Recently I posed a home staging business question, Home Stagers When Do You Cut Your Rates? I described various scenarios and what potential clients may say to put pressure on you and asked for feedback from my fellow home stagers.
Now it’s time for my thoughts on this subject, plus I’ll share a terrific example of how home stager Amy handled this common home staging business dilemma.
From the time I started my home staging business, Six Elements in 2002, I’ve always been one of the most expensive home stagers in my city— or at least I was beginning in 2003 when I really figured out the right pricing strategy and my profits went up almost 500%!
Rather than competing on price, I marketed myself as THE expert home stager in my area. I wanted people to come to me when they were looking for the best.
My clients knew they were going to have to pay more for my services, and it was a much more effective marketing strategy than promoting myself as the cheapest stager out there.
Not only do I recommend against competing on price, I also recommend against discounting your rates, as Graduates of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program will attest. The following story, which was sent to me by a home stager named Amy, is a shining example of why I hold this philosophy:
“Prove your worth or cheapen your value? That’s the scenario I faced after a lengthy game I found myself playing with a local real estate agent and his client.
The agent had called me on St. Patrick’s Day to provide him with an estimate for staging a vacant property for one of his clients. The next business day, I put together a bid for the agent with my price and the furniture rental estimates.
After a week with no word back from the agent, I called him and he told me he’d check with his client to see whether a decision had been made. This went on for three weeks, which is not something I’m used to. Generally a prospective client will get back to me within a few days with a yes or no answer. In this case, though, the homeowner kept going through his agent trying to get me to negotiate my rate, which I refused to do.
Just before Easter, the agent gave me the homeowner’s number so I could follow up myself, which I did—once a week—until the seller asked to meet me in person. He told me he had eight homes he would like to stage, and he tried once more to get me to lower my rate.
I had an important decision to make that day.
My choices were to sell him on my value as a credible home stager or to discount my rate and cheapen my value. After all, how could I be sure there were eight properties involved?
After reviewing my estimate, I confidently showed the homeowner my licensing, insurance, portfolio and other credentials.
I walked out of there with my 50% deposit check and a date to stage the home.
I was also given the address of the next home I was to stage—his $2 million country club residence. In addition, I was shown the mortgages for 25 properties he wanted to flip within the next month.
I hung onto my dignity and snagged a reliable and steady staging income. Playing a little hardball kept me in the game. Staging homes is a joy, but it is also my career. This experience taught me to never forget that the profit margin of a well-staged home will exceed my fees every time. I should never compromise my own fair value pricing, but instead, focus on selling my worth as a professional home stager.”
Amy, kudos for holding your ground during negotiations! It definitely paid off.
Home stagers, have you been in a similar situation? How did you handle it? Please share your experiences below.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging
Debra Gould has been using her creative talents to stage homes since 2002. She knows how to make money as a home stager and shares her formula for staging business success in the Staging Diva home staging courses.