3 Day Live In-Person Staging Training Class: Melissa Returns to Live Teaching!

Melissa Marro Home Staging TrainingLong considered one of the top stagers in both the United States and Canada, Melissa Marro returns to live in-person staging training this summer with a 3 day and 5 day course.

This is a comprehensive program designed to fully instruct students on the BUSINESS of staging.   All necessary tools are provided to students  including a 1 yr membership to the Real Estate Staging Association and 1 yr membership to www.StagingAndRedesign.com directory and newsletter resource.

3 days live!  Study with top stager, Melissa Marro, live and in-person, ask as many questions as you like and get answers in real time.  6 years of experience building not one, but TWO successful staging companies, in TWO very different models.

Sound good?

Click here to get more details on this live staging training course – 

home staging training with Melissa Marro home staging training with Melissa Marro home stager training with Melissa Marro

July 16 – 21, 2014

Sept 24 – 29, 2014

Nov 19 -24, 2014

9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m. 9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m. 9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m.
$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

[paypal link]


Classes will be held at the Watson Realty Office on Rte 220:

175 Hampton Point
St Augustine, FL 32092

New ways to share your home staging work and gain more followers.

Have you ever had a really great discussion on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google Plus that you wish you could bring into your blog? Are you looking for more followers on your social media stream because maybe you have a lot of followers in one place, but not another? It seems that social media sites are feeling your pain and are recognizing the growing importance of blogging and finding ways to help you cross pollinate.

Embed your social conversations into your blogs.

Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus now have “embed” features in posts.

Embed posts from Facebook into your home staging blogs.

how to share your home staging work

So far Facebook posts seem to be the easiest ones to embed. Simply look for the drop down arrow in the upper right corner of the post you want to use and scroll down.

Using Facebook posts can be a great way to share popular posts with your blog readers. It could also be a great way to get new followers from loyal readers who perhaps get your information from other sources.

This post was one that I did a few weeks ago about my biggest regret as a home stager. It was actually very popular with 50 Facebook likes/shares and 33 Google Plus ones (according the counter on my website).


Embed Pinterest Boards in your home staging blogs

I have to give credit here to Tom Scanlon with Houston Home Staging for the idea of embedding pinterest boards into home staging blogs.

how to embed pinterest boards in home staging blogs

Simply change out the URL for your board’s URL. Using the Pinterest Widget Builder this is seriously easy.

While embedding a pinterest board may be a little more difficult, it seems like a great way to make a statement on your blogs.

You can also embed individual pins in the same way that you can Facebook posts. Click the box with the arrow (upper right corner of pin), scroll down to embed, and copy the code. This to me, is now the best way to do blogs that feature products or room designs. Copying the photo directly and putting it in your blogs posts can be considered copyright infringement whereas embedding the post is permitted as it shows all of the originating source of the photo.

Embedding Google Plus posts into your home staging blogs

Google Plus posts will probably be for posts more related to the market and general business, but imagine being able to show great conversations with your readers, like the one that inspired this post. (Note: only Public posts can be used as embedded posts at this time. Community posts can not be embedded, even if the community allows public viewing.)



Help your target readers, whether homeowners or agents get additional information about their market or the real estate industry as a whole by showing what others are talking about, or bringing a great conversation from your page to your blog and newsletter readers.

Embedding is easy, done the same way as Facebook and individual Pinterest posts, simply use the drop down arrow, highlight embed, and then copy and paste the embed code.

What are ways that you’ll use the embed feature to cross pollinate your business?

It’s funny because Tom Scanlon had only a few days ago posted in the Google Plus Home Staging Community about how he was using his Pinterest Boards in his blogs. I had been trying to figure out how to use this when Bill Gassett piped up about the new G+ feature. I had noticed the embed feature in Facebook about a week earlier, but hadn’t given it much thought.

Today my head is swimming with ideas on how I’ll be using this in the future. How do you think you’ll use the new embed features from social media to improve your blogs or cross pollinate your readership? 

Home Staging Tip: How to make a bed in a bag look like luxury.

Bed in a bag. Is there an item in our home staging arsenal that combines both love and hate as much as this simple accessory? Go down the aisles of TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls or any other discount store and you’ll see some really awful ones, and then some that seem to have potential. Pull them out of the bag, fluff them up, and you have… probably a hot mess. It doesn’t have to be like that though.

How to improve on the bed in a bag in your next home staging job.

Today I staged a home in Jacksonville, FL where I needed all new bedroom linens. I had just painted some great headboards with tons of color that I wanted to stand out in a completely coastal way. Since I had to also buy the beds themselves (I was completely out of them) I wanted to do this on a tight budget. The bed in a bag is usually the best way to do this.

