Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog

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Cold Hard Reality: Dying Dreams and Limited Opportunities

 With each passing week I receive emails with questions from stagers asking me how to approach and solve a myriad of issues and challenges facing them and in their staging business. Some of these are issues QUITE complex and take MORE than just a quick email response. Unfortunately as I work on growing my own business I do not have the time to reply. I would love to help, but I literally could have a career JUST answering the questions and solving the problems that new stagers are asking. But the realty of what has been going on got me to thinking... and asking the question, "Why are stagers having such a tough time creating successful staging businesses?" *

I have concluded that in order for individual home stagers to succeed, the home staging industry needs to look at itself and examine itself and correct that which it is doing wrong if it is to grow to its fullest and experience its greatest possibility.

This post (the first of a series) takes a tough look at one of the "stone cold" realities and dynamics many people who are entering into this industry do not take into consideration. These realities and dynamics compromise the possibility of owning and operating a successful staging business.

First, let me say I am NOT anti-education. However, as a whole, since the home staging training industry is not regulated in any manner, it makes it extremely easy for anyone to open their doors and start a home staging training program... and MANY have. With classes fetching anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000 per student for ONLY one week's worth of training, it is not surprising to see why trainers and courses in home staging are popping up all over. The home staging training industry is a lucrative cash cow.

Home staging foundation training company's have a vested interest and are quite successful at advertising to and enticing people to take their courses. Just go to any company's website and you will see courses on home staging being offered all over the USA and Canada. Plus to make it even easier some companies are offering training in the comfort of the student's home... via the web.

Starry eyed students are buying into the dream that you can take a class in a week... and be a "professional" stager tomorrow. The home staging training industry is a resounding success.

Unfortunately, while home staging training companies have done a GREAT job at selling the dream of being a stager, they have not done an equally effective job at educating the real estate community and the home seller so that they want to invest in the services of their graduates. There is a huge disconnect in the market.... the consumer market is not educated enough to absorb the glutton of stagers that graduate weekly from the multitude of home staging foundation courses offered nationwide.

People who invested their time, money and hearts into these courses to learn how to be a home stager are finding themselves spending a considerable amount of time NOT STAGING, but trying to convince and educate realtors and home sellers on the virtues of home staging. Just becasue Home Staging works, does NOT make it an easy sell. (This totally baffles me... but it is true.)

This is not to say all hope is lost, as there are those who will train to become home stagers and go on to be quite successful. But, it is important for people interested in becoming home stagers to know the realities and dynamics they face.

It would be wonderful if the market for staging services was accepted and growing as fast as the market for training. However, these markets are mutually exclusive of the other! So please, do not make the mistake in believing they are one in the same.

Stage It Forward,
Me

PS: If you are a Realtor reading this... please click on your answer in the Poll on the right. >>>>>>>

THANKS! ABC Orlando News for picking up this very important post on the Home Staging Industry.

*POST SCRIPT: The original opening paragraph of this post has been changed... I incorrectly stated that the featured Oprah Stager was closing her doors. This is not the case... I have learned she is EVOLVING her business.... but not closing. The original text can be seen below in a comment if you want to read it.

 

Comment balloon 66 commentsCraig Schiller • May 10 2007 09:30PM

Comments

I'm sure its a tough business...I don't envy anyone that is trying to make a go of it.
Posted by Tony D. Howell (The best place EVER!) over 13 years ago

Craig as always you have done a wonderful job with this post. I believe your industry is heavily impacted and an accurate reflection of the economy and the market in general. I firmly believe people can not afford to hire a professional in some cases, and of course are desperate to sell their homes. Likely the homes would sell (certainly sell faster) with the advantages of home staging experts. What many people do not realize is Home Staging is a Skill. It takes talent, and an eye for composition, balance, and texture. It is not as simple as "throw this here", or "put a pillow over there". It is a combination of finding the rooms center focal point and building a visual from there. I commend you, you are a gifted stager, creative, innventive and innovative. If you can get through the tough maret you will reap the rewards of labor.

Here is classic example of poor judgement and laziness....the text talks about the wonderful fireplace.

Hmmm...you would think they would have moved the lamp...Duh!

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 13 years ago

Craig -- I don't know what the going rate for stagers is ..... but it seems it would be difficult to earn a living... 

If your rate is $XX per property, then you need to stage XX properties a month just to make a living wage. 

What kind of overhead is there?  I would guess many stagers work out of their own home, but there are advertising costs, office equipment and supplies ....  Do stagers pay for any furnishings or do you bill it all to the client?

An interesting question to me is always -- OK, would this career produce enough money to qualify to purchase an average home? 

In Los Angeles, CA, an income of about $100,000 per year is needed to buy an average $550,000 priced home (loan agents I know these are round numbers just for illustration) ...

So that might translate into 8 homes staged per month at $1,000 per home  or 16 homes staged per month at $500 per home .....

Am I on the right track?

Posted by Cheryl Johnson over 13 years ago

Craig, It is tough to make the staging biz successful. But I was lucky enough to be able to stick with it and keep pushing for my biz to take off. My business clients and associates aren't knocking my door down but I am doing okay.

What do you think is the answers to help this problem? Will you share your answers in this series?

Thanks, Leslie

Posted by Leslie Godbold, Motivation Speaker, Radio host "Positively Living" (WZGM AM1350 Independent Asheville Radio) over 13 years ago

Craig, this is so true.  When Tanya and I started our business (in SC)- we had a competitor that quit.  After a few jobs with Tanya, Im wondering how people do it alone.  It takes the 2 of us to do it all- the marketing, the planning and prep time...Dont even talk about the physical side of staging! , that is a whole other subject.

I think it could be we are in a rough economy but I also think...the schools play it up to be some glamorous career, which it isn't- only the after photos are are!

Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) over 13 years ago
A lot of Realtors still have not learned first hand that a staged home will sell! Also with all the foreclosures and prices being driven down in certain areas, the sellers probably do not want to be out anymore money form their pocket as necessary.
Posted by Danny Smith (DISCOVER TEXAS HOMES) over 13 years ago
Just think Craig -- Last week I couldn't even spell stagger and this week I are one.
Posted by Yvonne Root, Home Stager - Northern Arizona (rooms b.y. root) over 13 years ago
Craig- I seem to get about one phone call per week from people thinking of going into the staging business. I even get calls from people here in my area who would be competitors of mine if they make the leap (they usually try to hide that fact but it is pretty easy to pick up on it). Anyway, I try my best to educate them to the realities of staging vs the "image" of staging. Even the start up costs are not usually understood by many of these folks who call. They seem to be under the impression that the training course is the cost and fail to realize that that will represent only a small part of what it will take to open and successfully run their business. This is one of those "easy entry" businesses that will attract a lot of creative types who may not be well versed in what it really takes to operate a business.
Posted by James Frazier (James Frazier Personal Development Coach) over 13 years ago

Yvonne!

LMAO!

OH - MY - GOD!

TOOOO Funny but sadly true.

Me

 

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

I've been at this for nine months (only) now and am still working on the business side of it. The staging is the easy part, it's all the other stuff, expenses, inventory, storage, liablity, insurance, contracts etc... that make it difficult and that's not even saying you have work.  There are so many hidden costs and things that you don't even consider when you are "starry eyed" about starting a staging business. It's easy to see why so many give up after only a few months.  It's not easy. And yes, the staging TRAINING industry is doing great - but it's what happens to those graduates after that is the true measure of their success.

