Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, warns home stagers to carefully weigh the pros and cons of maintaining their own furniture inventory.
(UNITED STATES) March 12, 2012 – On the Home Staging Business Report blog, home staging expert Debra Gould explains why home stagers should think carefully about the potential ramifications of purchasing their own inventory of rental furniture.
“While I teach the pros and cons of having your own home staging inventory, I’m a big fan of not having it,” says Gould. “It’s really not necessary to invest tens of thousands of dollars in home staging furniture, art and accessories, and I say this as someone who has staged hundreds of homes, many of them vacant or only partially furnished. There are tons of pitfalls of furniture rentals for home stagers.”
Early in her home staging career, Gould was invited by an established home stager to tour a condo she had staged. The stager was selling her furniture rental inventory and assured Gould that she could get a good deal by buying all the contents from her. She pointed out that she’d made $5,000 staging that property, so Gould’s investment would pay back quickly.
“What she didn’t know was that I had already staged a number of vacant properties using inventory from an actual rental company and made just as much profit as she did, without having any of her overhead,” Gould explains. “Needless to say, I didn’t buy what she was selling and appreciated that early view of how much better my business model was than hers. After all, she was selling her inventory! If she was making so much money from it, she wouldn’t be doing that!”
A number of Gould’s readers wrote in about their own experiences and frustrations with furniture inventory. Staging Diva Graduate Stacy Goade of Alaska Premier Home Staging had this to say: “While I do feel that my home staging business has been at a disadvantage because I don’t offer furnishings or accessories, I’ve learned this first year that I can be a successful home stager even if I don’t stage vacant homes! In fact, this week I made the decision to pull vacant home staging from my website and my marketing materials. Why? Because the process involved in working with furniture rental companies and real estate agents has not been pleasant or profitable, so why continue! I think each of us has to decide our priorities and define our own success. For me, success is enjoying my home staging business and getting paid for every aspect of it.”
Gould has been a home stager since 2002 and has communicated with thousands of home stagers in more than 20 different countries over the years. She reports that she has noticed a pattern throughout this time: The home stagers who are most likely to go out of business within their first or second year are the ones who maintain their own inventory. Gould believes that their sizable upfront investment, plus the ongoing cost of storage, pick up, delivery, cleaning, maintenance and insurance has a lot to do with this.
“Many new home stagers think I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Gould says. “They believe their situation is special and that it’s different where they live. If they really want to get into the furniture rental business, they should go for it! But before they do, it’s important that they consider the potential hassles involved.”
Gould discusses the pros and cons of maintaining a furniture rental inventory in her home staging course, The Business of Home Staging: What You Need to Start and How to Grow. For more information, visit the Staging Diva website.
The creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, Debra Gould has staged millions of dollars’ worth of real estate, including 7 of her own homes. She is the president of Voice of Possibility Group Inc., which operates a home staging division, SixElements.com, in addition to StagingDiva.com, which has trained over 7,000 home stagers to start and grow their own businesses.
Debra has gained international recognition through features in major media in the US and Canada including: This Old House, HGTV, CNN Money, CBC National News, CBS Radio, Global TV, City TV, The Wall Street Journal, Women’s Day, Reader’s Digest and more.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
Voice of Possibility Group Inc.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Adam, I know having your own inventory has been a huge help in Tasmania. It’s been great watching your business grow since you first took my training almost 6(!) years ago. You’ve always done such a beautiful job in every home staging portfolio shot I’ve seen from your company.
There are certainly pros and cons. We have an inventory and would be lost without it.
There are no local rental companies to work with so it makes it even more important to have out own stock.
Even now, if a rental company turned up, I would still maintain our stock as we always know what we have to work with and are not at the mercy of another company to dictate what we can have at what price.
If we want to add a few additional pieces to finish a job to our standards, we don’t have to charge the client more either which is nice.
Agree it is not for everyone, there are large expenses to consider. But if you are in a smaller market it could be the best decision you make.
Just be aware of ongoing costs as outlined above.
I’ve always followed your website and much of your valuable advise in addition to purchasing some of your materials along with other home staging experts websites. However, I am also an expert. I am an Interior Designer who has had great success by owning my furniture and accessories. Most rental companies don’t rent accessories. Owning my own inventory has made my service more affordable and since my accessories are handpicked by me they are nicer than what you can rent. Granted, I have a showroom large enough to store my inventory, but I still believe it gives me the edge.
Robby, I’m glad you’ve had success with your own inventory. There are many pros and cons to going that route so I caution stagers (especially new ones) to be careful how they go about getting into the rental business.
In my own staging business which I’ve run for 9 years, I don’t keep any of my own inventory. If there are accessories I need, I prefer to be paid for my time to go shopping for them and the client pays me upfront for what I’m going to buy. This way I have nothing to pick up afterwards and I save myself all the paperwork and other hassles of keeping track of it all.
Thanks for sharing your experience and point of view!
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