This $39 bed in a bag came with a comforter, 2 standard shams, a bed skirt and 3 throw pillows. SCORE! I really wish they would have had more. It was mostly blue which was perfect for the blue and orange headboard that I recently painted. As usual the throw pillows in this set are squished and cheap looking.  I did happen to have some great ones on my warehouse shelves though.

How to make a bed in a bag look great

$39 bed in a bag with painted headboard

The next bed in a bag was $49. A little more expensive, but that’s OK. It’s still really cheap. This was a green set and had all the same contents. Since it included a bed skirt that was just all the better (both the blue and green sets did). I usually spent $20 just on that little piece of cloth when I have to purchase them separately.

home staging with bed in a bag

$49 bed in a bag with octopus pillows

Finally, I had the master bedroom. I had painted this awesome green headboard and just wanted the room to feel luxurious. They didn’t have anymore super cheap bags, so I went for a super neutral white $79 bed in a bag. This one only had the comforter and shams, but it was still worth it.

using a bed in a bag with home staging

$79 bed in a bag with coral pillows

Don’t use the bed in a bag throw pillows (in the bedroom).

In case you missed the point of this post and the pictures. Keep the bed in a bag pillows for your other rooms where they can be used as filler, but keep the off the bed. Usually it’s far to “matchy matchy” to actually pull together and normally they look super cheap.  But see, they look perfectly fine here in the living room. The pillows on the chairs below are actually one from each of the blue and green bed in a bag sets.

home staging with bed in a bag

Use your bed in a bag pillows somewhere else!

So there you have it – the secret of making a bed in a bag look like luxury in your next home staging project.

Related post: How many pillows does it take to stage a home? 

Training Tips:The biggest mistake I made as a professional home stager

When I decided to become a professional Jacksonville Realtor that stages my listings vs being a professional stager for other Realtors I had to make some decisions. Knowing that I would not have time to do everything myself, it made sense to delegate the things that took me longer or I didn’t have a lot of skill in. I’ve always taught that Realtors should not be stagers. They should be spending their time out there getting other deals or marketing to find buyers for the listings that they have. Since I don’t have that many yet, I’ve been staging my own listings while calling in other local stagers to assist so that it goes faster.

Trying to do it all as a home stager

Just like being a Realtor, I probably could have done better with my time, and could have avoided the biggest mistake – the one thing that I really regret looking back – had I delegated. OK, I did delegate some things. We had 5 stagers on the team, an office assistant and a staging assistant. What we didn’t have is a professional photographer. 

If I had it all to do over again, I would have increased  my prices just a little and included professional photography with my packages. Looking back, I believe that I would have had a much better portfolio and probably could actually have gotten more business as a result.

use a professional photographer when staging

While I do think my photographs, like the one above, were reasonably good, they aren’t photos that I would use in my portfolio now. Had they been professionally taken, by a real estate photographer, I believe that it might be. This home would fit in well with homes we see here in Jacksonville and has great statistics.

Still, I don’t think that it has the same impact as this next photo does.

home staging by melissa marro

This photo isn’t even the best photo of this room. (Ironically it is the same coffee table in both.) The home on top was a golf course property, which could easily be seen from the windows at the back of the house – which in my photos are blown out. The windows in the second photo show the lawn, patio and vacant lot next door. The view of the first home is much better, or at least should have been.

Delegating your photography work to the pros

While I think many of us [home stagers] own really nice cameras, I think very few of us really know how to use the camera, and all of the available software. I know that we have courses by Andrew Mayon, a real estate photographer whose work I really admire, that will teach you how to take photos so your windows look like the below photos instead of the above photos. I’ve taken the course and have had some luck with it. What I don’t have is time and patience.

I have found, in the same way that we tell Realtors that they shouldn’t stage, that we shouldn’t be taking our photos. We should leave that to the pros. I can say, looking back. I wish that I had done this. I see it all the time on Facebook too. I see stagers whose work is great, but their photos are “eh”. I would venture to say that this change could really alter their business in the way that bringing in a stager could alter a Realtor’s business. If that’s true, it would also create a trickle down effect to the Realtor who hired you and the seller who hired them. I have no doubt that it would be a huge ROI for everyone involved in the process.

Home staging myth: BUSTED! Sellers won’t stage their home.

Today was a learning experience in a lot of ways. For those who don’t know, after selling my Charleston home staging business last year I decided to become a Realtor in Jacksonville/St Augustine, FL. I just completed my first year of having my Florida license. I have been trying to build my business based on the two things that I really know – home staging and marketing. I provide home staging to all of my listing customers.

