We’ve touched on consultations a little bit but let’s get further into the topic. You may have heard about giving free consultations in order to get clients, but there are also paid consultations you can do as a home stager. So what does that mean…free, paid, when do you do one kind and when do you do the other. What is a home staging consultation? Let’s sort it all out.
What is a Home Staging Consultation?
There are two kinds of consultations that you’ll be doing.
First, there’s the type of consultation where you will discuss your hands-on home staging service and how it works. That’ll cover things like whether you’re renting furniture or not and give you a chance to make notes about what you’ll need and what the job entails. As part of this consultation you’ll also discuss whether the homeowner will be doing any work in advance of your hands-on appointment, such as painting or a professional cleaning.
During this meeting, you’ll get as much of those details settled as possible. If work is being done, set up a time to return for the hands-on work that’ll be after the other workers have finished. Some of this may have to be done on the phone or via email, it just depends on the situation. Keep in communication with the client during this time so they know you’re ready to go as soon as the house is prepped.
This is the type of consultation that you’ll do for free so that you can land the hands-on job. You want to make sure not to give away your plan for the home in detail, otherwise someone could (in theory) use the free info that you provided (your staging plan) as a DIY to-do list. Not every consultation you do will turn into a paying job, for various reasons.
A DIY staging consultation is when you go through the home and make your recommendations to the homeowners. They complete the work on their own and they pay for a fee for your recommendations. Essentially, they’re paying for a thorough to do list. You can either do it “walk and talk” style where you go over everything and they take notes as you go, or you can make your own notes to yourself and prepare a polished report that you deliver later.
My preference is the walk and talk because I don’t like being responsible for the computer work involved in making a polished report. Others see it differently. You can decide on this as you get started. If you do prepare a home staging report, make sure you have accounted for that time, not just the time spent at the home.
DIY consultations are a great way to get started as a home stager because it’s a way that you can get even more practice with looking at real homes before you tackle hands-on work. It’s also easier. You don’t have to coordinate anything like furniture rental or painting or handyman projects. You don’t have to worry about having any inventory or your own, and to be honest, if you’re doing this as a retirement business you may not want the physical work of hands-on staging.
Your proposal or bid for the job is your estimate. It takes some practice and experience to become really proficient with estimating, and when you’re starting out just chalk up any misquotes as part of the learning process. Typically you will err on the side of paying yourself too little. It doesn’t take many of those before you figure things out though. The only loss is your time, and it’s not even a loss in the sense that you’ve still gained the experience.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to submit a staging proposal on the spot. This is because I think it’s better salesmanship to keep the client in front of you and close the deal right then and there. When you go buy a car, the salesman doesn’t tell you he’ll get back to you tomorrow. It’s not exactly the same thing as a car, but it’s the same in terms of keeping the client focused on the deal you’re making.
Keep reference sheets with you for furniture rental pricing if that’s going to be a factor. Try to size up rooms as you tour the home and come up with an estimate for each area. Take notes as you walk through. Be sure to notate anything that would need to be done in advance, like painting a wall or changing a 1970s light fixture.
List everything on the proposal, and make sure you clearly mark the items that need to be done prior to your staging work.
When you give the homeowner your proposal, they’ll either take a look at it on the spot and want to move forward, or they will look at it later or think about it.
If they want to move forward, set up an appointment to come back and do the work. You may not be able to do that if there is other work to be done such as painting, but even in that case you can make an appointment for a week or two down the road so that you have something concrete set up. That appointment can always be rescheduled if the painting takes longer. You can tell the client that you require a deposit to keep their spot in your schedule, with the remainder due on the day of service. The idea is to get a firm commitment so you know the sale is made.
If they need to think about it, that’s understandable, just be gracious about it and let them know you’ll check in with them in a couple of days. Based on their response, you can get a sense of whether they seem interested or not. You can also leave them with a list of references such as previous clients who are happy with your work (once you have them).
If there is furniture rental involved in the project, make sure the recurring rental fee is understood. I like to have clients confirm this with an initial or signature on your proposal form.