Home staging expert, Debra Gould, discusses why home stagers should not market their businesses based on having the lowest price services.
Price is of course a factor in any buying decision, but as a business owner, you want the cost of your services to be close to the bottom of the list of your prospective client’s considerations. It’s much better to attract clients who are looking for quality services, customer care and value, then just the lowest price.
The Staging Diva, Debra Gould, has always been one of the most expensive home stagers in her city and she’s never made any apologies about it. Gould says, “From the day I first started my business, the way I saw it, and still do, was that it’s fine if everyone else wants to give their time away for basically nothing. It doesn’t mean I have to do the same thing.”
Instead of trying to compete on price, which is a big mistake for almost any entrepreneur, Gould put her energy into becoming the expert home stager in her market. “I’ve always wanted home staging clients who understand and appreciate the value of home staging and how much difference it can make in the selling price of their home, not to mention how fast it sells,” states Gould. “I was surrounded by stagers who would go to homes for free to do consultations and I advised potential clients that I was too busy with paying clients to run around for free.” She told potential clients “if you’re looking for the cheapest home stager, then I can’t help you. But if you want quality advice then you’ve come to the right place.”
If you promote your services as being cheap, you’ll attract penny-pinching clients who don’t value what you have to offer.
People who only care about price will argue every step of the way about any recommendation you might make that might cost extra. You’ll get the people who haven’t spent money maintaining their homes over the years and will balk at repainting over their 1965 decor. You’ll get people who say, “why should I replace that rusted out mailbox or the cracked front window, the new owners can worry about it.”
If you’ve gone into the home staging business because you’re a creative person, this sort of client will completely stifle your creativity and suck all the joy out of giving advice and envisioning the potential of a property. You’ll also have to worry more about bounced checks and chasing your money.
The Staging Diva, who has trained more than 4000 people around the world to become home stagers says, “Marketing is more than telling people what you charge for your services. You have to position yourself, properly explain the benefits of your services in a way that is meaningful to the potential customer, learn how to convey the right image and relate to people in a way that makes them want to work with you. You really should have a prospect sold on you long before you start talking price. They should want you bad enough that your rate is not an issue.”
About the author
The creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, Debra Gould has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate, including seven of her own homes. She is the president of home staging firm SixElements.com and has trained thousands of home stagers to start and grow their own businesses. Gould created the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers to help home sellers and real estate agents locate staging services in their area.
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®Staging Diva is a registered trademark, and ™Debra Gould Studio is a trademark, of Six Elements Design Group Inc.
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Thank you for this input. Since graduating from the Haverhill Institute of Staging & Design I have working hard on starting up my own home staging/interior design and redesign business. No clients to date but I have been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding starting up a home staging business. Several experts have suggested such tactics as forgoing payment for the staging the first home with a particular realtor until the home sells (similar to the way realtors work), or offering to stage the first home at no charge exchange for an opportunity to display marketing materials at the staged home…I am a registered interior designer with ten years of experience and am very excited about this new opportunity. I want to set off on the right foot but I am also beginning to believe that I need a hook to get started in a business that to date has not taken off in my area.
Elisabeth, I have written extensively on why the two strategies for getting work that you just mentioned are a bad idea in Home Staging Business Report.
If you are a registered interior designer with 10 years of experience, clearly “how to stage a house” is not an issue for you. The question is how to make a living at it. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program. It will not duplicate anything you may have learned with Haverhill because this is a program about how to start and grow your own staging business, not about how to go to work for another company. It is based on my 20+ years as an entrepreneur, 7 of those as a home stager. I don’t teach you how to decorate, the assumption is that you already have talent in this area. You’ll get 10 hours of instruction on how to get clients to hire you, how to avoid free estimates, how to price for your services, how to market to your four key target audiences and more. Get the full scoop at http://www.stagingdiva.com/homestagingtraining.html
Debra, you’ve got me thinking about the business I have gotten and the business I haven’t. I just landed a huge staging job where I know I really had no competition (the client complained about the one other staging company who was unresponsive, couldn’t read floor plans, etc.). The client did not try to negotiate down my fees. I know it’s because prior to hiring me my responsiveness and professionalism shined through. He trusts me to do a good job and get it done on time. It’s the people who call and the first thing they ask is “how much does staging cost?” that never turn into clients. Even if I steer the client away from the cost and describe the process and the benefits (with a few success stories thrown in), it doesn’t seem to work. Either they weren’t really serious or they found someone cheaper. I have found that all of my clients became clients because they were convinced that home staging is what they needed BEFORE they called me, and some had even made up their mind that they wanted ME over other stagers. Maybe I need to do a better sales job with the how-much-does-it-cost prospects, I don’t know.
Donna, that’s excellent feedback to the point of this article. Once you’re dealing with people who respect the value of what we do, it’s a completely different experience. Refer back to your notes from course 2 where I talked about how I changed my pricing strategy in my first year as a home stager and what I said about the kind of projects I got after that.
As for having people call you who have already made up their mind that they want YOU, that’s the beauty of pursuing the marketing strategy I shared with you in course 4. It’s all about how to become the expert in your market so that people who want the best, will want you. The work you’ve been doing over the past 14 months or so will serve you well over the long term because you’ll continue to attract the right type of clients. And you’ll find you need far fewer of them to make the same money.
Keep on your path, no matter what you see the majority of your competitors doing!
4 Comments on It can’t be all about price when marketing a home staging business