An unexpected reaction from my broker

sellers will stage their home if they understand whyThis week I’ve had a great week, actually signing papers on three new listings. (Ok, technically it’s 2.5 – I’m co-listing one of these with another agent who hasn’t been able to sell it and wants my staging services to get it sold.) Today as I came into the real estate office at 5:30, my broker asked what was going on. I showed him that I had another listing to turn in. His reaction wasn’t exactly like I expected it to be. While he did eventually congratulate me, his first reaction was actually, “Tell me it’s not for the middle of August like the last one.” 

Actually, it was. You see I’m going out of town August 1-5 to visit my favorite Indianapolis home staging couple. I am staging one of my new listings on July 30th, then the rest have to wait until I return. Besides, the other two remaining homes have a lot of work to get done before I can come in. They have closets to organize, personal belonging to pack away or donate, and updates to complete, like getting new carpeting.

Don’t put the property on MLS until it’s actually ready

I had to explain to my broker that I wasn’t going to have my customers put their home on MLS until it was actually ready. I’m surprised that he didn’t appreciate this point since this broker actually did use the services of a professional stager when he was an agent.

While the reaction from my broker was surprising, what hasn’t been surprising to me is that sellers, once they understand the importance of staging, are eager to get the home ready. They understand that their home will show better and they won’t have to have as many showings. So far, I haven’t had a listing appointment where 1) I didn’t get the listing 2) the seller wasn’t willing to do whatever we needed to do to stage it.

Of the three listings that I signed this week there were some interesting facts that agents should pay attention to.

  • The first listing I signed this week had talked to other agents and actually had saved a post card from another agent in her kitchen drawer. She held onto it for months knowing that she would be selling. This is one of two condos the couple will be selling this year. They listed with me because I provide home staging services and the other agent never even brought the subject up.
  • The second listing had actually been previously with the co-listing agent and had expired. The seller wasn’t interested in doing more than a month-to-month extension until she brought me in and we discussed staging. We now have a new contract with enough time to get the job done.
  • The third listing met with another Realtor. Like the first listing this week, that agent didn’t offer staging services, which is interesting because I actually occasionally do consultations for that agent. I know that I don’t provide consultations for all of their listings, which I always find interesting. Clearly this time his pick and choose methodology didn’t work. Since they also want me to find them a new place to live, that’s a double loss for that agent.

Realtors have missed the boat. Sellers will stage if they understand the value.

I know that not all Realtors have missed the boat. In Charleston I had a staging business that had mid six figures in sales every year. That doesn’t happen without having loyal Realtors who believe in what you do. Here in Jacksonville/St Augustine, the agents only stage selectively, if ever. Sellers, on the flip side, seem to want this service. I’m sure it has something to do with what they see on HGTV and other design channels.

When Realtors make the decision that sellers don’t want to spend the time or money, they are not doing them a favor. For now, I’m content to get ahead of the curve and leave them in the dark.

Teaching 50+ yr old potential sellers Home Staging

Today I taught my first home staging class at the University of North Florida (UNF) I’m teaching for an organization called OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). OLLI is specifically designed for students over 50 years old who want to continue learning. This class wasn’t my typical home staging class where I’m teaching them to become home stagers, but rather I’m teaching potential sellers who want to know how to maximize their equity.

Home staging class teaches students how to prepare their homes for sale

I think my personal favorite part of the class was watching the light bulbs go on in their heads as we discussed the importance of home staging when selling. Many of the students have not sold in 10 years or more. Most of them admitted to already looking at homes for sale on Realtor.com or other online home sites. When we discussed the importance of the photos, they often added in discussions on some of the homes that they had seen.

Selling faster is nearly always better

One of the lessons that I was able to make pretty clear, and seemed to really sink in with the students is that selling your home faster is almost always better. Sure, some sellers are not in a hurry and find that selling for a higher price is really what is important to them. What I try to teach is that selling faster usually equates to higher offers. The offer on day 3 is usually much better than the one on day 30.

home staging classes for 50 and older students

Staging is not decorating, it is marketing

This is an important distinction in my book. While we make homes look pretty, that’s not our main goal. Our goal is to maximize the return on investment of our home sellers and to make the home inviting to home buyers so they will connect with it. While we typically recommend that the home be neutral and free of clutter or distractions, it can’t be sterile. Warmth is an important part of the selling equation.

Professional photos are an important ingredient in selling the home

One of the students asked about this. Their agent told them that they take good photos and don’t need professional ones. I mentioned that some agents do take great photos, but most do not take professional quality photos. Having never seen their agent’s photos I asked what they looked like. They had never actually seen the photos.

