Home staging expert Debra Gould receives many inquiries from people who are completely confused by the various home staging training programs available. With so many options in this unregulated field, it’s important to know the right questions to ask to ensure you’ll get your money’s worth in training. The Staging Diva® has compiled a list of 15 questions to make research into training courses easier.
Evaluating Home Staging Training Courses
As a leader in the home staging field, Debra Gould hears from aspiring and struggling stagers completely confused by the various home staging training programs available and wanting help in avoiding falling prey to some scam. Gould has created a list of 15 questions to help those wanting a home staging business research the various training options:
1. If a program offers hands on training, how is it done?
Gould has heard far too many stories of groups of 40 or more people spending most of the day in their own cars (or rentals) driving to various far-flung locations only to take turns rearranging a living room when they finally arrive at the destination.
2. Is the trainer a recognized expert in the field of home staging?
Anyone can all themselves an expert, but can you find any independent evidence to support their claim? For example, are they ever quoted in the media? Don’t be fooled by media logos like “as featured on HGTV” just sitting on a web page and not attached to a specific story. Look for actual stories they are in and mentions on outside websites.
3. Will the training prepare you for the realities of being an entrepreneur?
No matter how talented you are at staging or decorating, if you don’t know how to do the following tasks, you will not make a living at this business: price your services properly, cost effectively market your business, effectively promote yourself to the right audiences, create your own portfolio, find potential clients, get media attention.
A worthwhile training program should really cover all these areas; otherwise, they are just teaching you to build a business that will amount to nothing more than a creative hobby.
4. Does the trainer have real-world experience starting and growing a profitable home staging business?
If they haven’t grown their own successful staging business, how do they know what they’re talking about? When Gould completed her master’s degree in business, there were professors spouting all kinds of great theories, but only the professors who had actually worked in the real world offered anything really useful or actionable.
5. Has the trainer proved they know how to get media attention for their expertise as a home stager?
If not, how will they teach you to do it? Attracting media attention is an integral part of marketing a business, so this should be part of the training program.
6. Does the company give you an opportunity to learn and ask questions about their program before signing up?
If it’s all about the money before you even sign up, don’t expect that to change after you’ve paid the fees to join. A reputable program should give you the opportunity to have your questions answered.
7. Is free information available to aspiring stagers and others, or is everything kept secret until you hand over your money? If there is any free information provided, is it quality content or just fluff?
A reputable program will share free information that demonstrates their expertise in home staging and the home staging business. Judge the quality of this information. If there is nothing of value, don’t expect the paid program to be that much better.
8. What do past students say about the program? What business success have they experienced?
Any reputable program will have testimonials or comments from past students. And, they should prove they are real people by including names, locations and photos of these individuals. Otherwise how do you know that the so called testimonials are genuine?
There should also be examples of success stories from past students. You want to see evidence that pursuing the training program has actually helped others with their business.
9. Can you talk to the trainer personally before deciding?
If all you get is a call center and it’s impossible to speak with anyone in authority or who will be actually training you, then you need to question how much personalized attention you will ever get.
10. Can you attend a free preview to experience something about what the program will be like?
Is there some way to “sample” what you’ll be learning?
11. Does the program offer a satisfaction guarantee? In other words, will you get your money back if it’s not what you expected?
Reputable programs offer a money back guarantee or at minimum a very clearly stated refund policy. If you can’t find this information easily, then this should raise a red flag.
12. Is the format of the program or the way it is delivered practical for you? Will you have to travel or be away from family for a few days?
If you need to travel, be sure to factor in all your costs for that. It’s not just the hotel and car or airfare, there’s parking, meals, tips and potentially childcare for while you’re away.
Or, will you be required to submit an unreasonable amount of information to prove you completed a course? Could this be a smokescreen to make sure you won’t pass so they won’t have to give you ongoing support or a “guaranteed job?”
13. Are you being promised anything that sounds too good to be true or unrealistic?
Beware of promises of a “guaranteed job.” Is there some “fine print” you need to read to understand what such a “guarantee” is based on?
Are you being promised unlimited access to your trainer for life for free? How can anyone promise that, unless they only have a handful of graduates? Besides, nothing is forever!
14. Are you being promised official credentials for completing the program so that you will be a “real” home stager, or does the training company admit that home staging is a completely unregulated field that does not require any credentials at all?
If a company misleads you in any way, that should raise a red flag that they may be less than forthcoming in other ways.
15. What type of ongoing support does the company provide for its graduates?
Don’t assume that because a program costs more that it is better. Make sure you’ve answered the above questions so you know what you’re getting for your money. While there is a wide variation in the costs of home staging training programs, this should not be the first criteria.
The reality is that home staging is a very lucrative business if you know what you are doing on the business side. So, whether you spend a few hundred dollars more or less on a program is not significant when you consider the big picture.
The key is getting what you need from a program and positioning yourself to take your passion for decorating and interest in real estate and turn it into a profitable and creatively satisfying business.
About the Author, Debra Gould
Internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould is President of Six Elements and creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. Gould has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate and uses her expertise to train others worldwide. More than 1000 Staging Diva Graudates on 5 continents. Visit her at StagingDiva.com and SixElements.com.