I was talking to a budding home stager the other day about what it takes to be a home stager. I was trying to explain that being good at styling was a good start but not all that was required to be successful.
This got me thinking about the characteristics of a successful home stager. Here’s my list:
Bit of an all encompassing one, so I’ll see if I can break it down…
Walking into a house that is laid out all wrong, is poorly maintained and full of clutter needs VISION. To mentally empty a space then fill it up again but in a way that works. To quickly sort through everything you ‘could do’ to find the best solution to sell. Holding constantly changing IDEAS - could these bedsides work better in another room? what artwork would work best here?
Using INTUITION or a SENSITIVITY to a space. Being able to listen to what a house is saying. House whispering.
LATERAL THINKING – There will be times at the furniture warehouse or during an install that you’ll need to think laterally – a sofa doesn’t fit up the stairs so a new arrangement is needed, 2 matching bedsides aren’t available so could one work with a floor lamp the other side?
FLEXIBILITY. I’ve stopped going into the furniture warehouse with a picture in my head as the furniture is often not available to fit the picture. Better to be more flexible and work to a set of words e.g. “modern/comfortable/funky”
Finally RESOURCEFULNESS. With clients we are often working with what we have, using what a client has but in new ways, borrowing, hiring, moving, finding the answer.
2. People Skills
I think this one is huge. You can have all the creativity in the world but if you don’t get on with people it’s going to be tough for everyone. Consultations move from “hello” to “can I look inside your bathroom cabinet” within about 10 minutes – better make sure you can build RAPPORT quickly. People move for very different reasons, not all of them happy. To be able to have EMPATHY and to ‘get’ your clients is really important. They need to feel they can trust you and that you are on their side. COMMUNICATION is also important. I don’t just tell my clients what to do I try to tell them why they need to do it. Pre and Post consult communication is key. For most of my clients this is the first time they’ve used a home stager so the process needs to be communicated. Working with an agent? Keep them in the loop – they’ll need to book photographers and marketing campaigns. RELATIONSHIP BUILDING skills help you grow your business. Every contact with a painter, client, handyman or agent is building relationships.
3. Business Savy
Interest in RUNNING A BUSINESS and making a profit. There are plenty of stagers out there who don’t know how to market themselves or their business, are buying unnecessary inventory or competing on price or even not charging for consultations. Although staging is a fabulous job it is still a job and you need to be making money from it. It’s the difference between a successful business and a successful hobby. Other characteristics that come under this header are ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS – setting up and following process and time management – basically doing what you said you’d do when you said you’d do it!
4. Internally directed
I think that an ABILITY TO WORK ON YOUR OWN is a key characteristic of a home stager. Although you meet a lot of people through this job you are working alone most of the time. I have a feeling that a lot of stagers are introverts – they like to be on their own, they are SELF MOTIVATED and have an INNER CONFIDENCE and don’t need constant re-assurance, pep talks and feed back from others. It’s lovely when a client tells you that you’ve done a good job. It’s lovely (but all too rare!) when an agent tells you you’ve done a good job. But YOU need to know inside that you’ve done a good job so an ability to PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK is a good characteristic to have.
Being a home stager involves PHYSICAL STAMINA. A typical day selecting at the warehouse is 4-6 hours of walking up and down, climbing under and over furniture and lifting bags of bedlinen around. At an install this 4-6 hours is running up and downstairs and from one room to the next plus making beds. Although you’re not lifting heavy furniture you’ll certainly know that you’ve been to work!
EMOTIONAL STAMINA is also key. When you’re running your own business there will be set backs – lots of them. From too little work, low stock at the warehouse, agents hating your work to losing business, losing websites to dining tables that don’t fit up the stairs to emotional clients. You need RESILIENCE. I truly believe that the most successful stagers are the ones that just keep going and don’t let the inevitable set backs put them off.
I’m very interested in people’s differences. What makes one person a natural at one thing but struggle at something else. As I’ve been through previous jobs and all those self development courses, I’ve learnt about my strengths and liabilities too. I’ve learnt that I’m a good conceptual thinker yet I’m also good at structure and process. I’ve learnt that I’m an introvert and that I love people (the two are NOT mutually exclusive). I’d still like to get better at the business savy part and also the emotional resilience – difficult when I pour my heart and soul into every job.
Are you a home stager? I’d love to know what characteristics you think are important and what unique strength you bring to your work.
I’m Imogen Brown a Home Staging based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are thinking of selling your house and need some advice or help them give me a call or contact me through my website