I'm blessed that my staging income isn't the source our family relies on for its stablility. Honestly, we couldn't survive on what I'm making now. It is about quality not quantity for me now, to build a solid reputation in my area.  I'm in it for the long haul.  It would be nice to achieve the level of income that would off set our household expenses, especially that I have one child going to college in 2 years. Anyone getting into it full time has to be aware of the fact that it will probably take at least 3 years before you start to see a profit.  Are they willing to stay the course? In fact those that get into it, get a few jobs and quit, I believe are actually hurting the rest of us because Realtors need to be able to find a stager when they need one. They don't see a strong presence of reliable stagers and they figure we're not a really serious professional group, we don't want the work whatever...

However, I believe the calls for regulating the industry, the squeaky wheels, the growing knowledge that we're a viable profession are all positive steps in helping others grow and maintain a staging business.

Craig - as always, a thought provoking, eye opening blog - thanks!

Yvonne - I'm staggering right along wit ya

 

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

Craig,  this is an excellent blog. I just recently started staging and went into it, knowing that it takes at least 3-5 years to get a business going.  I have a background in business and have managed my husbands practice and my own rental properties.  I have more paper coming out of my ying yang.  That was my husbands concern, not so much doing the work, but keeping up with the paperwork and business side of things.

I have found that I am spending as more time educating Realtors, because they don't know,  than I do in the running the business.  I did not have to learn accounting, the taxes laws,payroll for employee, marketing etc.  I can't imagine trying to learn all of that on top of starting the staging business.

I think the TV and the training programs really glamourize the industry. As Karen said above, regulating the industry and having an organization that will also work on building up the profession by working closely  with real estate boards and associations will benefit the profession.   Hopefully RESA will succeed in this.

Now making, your business successful  through marketing and networking, is in the hands of each proprietor.

 

Posted by Isabel Gomes, Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont (Gomes Design) over 13 years ago
I think the real estate industry is slow right now, ask any realtor.  One industry effects the others: stagers, mortgage brokers, virtual tour photographers, home inspectors, home appraisers...  It's slow everywhere.  One just needs to find a way to make it until the market comes back.  I also think that discount realtors don't have the money to invest in staging.  Sherry
Posted by Carol Spengel, Wheaton IL (Prudential Rubloff ) over 13 years ago

Aw hell Craig!  Nobody told me you were supposed to make a living doin'  stagin'.    Now you've gone and ruined it for me!  I was havin' such a good time too.  Had folks thinkin' i was smart n' all.

Your blog is an eye opener for all those thinking of getting into the staging biz.  The trouble is, by the time someone gets to Active Rain its too late to turn back.  Kinda like having kids, nobody tells you how---ahem--complicated it is until you already have um. 

Thanks for you insight, I continue to learn and I ain't quittin!

Posted by Carol Ellis (Luxury-Domain to Home Stage) over 13 years ago

Craig - you have a wonderful talent for taking a nagging complaint from those in the biz and transforming it into some really good advice.

People need to be concerned and wary about the hype of a glamorous and huge profitable business the schools are dishing out. That sells their training and has nothing to do with the actual reality of a business. These trainers are paying themselves with OP money and getting rich. How many MLM's have made millions off the top and are still going strong today with razzle dazzle? Ask anyone in Tupperware, Avon, Mary Kay, and so on...they will tell you it is really hard work and persistence that builds a business and the courses, training, and Rah Rah are there to keep you going. More people pay for the dream and don't do the business of making the dream happen.

There should be a warning and disclaimer read and signed at the beginning of each course in Home Staging stating there is no guarantee of success and this course will only give you the idea of what this business is about.

I owned a restaurant once and when I wasn't budgeting, ordering supplies, cooking, chopping, chilling, organizing, decorating, planning, advertising, book keeping, promoting, serving, sanitizing, etc. 6 days a week 16 hours a day, on my one day a week off I would go to other restaurants and talk to them about...you guessed it...budgeting, marketing, advertising, taste trends, pricing, and so on. Any business takes all you have got and then some. The decorating business or any business requires the same consistency and persistence.

Well, I feel better! Thanks Craig.

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

This is a great blog!! I did go to school (for $3000) and I really didn't learn anything, in looking back I don,t even know if they knew anything about staging. They were more about pretty than the explaining to me about the why's, when's, and where's of staging, let alone the business end. Thank God I had 10 years of visual merchandising and 25yrs. retail management for a major furniture retailer, so I did have the core knowledge of how staging should work and running a business, then taught myself the rest. 

I've been staging for over a year and business is steady. Don't get me wrong the last year has been very hard, and I still continue to struggle with educating realtors and sellers on the benefits of staging. But I have a passion and a love for my profession that I refuse to give up on! 

What if I had not had the back ground I did? I would be just another failed staging statistic! How sad! :(

Posted by Penny Schoenbeck, AZ Home Styling (AZ Home Styling & Redesign) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,  Thanks for this thoughtful & frankly honest blog post.  I focus on real estate but have also utilized my experience in marketing & selling home accessories many times in assisting home sellers in presenting their properties for sale.  I have also employed the services of Interior Designers & Stagers. 

In my opinion, in challenging market conditions, this is one service which can definitely impacts the bottom line in a positive way. When Realtors can show 50 homes in a community, Staging helps them remember that they visited mine! Many Realtors do not know what Stagers do & and therefore do not know how to explain the benefits of their services to their home sellers. 

I'm in the process of creating a series of classes which will, amongst other things, expose members of the real estate community to the benefits of Staging.  It will be explored within the concept of "effective storytelling" in the marketing of a home. In my opinion, Staging is the one aspect of the marketing strategy that is specifically designed to enable a potential buyer to begin to create their own story as they invest in a new home or property!

Posted by Lola Audu, Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home! (Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Craig,

Are you saying you guys should be licensed like us and have the same stringent standards?

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (Brokered by eXp Realty LLC) over 13 years ago

Neal....

GOOD question.  What I am saying is what the industry needs to do and needs to be is a support mechanism for both the client, Realtor and the stager. Right now it seems that the trainer wins most often.

I believe ALL can win, and not at the expense of the other.

Me

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
Craig - You always state my thoughts before I thought them!  How articulate!  There is a saying - Those who can't, teach!"  And that is what is happening - however, Staging is just like selling real estate - you have to work every lead, work every network opportunity and work it, work it, work it!  And when you are done, go work it some more!  We will not let Staging go away!  We are here!  Homeowners need us!  Realtors need us!  And if we don't tell the world - who will?  Every Staged property makes a better transaction for everyone involved!  And, Stage it Forward and you, Craig, have made it a reality!  Bit by bit - step by step!  The journey of 10,000 miles begins with one step!   
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago
I am figuring it will take 3 years before I become viable in this business.  I entered with my eyes wide open - not my first business & all - but it is a hard sell in Brainerd Lakes, MN . However I know that it will take education , friends, alliances, demonstrations, etc to make it happen.  If you aren't good with people, if you can't speak to groups, if you think you can sit home & dream - that is where you will be - home dreaming. Move it !!
Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) over 13 years ago

Craig, your Blog is very timely and pulls on my heart strings.  Do you remember the fundraisers at school where the person would come in and show the kids all things that they could win when they sold a "certain" amount of items?  Oh my, the crowd would go crazy when they would show a boom box or huge stuffed animal... what ever!  That was the "hook" to get these kids into the sales.  One child out of 700 would get the big item... but they didn't see those odds, they just saw the best end result.  

I think that this is what many of the wanna be Stagers see.  They want to be creative, they want to help Realtors sell all their homes, they want to Stage every home that they do.....  Much of the training out there capitalizes on this.  It is called GREAT MARKETING.

The fact is....  the first three years suck!  Pardon my french but it is true. You want to get an income.. its takes a few years of very hard work, and even then if you start to make any money, it is relative to what you have built.

