Hands-On Home Staging Tips
You can choose to arrange painting and any other work that needs to be done, however, you’re taking on additional liability if you do so. My recommendation is to start out simple and as you gain experience you can add to the service that you coordinate and manage.
Make sure the house is clean. Be clear about the fact that you are not a cleaning service and that the home needs to be spotless for the staging to be the most effective.
Encourage the homeowner to declutter. Have the homeowner put away valuables or anything extremely fragile. Tell them this is a good idea for staging and for showings.
It’s very unlikely that the homeowner will accuse you of taking an expensive piece of jewelry or some other valuable, but as you may have gathered by now, I am a big fan of being protected from such situations.
You can name some specific things that should be packed away before you start working, such as a doll collection or artwork that isn’t appropriate for staging.
When the house is prepped and ready for staging, set up a time when the homeowner or the seller’s agent will be present to let you in so you can work.
If you’re moving items that need to be packed away or put in storage, make sure you have an understanding with the homeowner beforehand as to how this will be handled. You’re not a packing service, so make sure they have reasonable expectations as to where the extraneous items will be placed. It’s OK if you’re taking on packing things in boxes, but make sure there are appropriate supplies provided or included in your fee.
Be professional and stay busy while you’re working in the home. Hopefully you will be left alone to work in peace, but if not, it’s perfectly OK to request some space if you have people hovering or being chatty. Just tell them you can work more efficiently that way. Most people will know enough to let you be in the first place.
Get your work done with the workflow that you’ve developed over your practice sessions. If you have helpers, make sure they understand what they’re supposed to do and what they’re supposed to leave to you.
Be respectful of people’s homes. Don’t put nails in walls unless you have asked permission. This is a pet peeve of mine. I think it’s extremely disrespectful to make any permanent alterations without a clear conversation ahead of time.
Go out for a lunch break if you need to, but make sure this is understood. You don’t want clients thinking you left a job looking half done and that you’re not coming back. Make sure someone will be there to let you back in.
Collect your payment on the same day. If you’re charging them for leased items, get the first month’s rental fee along with your staging fee.
There are three ways you can handle furniture rental.
You can build up your own inventory of furniture and accessories that you rent to clients as part of your service. It can take time to build your inventory unless you have a very large start-up budget. You could start with the goal of having enough to furnish a small condo and then add items as your business earnings allow. You also need to rent a storage area unless you have a large space that would be appropriate for furniture storage.
You can opt for renting furniture from a place like CORT and include it in your fee. This allows you to easily choose the items and coordinate the delivery time. The downside is that it puts you at risk financially since you are responsible for the rental fees and any damage that may occur. You will add your time and expense to the client’s fee, of course, but since you’re carrying the rental expense you need to make sure your client pays you in a timely manner.
You can also have the client take care of renting the furniture on their own, so that you don’t have to take on the liability or the expense. This is advantageous because you’ve lowered your risk, but you do have to make sure that the homeowner gets the right items. With CORT, you can use a referral form like this one to get a little bit of a commission back. Make sure you’re managing the selection of items and the delivery time.
When the delivery people arrive with your furniture, they will put the furniture in the rooms you designate for each item, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a lot of heavy lifting. Please note: confirm this beforehand just to be sure, although I’ve never experience any trouble with furniture placement.
Make sure you get paid. Get paid in advance. If you have an ongoing billing situation such as a client leasing furniture and/or accessories, bill them in advance for the time period that follows. When they have an accepted offer on the home, they may want you to go pick everything up so they won’t have any further expenses. This makes sense, but you may want to suggest that they keep the items in place until they are sure that the sale is going through. Ask any Realtor how often home sales fall apart, even at the last minute. The answer is: all the time! It would be a lot more expensive for the seller to have to have everything put back in place if the sale falls through.