This leads me to the last big lesson of today’s 1.5 hour class…..

It’s important to interview your agents carefully

Too often home sellers leave the sale of their biggest investment to a family member, friend, or someone down the street. The average buyer decides within one minute of entering the home to either stack up the reasons on why they like a home or don’t like a home. You either have them at hello, or they will give reasons to say goodbye. The average buyer spends less than 12 minutes in a home. They base the biggest purchase of their financial portfolio in less time than they spent watching a sitcom or thumbing through a magazine.

When deciding which agent to hire, they need to consider the marketing skill of their agent. What advice can they give you on preparing your home for sale (or better yet, do they recommend a professional stager)? What do their listing photos look like? What do their marketing pieces look like (flyers, online media like social media, blogs, etc)?

Today a listing agent needs to do more than simply put the listing in MLS and letting it feed into the plethora of IDX sites. They need to MARKET their listings. Staging is one of the many marketing tools that they have at their disposal. Actually staging is probably the biggest best marketing tool they have. Staging also probably has the biggest return on investment.

So what did I learn in my home staging class?

I remember how much I love teaching. I remember the excitement of talking to sellers and seeing the light bulb turn on. I also learned that no matter the age of the seller that they are willing to learn and implement the strategies if they truly understand why we want them to. So, I look forward to my 2nd OLLI class next week. I can’t wait to find out what new questions they have for me.

How a word cloud can help you with keyword usage in blog writing

I don’t know if you’ve ever been guilty of sitting down to write a blog with a set of keywords in mind only to find that at the end, you’ve written about something completely different than you had planned. Maybe you are new to writing, or your keystrokes just sent your mind off in a different direction. When you sit down to write a blog, especially if you are doing it for marketing purposes, you should at least know what message you are conveying.

Using a word cloud to confirm keyword usage in blog writing

A word cloud is a fun little tool that is often used as a visual image on blogs. Sometimes writers will use this handy tool to help readers get a clear understanding about the topic of the blog they are about to read. Have you ever thought about using a word cloud to see if you are actually using your keywords in your blog writing though?

Word clouds analyze the content in a visual display.  They increase or decrease the size of a word in a cloud based on it’s usage.

using a word cloud to see keywords in blog writing

In this word cloud example, I’ve examined my blog on the 5 most common blogging mistakes costing you SEO. What words jump out at you in the cloud? Do you think they accurately represent the likely keywords I was trying to use in this blog?

I think they do.

Using a word cloud before you post your blog

Next time you write a blog and you are wondering if you have used your keywords enough for your message to stand out consider using a word cloud. Worditout.com is the site that I used to create this word cloud. It is great because you don’t have to use a URL. You can actually just paste the text content of your blogs into their site and it will generate your cloud. You also have the options to change the number of words displayed, colors, font, and more, which are all great if you want to use your cloud as an image in your blog.

New photos COMING SOON! How this is killing your sales.

Today as I sat in my real estate sales meeting, watching a virtual caravan of the most recent listings in our office, I heard two different agents advise as the admin flipped through the photos, “New photos are coming soon.” Right now these listings are live on MLS, potential buyers are viewing them, but they are not the best they can be. The professional photos should be up in a week.

Show the best photos from day 1 of a new listing

This situation reminds me of the old, “I’ll see how the showings go this weekend before I decide if I’m going to stage.” homeowner mentality. How is it that so few “experienced” agents seem to understand that the best activity is always going to be at the beginning of the listing period? Let’s look at this chart by Redfin on the first week of listing activity.

activity during first week of listing

The red line indicates when the home is first listed. The green line indicated activity after it has been updated.

New listings have four times the activity of updated listing

The strategy of updating photos, prices, or staging the home at any time other than BEFORE the listing goes live simply puts the listing at a disadvantage. Holding off means that home sellers have one quarter the chance of success as if they had done the required activity at the time of listing.

One of the things that really makes me crazy in my market is getting listing alerts for a particular neighborhood where I have interested buyers, only to realize that there are no photos. While the agent may have the best professional images imaginable, and the home may be perfect for my home buyers, chances are they will never know. By the time the photos are updated, the listing won’t be fresh. New photos isn’t one of the activities that puts the listing back on our hot sheet. I’m not likely to go back and look in a few days to see if the listing now has photos, neither are most other agents, or potential home buyers. The opportunity is simply gone.

Don’t wait to update your listing, make it fabulous right out of the gate.

Professionally staging each listing PRIOR to listing, getting professional photos PRIOR to listing, and pricing the home properly AT THE TIME of listing is the key to maximizing the final sale price and profitability of any sale.