If I didn't have a business background, I probably would have been one in your Home Stager cemetary. I, like Karen, am in it for the long haul... building slowly but surely.  I have not quit my "day job" after almost 3 years now.  I've met some wonderful Stagers, very talented, and who have thrown in the towel because they thought that they could make a living off of this right off the bat.  They were under the impression that "Staging was the new ticket for Real Estate and their business would thrive!"  It is a shame.  I feel bad for them.  But they got "hooked" and it worked.  Only one entity benefits from this....... you nailed it! 

Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) over 13 years ago

Someone once told me:  When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  V. Frankl

Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago

Oh 3 , the magic number... was that from Sesame Street? 

Anyhoo - I just love the support here and know that it's what keeps me going on some days - I just wanna say THANKS and to STAY THE COURSE (not the training, but the actual STAGING)  Even though I haven't met you guys ( I can't even name all the names) here on AR I feel so much a part of a family, a community of like minds who are all going through the same doo doo - and are here to tell... warts and all - just like any family!  I appreciate you Realtors to who share your thoughts and sometimes misunderstandings about us stagers - it helps us all be better business people.

Have a wonderful Thursday evening all!

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

Craig - I completely agree with your post!  Strangely enough this is EXACTLY why I opened my staging training facility!  It is also why I joined RESA.  When I took my training course I received no follow up from my instructor.  When I emailed or called asking questions, she never returned my phone calls (unless I called and didn't leave voicemail... hmmm.... could it be that she was hoping I was a potential student?)

I spend one full day of business planning, help my staging graduates get their first 3 appts with agents and not only offer ongoing mentoring, but call them if they don't call me first to check on their success.  If they are struggling, we work on ways to increase their business.  I also offer monthly newsletters to everyone in my membership program (students & non-students).  These newsletters give them articles to use in their own newsletters to clients.  The newsletters help offer education to agents including before & after photos, articles showing how staging not only helps sell homes faster & for more money but can increase referrals and agent sales/listings.  I also offer websites to members & students at low rates so they can have a place on the internet.  Their sites include before & after photos (not stock), services they offer, bios, etc & a listing on the main www.stagingandredesign.com website. 

As a member of RESA I am trying to join with other stagers to create a standard of both ethics & training in addition to a national education and awareness of the industry. 

I'm not trying to have a commercial here or toot my own horn, I simply want to show that there are programs and professionals working to make these changes.  It is in all of our best interests.  While the training industry may be a 'cash cow' as you have stated, GOOD schools spend A LOT of money during these courses to make sure that we really do turn out professionals who can actually do the job.  I bank on this training to the degree that my students are offered the opportunity to use my company name in their own areas.  This means that not only are they held accountable for their professionalism and expertise, but so am I. 

 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago

Excellent post, Craig.  As both a stager and a trainer, I wanted to make a comment about educating the public (and Realtors) on the benefits of staging.  Our association (Canadian Redesigners Association) continually strives to promote its members and the concept of redesign & staging across Canada.  We are the only NON-PROFIT redesign & staging association in Canada.  Our Board and Marketing Committee work very hard to build awareness on behalf of the members.  A large component of the training program we offer is geared to business start-up and marketing oneself in this industry.  We also provide ongoing learning opportunities and mentoring programs.  I encourage my graduates and other CRDA members to call me anytime !  We field enquiries from many non-members wish to join simply because of what we offer AFTER the course.

"wisdom does not mean what you know, it means what you do with what you know"

I have been a CRDA Board member for two years now and probably spend more time promoting our members than I do my own business.  Please don't get me wrong ... I'm not complaining.  I believe what goes around comes around, so our efforts will pay off and subsequently help all of us.

 

Posted by Sandi Gerrard over 13 years ago
Craig: Excellent post! We just had a client call about listing his small and cluttered home. He also intends to take out a bridge loan so he will have a non-contingent offer on the home he wants to buy. 

His solution: Sell the existing home as-is and offer a "decorating" allowance to the buyer.

My solution: Move into the new home and hire a stager to take over the old home, which would then sell faster at a much higher price.

The result? I am willing to bet that the staged home brings far more money in far less time.




Posted by Roberta Murphy, Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes (San Diego Previews Real Estate) over 13 years ago
Good post!  I must admit until recently I really did not know what a home stager was, I think much of the public has no idea.
Posted by Ana Connell, Burbank Real Estate Agent (G & C Properties) over 13 years ago

Craig,

Didn't know that much about the business, but now I have an idea after reading your blog. Are stagers really being used that much?

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 13 years ago

Roberta - good luck with YOUR plan.  Hopefully the homeowner will understand the value of what you offer...

Ana - This is why so many of us stagers work tirelessly to educate agents & homeowners.  Knowledge is power... in this case, the power to earn significantly more on your home than if you didn't know about the service!

Esko - In some areas stagers are used quite regularly.  In other areas there aren't any.  The field is growing rapidly.  If you are an agent & want more business.... begin researching your area to find a good one.  You'll be amazed at what they can accomplish on a fairly small budget!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago

Craig,

Before I was hired full time with CSP I owned OTB Marketing and Design. I started with just me, a graphic designer. It took me 3 years to make money. Enough to support my family. It wasn't quite a "buy the dream home" money maker. I struggled, but I was working, and doing what I love. I made many mistakes, that if I was taught about early, perhaps I would have succeeded faster. Better training? More business coaching? Definitely! However, my hard work paid off and in my third year I hired 3 staff and the fourth year I made over $125,000.

 I remember during this time many graphic designers in my field were complaining that the field was saturated with designers. That there was too many of us and that people were just getting their kids to build their websites. I wouldn't listen, I had the dream and put my head down and did what needed to be done. I had to educate small business owners on the importance of image, INCLUDING their website. Every ACTION has a REACTION...and I knew if I put enough ACTION out there...I would get the REACTION I was looking for.

I know it is easy to think it is only the staging industry that struggles when getting started...and I had to chuckle at the staging training business being a cash cow! OMG, you need to remember, it is only a business like any other. If you do not provide good service, continue to meet the demand, educate the public, educate yourself, your staff, research, stay ahead of competition (there sure is alot out there now) and have a good accountant....you will find it hard. Let me just say...even staging training companies struggle to grow in the first three years.

As always over the past year, I have enjoyed your blog. My favourites are the ones I can debate with you! Hope you agree....grins*

Angela

Posted by Angela Brooks (Certified Staging Professionals) over 13 years ago
Hey where can I take classes on giving Staging classes?  ROFL Seems like a good part-time income! :-D
Posted by Jordan M. Mackey, Overland Park Real Estate :: (Overland Park Real Estate (No association with Inc)) over 13 years ago
Interesting post, Craig.  Similar to staging, I am part of a real estate niche known as exclusive buyer brokerage.  While a great service, like staging, many struggle and eventually quit. 
Posted by Stefan Scholl, Northern Michigan Real Estate (Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC) over 13 years ago

This is an excellent post.  I have wanted to use home stagers and just gave up.  The few in my area seem impossible to get information from.

I think having a an organization like we have through the Realtors, would help the industry to develop standards.  it was also help the Realtors and the public to do business with them easier.

Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago

Craig,

I'm just wondering where you ever found that graphic?  Or did you create it?  I enjoyed your post but have to admit I didn't realize that stagers were having difficulties.  It hasn't truly caught on here in the Hilton Head homes market but we do have some folks that do staging.   Hope you keep us posted with more information.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 13 years ago

Craig,

Thanks for the post. I find that the stagers tend to be great technicians. They understand how to apply their craft. However, they don't understand what it takes to sell it. They must have a better understanding of their target market's needs. Once that's accomplished a plan has to be developed to sell the concept, that will satisfy the need. 

 

Posted by Anonymous over 13 years ago

Craig,

Just realized that I had not signed in, that's my post without a name above! Sorry!

