Home Staging Course Unit 11
Home Staging Fees, Consultations, Managing Clients
In this section we?ll get into one of my favorite topics ? the part where the money starts rolling in. We’re going to talk all about home staging fees, consultations, client meetings.
If you?ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Unit 1 of our home staging course.
Home Staging Fees
When thinking about your home staging fees and how to set them, first you need to know how much money you want to make per month. Let’s go through the issue of fees step-by-step here…
How to Set Your Fees
When it comes to setting fees, there is no magic number that I can give you. I can give you a method for determining your fee structure, however.
The key to good business is to make sure you are creating a win-win scenario for you and your clients.
You get to make a living doing what you love doing, and your clients get useful information that will help them with their home sale.
Both parties need to feel like the exchange was fair.
Make sure you get paid what you?re worth and remember that you?re helping your clients make thousands of extra dollars when they sell.
Remember the value of your service.
Living expenses vary depending on where you are located. You might need to make $3500 per month for the lifestyle you want, or it might be more like $7000.
If it?s $7,000, you need to have 20 work days where you earn $350 per day. $350 per day is two billable hours at $175 per hour.
Keep in mind, only a portion of your work day will be actual billable time. You have to answer calls and emails, network, spend time marketing, maybe update your site, post a Craigslist ad, just to name some of the ways you?ll commonly spend your time.
Use a realistic formula such as two to three billable hours per day to determine your earning capability so you can decide on an average hourly rate or fee structure.
Home Staging Fee Formula
If I want to make $5,000 per month, this how I?ll work out my pricing structure.
I?m starting with the assumption that I?ll work 20 days per month. $5,000 divided by 20 days comes out to $250 per day.
If I think it?s reasonable to bill two hours per day, I would arrive at $125 per hour as a basis for my fees.
I could do two consultations in a day for $125 each. I can use that $125/hour guideline to determine my fees for large jobs.
If I think a hands-on staging job will take me 5 hours then that gives me a fee of $625.
Personally, I do not break down home staging fees with my hourly rate for clients.
I would present it to them as a flat rate, and I would round up a little bit to cover my travel time and the possibility that something unexpected will happen that will take extra time. I would take that $625 and make it $650 to $700 when I submit my proposal to the client.
The hourly number is just a guideline for you to help arrive at a fee, it is NOT something you need to disclose to a client.
To me, that?s an invitation for them to watch the clock and make sure they get their money?s worth as if you?re an hourly worker.
Again, you are NOT really an hourly worker since you work plenty of hours that technically are not paid hours. Therefore, the hours that you bill need to pay enough to sustain your business.
You?re providing expertise that?s extremely valuable ? don?t forget that.
You also have to make sure your pricing is in line with what others in your area are charging. Depending on your area, your hourly guideline number could be anywhere from $50 to $200.
You can always adjust your fees so just do your best to come up with fair prices and move them up or down as needed.
Also, when you?re starting out, you may not work quite as fast as you will after you have worked on several jobs. You might make mistakes with your quotes when you?re starting.
That?s just part of the process so don?t stress about it. You need some experience before you can really develop a feel for quoting accurately.
Managing Home Staging Clients
Now for the fun part. Once your phone starts ringing, congratulations, you?re in business!
There is no perfect way to teach this material ? it takes some experience and you have to be willing to jump in and trust yourself to develop your system for handling clients. If you have decent people skills then you can do this.
You?d be surprised at how many people don?t know the basics of professionalism. This includes business owners.
Let?s go over this just so we?re on the same page.
When clients contact you, do your best to answer the phone or return their call or email as soon as possible.
If they?re asking something that will require a detailed answer and you don?t have time right away, at least touch base with them.
Tell them you received their request and you?re going to get the information back to them when you?re back in the office, or first thing tomorrow morning, or whatever the case may be.
Let them know you?re paying attention.
A lot of business gets lost because of poor communication skills/lack of proper prioritization.
Always be polite and diplomatic.
Do your best to exceed your clients? expectations with excellent service, attention to detail, and quality work.