How to start a home successful staging company with online training.

Are you wondering how you can start a successful home staging company with online training? If you’ve been researching home staging training courses you are probably trying to decide if an online course, or a classroom style course is better. The truth is that they are both very different and the right course will depend on your dedication, time, and personality.

online home staging training certification

Advantages of an online home staging training course

The first thing you need to decide is if an online home staging training course is right for you. Below is a list of some of the advantages that our course offers.

  • Take the course at your own pace. No more trying to find the right location, or a weekend that works for your schedule. Now you can take the course soon as you are ready, watch our online modules in the evenings after the kids go to bed, complete the course in a weekend, or spread it out over several months.
  • No travel expenses. Our online home staging course is taken in the comfort of your own home or office. There is no need to pay for travel, hotel rooms, lunches and dinners out.
  • Unlimited access to training materials. Because our course is kept online and updates are done digitally, you’ll always have access to the latest and greatest. Once you have registered, your access will never terminate.
  • Lessons are ready for you when you need to learn them. One of the most difficult parts of attending a classroom style course is the mind numbing amount of information you’ll receive in only two or three days. Keeping track of it all can be overwhelming. By the time you are ready for your first home staging consultation or quote, you probably won’t remember half of what you were taught. With our online modules and unlimited access, you can always replay the lesson so you have it fresh in your mind.
  • Constant access to our instructors. Part of your online course includes access to our private Facebook community. This is where you can ask questions about what’s going on in your business, voice any problems or concerns you are having with your business, or simply converse behind closed doors with the instructors and other students. By the way this is also a great place to share your blog posts so we can help share them, gaining you additional exposure.

How to start a home staging business with your staging training

Not all home staging training companies are created equal. One of the most important variables that you may need to consider is the level of experience and expertise of the instructor as well as when the course material was last updated. The truth is that many home staging instructors have never owned or operated a home staging business, or even if they did, it was 5 years or more ago.

Because the market is constantly changing, having a home staging instructor that is active in today’s real estate market is vital. While many trainers have made a career of teaching new home stagers and are skilled educators, they don’t know today’s trends or difficulties. How will they help you overcome objections by homeowners and Realtors if they haven’t had to do it in years?

Good stagers fail where good marketers succeed

why should you have your home professionally stagedOne of the biggest factors of the success of a new home staging business is actually not how good the home stager is, it’s how good of a marketer they are. Over the past many years, I’ve seen some great home stagers close their doors because they simply didn’t know how to market their business. A home staging course that is heavy on design concept as opposed to a heavy focus on pricing, marketing, statistics, branding, and profitability may create great home stagers, but unsuccessful businesses.

This isn’t to say that design and decor lessons aren’t important, but the truth is that you are taking a course to learn how to have a successful home staging business, probably because you already have some decor talents.

When you consider which home staging training course is right for you, ask the training provider to have the instructor provide a sample of some of their company’s home staging literature, professional portfolio, or other marketing materials. (Be sure it is for the home staging company of the instructor, not that of the training company.)

Our online home staging training can help you start a new business

If you are serious about starting a new home staging business, then consider SAR’s online class. Our class is regularly updated, taught by some of the most successful stagers in the industry today, and is heavily focused on business.

Register for our online class today, only $695 for all 13 modules.

become a home stager with out online course

Should you build a home staging team, or refer excess work?

When your home staging business starts feeling growing pains should you build a home staging team, or refer excess work to other local home stagers? This isn’t a one size fits all business, and the right answer may be different for everyone reading this blog. In either case, it is important to understand what you want from your business model, both long and short term as well as your daily routine.

The pros and cons of building a home staging team

As most people know, this was an area that really propelled my home staging business. Enjoying the marketing part of my business, the cat and mouse game of getting and staying in front of customers, more than the actual hands-on staging process made building a home staging team a no brainer for me. The trick was finding people who I could trust with my business. Sure, they didn’t have to handle the marketing or finances, but they represented my company and as an extension were representing ME.

Who do you trust with your home staging company’s image?

SAR home staging trainer team at RESA

SAR Instructors, RESA 2011

Not only do you have to worry about general professional appearance and friendly relationships, but what if your new team member gives poor recommendations? This has happened to more than one big time home stager that I know. When they find out from a customer that the advice or behavior has been less than fabulous, heads are likely to roll. We take our reputations seriously and one bad encounter can have tremendous consequences.

In another situation, probably less unique than I would like to think, I had one team member who started taking her own customers and having the customer pay her personally for consultations. Apparently this had been going on for months. We only found out about it because a customer couldn’t reach this consultant one day and was in a hurry to lock down services for a new listing. When we arrived and asked for a check, he wanted to know the stager’s name so he could make it out to her….. not the company. BUSTED.

