Home staging is a growing field, with 38 percent of sellers’ agents saying that they stage all sellers’ homes before listing them for sale. For those sellers or realtors that don’t want to do the work themselves, that’s where professional home stagers come in.
This industry can be a particularly attractive one for design savvy individuals. It doesn’t take a huge upfront investment compared to some other business models. And there’s plenty of room for growth in the industry. So if you’re interested in starting your own home staging business, here are some tips to get you started.
How to Start a Home Staging Business
Research the Local Housing Market
Before you even set up your business, you need to understand the needs of your potential customers. If you live in a fairly affluent area, then you need to be willing to invest in items that fall into a fairly high price point. If you’re in more of a moderate income level area, then you have to be able to make homes look more appealing without spending so much that you get priced out of the market and don’t deliver any significant ROI. It can also help to understand the architectural styles and design trends that are popular in the area so you can accentuate them in your designs.
Name and License Your Business
Make it official. Choose a name that communicates your service and appeals to your target customers. Then get licensed to do business in your local community.
Choose a Specific Target Market
Aside from just serving any local homeowners, you could choose a specific target to focus on with your marketing efforts. For example, you might build a network of local flippers who you work with on investment properties. You could work with apartment building owners who want to get their units rented quickly. You could even work with those who own offices or commercial spaces.
Create a Pricing Structure
Determining your prices can be a difficult but important step. Consider your own monetary investments, the time each job is willing to take and other factors that might prove difficult, like moving furniture into upstairs units. Ideally, you’ll create a formula that lets you just plug in all of that information for each job so you can easily and quickly come up with quotes.
Formulate Client Contracts
A sound contract is key for any working agreement. Find templates online or consult with an attorney to create verbiage that fits with your specific situation.
Invest in Liability Insurance
It’s also a good idea to have some liability coverage in case you break or damage something in a client’s home. You don’t want to end up in a legal dispute or forced to pay for some expensive home repairs.
Connect with Area Realtors
One of the best and fastest ways to connect with home sellers is through their real estate agents. These realtors are equally motivated to have their houses sell quickly and at a premium price. So network with them and share your contact info so they can refer sellers to you when the opportunity arises.
Find Discount Home Decor Suppliers
Some sellers completely empty out their homes before listing them, while others could just use a little more style. Either way, you will probably need to bring in some extra decor items to fill in the spaces and make it especially attractive to potential buyers. So attend some local auctions and check out discount furniture and decor retailers in your area to build up your supplies without spending a ton of money.
Invest in Storage Space
If you purchase any large furniture pieces or even build up your collection of smaller decor pieces over time, you’ll likely need to purchase some outside storage space so that you can keep and easily access all of those pieces for future jobs.
Look into Furniture Rental Options
For jobs that require a lot of furniture, you can also look into rental options. This can be especially attractive for large homes that need pieces that don’t fit in your storage unit or trendy items that you won’t be able to use for a ton of future staging jobs.
Create a Website
Having an online presence is important for any business. But it’s especially important for a visual and emerging field like home staging. It allows potential customers to really see what you can do and understand the value you provide.
Optimize for Local Search
Customers also need to be able to actually find your website. So take care to focus on SEO and name your service area specifically throughout your website so relevant customers can find you.
Brand Your Business Carefully
Design is such an important concept for home stagers. So you need to make sure that your branding and the design of your website and marketing materials is consistent with your style and professional looking. If you’re trying to convince customers that you can make their home look elegant but you have a thrown-together look on your website, they aren’t likely to trust your design skills.
Formulate a Quick Pitch for Marketing Materials
Home staging is gaining popularity, but it still isn’t accepted by all. So make sure you have a solid pitch in your marketing materials that explains the value for customers. Consider including how fast the homes you’ve staged have sold or what type of price increase they lead to.
Create a Portfolio of Homes You’ve Staged
You also need to be able to show examples of what you can create visually. Take photos of all your work and compile it in a portfolio on your website or even in a traditional booklet format so you can show off your style potential customers.
Another way to provide some social proof is by collecting testimonials from past customers and including them on your website and in other marketing materials.
Create an Online Content Strategy
It can also be beneficial to create an online content marketing strategy where you blog or post on social media about design, tips for selling a home and other topics that your target customers might be interested in. You can even get creative with a YouTube channel or podcast.
Do Some Local Advertising
Since your customers are probably based mainly in one geographic area, it can also be a good idea to invest in some local marketing, perhaps in a local newspaper or on some outdoor signage. You can even sponsor local events or sports teams to build some brand recognition and network with other community members.
Gather Design Inspiration
Throughout the course of running your business, design trends and the preferences of buyers are likely to change. So your style should shift along with it, since your ultimate goal is to appeal to those buyers. For that reason, it’s important to continue researching and getting inspired by new trends on Pinterest or in decor magazines.
Continue to Shop for Affordable Decor
By that same token, you also need to continue to grow your collection of decor items so that it appeals to modern homeowners. Consider hosting sales periodically so you can recycle the old and use the funds to get started with a new collection.
Photo via Shutterstock