Posted by William Collins, Property and Asset Management (ERA Queen City Realty) over 13 years ago

Well well well Mr Schiller you have said it perfectly once again :)

Here is the reality-

I consider myself a successful stager. We stage 10 houses per month on average. I make $2,000 per house on average. 80% of these homes are vacant. The part the classes do not tell you is that I am not taking home 20K per month(I know this because I used to teach)

It costs me more than $2,000 in inventory and employee wages to stage an average vacant. SOOOOOO If I do not have inventory on hand it costs me more to stage a house than I am actually making. I am losing money on almost every job. All the money I make is reinvested into the company, into advertising, into employee wages, into overhead and storage and transportation.

 Why am I still doing this? I do not know! But at least I can have a big yard sale when I retire since I have Invested almost $200,000 in inventory. Yikes! KH

 

Posted by Kate Hart (Hart & Associates Staging and Design) over 13 years ago

Hey Kate...

TWith all your earnings from selling your stuff you can turn around and invest into your Charda-latte Company!

For those of you that don't know what a Charda-latte is... it is a coffee based wine drink (for the mornings) and a wine based coffee drink for the evenings.

Look out Starbucks!

Me

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Craig, this post could not have come at a better time for me! Thank You so muchfor every blog you post, your writing is truly inspiring, informative, creative, and BEYOND helpful and educational! I absorb every piece of information you share and really take it to heart. I thank you for being such a great help to all of the "Intern Stagers" out there (including myself)....

I never fell into the trap of promises all of these staging courses offer. Fortunately for me, I have learned to do TONS of research before going into ANYTHING. Research is the key into being successful and you can't do enough of it before making a decision! This goes for investing thousands of dollars in training programs as well!! Do your research and find PROOF that this will really benefit you in the end! (I have a Degree in Architecture and lots of experience working in the Design field, so this also influenced my decision not to take a Staging course!)

There is so much free information, blogs, articles, personal stories, etc... on the Internet that you can learn so much about the staging industry without ever stepping foot into a Staging Classroom and paying $2000+ to someone promising your success. I am so lucky to have stumbled upon Active Rain awhile ago while doing my research. I have learned SO MUCH about the business, about Real Estate, about everything to do with Staging (the positives AND the negatives!), that I feel when I officially "open for business" and start contacting Real Estate Agents and Homeowners, I will be very well prepared and ready for the tough challenge! I also know that I will have people like you and other fellow Active Rainers to fall back on for inspiration and encouragement!

Thank You!

Posted by Shannon Elizabeth McInerney (DesigningReality) over 13 years ago

Oh My -you have been misinformed Craig - The fabulous, & "AS SEEN ON OPRAH" Chicago Home Stager Carole Olsen, of CaroleCreates.com in Skokie, is alive, well, and VERY busy. I know this because I just got off the phone w/her.  What Carole has done though - is redefined her business. Carole has been in her business since 2000 and as any successful business owner - she has redefined and refined her business plan.  Carole has taken "Empty Home Staging" off her menu of services - which I think is the key to success in any business - find out which areas of your business are best suited for your talents and skills, & concentrate on those.

Active Rain is a good buzz for the heart beat of America when it comes to this industry; but each region of the U.S. has different attitudes about our business.  Having started my business back in 1999, first in San Francisco, then moving back to my home town of Chicago.  I was totally shocked by the different attitudes between the regions about our service. There is a HUGE difference of how people look at staging services on the West coast vs. the Midwest.  When living in the San Francisco in the 90's, staging homes was old hat, and very refined. When I arrive in Chicago in 2000, there were only a handful of stagers, and that was just one of their services.

Fast forward to 2007 and home staging in Chicago is all the BUZZ - we can thank that to the huge success of all the "Home & Garden" TV and cable shows on HGTV, TLC, etc...  Mix in a load of articles and features about the service, and Home Stagers and Re-designers are the career darlings of the minute.   But like any TREND business, they'll be a huge influx of new careers, but few huge successes.  That's just statistics. 

But here's the glitch in Chicago... WE LIVE IN THE MIDWEST!  Midwesterners are the last to accept those new fangled trends, and hold steadfast to their mantra "I can do that myself." We are just starting to use niche service businesses.  Just like staging in San Francisco  back in the 90's, home organizers, personal coaches, personal chefs, & lawn services were the norm.   Here in the Midwest we are once again just starting to see these services pop up & become popular.

So, I don't think it has ALL to do w/how these people are trained, I think there alot is alot of bad & good training out there.  It's a recipe you have to have, the perfect mix for success in any business - Inate Talent, Passion, Luck, Business  Skills & Education - but most importantly, the attitude of the consumers excepting and embracing your services.

Julea Joseph -Reinventing Space/ www.julea.com

 

 

 

Posted by Julea Joseph, Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space (Reinventing Space) over 13 years ago

I was commenting and realized this was not the place for my comments which are controversial...although directly related to Craig's great post. So I will blog my response. I won't link it here, as I don't want to hijack Craig's blog! :-)

Posted by Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging (2 Hounds Design + Home Staging) over 13 years ago
Favorite Craig: I love what you said 'all can win without it being at the expense of others.'  That is how I look at my real estate business as well. It's also true for both of our professions that unless you treat it like a business, meaning following a business plan, it's very hard to succeed.
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) over 13 years ago
Craig, home staging in my market is rarely done.  I'm in central CT.  I know that new trends in RE start in the West and move East.  I actually don't even know of any home stagers in the area.  Well, I know of one, but she's an interior designer by trade and isn't really too keen on doing staging.  So, we either don't have too many in CT, or they do not aggressively market their abilities at all.  Disappointing.
Posted by Amy Bergquist, ABR, GRI (RE/MAX Premier, REALTORS) over 13 years ago
Craig~ You are truly a leader among leaders in this industry. In some ways it is so parallel to the virtual assistance industry in that it is a very attractive business, but the fact remains that most of the work exists in educating the industry and marketing our companies. Not to mention the day and day outs of bookkeeping, contracts, overhead, contact management, and heck even creating an evolving business model/plan. Great post!
Posted by Laura Monroe, Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media (Inman News ) over 13 years ago

I REMOVED THE TEXT BELOW FROM MY ORGINAL POST  AS I UNDERSTAND MY FACTS WERE not quite right!

But the triggering INSPIRATION for my post does not change the rest of what I wrote on.

I do apprciate JULEA for her update!

All this was WRONG WRONG WRONG >>>> "Last fall Oprah did a show on preparing a home for its sale. During that show Nate Berkus, Oprah's design guru, beautifully staged a home for its sale. But before Nate's segment, the show opened with a small feature on a Chicago based stager. When I saw this small introductory segment I enviously thought how lucky this stager was... for once featured on Oprah I figured she was now set for her staging life. Sadly, I have come to learn that stager is closing her staging doors."

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

No worries, Craig, you have inspired some great conversation, a call to action, and great new blogs!

If you had your facts wrong about this particular person, there are probably many more who are struggling!

It is still a reality of our business, and many others!  You have just shed some light and made us all think AGAIN!! :0))))))))

 

Posted by No Longer Available over 13 years ago
I don't know many home stagers around here. At least, none have sent me anything or approached us. I think I am going to do a search and see if there are any here.
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 13 years ago

Your question: "Why are stagers having such a tough time creating successful staging businesses?"

I don't think people taking the training are told the truth about it being a hard go, just like any business. To many think it will be simple, just take a 3-5 day course, and put out a sign. But the training institutions make it look this way.

Also, the training does not provide the business marketing theory required to run an ultimately successful business. Graduates are left without a clue as to how to market themselves after the initial start up of their company.

I think those who find AR will be much further ahead than others, due to the number of experienced stagers here and different approaches to learn from.

