As with everything in life, you can’t get the good without the bad. Some situations can get better with time— with more experience, you’ll be more respected within the real estate community—while others are real struggles that you can’t always remedy by putting in more time and effort. As you reap all the rewards of being self-employed, such as setting your own rates and choosing your clients, you also have to be the sole bearer of all the difficulties along the way.
It may seem like you’re all alone, but you aren’t! All self-employed home stagers share the same every-day struggles—you’ll know firsthand if you join any staging association and speak for 5 minutes with a fellow stager. Keep reading for our list of the 6 struggles every home staging professional will face!
When people undervalue your services
Homeowners may think that they can stage a home effectively themselves. In some cases, they can, but it can be difficult for them to view their possessions objectively and know what needs to go, what new goods are worth purchasing, and how to rearrange furniture within rooms.
In addition to actual spending costs, can the owner afford to spend time overseeing quick renovations if they are busy with full-time jobs? Home stagers can have trouble convincing people in their area of the value of their services, especially if it’s a small community and people haven’t generally been exposed to it!
When clients assume you’re not going to listen to their needs
There is a popular misconception that home stagers often waltz into a room, decide what they think is best to do with the space and demand that expensive and time-consuming changes be made immediately—all this without any regard for the home owner’s ideas. You know better than anyone that this simply isn’t true! While you probably won’t find stagers who are successful if they do this, we may be guilty of putting down our clients’ ideas from time to time. You are the expert who knows how to turn the highest profit for the home owners, but you ultimately are still working under their restrictions. The most frustrating part is if they don’t give you a chance to show them that you’re a great listener and that you can work around their limitations. The best thing to do is to show them that you’re taking their ideas into consideration right at the very beginning. First impressions count!
When your clients try to bargain
The worst type of bargaining is when clients try to swing a discount while you’re in the middle of staging their home or even afterwards. You’d be surprised how many people try to get a discount from you even after they have already signed your contract. The whole point of them signing the contract is to show that they understand your terms! You might be a people-pleaser and want to give them a discount if they’re particularly persuasive, but know your worth! Don’t settle for anything less by having it all in print. It can be easier to say no if you have something to physically point to, but you should always speak up for yourself or risk undervaluing your services.
When you have to awkwardly mediate between a warring couple
One of the most awkward parts of the job is when you find out that the couple you’re working for don’t agree on the curtains or paint to be used in the house and a fight ensues. Do you interfere? Do you stay out of it? It’s sometimes necessary to help them find middle ground, especially if the open house date is looming. Finding middle ground between what each party wants to do with the space is awkward when the expectations of both parties are completely different. You can always pitch your objective ideas, but you can never force them to agree to anything they don’t want to. Make sure you obtain signed work orders and have all changes in your staging plan approved by both parties. This will save you a lot of trouble in case you had gone ahead and done a renovation … just to find out one of them didn’t agree to it!
When they tell you they’re willing to go the distance
…and then refuse to commit to the changes you suggest. They may have hired you and were all gung-ho about doing whatever you recommended because they wanted to get their house off the market as soon as possible, but then became resistant to all suggestions.
This is an incredibly frustrating situation to be in! If you’ve done copious amounts of research to find all the furniture pieces and accessories, and gotten in touch with contractors to do repairs and renovations, you’re essentially watching your work go to waste. If it comes to this point, all you can do is remind them of what you had talked about and explain the choices and decisions along the way. So long as they’re still paying you for your consultation and hours spent doing the research, it’s not so bad, but it’s still annoying.
When your clients parrot tips & tricks they read online
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll also encounter clients who are incredibly excited about staging… too excited. They may be enamored with picking out décor pieces as part of the staging process and want to arrange and hang everything themselves, but they may not have all the technical knowledge to pair and match items in a flattering way. That’s to be expected since most of your clients aren’t decorating professionals. Regardless, some overzealous types might frustrate you by tell you how to do your job—keep your cool! If they get something wrong, correct them and then share some insider tips and tricks straight from the horse’s mouth. You’re a professional, so it’s time to show it!