50 home stager actions that beat waiting for the phone to ring
I’ve had a couple of new home stagers contact me recently saying something along the lines of: ‘I’ve got my website ready and printed my business cards and I’m raring to go but the phone’s not ringing – what do I do?’
I remember this well. It took me 6 months to get my first client. 6 months of setting myself daily tasks whilst stopping the occasional voice in my head that said ‘what are you doing this for, no one’s going to ring, who do you think you are anyway?’
Most home stagers are not an overnight success but, if you keep plugging away it’s the daily actions that will in the end add up. Willing to keep going? Here are some ideas…
- Ask a stager you admire to mentor you.
- Ask other stagers if they want some help during a furniture install.
- See other stagers as a source of support and not competition. If you all do well, the whole category will grow. Follow them and get chatting on social media.
- Think about who sellers call when they sell – not just agents but carpet companies, handymen, landscapers, floor refinishers, painters, storage companies, removal companies. Get in touch and tell them what you do. They are often asked if they know a stager so become the person they recommend. Refer business to them too.
- Start a little black book of people you can recommend to your clients
- Find a networking group or two that suit you. I went to a local one and also an all female one. A great source of support, contacts and a shot of confidence
Get yourself out there
- Write your ‘elevator speech’ then practice. When someone asks ‘what’s a home stager’ you can tell them, succinctly, engagingly.
- Practice saying “I’m a home stager” You ARE a home stager : )
- Leave your business card everywhere you can – the local hardware store, at the storage company, the local coffee shop, the real estate office
- Speak at the library
- Ask to present at a real estate office
- Start a newsletter and send it (with permission) to the agents you want to work with.
- Sponsor something at your kid’s school, give a design consult as a prize.
- Visit the furniture hire warehouses. Learn the process, introduce yourself
- Send a press release to your local paper.
Strengthen your on-line presence
- When I started ALL my business came from my on-line presence both website and social media. Make sure you have a website at minimum and that people can find you easily
- Pick a couple of social media platforms. I’m on Instagram, Facebook (Set up as a business page to keep it separate from personal), Linkedin (agents use this more than any other social media) and Twitter. Better to do 1-2 well than try them all.
- Post to your social media CONSISTENTLY. Post Before and After photos, a furniture layout that you like, a great product you’ve found, a sale on at an interior store, share your blogs, other people’s blogs. Make it relevant. You’re building a brand. No drunken selfies please.
- Follow other stagers, other relevant business owners, real estate agents, journalists, magazines etc. Comment, chat, share. Repeat!
- Get yourself a Blog. You’ll rank higher on search engines, you’ll be seen as an expert but above all it will give you content to share on social media and with clients when they ask questions.
- Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What do they want to know e.g “how do I get rid of my clutter?” ” What are the best neutrals for staging?” “What are the best return on investment changes I could make before I sell?” “how do I style my coffee table?” Then write them the answer on your blog. You’ll be getting your thoughts clear as you research the subject.
- Ask a local expert questions and turn the answers into a blog post. I got my carpet lady to do this and she was great. It gave her business a plug too.
- Update your website as you begin to get new business. Before and After photos sell, as do great client testimonials. Your website should be a living thing not a set and forget. Note to self – update your website!!
Learn new things
- Ask yourself – “what questions could a client ask me?” then go and find the answers so you’re prepared
- Examples are: “Could you recommend a local handyman?” “Is is possible to spray kitchen cabinets? Who do you recommend? ” I have a broken paver, what do I do?” “What’s the best storage facility round here?” Anticipate the questions and research the answers.
- Book yourself onto training courses – a one day small business course, a how to take real estate photos course, a social media for beginners course, a styling workshop, half a day flowering arranging. These courses are often subsidised by your local council.
- Be careful of procrastination by training. The “I just need to go on another course before I start my business” syndrome
- Listen to local business speakers at networking events.
- Read business books that interest you.
- Download TED talks. You’re a business owner now. Absorb the info. Get motivated and inspired.
- Take a home staging course. I recommend Staging Diva (details at the bottom of this link)
Go window shopping
- Who has the best range of cushions? Who has the deals on towels at the moment?, where will you suggest a client goes first for lamp shades?
- If IKEA is close take a trip. If a client had $1000 to invest at IKEA what could she buy to help stage her house (that doesn’t look like it came from IKEA!)
- Check out the emerging trends in your local interior shops. “Scandi” is huge in Australia at the moment. How and when could you incorporate this in your staging?
- Pick up catalogues to share with your clients. Then you can point out “these cushions” “this lamp”
- Go to the hardware store and pick up paint charts and chips. Create a ‘look book’ to share with your clients on neutrals that would work. Ring the paint company and ask for their fan deck.
- Check out everything you may need during an install – picture hooks, magic erasers, windex, scissors, goo be gone, tape measures, blue tack, paper towel, light globes, toilet roll. Buy them now if you want. Put your kit together so you’re ready.
Immerse yourself in staging and design
- Subscribe to favourite interior magazines. Keep the receipts. It’s a business expense
- Download design and real estate related apps on your phone. My favourites are Instagram, Realestate.com, Houzz, Pinterest and Dulux
- Read blogs, attend book launches, store launches, get yourself on mailing lists. Ask for interior books for your birthday
- Set up boards on Pinterest called “home staging before and after” or “my blogs” or “living room layout ideas” or “kid room ideas” or “where to shop for bedlinen”
Attend to business
- Think through who is doing your accounting and your tax
- Set up your bank account and credit card
- Do you need insurance, who will you use?
- Do you have a contract and for what areas of your business? Get it looked over by an expert
- Set up your voicemail on your phone, your signature on your e-mail
- When the phone does ring, will you be ready? Write yourself a ‘script’ to follow until you become a natural.
Look after yourself
- If you have an empty diary for a day or a whole week – schedule some of the above tasks into your diary. Make it into a job, not a hobby
- It’s OK to schedule a trip to the gym, or a confidence boosting coffee with a supportive friend. So much of this ‘waiting period’ is a confidence game
- Set up your workspace. Make it a nice place to be. This is your business now, not a corporate office.
And one more!
- If you haven’t read it, take a look at this blog I wrote a couple of years ago titled “Just starting out as a home stager? I’d like to share a few things”
And there you have it 50 Actions to keep you more than busy and that certainly beat waiting for the phone to ring
And it will ring.
I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. I’d love to know what you’ve tried that’s worked and what you would add to this list. Make it one of your actions for today : ) Read all my blog posts by clicking here or see my website here