Always be prompt. It?s not acceptable to be late for a client meeting. It?s much better to arrive 15 minutes early ? but don?t knock on the door 15 minutes early! Find an out of the way spot to sit in your car. Try not to look suspicious 🙂
When you go meet clients, be sure to have a professional appearance. I were a client I would expect no more than casual attire like jeans and a nice top from a home stager, because they could be in between doing hands-on work that day. You can use your judgment on that, but always be neat well-groomed.
When you enter the home, try to find nice things to say about the house as an ice breaker and as a way to start building some rapport. There?s always something nice you can honestly say about a home. Be genuine.
Shake hands, make eye contact, smile.
Your job is to gracefully guide the meeting so that you get things done efficiently.
If you?re there for a consultation/DIY staging, once you have some small talk out of the way go ahead and ask them if it?s OK to start in any room.
That way they can take care of anything that needs to happen before you tour the home.
Unless they tell you to start in a particular room, go for the kitchen since it?s one of the most important areas.
You can collect your fee and the beginning or the end of the appointment. It?s up to you, but don?t leave without getting paid.
When you collect upfront then you can go through the appointment knowing that you don?t have to worry about that part, and my opinion is that?s the best way to go.
If you?re there to discuss hands-on work, ask them to show you each room and then you can sit down and talk about how your service works. You have the option of writing up a bid (proposal) on the spot or getting it back to them in a day or so.
I personally like to deliver the bid on the spot because I think it?s better to keep the process moving along while you have them in front of you.
Be confident and personable. It?s OK to be nervous, that?ll go away before you know it. Just do your thing and be genuine.
If you?re REALLY nervous, you can have someone go with you as your assistant.
You can have them hold your tape measure or take notes.
Home Staging Consultations
There are two kinds of consultations that you?ll be doing.
First, there?s a consultation where you will discuss your hands-on 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.
A DIY 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 report, make sure you have accounted for that time, not just the time spent at the home.
DIY home staging 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 when starting out 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 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 rental fees along with your staging fees 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.
Home Staging Contracts
You need a very good contract if you?re doing hands-on staging. Do not do any work without having a signed contract. This maybe the most important part of the entire business, and it?s an investment you will need to make. Have a lawyer draw up a good contract for you.
We do not provide a contract with the course for legal reasons.
Make sure your contract clearly states what services you are providing, what the recurring fee will be (if any), staging fees, responsibilities of both parties, date service is to begin (and end, if applicable), and what you?re responsible for.
(For example, you do not clean or do repairs.)
You may also stipulate your business hours so that your clients know when they can expect to be able to contact you.
State your payment terms and forms of payment that you accept.
Include any additional fees that you will add, such as an extra fee if you are putting items in boxes for the client, fees for coming back to reset items that have gotten out of place or rearranged, etc.
You may find circumstances arise that cause you to add a new thing to your list of contingency fees.
Definitely include specific details about financial responsibility in the event of damage to furniture or accessories. If you are using items from your personal inventory, you should include a list of items and their replacement value in the event that things are broken or lost.
Make sure the client signs off on the list of items and the financial terms for loss or damage.
Invest in a strongly worded contract.
Here is an example of a home staging contract.
Hands-On Staging Jobs
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.
Home Staging Furniture Rental
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.
Recommended billing software: FreshBooks.
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.
Use QuickBooks or FreshBooks for your invoicing. FreshBooks is extremely easy to use and you can send email invoices in a matter of seconds.
I like the feel of it better than QuickBooks but it?s just a matter of preference.
I do suggest you use one of these to keep your bookkeeping on track. It?s too easy to lose sight of your income and expenses otherwise. Make sure you get paid.
Now that you have finished our course material, you can go ahead with our home staging certification if you desire.
Congratulations on taking this step toward your fun and lucrative new career!
Note: There is no charge for the course, however, we’ve had folks ask about contributing just because they like what we’re doing. We appreciate that support so much. Our mission is to make this rewarding career a reality for anyone who wants to pursue it.
Some recommended products may use affiliate links. schoolofhomestaging.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc or its affiliates.
If you have a moment, please let us know what challenges you have faced when seeking home staging training. We are always looking for ways to improve and serve you better.