The 7 habits of a stager’s favourite agent
Since starting out as a property stylist in 2011 I’ve worked with, met and talked to a lot of agents.
I’ve had good experiences and bad.
I nearly wrote a post focussed on the bad experiences, a more therapeutic exercise no doubt but not very helpful. Instead, I’ve applied the theory that by illustrating what good behaviour looks like I’ll get more of it. I’ve decided to concentrate on the good experiences by breaking down why I love working with my favourite agents so much. What habits do these agents have that set them apart?
Below are the 7 habits.
1. See me as part of their team (not ‘just’ a supplier)
My favourite agents ring for a catch up, ring to pick my brains, ring to say they’ve recommended me to a client, brief me before I meet the client, recommend me to other agents in their office, pop in on install day to see how I’m getting on (bringing coffee) and caramel slice (OK I made that bit up). They send me links to the photos and tell me when a house is under offer or unconditional. I have a couple of agents who arrive at the consult with sleeves rolled up ready to help move furniture. All actions that demonstrate that they see me as part of their team.
2. Are loyal
My favourite agents have seen me do amazing work and also not so amazing. This is often due to poor stock availability at busy times of year or clients who haven’t done what they were asked. Sometimes I’ve got the look/feel wrong and I need to rectify it. The best agents don’t go running off to another stager when this happens, they keep the faith. They don’t get seduced by other companies (usually new stagers) who slash their rates to get business or turn up at the real estate office with cup cakes. I repay agent’s loyalty by moving business around to accommodate them and by recommending them to my clients. I’ve said this before but few agents have grasped the concept that a stager brought in by a seller at the beginning of the preparation process can be a great source of agent referrals.
3. Brief me then leave me to do my thing
My favourite agents have a clear idea of where they think their clients need help and are able to communicate this so I don’t go into a project ‘blind’. I’m happy to have discussions about look/feel but great agents know that a certain ‘look’ isn’t always achievable due to stock availability. They know that I will always do my best but are happy to leave me to do it. Paradoxically some of the agents that I best work with have a great eye and are able to walk in at the end of an install and say “can we try moving the console” or “maybe a plant in the corner” We know each other well enough that this feels like a genuine collaboration. Back to teamwork, I guess.
4. Support me in front of their client
Great agents can sell the concept of staging and me as the expert. They don’t discuss costs with a client without consulting me first. I’ve had many agents say to me “I told them you’d do it for $3k” to which I’d love to reply “that’s great! I told them you’d drop your commission”. The best agents back me up if a client is being difficult. An agent has given a listing back to a client in front of me as he was being so difficult before and during the staging. This agent has my support for life.
5. Think beyond price and competition
The best agents have more than one stager on their books that they can recommend for different things. Maybe one stager is great and cost efficient at 2 bed units, another has access to quality furniture for high- end houses, another is fantastic at consults or partial staging. Maybe a certain stager gets booked up so can’t accommodate rush jobs and another has her own supply of soft furnishings that can transform a house at a great price. All stagers have different strengths. Great agents know this. What great agents don’t do that is THE biggest source of frustration to stylists is ask 3 stagers to quote on a piece of business then go with the cheapest one. When an agent rings around for quotes they are basically saying “I’ll go with the cheapest”. The agent isn’t even the one paying for the staging – the client is.
6. Give me time
Great agents know that good home staging can take time and give me as much notice as possible. Generally speaking, if someone has lived in their house for 40 years they can’t be expected to be ready for photos by ‘next Tuesday’ and asking me to help them with such an immediate deadline is setting us all up for failure. The best agents play the long game and list a house when everyone is prepared and ready. I had an agent ring on behalf of a developer client recently. “The house is finished, we’d like the furniture in by early next week” to which I replied, “How long has it taken to build this house and how long have you known about this listing?!”
7. Love real estate as much as I do
I could talk about real estate with my favourite agents all day. I love to hear about the listing they’ve just secured or what sold at auction. I commiserate when they tell me of the listing that got away. We have a lot in common. We are running our own businesses with all the effort, disappointment and reward that this entails. I love the relationships and human connections that can be built in this business just through talking about what we love.
So, over to you. Are you a stylist? What habits do you agree with or would add to this list? Or are you an agent with a different point of view. Just leave a comment.
I’m Imogen Brown a Home Stager based in Brisbane, Australia. Connect with me through my website or on 0432994056