey this?  Do you often just partially stage vacant homes?  What about 5-6,000ft homes; is it nessisary to stage every room? 

The other challenge is when I feel that a homeowner would be much better renting some of my stock furniture than keep what they have for showings.  How do you sell that to them?  What are they supposed to do with their furniture?  Do you arrange the storage or leave it to them?

Anyway, I'm not expecting you to answer all the questions; that's just what I'm going through right now.......

Great post :)

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago

 Great pic Craig. Marketing is the foundation of any successful business. A lot of people just look at the surface of things when they start out and then reality sets in like cultivating clients, making a name for yourself, the day to day mundane stuff like accounting, etc...

 I could never imagine being a 9 to fiver but having been self-employed in one way or another since I was 22, I know the rewards always outweigh the challenges of business.

Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... ( almost 14 years ago
Hey, at least he's house broken!
Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) almost 14 years ago

I took the agent class for staging (ASP) and have used it a bit.  Just a couple of months ago I was called to list and help stage a house in our area.  The house was around 2500 square feet and the only wall hanging was a indian dream catcher.  The owner and I went shopping to enliven things.  I could almost point out what she would want just by measure of gaudiness. 

I'll leave the staging to you!  I've had enough of that fun part.  I consider myself to know enough to be dangerous

Posted by Chris Tesch, College Station, Texas Real Estate (RE/MAX Bryan-College Station) almost 14 years ago
I'm facing something similiar to Jessica.  I have voiced this to some other stagers as well.  I am concerned about utilizing the rental companies for furniture.  Our Company has been recognized by a Large investment group (1700 members).  A few of the investors have contacted us to stage their vacant properties.  I keep thinking if they (investors) know where we get our supply, won't they cut out the midle man, which is my company?  So we are in the process of building our inventory.
Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) almost 14 years ago
Hi Craig, your comments about the 'complex business model' got me thinking. We Realtors® wind up making lists of people we can refer to clients because we love the work they do. On a few occasions I found out that a reference or two was no longer in the business. Sometimes it's just a career change. There were a few I worked at tracking down just because their work was so good. Sometimes it turns out these people wind up working for someone else again. They tell me that they are fabulous at what they do but not at running a business. You apparently have the advantage of the creativity, talent and business sense all rolled into one. Me? Well luckily before I got TOO in over my head I realized that budeting (like it's been all my life) is NOT my strong point. So I got help. There is no shame in knowing strengths and weaknesses and getting someone else to bolster the make great points about the business side here.
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

"Craig The Reala Stager"

The Crappy...

The Crappy...

The Crappy...

The Crappy...

The Crappy... 

That's what my email looks like today and it's pretty funny! :0)

Let me know if you need the Crap O Meter to go with "Crappy"...LOL!

TLW "The Lovely Wife"...Playing Church Hooky Again...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Interesting post Craig - I can tell you than in evey design firm, whether it be architectural, interior design, or staging.  There are usually 2 types of partners, a creative one and a business sense one.  I totally agree with Carole, you obviously have a great handle on your business, but most people need that other uncreative, business mind to get ahead, especially when you start growing and the challenges start getting more difficult.

Quite a picture there - you have all the unstagers making funny comments.


Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago

Linda: I too am really challenged when it comes to managing people... but it has to be done. So I am learning.

Misty TLW: This pix just FELL into my lap. This is one time I had the blog first and had to find art. I KNEW I had to use it.

Monika: We have jumbo Depends if you need them.

Jay: Glad you liked... I do have fun finding the pictures for my blogging.

Marc: RELAX??! It's an elephant eats elephant world.

Geri: GLAD TO MAKE YOU SMILE... you needed that!

Jessica/Marci: All I can say is keep watching...

Marti: I say marketing has to cut thru the noise... even noise in the rain.

Rich: House? I don't see any HOUSE... oh maybe it is broke.

Chris: Realtors can do MUCH to get many homes ready... thanks for realizing there is a line, that when crossed, is time for a professional stager to be called in.

Carole... dear dear Carole: Don't be fooled. I am STILL figuring this out. BUT I LOVE THE JOURNEY even though it can be crappy at times!

Misty: YOU started the "crappy" blogging... I just added it to my blog. you are leading the way in so many ways... even crappy ones!

Ines: YOU are soo right. VERY simular issues in other businesses based in creativity. PS:Guess what Rick is getting your for Christmas?


Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago
I gotta tell ya...You just keep cracking me up or is that crapping me up?...:0)...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Craig - as long as it is not a big elephant with its own toilet, I'll be OK with it.....and if my theory is right could be CASH!

Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago


NOPE! NOTHING! ZILCH! ZIP! Today all one needs to do is just hang out a sign and call themself "stager" ... that is where problems arise.

THIS is why one of my battle cries is... we need INDUSTRY standards. ALL stagers regardless of where or how they learned to stage would then be tested against national standards.

Consumers are duped. Realtors are discouraged. And those of us that take this serious have to clean up the mess.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago
You guys are killin me here!!!!!
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Craig - I hope you won't kick me out of the club but sometimes I think I like the business end of it better than the actual staging.  I love the marketing, networking, press releases, public speaking engagements, graphic design for stationary and print ads,BLOGGING, SEO.  I even love Quick Books pro. 