Posted by Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging (2 Hounds Design + Home Staging) over 13 years ago

If any training organization does not clearly advise students that this is a business - like any other business - then clearly they are not doing their job.  Not only do I drill into my students that hard work, education and significant marketing are key, that it will take time to be profitable (and I advise them that I personally went over $50K in debt my first year due to my desire to focus on vacant home staging), it will take money invested (like any other business) but I also spend one full day of training doing nothing but working on business planning, marketing & goal setting.  I also follow up with my students on a routine basis and answer all phone calls and emails in a timely manner (timely meaning as soon as I can but always within a few hours).  I have recommended to each and every student & member to join AR as a support group. 

I think that people on AR give trainers and training facilities undo responsibility on success.  Sometimes we can do everything possible to ensure the success of our students and they still fail.  This is the same as any other industry.  Ultimately it is the responsibility of the stagers themselves to do the work. 

This is not to say that there aren't trainers out there who simply cash in, take the money, do the week, send their students home without a clue or a care of their future.  I would like to say that not all trainers are like this though.... some of us really care about the success of our students, put reality into perspective & then offer them as much help along the way as we can....

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago

As a Realtor, I am just starting to use the services of a stager.  I don't understand how you get business as stagers.  It seems to me that I can sell in the services of a stager to my clients easier than a stager contacting my clients directly, but I really don't know enough to be able to sell a stagers services.  I'm just curious.

Posted by Gail Robinson, CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT (William Raveis Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Uggers!!  I am so not a blogger  Who has time??  But every now and then, someone sucks me into your rants and ravings, and what can I say?  Today I feel like ranting back.  :)

So here's my gripe with this post, Craig....I am not sure why staging training always takes such a flogging on here.  But it does.  And there is certainly enough foo flying around that I can't help but roll my eyes. 

First of all, there seems to be a huge misconception about what a home staging course can do for you and what it can't do.  And while I can not personally speak for any other courses out there,  I have heard via the grapevine, that we are not the only company to inform our students of all the pitfalls of starting your own business.  In fact, it's been posted on my website since I've been offering training!  And it is definitely part of the training program.  That said, the problem from my perspective is not that the students are not informed or WARNED of the facts and statistics.  But many show up with stars in their eye's from watching too much HGTV and simply tune it out. 

It never ceases to amaze me when I get an e-mail from a former student complaining that GOLLY, they took the class six whole weeks ago, have yet to put together a portfolio, have yet to put together a website, but they did get off their bum and contact a couple of realtors last week...So why aren't they rolling in clients yet? 

Hmmm.  Perplexing. 

The entire orbit of our training is to show people the realities of professional home staging and starting up their own business.  But the fact is, many people who want to get into professional staging already have a preconceived notion of what it's all about....because, like golly!! They've seen it on HGTV, remember? And doesn't that look like fun?  And gosh, they want to do it, too!!  All they need is that certificate that says they passed a staging course and they are well on their way!!  

REGARDLESS of what we teach them.

The problem is, just like any other business out there...let's take Real Estate for example...there are people who are going to work their keesters off to succeed, take the knowledge they gained, team it with some genuine passion, skill and enthusiasm and run with it.  (FYI - I could share with you plenty of success stories that came directly out of our workshops!!) But then again, there are some people who are going to sit on their hineys and wait for business to come to them.  And there are plenty of those stories out there, too. 

So here's a little heads-up for anyone contemplating any kind of home staging training in the future...

WHAT A STAGING COURSE CAN DO FOR YOU - A decent training program should not only be able to teach you how to advise your clients and finesse your staging skills, it should give you a business and marketing plan of action that will get you up and running without having to guess exactly what steps you need to be taking and in exactly what order. 

WHAT A STAGING COURSE CAN NOT DO FOR YOU - Follow you home and tell you when it's time to turn off the t.v. and get cracking at your marketing materials.  Scold you every time you opt to take an afternoon nap instead of getting off the sofa and heading out to introduce yourself to agents in the area. Smack you in the forehead everytime you decide to waste your time BLOGGING instead of putting together a kick-ass website with some kick-ass before and after photos of your own.  Etc, etc., etc.   

As for people out there teaching staging training courses...well, why the heck not?  What's wrong with that?  No different than seeing a need for staging and marketing your skills to agents and home owners now, is it?  You see an opportunity, you take it.  That's what business is all about.

I personally got into training for two reasons.  1)  There was only one course out there being offered at the time.  And I felt the incredible urge to break up that monopoly.  2)  Like you Craig, I was so bombarded with questions from staging wanna-be's, I could not help them get started and concentrate on my own business at the same time.  I figured if I actually made them PAY for the information, they would stop asking. 

They never stopped asking...so there ya go.  

As for my final rant with your post, I have to admit, I feel personally insulted by some of your comments, but these two really struck me as such...

"Home staging foundation training company's have a vested interest and are quite successful at advertising to and enticing people to take their courses."

Give me a break.  We have a website.  That's it.  If people stumble upon us, awesome.  We do nothing else to 'entice' people into taking our courses.  I don't pay a dime to anyone, anywhere to promote us.  I do not get publicity for the training courses.  So kindly do not make statements like this and lump us all into one category. 

"Unfortunately, while home staging training companies have done a GREAT job at selling the dream of being a stager, they have not done an equally effective job at educating the real estate community and the home seller so that they want to invest in the services of their graduates." 

HA!!  Any clue how many articles I have personally written on home staging over the years, let alone instigated and/or contributed to?  Google me.  Or check out the Star Tribune sometime.  I do a bi-weekly column EDUCATING REALTORS AND HOMEOWNERS on the importance of staging their listings for market.  And I still go from city to city doing local television and radio broadcasts, discussing the benefits of home staging, talking to homeowners and realtors on the air to EDUCATE the general population.  (HEY!!  I was even on the old Oprah show in Chicago last spring!!  Did you get a chance to see me??  I sucked!!)  And speaking at as many realtor meetings and home and garden shows as I can.  And do you know why...which FYI started LONG before I ever offered training workshops...because I knew I needed to educate my market for the very reasons you posted.  Without getting the word out to the public, my business would have shriveled up and died had I not gotten the word out.  And 99% of these educational opportunities, I created myself.  I DID NOT WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT FOR ME!! 

Learning how to successfully educate your own market is part of our training.  In my eyes and based on my own experience and common sense, educating your market should be part of any stagers marketing plan.  So why the heck are you not all doing the same, which would obviously benefit your business directly, instead of simply complaining about it on here??  For all the time and energy you people spend on this blog, I am surprised I do not see more staging articles or hear about more television and radio broadcasts on the benefits of staging your home to sell.  Good greif.  If you truly feel there are more stagers than available staging business opportunities...which I personally do not agree with...

THEN GET OFF YOUR KEESTERS!!

And kindly consider this a direct smack to the forehead!!

Posted by Lori Matzke www.centerstagehome.com over 13 years ago

Lori...

First, think of blogging as writing. Nothing more nothing less.  So I answer your first question with a question. When did you find the time to write you book Home Staging: Creating Buyer-Friendly Rooms to Sell Your House ?

Second... there is much in you comment I want to reply on. I will when I have the time. I have work to do.

Craig

PS: Kindly know that I would rather make a person THINK with their head them smack in it. Physical violence just ain't cool.

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
Oh Craig, you smack me in the brain every time I read your stuff!  I consider blogging on this site part of the work I do, which is, educating!  I learn from it and I try to give back to it and I do consider it writing.
Posted by Carol Ellis (Luxury-Domain to Home Stage) over 13 years ago

I guess I forgot to mention...I wrote the book to EDUCATE people on the benefits of Home Staging.  It was a marketing tool for myself, affiliates, and future students.  And it's worked out very well. 

I did the enitre book, which included finding the homes, staging the homes, writing the text, photo shoots, concept and layout, etc.  between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., when I wasn't working on the day-to-day stuff of my actual staging business.  The entire thing, from start to finish, which again included staging, writing and editing, took me a total of 2.5 months.  If only the printer would have been as quick!!

