Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sensational Home Staging - Ken Caryl Valley house for sale

Check out our latest Vacant Staging project - from forgettable to Fabulous in a few hours!  This house was transformed not only by the Seller's efforts to update and present a great product to the market, but by the wonderful Staging that was done to highlight each key area in the house.  The Staging makes the house feel warm and inviting, lets a buyer know how to furnish key spaces, and adds interest both in photos and in person!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Are You a Tweaker?

Are You a Tweaker?
by Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP-Premier, SRS, REO
Owner, Sensational Home Staging
Helping Sellers and Realtors Achieve their Goals since 2002

No. I am not asking if you are a Meth-head.  I am referring to Staging. 

Are you a Tweaker when it comes to your hands-on Staging projects?  Whether occupied or vacant home Staging projects, I have encountered Staging Tweakers – and the fact is Tweakers lose profit and drive themselves insane because they just don’t know when to stop!

I have witnessed Tweakers in action during the many Staging projects I have supervised both as a Trainer and as a Company owner.  These are the people that adjust an item over and over – moving it slightly here, slightly there.  Taking it away. Bringing it back.  Agonizing over whether the items they are using are “right.”  Making changes to the finished product repeatedly.  Even driving back to the house once the Staging is done to adjust things one more time.

When I have my Staging Crew – I make it clear up front that we need to execute the plan in each room and move on.  If I find I have brought a tweaker with me I have to do an intervention.  I need to step in and let them know what they’ve done looks great – and let’s move on to the next area.  As compelled as they are to go back and adjust, they are not allowed to do that.

I say we need to lovingly help Tweakers to help them get away from tweaking.  The reason I feel strongly about this is I want my colleagues to earn the MOST from the Staging creativity and expertise.  When we start tweaking beyond what is truly needed, time does not stop and we may end up taking much longer in a room or house because of our need to make it “perfect” versus sticking to the plan.

Here are the steps you need to take to get out of Tweaker mindset and in to a Stager business mind set.

1. Understand that Time is Money.  If you need more explanation on that just read my blog post on that principle and it will become clear. 

2.  You have to make a plan and stick to that plan.  It’s not that things cannot change once you get into the Staging and another great idea pops into your head – the key is to settle on the final product and be happy – and move on.  When the Staging is done, it’s done.  Think about if you finish earlier than planned? That is a good thing – you have extra time for yourself and made more than you planned!

3.  You need to ask yourself, “Will my adjusting this item from where it is right now really make a difference in the Staging?”  If the honest answer is yes – then by all means do it.  If the answer is no and you are just over-analyzing the room and Staging - STEP AWAY FROM THE ROOM.  And Move on to the next area to be Staged.

4.  I think we all need to “tweak” our Staging just not to extremes – the final product to assess how it looks from the doorway – are tags showing on pillows, is the comforter straight, are the chairs placed in the right spot?  But taking it to extremes reveals a compulsion in some of us that we need to stop.  Because it is costing you money.  It is costing you sanity.

The fact is whether the plant is 3 inches to the right or left really is not going to make a difference in the Staging.  Whether a picture is hung 3 inches to high or low or too far to the right or left WILL make a difference – so fix it.

5.  Be Confident in Your Staging.  Staging styles differ with some Stagers bringing in a lot of d├ęcor and others bringing in more minimal – and the key is whatever you decide to put in a room, on a surface, on the wall – you need the CONFIDENCE to know it looks great and give yourself permission to move on.  Just who do you think is coming in the room?  I will tell you who isn't - the Staging Police – who will slap the letter “L” on your forehead because you did something “wrong” in your Staging! 

If your challenge is about confidence in your work, then I recommend shadowing with an experienced Stager and study the before/after photos of Staging projects to really understand what it takes to be successful.

6.  Final Stamp of Approval.  At some point in all our Stagings we need to give the stamp of approval for the room and move on.  Never drive back to a house because you saw some small “flaw” (to you) in the photos.  Remember that Staging makes an overall impression on the Buyer and very few are really scrutinizing what was done close up – unless they want to go into the biz.  Some Stagers bring an iron to all their projects and take out all the wrinkles in fabric as they make the bed.  I say, get bedding that does not wrinkle!  I have a steamer and will use it as needed but when our budget it tight and we need to stick to the clock I am not whipping out an iron to get rid of wrinkles when I can avoid them from the start by bringing products that make me most efficient.

In summary, Staging is subjective and we have guidelines for what we know works for both process and presentation.  Simply follow those guidelines and have confidence in YOU and your creative talent.  That is the cure for tweaking.
If you are a Realtor or Seller in the greater Denver area and want to get your house or listing Staged for sale, give Jennie a call.  She is efficient and experienced to get your house Staged in the quickest amount of time (which minimized the amount you need to pay) so that it looks great before coming on the market.  (303)717-7918 or 888-93-STAGE.  http://www.SensationalHome.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Longer We Take the Less We Make

The Longer We Take the Less We Make
By Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP-Premier
Owner, Sensational Home Staging
Helping Sellers and Realtors Achieve Their Goals since 2002!

Time is Money.

We have all heard that before and yet have we really taken that to heart in our Staging businesses? I want to encourage anyone reading this blog that is in the business of Staging we have to find ways to make our time most productive so that we maximize our profit. We are paid for our Creativity and our ability to implement a plan of action effectively.

I did not get into Staging to earn a little bit of money. Staging is a lucrative business when it is treated like a business. When I understood the big picture of the income potential of this business, I got very excited. It is an industry that compared to a traditional job pays a full-time income in part-time hours.

As a Stager, we give a lump sum for our projects – not an hourly rate. In order to do this you must estimate how long you believe a Staging will take and then hit that goal. What it really boils down to is good Project Management.