OK I love the staging end of it too, but if you are going to be successful I totally agree with you - you better get a good business plan and stick to it. 

Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 14 years ago
MDF...I was going to bring in the toilet, but "Dumbo" (the elephant) up there already has his own...Speaking of crap...Never mind this is a public post...:0)...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago
"Craig The Reala Stager"...May I give you one crappy for every email I get that starts with "The Crappy"?...Don't say yes to that! I wouldn't...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

Ok, some engineer designed that thing.  Can you imagine what the foreman was thinking when he saw the plans?

What are the specs on the TP holder and plunger?

Posted by Rich Kruse (Gryphon USA, Ltd.) almost 14 years ago
Craig, man that picture is great. Your post is absolutely correct. There are many people that get into biz that don't have a clue how to run a biz. Staging just like anything else requires a lot more than just being good at what you do. It makes a lot of sense to hire people to run things if it is not your talent. You can be the best stager in the world but if you can't do the other things you will fail.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago

ROFL @ Rich     My Favorite Craig (and that says something because I was obsessed with a Craig in junior and senior high)OK, maybe it's the Cleveland in me (ahem) but it took me until you guys started commenting to see that was a toilet...yes I know, but MDF TLW says, we are supposed to be truthful!

The best part of that photo to me is the sewer drain coming out the back! OMG

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago
Hey...I want to see those specs too!...:0)...Geez, I bet we are seriously off topic here....:0)...I'll have to write a post about whether or not off topic should include the great photos on these posts! :0). But of course now that I have said that I can sit back and see who snags that idea, even though they heard it here first.:0)...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago
ROFL...OMG...I didn't even notice the sewer drain! Are we sure the crap will go through that thing?...:0)...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago

LOL well it won't be me. I'm commenting now for the rest of the day; no martinis like Rick, but coffee and a tootsie roll pop! lolol But hey, Craig is all about staging so why should we be so surprised that he found an elephant on the crap o meter!

On a more serious note (Ha) when you think of how new staging is, officially anyway, compared to real estate which has been around forever, to be successful at staging is harder, no?  Ok I'm done sucking up - but I do believe it!

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago
LOL thats what I thought you were talking about when you said specs ROFLMAO
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Cleveland Carol Cohen & Misty: (From this point forward I dub thee ThreeCee) and TLW (Dubed Misty long ago)... YOU two are having way to much fun with this picture.

You both are like deers cought in the headlights of my blog light! LOL

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

My Favorite Craig: (TY I like my new name)  You have to admit the sewer line is fascinating!!!!   Now we can work up a sweat over that deer too!

I think he has seen a bat or vampire!!!!

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) almost 14 years ago

Hey Craig,

Your photos RULE. You always take them from the same angle, the walls are vertical, the lighting is perfect.. I've seen some stagers' websites whose photos could do more harm to their business than good. Do a blog on that when you have time.

Over coffee the other day a realtor told me she was going to go to online staging school so she "could say she had the credentials." I just solemnly shook my head and told her she had to read your stuff. It was right after you mentioned about 4 or 5 books on staging. I told her to feel free to READ UP and learn what she can, but when she faces a challenge (jumbo or not!) to call a professional in.

I do what I can by sending tips out to homeowners because the vast majority of homes have not been staged, and precious few realtors understand that huge vases in front of million-dollar views, or bazillions of throw rugs, or a Hallmark-store full of seasonal decorations is not seen as homey, but as NOISE which is difficult to see past. We're in a buyer's market here and homeowners need all the help they can get. I wish you were here.. we could use you, but not EVERY city can have you, now can we??

Anyway my friend, stage it forward (I am envisioning the elephant doing a little dance under a big top!). You're a genius. People listen to you and trust your judgment. Don't ever change.

Dawn Shaffer

Posted by Dawn Shaffer Life is good! almost 14 years ago

Craig that photo is hysterical and OHHH so true. THe business end of staging is so crappy. I have been up to 3 am at times just going over my marketing plans. When I did a business plan I felt like I was on overload and back in school. I am definitely learning as I go and seeing what has or has not worked and tweaking from there

Thanks for the fun blog


Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago
Not my fault man! You posted a picture of an Dumbo on a Jumbo! What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Pretend it's not there...Yah, right!...LOL...TLW...ROAR!
Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) almost 14 years ago
Craig--awesome photo---great blog!!!  I am going to send this link to people who contact me wanting to know how to get started in the staging business.  I think it is a wonderful business but has to be approached  with eyes wide open and the realization that there are many other things that need to be done before getting a chance to do any actual staging....and even longer still before making a profit.
Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago

hey Craig

 Thanks for this post, this has been burning the back of my brain. My main challenge right now is to get prepared for expansion, which is quite a scary step in itself. I am definitely in the process of expanding inventory, which is very scary financially because all these little things add up. I am also looking to get a truck, revamping logo & website, organizing inventory, etc. It's just like snowballing! Craziness!




i stage & redeisgn to sell, live and work in san francisco bay area!  


Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

Have I really been on this site that long????  I remember when Craig wrote this blog!  This needed to be revived also.

Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) over 12 years ago