Unfortunately it can be really easy to not know what’s really going wrong out there. Hopefully you maintain a good enough relationship with your customers that they’ll tell you when something sees fishy, but often they don’t know. This is another great reason to educate your agents on how your business is run. This way they’ll keep you informed when you aren’t there. 

Legal and tax liability for home staging team members

Are your team members independent contractors or are they employees? Do you know the legal and tax related liabilities, differences and consequences of each option? You may think that you can simply claim a stager as an independent contractor but by the law, if you control their schedule or the way they work, they may legally be considered an employee. These things get tricky and if you aren’t careful, they will bite you in the end. That is not to say that an independent contractor isn’t a valid option. You just need to understand the laws and liabilities.

What happens when a team member leaves your company

Another consideration, whether hiring an employee or using an independent contractor is the idea of what happens when they leave your company? If you want to have an enforceable no-compete clause, then really you need to have had an employer-employee relationship.

How will you handle customers that your home staging team member serviced when they were working for you? Will you notify the customers, and if so, what will you say to them? What if you find out that your customers are now working with them and their new company?

How will you handle proprietary information, like flyers, pricing, systems, etc? Have you just given your competition your best kept secrets?

Do you want to stage, or do you want to manage a team?

This may be one of the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding whether it is better to refer your excess business to another home staging company, or build a home staging team. Where are your passions? Do you really want the excess paperwork, regular communication, liability, and potential lack of control of adding someone to your company or would it be easier, and better to simply give up the business temporarily? Again, understanding the way you work and how you want your company to run down the road is an important part of the puzzle.

Want to know more? Take Linda Barnett’s Team Building for Growth and Success online course

Referring excess business to another home staging company

This leads us back to the idea of simply referring work to another home stager when you find your schedule too full. This is also where strong communication and knowledge of your local competition plays a big factor. Local RESA chapters can help create a stager alliance and referral base. Busy stagers can refer work to other competent professionals who haven’t quite hit their stride yet. Since both members belong to the local chapter, and both members have signed a code of ethics agreement, the relationship (hopefully) should be built on professionalism and trust.

Getting paid a referral fee by other home stagers

There are a lot of differing opinions on when a referral fee is appropriate. In my opinion, I treat this as any other real estate transaction. If you were a Realtor,  you would typically pay a 25% referral fee, of the commission paid, to the referring Realtor. For a $200 consultation, that means a $50 referral fee. While no one really wants to make less for their work, the truth is that this is business you would not have otherwise had. If you don’t like the referral fee rate, then negotiate (before you take the referral) or decide not to take it.

If you have another system worked out with a local home stager. That’s fine. Again, this is not a one size fits all business. Just be sure that all of the negotiations have happened before you take the referral to avoid any hard feelings.

Whose customer is it?

Now this is where things can get a bit sticky. If the customer is a new one, and they’ve never had any loyalty to you, chances are that they will probably become the customer of the referred home stager. If they are a good customer that needs service now, but you can’t help them, then they will probably return to you for future business. In either case, whatever they decide, they are the customer and they’ll decide who they want to work with. If you decide to refer business out to another home stager then this is a risk you’ll need to be willing to take.

Just like commissions, future marketing and whether the referred stager is going to solicit to this customer should all be determined before the referral is given. A clear understanding of what’s going to happen, before it does will save a lot of strife and bad feelings.

Which is right for you? Will you build a home staging team, or refer the work?

So, have you decided what the right course of business is for you? It’s not an easy choice. The variables are wide and deep. Ultimately we need to support the decisions of our fellow home staging industry professionals. The reasons you made your choices on building a team, or referring work to another local stager may not apply to them.

If you want to learn more about building a home staging team, take Linda Barnett‘s Team Building for Growth and Success course. This online module is only $149 and will provide in depth information on the following subjects:

Home Staging Team Building for Growth and Success

  • Identify the skills and functions needed to create your dream team
  • Determine a staffing structure that maximizes productivity and profit
  • Maximize the effectiveness of your Independent Contractor Agreement
  • Recognize the optimal time to hire members.
  • Recognize the advantage of working with newly-certified and experienced stagers
  • Enhance how you recruit, train, compensate, and retain team members
  • Enhance your company by working with external groups and resources
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining your team’s tools for success
  • Follow the best practices of team building

Buy this course now, only $149.

*After purchase is complete, you will be asked to “return to Staging & Redesign”.  Clicking this option will provide you with immediate access to your course materials.  You will also receive an email from SAR within 2 business days of class purchase with all necessary links.
This course is RESA Pro Approved. To receive RESA Pro Continuing education credits, please order the course at Educating Home Stagers.