PS - Do I really need to explain the smack was a figurative smack??

Posted by Lori Matzke www.centerstagehome.com over 13 years ago
Lori!  Great comment!  "Get off your keesters!"  Love your perspective!
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago

Hey Lori

I personally trained with you and YES while your course was great, if we do not take what we learned and APPLY IT by getting off our butts and MEET and GREET (I have said this over and over) then how the heck can business come to us??

I have worked like a dog to sometimes 3 in the morning on my marketing materials, I visited Open Houses, did Gift Certificates for FREE CONSULTS, sent postcards, joined business groups that I had to be at at 7AM every Tues just to network. IT WAS EXHAUSTING. BUT I staged over 50 houses my first year alone!!

Now I admit that that has made me a little lazy, BUT when the phone does not ring as much I up the anty again and continue getting out there marketing and educating all about the benefits of home staging.

THis is NOT EASY work and I resent it when I hear people say what an easy fun way to make a lot of money!! Say that when you are carrying a couch up a flight of icy, snow covered step.

Thanks Lori for giving us all a kick in the butt.

Phyllis Pafumi

ReStyled to SEll Home Staging

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

I could not stay away from this nugget and I have to agree 100% with Lori - and I thank her for putting it out there with so clearly.  Have you actually attended a class to offer up the blog thoughts or is it based on speculation?  I am just curious because I respect your views . . . Using someone else's reasons (translation: excuses) for why they found it hard to succeed doesn't count either - because usually when someone does not make it in Staging - the only thing or person to "blame" (for lack of a better word) is themselves.  They did not put out the effort to get rewards.  I can't speak for all training companies out there but I am familiar with most of the larger ones, and I have to say, this is not what I see and hear is happening.

Targeting the classes now for the problems in the industry - it just does not fly with those that have actual experience - and on both sides.  AND I know there is cause and effect - and the MARKET DOES create a NEED for Stagers - that's why the classes fill upWhen Staging begins to grow in an area, it grows not because a bunch of people decide to "BE A STAGER" - it grows because there is a service need - and these people realize they can fill that need.  To me - I see it opposite of what you wrote - find a need and fill it.  In my market, the Staging took off when the market needed it to and not the other way around.

There are many, many Stagers that are successful and doing LOTS of work.  These same Stagers could have been in a class with an individual that will proclaim, "There is just no work here." or "No one where I live wants to hire a Stager."  Attitude is Key.  Truth is - when someone is focused on a goal and has a strong motivation they WILL achieve what they set out to do. When the motivation - the WHY - is not strong enough when the challenges come (and they will) those people give up.  It's sad but true - AND it happens in EVERY industry!  I actually tell students that the 80/20 rule applies in our industry too.  That is not my rule - it is a rule of thumb for business.  Those that put forth effort strategically and are patient for success, and are in it for the long term, will do the bulk of the work.

There is no "end all" of education for Staging.  Have you learned it ALL yet?  I doubt it.  Neither have I.  There are ideas related to Staging that have not even been discovered yet.  To expect any training company to provide it ALL is unrealistic.  If you have taken a class, you would know that there is a limit to how much a brain can absorb as well.  When I teach, the goal is to give a good foundation and then it's up to the individual to put the steps in place to properly set up and market their business.  Make no mistake, the classes are taught with the clear understanding that it takes WORK to succeed.  I have not seen any course offered that guarantees income, or says it's so easy to be a Stager.  That is NOT being sold to a person looking at being a Stager. 

The culprits of the misperception really are often the family and friends that tell a person - "You should be a Stager - you have such a flair for decorating."  And then they research what they want to do - some decide to take a class, they invest $$ in a class, and then when they have no business skills to back it up - they struggle.  Also people we work with - they often have that impression.  They see what we do as so fun - we get to shop, and Stage. And they are not seeing the WORK that went into getting a job in the first place, the planning, they physical side of Staging, the sweating that goes on.  Staging is NOT glamorous, but it IS rewarding.  And it takes money to make money - so there is an investment to set up a business- basic costs to the investment in inventory for those that choose to pursue that avenue of income. 

What a good course should do is offer a foundation, and then ongoing support and help.  We don't want people to struggle, but as Lori wrote, we don't follow people home and hand-hold.  The company I train with gives opportunities to be mentored for free, paid coaching services, free networking to get around successful Stagers in the same market, to learn, to stay plugged in, conference calls, monthly meetings, annual convention, and more.  I can't tell you the number of Stagers that CHOOSE not to participate in things that would help them succeed.  It is a CHOICE and the person responsible is the individual.

The fact is, you can lead a horse to water and yet you can't force them to drink.  If someone really wants to succeed, they have to take ACTION.  Those that have fallen by the wayside - there was no shortage of work in Staging - they just did not want to put out the action to get results.  It boils down to motivation! Those that are willing to get out and DO get the rewards.  When it is set up as a BUSINESS from the start with professional systems in place to marketing activity, then it rewards like a business.

As for the educating of the public - as Lori stated, there are hundreds of articles that share about Staging benefits that help drive business to Stagers.  Many of the articles feature Stagers found through training organizations, or the organization itself.  The awareness of Staging comes from the foot-soldiers of Stagers that are TAUGHT what to say to a particular audience to help educate them.  They are coached what to say - but then they have to actually open their mouths.  To state that is not happening is not acknowledging the truth as all you have to do is look at the hundreds of articles found on Staging and see who they feature and why.

And because there are so many avenues of business for a Stager - many of which have NOTHING to do with the sale of a house - there is no shortage of work for all of us.  Planting a seed of fear in people to make them think that the market will be flooded with Stagers and we will all lose income or painting a doomsday picture of the future of Staging - is not telling the reality of the situation.  With over 240 million people in the US, and millions of home owners, 1.2 Million licensed REALTORS, and many more agents . . . there is no shortage of work.  What I have learned is the more people that know about Staging, the more Stagers we will need!  One person could not Stage an entire city or even for one entire Real Estate office of 20+ or more agents - if all the agents were using Staging for all their listings.  You or I would burn out and we would NEED more help!  And as I said above, there are many services we can offer as Stagers that have nothing to do with selling - so even in a slow market, there are many avenues of income.  It's all HOW we MARKET ourselves and carve out niches that count.

So the issue at hand is how to get the sellers and Realtors on board by continuing to educate them, using what is taught through various methods - classes, online, real-life experience - and not discourage people from following their passion.

- Jennie

Posted by Jennie Norris, Denver Regions Premier Home Staging Resource, (Sensational Home Staging) over 13 years ago

Interesting that so many individuals missed Craig's points entirely.  But, that's another blog somewhere else.

Today I learned that someone in the small town (~6000 pop), lake community I live in decided to become a staging "person" as she explained it.   I have owned a successful business here for 4 years decorating, staging and remodeling for clients.  She told me that she would be needing to rent a large space to hold furniture and accessories and wanted to rent space from a friend of mine.  She said she can't wait to take a course and says she already knows how to pick good color and hang pictures and rearrange furniture so staging will be an easy business to start.  In fact, she said that she was told this when she called stagedhomes.com for information.  She is even excited to have "lots of people in her class!  I almost fell off my chair when I heard her tell me this. 

Here's what this person will do: she will take a class from stagedhomes.com (who she has chosen), spend whatever the cost of the class is with about 50 other people (she was told this already).  Go to a home that stagedhomes.com has barely reviewed before they stage it, stand in a room with about 10-15 or MORE people who have no clue what to do and then clap and hooray when the homeowner comes home.   Then she will leave, come home excited about what she thinks she knows, set up meetings with realtors who will smile and nod and listen to her.  She'll market all she can and hope she gets calls. I mean, it's a buyer's market, right?  There are lots of homes out there that need our services.........

