From Before to After: What Lies Between and its Perceived Value

As consumers, we buy our products and services based on our understanding of the benefits and value in relation to what we are willing to pay. Home staging is a service that is often undervalued by consumers because of their lack of understanding of the process, skills and talent required to take the project from the “before” photos to the “after” photos. Often, when viewing our before-and-after images of completed projects, potential clients recognize that those homes look or simply “feel” better after having being staged. Still, when presented with a quote (or “bid”) to stage their home, many owners get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces. The reality is that the quotes we provide to un-informed or under-informed consumer will always be met with disbelief because they do not understand the value.

So, from my perspective, the $64,000 question at this point in the time-line of the home staging industry is: HOW do we help our clients comprehend the VALUE of what it takes to transform their home into an improved, more marketable product; that doing so translates into a significant (time and financial) benefit to them for the fee they pay? The answer is twofold: EDUCATION and RESULTS.

First, it is up to us (professional home stagers) to EDUCATE our potential clients. While some of the art of what we do (for example, the exact selection and placement of furnishings) is difficult to explain, the businessof what we do (including the processes of packing, transporting, installing and de-staging) can be conveyed with ease and should be included in conversations, presentations and documentation. Also, providing clients with a quote that details the specific fees for each individual impact area or room can further underscore the value of what we do. By educating clients on exactly what it takes to stage their homes, they will be less likely to have “sticker shock” when they see the bottom line.

Educating potential clients can be done at the same time that we market our business. Why not develop creative ways or tools to share information with clients about the “behind-the-scenes” or “in-between” world of home staging? Here are several suggestions to get you started:

•·        Attach a document to your staging quotes

•·        Insert a page on your website

•·        Create flyer’s and other visual media for realtors, builders, investors and home sellers

•·        Develop articles and press releases for local media and trade organizations

•·        Include information in local training programs for home sellers and realtors

The second way we can convey the value of home staging is through our RESULTS. We accomplish this by ensuring that everything we do moveseveryclient’s property toward greater perceived value and marketability (see “Property Ladder” information in the Home Matters blog of 11/30/07). This involves developing and implementing the most appropriate design plan for each home-given the targeted market of potential buyers, the features and price point of the home, and the established budget. It also involves tracking and publicizing statistical information about the properties we stage (for example: the number of homes and their price points, the percentage of each home’s list price vs. its sales price, and the number of days on the market). These statistics can give us the credibility to reach and educate clients.

The truth is that-even after having been educated about the benefits of home staging-many clients still can’t clearly tell the difference between the “art” of what we do and simply rearranging or renting furniture. This is probably why clients-even the ones who  already believe in the benefit of home staging-are always nervous until that moment when they can actually view, with their very own eyes, the “after” transformation of their home. It is only at that point that they can clearly “see” the value of home staging because it is right there in front of them, tangible and real.

So maintain a firm commitment to improving the marketability of every client’s property, track and publicize your results, and get out there and start educating. Try any or all of the activities suggested above and just watch what happens when that deer-in-the-headlights look changes to an expression of AHA!

What goes on between here
There ?
Big House
 This is what the customer sees. 
From this
To This!
Is there anything in between?

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