Here are some key tips to help you make the MOST from the Staging projects you conduct and maximize your profit.

1. Make a Plan,
2. Be the Project Manager
3. Communicate Expectations Clearly
4. Manage the Clock
5. Manage the Budget

1. Make a Plan – I know we have a proposal for the Staging project that gets accepted by the client, but that is not the Staging Plan. The Plan starts with you figuring out what you need to do in each room, what you are bringing with you, who is doing what. If you are doing a Vacant house, make a list of all the things you need to bring with you – write it down. You will NOT remember everything the day of the Staging as you are loading up – and the kiss of death for profit as a Stager is us forgetting some key element of our Staging like a set of towels or the bed skirt for the bed – and having to drive back to our warehouse or storage, or worse, having to go shopping – because we did not plan and write it down.

Until I learned and embraced this concept of simply writing things down, I would be going to sleep the night before a Staging and suddenly remember something I really needed to bring – and as I was drifting off would be repeating it to myself 10 times so that when I woke up the next morning, it would be fresh on my mind. What I found to be true is that I would have a fitful sleep, I would be going over the Staging in my head all night long and once I just WROTE IT DOWN – I slept great!

When you are doing a Hands-on Staging for an occupied – you will have already seen the house so it’s a matter of executing the plan you come up with. You have only allotted a certain amount of time for the overall project, so you have to be the one to keep people on track. That brings me to my second tip.

2. Be the Project Manager – Your role whether you are Staging solo or with your Stage Crew is that you are the PM – the Project Manager. It’s up to YOU to plan the time appropriately and make sure things run on schedule. Stagers that make the most profit are ones that stick to the timetable and keep their crew hustling. We can still have fun – play music and encourage each other but you are not there as a friend – you are the PM and you have expectations for your team and the Staging project.

3. Communicate Expectations Clearly with Your Team – People cannot read our minds. We can never assume they know what the overall plan in, what their roles are, what we expect from them and the project that day. It’s a good idea to take 5-10 minutes to share with your team what the goals are for that project.

How much time do you want to be in the house? What is the overall plan? What will they be doing today? What are the priorities? What are you bringing with you? Where do you need their focus?

The last thing you want is for people to be standing around because they don’t have a clear mandate from you. That kills your profit.

It all starts with you – since you bid on the Staging you hopefully allotted money for the crew you bring with you – and you will have labor and creative helping you depending on the Staging. When you fail to communicate expectations you can expect people to move more slowly and be asking you every five minutes what they have to do next. You need to keep people on track. As an example, a bathroom should take at most 15 minutes to Stage – so you need to set the expectation for the team member Staging that space, and then make sure they stick to it.

4. Manage the Clock - I watch the clock and call out the time and what our goals are 1-2 times during the Staging. If someone is taking too long, you have every right to get them on track because you are paying them. We don’t have to be mean – but we do have to be in charge because this is YOUR project. And Time is Money.

When I have labor with me (movers either delivering furniture or helping move things around in a house) I am very clear on the expectations. When I can, I also never pay anyone hourly – they are always paid Lump Sum – and what I have found is they will work a lot faster when they get a set amount for the project versus an hourly rate. When hired labor gets paid hourly we really have to be on top of these people because they are motivated to work slower in order to earn more. I tell them how long they have and then push them (nicely) if they are going too slowly. If I have a large hands-on Staging I often have the labor come first – we get the big things moved out or around where they need to go and then I cut them loose. The creative happens next and I can have my team members meet me at the house to start their part. That way they are not standing around. If there is creative to do while the moving is happening, you can have that taking place – the key is everyone on the project is productive at all times.

We don’t stop for food breaks, we don’t take phone calls. When they are on my clock, they are working for me and this project takes priority. We want productive partners at all times.

If we are unloading a vehicle, the team members helping better load up their arms with things – not take one little thing in at a time – again we want to maximize profit by minimizing the time we take. Same for a de-stage – we are there to get in and get our things out.

We don’t want to be careless – so we always take the time we need to move things properly using our Staging tools – but the key is not to take excess time to do something as Time is Money.  When you are able to take less time than planned, you have just increased your profit and hourly amount you pay yourself! 

5. Manage the Budget – You have bid on the Staging project and must stick to the financial parameters. When you plan your Staging, write the plan down and execute the plan, you will maximize your profit. If the Staging runs over schedule, the people with you don’t earn less because you have told them what they will get for the project. You earn less because you are the only variable you can adjust. If movers take longer and are paid hourly, then there is less for you. Instead of making $150 an hour for the Staging for yourself, you will earn, $100 then $75 then $50 if a project really goes haywire.

In the end, the key is in planning the project and clearly communicating expectations to your team. Keep everyone productive while still enjoying the process. Have fun while you are Staging – play music and get into the groove of Staging all the while keeping that clock and the budget in your head. Then you will be pleased to see how much you actually net out of a project and will be smiling all the way to the bank!

If you are a Realtor or Seller in the greater Denver area and want to get your house or listing Staged for sale, give Jennie a call.  She is efficient and experienced to get your house Staged in the quickest amount of time (which minimized the amount you need to pay) so that it looks great before coming on the market.  (303)717-7918 or 888-93-STAGE.  http://www.SensationalHome.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

Before & After Hands-on Staging Transformation

Check out the before/after photos for this Staging project.  Each room looks MUCH better with the personal things removed, furniture rearranged and appealing visuals created.  Next - seller has to PAINT the walls in all the rooms to brighten, neutralize for buyers, and update the look of the house.  Other updating could take place depending on the seller's budget and timeframe for listing the house for sale.

Anything they can do UP FRONT to invest in the Staging process will come back in a better offer and faster sale!