Craig said earlier, and I quote "Unfortunately, while home staging training companies have done a GREAT job at selling the dream of being a stager, they have not done an equally effective job at educating the real estate community and the home seller so that they want to invest in the services of their graduates. There is a huge disconnect in the market.... the consumer market is not educated enough to absorb the glutton of stagers that graduate weekly from the multitude of home staging foundation courses offered nationwide. 

HE IS RIGHT.   Who has legitimized the industry?  Barb Schwartz?  Absolutely not.  She's marketed the industry extremely well but she has not legitimized it, otherwise, every state would be hiring staging professionals to sell homes too.  That's the challenge for the next few years.  How to tackle it is the next big idea. 

Oh, no Barb bashing here, not really.  She has been successful in creating a business for herself and done a great job doing it.  Gotta love her for that.

Posted by Dana Dickey (Inside Redesign, LLC) over 13 years ago

I really hoped we could blog about a topic without singling out one group - and yet here it is again.  There are MANY training companies and when someone calls for information more than what you shared above is relayed to them, and there is comprehensive information on what they will receive in class and what it takes to succeed.  Her impression may have been that it is easy, and whether or not that was actually shared with her is irrelevant because in the training that you singled out, I KNOW with 100% certainty that the fact that Staging is WORK and it is a BUSINESS will be hit home to her when she is class.  Having many people in a class creates synergy and actually builds in a network for business and ongoing support from the start - so it is a good thing, not something to mock.  I can tell you - the class offers a heck of a lot more than what you reflected above and to be fair, unless you have actually taken a class to offer an assessment of what they are or are not getting, it is not fair to single out - yet again - the ASPs, Stagedhomes.com or Barb. 

As I wrote above - many trainers are out there, not all of them are of the same professional caliber, and so there is a sort of "buyer beware " mentality - which is why it IS good to research various options.  The SHC program is well rounded, as are others, and the only element is NOT clapping with glee over a house that is Staged.  However, that element of actually going out to a house to Stage it is one of the BEST ways to put into immediate practice the theories and philosophies being taught and more than one company that trains has this as a key part of their program.  The success of all who attend any class is in the effort AFTER the class is over.

Let's keep it general - Please. I have had enough of the picking on one company and blaming all the ills of the Staging world on Barb or ASPs or Stagedhomes.com to last me a lifetime!  If you notice, neither Lori, nor I, nor Melissa mentioned our company names where we train - and that I figure was intentional - at least it was on my part - as this blog was not about evaluating or trashing ONE company - it was a general assessment of what training offers.  I stand by my evaluation and agree again with Lori that training is a good thing - and yet what creates SUCCESS is WORK and ACTION and BELIEF and CONSISTENCY.  The failure of a Stager is not in what is taught - it is in what is APPLIED after the class ends.

- Jennie

Posted by Jennie Norris, Denver Regions Premier Home Staging Resource, (Sensational Home Staging) over 13 years ago

Lori: First let me say I think we are VERY MUCH on the same page.

This post was NOT directed at any single training organization. I have tried to help this industry and list as many training courses on my "pretty" site as possible. I wanted people interested in staging have one site they could go to to quickly find all the options (good bad & ugly) they had when it comes to home staging foundation training.  To-date I have posted 32 links to training sites including your site (and your book.)  (There are more than just 32, but I have not had the time to update my link list.) 

There seems to be home staging trainers and their course popping up left and right. Recently, I stumbled on a trainer that offers ONE DAY HOME STAGING for $250!!!!  THIS really ticked me off... whether you like it or not they are NOW part of the Staging Training Industry that you are part of. I believe THEY should share in the RESPONSIBILITY of education I say the training industry needs to provide so that their graduates can be absorbed into  the market.

You see home staging businesses and home staging schools (which also are businesses) are governed by the basic laws of Supply & Demand. If we have many schools churning out graduates we need to have a consumer market that wants to invest in the services of the stager (demand). If we have TOO many stagers, for what the market can tolerate, then the price for the services goes down. THIS is what is happening. Schools are getting the students... but there are not enough jobs upon "graduation".

There have been those of you who HAVE worked hard a educating the public. I know you have, as has Barb Schwarz and others. But it is going to take MORE, if MORE students are going to be churned out. (Remember: MORE Staging Schools = More Students=More Staging Graduates) Am I saying this burden lies solely on you or Barb? Good God no.

You say you share the pitfalls of this biz to students. That's GREAT. My Blog on Home Staging is read by many people within the industry and it is also read by those looking to get in industry. This post was MY fair warnings as to the pitfalls and realities of owning and operating a home staging business.

You took offense to my statement: "Home staging foundation training companys have a vested interest and are quite successful at advertising to and enticing people to take their courses." What the heck is wrong with that? YOU DO advertise and YOU DO get people to sign up for your classes. YOU DO make money off of this. AND... there is NOTHING wrong with doing so.  YOU and OTHERS have been successful at this. WONDERFUL! GREAT! THAT IS THE AMERICAN WAY. I am NOT saying this is wrong!  Cost effectively advertising (via just a website) that sells (entices) your services IS what you should be doing. I did NOT mean this as a dirty thing. 

My point was is that a Home Staging Business and Homes Staging Training School are 2 separate and distinct businesses types. The Supple & Demand in their respective markets are NOT mirror images of each other. I think Schools are doing a better job at selling their training services to students than their graduates are doing selling their staging services to consumers.

(Side note... it is refreshing that you can poke some fun at yourself. Thanks for the levity in the middle of your comment.)

Lori it comes BACK to the multitude of Training Companies that are popping up. This is what I "flog" in my blog. As they churn out graduates the market will be impacted. I always say the cream will rise to the top. Even one of the newbie trainers COULD end up being the best of the best.

As for opportunity.  Again, I agree. You are 100% right... there are ZILLIONS of opportunities to stage. But just because YOU see opportunity does NOT mean the consumer market see and embracing the possibility of what staging has to offer. THAT is a biggest mistake I think many people who enter this industry make. They see and get "IT" and think everyone else should/will/does. Reality is the consumer market is still working on "seeing and getting" what staging is and why they should use it.

THIS is the education (of the consumer market) I think MORE needs to be done within. I think schools have an OBLIGATION to not only train but make sure they can PLACE their students. It is a Supply & Demand thing.  With home staging still being a new concept that the consumer market is still learning of, if schools are going to generate a supply of students... then they should help generate the demand for their students.

Me

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Dana... Thank you. I tried to make CLEARER what I posted originally. I just hope people don't read into or between the lines. THIS is not simple black and white stuff.

But if we don't discuss it.... then it stays where it is.

Me

Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Thought to ponder.... Does a college graduate expect their Alma Mater to place them in job once they've finished school? Or is it up to the individual to get themselves out there, network, get a resume together, call family, friends and acquaintances to see if there's a job opening? 

I believe that is a message we all need to keep in mind.  Onward staging soldiers...

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

If we have TOO many stagers, for what the market can tolerate, then the price for the services goes down. THIS is what is happening. Schools are getting the students... but there are not enough jobs upon "graduation".

Hey Craig - respectfully, I have to disagree here - and not because I train.  I Stage too and in my market we have gone from 1 Stager (me) to over 100 in 5 years. I have not slowed down, I have increased the number of people needed on our team, we have calls coming in and continue to expand our client base.  The new people did not take our business, and prices have not gone down.  They continue to rise.  We have seen a 33% increase in rates we charge from the inception of Staging in this market.  In some markets, the price increase has been significantly higher.  I wonder if you have actually done a poll to proclaim this - because what you write and what I have found from both polls AND teaching across the country contradicts that statement.  And since I do have the opportuntity to get to other markets and talk to those that are out there, I know that the prices for Staging are rising in most areas.  If they have not risen, they have not gone backward.  There are studies on this very topic, and in one year, the hourly range rose from $75-$125 to $85-$150.  This was based on nationwide numbers the Stagers turned in.