Home Staging for Living in a Small Space: Think Multipurpose

Living in a small space can take some real planning. A Home Staging and Redesign professional may be able to help you create a good organizational and space plan. Great multipurpose furniture may also be of significant help.

Multipurpose furniture to make small spaces more functional

When purchasing home staging inventory, it is important to be sure that many of our pieces are neutral and multifunctional. Side tables must also be able to be used as night stands. Dressers should provide dual function as buffets or sofa tables. We’ve even had smaller dressers function as night stands in very small bedrooms. It may be a good idea for those living in small spaces to take a page out of our book and look for furniture with multi-purpose design.

Resource Furniture, a New York based furniture company has created some intriguing solutions.

Organization can only be effective when it’s easy to keep up

The key to living in a small space is organization. I love some of the storage solutions offered by Resource Furniture. The idea of having bunk beds close into 18″ or less of space, while never even having to clean off your desk to pull them out is phenomenal. The problem with most murphy beds, or convertable furniture is that you have so much to do to ready the space that they lack function.

Function and ease of keeping a space organized is the only way to keep an organized space sustainable. When you have too many moving parts or hoops to jump through, stacks begin to appear and small spaces eventually becomes a mess again.

When purchasing organizational tools, or furniture with multipurpose or built in storage, consider whether you’ll easily be able to access whatever you need without having to do a lot of other things first. It’s easy to build in tables that attach to the wall and fold out of the way, but having one that levels down the the floor, under the bed without having to clear it off first, means you’ll probably actually use it. Having a storage closet that rotates into the wall, behind the bed, means that you haven’t lost the storage wall from the bed.

I have a murphy bed in my home, but we have to move half the room around to get to it. That’s not effective and in the 2 years we’ve lived in our home, we’ve always pulled out an air mattress when we’ve had company. 

living in a small space functional furniture

Home staging for living in a small space.

Multipurpose items are good purchases for both home stagers and those living in small spaces, or in need of multi-functional rooms. Pay careful attention to not only function, but whether or not you’ll be able to regularly maintain access and ease of use.

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Should I use Pinterest for Business or a Personal Account

When Pinterest for Business first was released I was left feeling, “What’s the point?”. I was unable to find any justifiable reason to convert my personal account to a business account, especially since my profile represents not only my crafty hobbies, but also several home staging related businesses.

What is Pinterest for Business?

Pinterest for Business is more or less the same thing as a personal Pinterest account, only it allows a business name on the account vs a personal name. This allows for perfect branding for many companies. Imagine the benefits for the big brands like Pottery Barn, LL Bean, or One Kings Lane. Since most of their business is all about putting their images out there, Pinterest becomes an opportunity for them to share their catalog items in an easy way without having to attach anyone at the company’s actual name, or fudging the system.

Verifying your company URL in Pinterest, confirms that you are in fact the owner of that site, or an authorized representative.

As a professional home stager, my Pinterest account has less value as a brand. After all, most of the images that I’m pinning aren’t mine, they are someone else’s. I’m pinning local events or landmarks. I’m pinning home decor that I really love. I’m pinning stunning photos of wedding ideas (my daughter is getting married in October). Do I really need a business account?

Pinterest has created a new terms of service for business vs personal, so here is what you need to know, any account that wishes to use Pinterest for commercial purposes must create a business account and agree to the business-specific Terms of Service.

Pinterest for Business introduces Analytics

Perhaps the most persuasive argument for changing my Pinterest account from personal to business came in my inbox the other day.

should I use a pinterest for business or personal account

Pinterest analytics means that you can now learn from your marketing efforts. Find out what is effective and what isn’t. Find out what other pinners are doing with images from your site. Now things have just gotten interesting.

Top 10 ways to utilize Pinterest for Business

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Top 10 Home Remodeling Projects and their ROI

Wondering what are the top home remodeling projects? This infographic represents the Cost vs Value Report 2013 by NAR and Remodeling Magazine.

Home Improvement ROI isn’t like they show on TV

Watching home improvement TV shows like Love it or List it, give the impression that you will not only recoup all of your money on home improvements, including decor, but that you’ll make a tidy profit. Flippers do this all the time. The thing is that generally speaking, few projects will recoup 100% ROI, and most that do, only do so because they are changing out very dated, broken, or severely damaged areas. In order for this to be successful, flippers also must purchase the home significantly below market value.

Most homes aren’t purchased significantly below market, and most home improvements are often about personal taste preferences, lifestyle choices, or long term gains (like replacing an old water heater with a tankless option).

When it comes to home improvement or remodeling projects done for the sake of preparing your home for market, or when you know that you’ll be moving soon, it is best to contact a professional home stager. When doing them to live in the home, it is still helpful to know what you may expect as a return on your investment

Top 10 Home Remodeling Projects

In the order of the largest to smallest return on investment, here are your top 10 home remodeling projects

  1. Entry Door Replacement (Steel) – 85.6%
  2. Deck Addition (Wood) – 77.3%
  3. Garage Door Replacement – 75.7%
  4. Minor Kitchen Remodel – 75.4%
  5. Window Replacement (Wood) – 73.3%
  6. Siding Replacement (Vinyl) – 72.9%
  7. Attic Bedroom – 72.9%
  8. Window Replacement Vinyl – 71.20%
  9. Basement Remodel – 70.3%
  10. Major Kitchen Remodel – 68.9%

Top 10 home improvement projects

View the Cost vs Value Report 2013 to read more about the top home remodeling projects and the Top 10 Upscale Remodeling Projects

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How do you define your work efforts? A little key terminology…

Learning how to properly think of and define your work efforts can mean the difference in a clear understanding and specific plan for achieving your goals. This week, I went to a workshop by my business coach, David Josephson, The Growth Coach of Jax. I always enjoy sessions and workshops with Dave. I think he’s great. This workshop was no different.

become a successful home stager

While in general, I view myself as successful. I have a good business model. I have customers, and I make a profit. I have found that small distinctions have a way of making big changes. I found one of the most interesting dynamics and small distinctions in the workshop from this week to be about the terminology of work efforts.

Key Terminology of Work Efforts

We are all tying to determine how to work smarter not harder. We look at what we do and try to streamline processes. We try to figure out what we can do more of or less of to make better profits, but this is the first time that I’ve really had all of these processes defined for me.

Productivity – achieving the greatest results in the shortest period of time.

Leverage – achieving the greatest results with the least amount of effort.

Effectiveness – doing the right things to produce superior results.

Efficiency – doing things right to produce consistent and rapid results.

Strategicplanning for and executing on high-level, high priority, and high-leverage activities that produce optimal results.

How do you define your work efforts?

If you are like me, you see these definitions and analyze your company. Then you ask questions.

  • What am I doing in my business that can be done better? How can we be more productive?
  • How can I leverage activities that I’m already doing to create more business or more profit, vs creating new business?
  • Are there things that we are doing that are simply not effective? If so, how can I reduce or eliminate them?
  • There is a difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Now that I’ve determined what the right things are, how do we make sure that we do them right? For me, this is usually about defining process.
  • Is my business plan up to date? When is the last time I’ve looked at it? Am I using it as a road map to success, or does it just sit in the desk drawer?

For me, it all comes down to a plan and process

In my business, I find that while I never knew the definitions provided by Dave, there was one thing that helped me meet most of the wickets. Developing a business plan and a process list has always kept me on track. The business plan kept me on track. I knew my goals and all decisions were made based on whether they helped me achieve those end goals.

The process keeps me on track on a day to day business. It helps me be sure that I’m not only

  • productive (I don’t waste time – I’m focused),
  • that I leverage my current activities (since my process includes activities like farming and blogging on current or completed jobs),
  • I’m effective (because my business plan told me what the right things were),
  • I’m efficient (I know exactly what comes next and nothing slips through the cracks, minimizing fires to put out),
  • and clearly my system is strategic.

So, what about your business? Does  this help give you a differentiation? Are you asking any new questions? Are you able to define your work efforts with this key terminology?

What do those symbols and pictures mean on the laundry label

Have you seen the new laundry labels? They are full of symbols and pictures with nothing to tell you what they mean. Tonight my husband handed me a new pair of bike shorts and asked me what they meant. (He was going to wash his own stuff…. whoa!) I stared at the symbols and could only figure out two of them. What exactly is an envelope looking symbol or a circle with an x through it supposed to mean when it comes to laundry?

Laundry Symbols and Photo on Labels

Thankfully Google Search isn’t far behind and someone else already has done this same query. (Probably lots of them given how quickly it came up in the auto-fill search bar.) So, in case you haven’t seen the new laundry label symbols, you may want to do what I’m doing it and pin it under your Household Ideas board.

symbols and pictures on laundry labels

What do the new laundry symbols mean anyway

Thankfully I was able to determine from the new laundry symbols that my husband’s bike shorts needed to be washed in cold water, line dried (that was the envelope looking picture), do not iron, do not bleach, and do not dryclean. Too bad almost none of that made sense with out a laundry symbol decoder!