Maybe you are upset because you have to actually compete for business now because there are more Stagers in your market and you are not the only game in town.  That does happen as more enter the market, but as steel sharpens steel - having competition raises the game for us all - and makes us get better. I experienced that - and I don't win every job I go after, but we are not slowing down, and our prices are not going down.  We don't make PRICE the determining factor when there are other issues such as reputation, rapport, experience, availability - that come into play and in many instances are more important.

Not all the Stagers that have been trained have gone on to success - the attrition rate for our industry is not "special" nor should it be expected to be - it follows the same pattern of success in the business world for any industry.  But I'll tell you this - there are 13,000 Realtors in our market - and we are FAR from the point where ALL of them get it and are using Staging.  So the OPPORTUNITY is still very BIG.  Many of your markets (for those reading) have thousands more - like in Phoenix - 40,000-60,000 Realtors in the greater Phoenix regional market!!  I know in the Chicago area - you have thousands more than I do!  That is HUGE opportunity!  And don't forget the SELLERS that call us directly now as a result of the exposure found online AND with the MEDIA in general.

If someone feels that they are not worth their value and drop prices to get a job, they will devalue the market.  That is why getting training on HOW to price yourself for value is importantSee the training classes DO bring value!  One of the core principles that we suggest is to not under-cut the market to get business.  I can speak for the group I am associated with that we really honor that principle, and there is accountability if someone does not do it.  So that is a good reason to be associated with others too.  We openly discuss rates so that a new person KNOWS what the going rates are, so the market is not going down.  I wonder how many of the Stagers out there have ever sat down with a "competitor" and told them how to price, what to do, and how to do it right.  I have - many times I have sent over 90 people to take classes - essentially creating my own competition - and by the way, this was BEFORE I was ever a trainer.

My reason?  I was NOT going to stop these people from getting in to the Staging business, so I at least wanted them to have a foundation and have a benchmark of excellence for our region.  These people did not find out about Staging by having a random search on a website just cruising the internet- and "OH - Gee there is a site about Training to be a Stager. Hmmm - I think I want to be a Stager! Yeah!"  It does not work that way. 

What happens is THEY Decide FIRST to be a Stager - and make that decision not because of the Training Companies - but because they have a gift, an eye, a DESIRE to follow their passion - and then they find that there is a business they can wrap around this gift and talent.  THAT is how it happens.  Then the training companies help set these people on a course for success, which they then have to take ACTION in order to succeed.

I have openly shared with dozens of Stagers - helped them avoid the same pitfalls I experienced.  We can't stop people from wanting to do what we do - and we can't blame the training companies!  They are a resource, but it takes a DESIRE for someone to BE a Stager - FIRST. 

If you really want to point a finger - aim it at all those "bad" Realtors that are adding Staging as a key tool for their businesses so they can gain an edge, or the homeowners that want their houses to sell in the best time and for the best price - and need a 3rd party opinion.  They are the ones ASKING for help - and when they know someone that has a flair and talent - they suggest "Hey you should be a Stager - you really have a gift."  Tell me I am not right there - how many of you on AR ever had someone suggest that to you?

Supply and Demand - the training classes are not creating the demand - the Real Estate industry is and the people that want to sell their houses are - and the media is and all the positive exposure and results from Staging. The training companies are NOT planting the seed!  They just help them come to fruition!

- Jennie

Posted by Jennie Norris, Denver Regions Premier Home Staging Resource, (Sensational Home Staging) over 13 years ago

Okay, Craig, I am hijacking your Blog, adding a positive twist!

I love marketing! Everyone wants to be good at it, but if you are successful it is classified as "Thou$and$ are being shilled out to suck people in."  Smiles at Lori (edit)* no offense taken, I know that words are a funny thing and perception can only be changed by the person reading it.

Here is a marketing theory this marketing director (of a successful staging training company)works by and will share with everyone...

You will be successful in staging if your marketing consist of the 3 B's.

Be There! - Be where people who are looking will find you. If they know they need your services or product, where would they look? Ask yourself, if I was selling my house, where would I look to find a stager to hire? If you are a home staging consultant, you would want to be there!

Be an Expert! - You have a solution to a problem, but the person with the problem doesn't know you can solve it for them, OR they don't even know they have the problem. You need to educate them! Through articles, online, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, TV, workshops, presentations, anywhere people will look to learn more about your industry.  If you educate the ones with the problem, and you are the one that makes them say "AHA!" Who do you think they will go to when they are ready for help? You, because you enlighten many others, so you must be an expert!

Be Referred! - If your customer service is exceptional, and others believe your product or service can help others, you will be referred!

I believe we are a great staging training program because ...we are there, we are an expert, and we are referred!

Posted by Angela Brooks (Certified Staging Professionals) over 13 years ago

OOPS!!  That was my post!! 

 First of all...DANA - I did not miss his point at all.  I totally got it.  But I chose to comment only on the issues I personally resented.  First thing I said was "I'm not a blogger!"  So had I hit on EVERY point of disagreement, it would have become my second book. 

Craig - Again, I totally get what you are saying, but when you mention "Foundation Training Courses" what comes to mind are the established training courses, not the trainers who learn about staging today and train tomorrow.  Since I do not consider "Training Courses" in general to be the foundation of this industry, that may be where some of the confusion comes in.  I guess it has always been my belief that actual STAGING is the foundation of this industry.

While I agree, courses and workshops are popping up like dandelions, I disagree that they are responsible for 'job placement.'  These aren't 5 year-olds taking the workshops.  Most students I train are usually well beyond their college years.  So you don't think they are intelligent enough to make that decision for themselves?  I'm sure most would find that insulting.

While I can't speak for other training, the most expensive course we offer is the 4-Day Workshop which covers Staging, Re-Design, and Business and Marketing.  The cost is $1499.00.  Back in the late 1980's, at the tender age of NONE-OF-YOUR-BEEZWAX, I started working part-time for a catering company.  They needed a bartender for private parties.  So I went to the Minnesota School of Bartending.  It cost me $1100.00 and lasted three days.  I worked exactly two parties for the catering company, earned about $400.00 in tips and wages, and then they went out of business.  So here I sit with a bartending license...and I don't even drink.  Do I go back for a refund?  Ask them to help me find a job??  I am pretty sure they wouldn't do either.

 What about all the Realtors they are pumping out on a daily basis?  In Minneapolis, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one.  So when the Realtor pool get's full, who should be responsible for saying, "OK, no more Realtors for a while."  Maybe the NAR?  What about Dental Schools?  When things get slow, the schools should start handing out free bubble gum to consumers?  Etc. Etc. Etc.

YES - I believe all those trainers should be pulling their own weight to educate realtors and homeowners.  But guess what?  I believe that of any home stager, as well.  In the end, it is up to the individual whether they fail or succeed. 

A website as advertisement?  Possibly.  Which costs me exactly $275.00 to maintain each year.  So really, not a whole lot of money pumped into that.  I think you are over exaggerating.  If you pay to be at the top of the heap, then yes.  Thou$and$ are being shilled out to suck people in.  I'm not one of them.

I know where you are aiming here, but when you say these kind of things, I DO get lumped into the same category.  And do you really believe the majority of your readers know the difference?  I doubt it.  I simply request you be more careful of who and what you make an example of.  It gives us all a bad name...not just those you have in mind personally.

Posted by Lori Matzke www.centerstage over 13 years ago
Nice Post....hits the facts in the face.
Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") over 13 years ago

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