Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Bigger more established companies are constantly looking at what makes them different from their competitors. As an entrepreneurial home stager you too need to distinguish yourself from other colleagues. In thinking about what makes you different here are some ideas about where to start:

Think about your background – what can you take out of your tool kit that is something you did in the past that you can transfer to your new tool kit. For example:

  • Were you an interior decorator in the past?
  • Have you worked with seniors or had experience with your own family estate selling?
  • Did you take courses in related fields such as interior design, flower arranging, professional organizing, time management, etc.?
  • Did you work in a real estate office on the administrative side?
  • Have you sold your own homes successfully in the past?
  • Did you ever teach an industry-related course?

Think about what you are currently doing – besides a home stager are you also:

  • a professional organizer
  • a colour consultant
  • an interior decorator
  • someone who likes to sew and make cushions, throws, etc.
  • working in an industry-related business such as a paint store, hardware store, design store, lighting store, etc.

Think about something that ONLY you offer – you are all unique home stagers so what is it that ONLY you do and no one else can lay claim to it. Are you the ONLY home stager who has:

  • been featured on local or national television
  • who has their own radio show
  • has hundreds of followers on their home staging blog
  • who has articles published on the Internet


In my ebook DIY-Home Staging Getting Ready for an Open House in 10 Easy Steps, I talk a lot about what a big job home staging is. I also talk about the benefits of staging your home so that the home seller can sell for top dollar and sooner than a home that is not staged. Realtors also benefit greatly from having a home staged because this puts more money in to their pockets and sooner.

When you are thinking about creating your USP think about what motivates your home sellers and the realtors you work with. In my experience it comes down to these 3 things:

  1. TIME – as a home stager you recommend to the home seller what they need to do; the Realtor no longer has to spend his/her valuable time telling the client what to do and they can move on to his/her next listing
  2. MONEY – everyone saves money and makes money when a property is staged well because home stagers know where money is wisely invested to make the home ‘target-market ready’
  3. ENERGY – as a home stager you focus on what you do as an expert, the home seller only does what they need to do and the Realtor leaves the staging with you

Once you have your success as a home stager it’s a great idea to use statistics to support how valuable you are to your clients. For example, you could say to your home seller “If I could show you how to save thousands of dollars in preparing your property for selling, would you be interested in using my services?

For the Realtor you might say. “If I could make you thousands of dollars more in your commission for selling this property, would you be interested in using my services? “Once you have your own successes you can insert your own actual case study of how much your home seller actually spent, and how much your Realtor made. Do these sound like good motivators? I think so!


As you know I practice the Law of Attraction (what you focus on whether wanted or unwanted is what manifests in your life). All businesses go through cycles of ups and downs. It’s usually in the down times that we move into ‘fear’ and this is when you can lose sight of why you started your business. Here are a few TIPS for you:

  • Have a positive attitude – you need to believe that you are going to continue to be successful with some changes you are going to make. Hang around with other positive people and tell the naysayers ‘thanks for sharing’ and move on
  • Keep learning and growing – read books, sign up for teleseminars or webinars, sign up for ezines with people that you want to learn more from, take courses, etc.
  • Ask your past customers what they liked about your services – many home stagers get testimonials from home sellers and/or realtors. These are great for marketing and they are your social proof that you use to help sell you. How about going back to your previously clients and ASK THEM what they really valued about working with you. You could even do this in the form of a survey. If you use it’s free! You sometimes can’t see how great you really are just the same way your home sellers can’t see the potential in their homes!

Are you making Realtor Office Presentations one of your key marketing tactics?

Realtor office presentations are a great way to connect and make new connections to grow your home staging business. A month ago I met a new realtor Joanne LaRocque at a networking event and I followed up with her for a coffee. During the meeting Joanne mentioned that she had joined a new brokerage firm, Dexter Associates Realty a well established Vancouver based firm. She asked me if I would like to come and do a talk at one of the Monday morning meetings and naturally I said “YES!”

I’ve done many talks over the last 10 years and so I invited one of the PRES graduates, Sally Weatherley of Exit Stage Right to join me. Sally’s company has its own rental furnishings and Sally has established herself as a home staging expert since she took the PRES course several years ago.

We were invited into their meeting and learned a lot while we were waiting to present. Their meetings take place in what is referred to as ‘the bull pen’ and it’s standing room only!

Dana J. Smithers of PRES Staging Training is presenting along with Sally Weatherley of Exit Stage Right.

Using large story boards works well with a small group to show ‘Before & After’ photos of staging jobs.

What’s really important when you are giving a talk is to have good visuals AND to have a draw at the end that the realtors need to put their cards into. Sally did a draw for a Complimentary Consultation and the PRES Staging Training program did a draw for a Complimentary Staging Training home. The follow up from events like this is really important and both Sally Weatherley and PRES are using Send Out Cards to stay connected!

Do You Know Your Company’s Core Values?

It is not uncommon for small business owners to have occasion to doubt their value. It is natural for us to have ups and downs in business. During the ‘downs’ we often feel undervalued. The intention of this post is to give you a few tips on how to remain positive in your business even when you feel momentarily and monetarily undervalued!

It is really important to understand what YOU value in yourself and your home staging business. You need to know how you equate your ‘value’ to your ‘worth’. I often hear complaints like this from graduates of PRES staging and redesign training programs – my clients just don’t see the value of the work I do; why don’t they want to pay me what I am worth; why are they telling me what to do when I am doing the staging, etc. It is very common to associate ‘value’ with ‘worth’ in terms of money and not realize that this is only one part of the equation.

In researching the word ‘value’ I came across an article that talked about Aspired Values and Functional Values. See which ones resonate with your and your company’s values.

ASPIRED VALUES – WHAT you aspire to have FUNCTIONAL VALUES – HOW you attain aspired values
  • Achievement
  • Beauty
  • Contribution
  • Freedom
  • Health
  • Love
  • Partnership
  • Recognition
  • Spirituality
  • Wealth
  • Accountability
  • Autonomy
  • Competency
  • Creativity
  • Fairness
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty
  • Knowledge
  • Organization
  • Team

How Do You Stay Positive When You Feel Undervalued?  

A stager recently had an experience where she felt her services were being undervalued when a staging job went sideways. She had to ask herself why it went sideways and momentarily doubted that she should charge the monetary fee she had quoted. Eventually she realized that SHE was actually devaluing her expertise and came to her senses by asking herself some questions and talking honestly with the client.

You may find yourself in a situation where you are quoting for a staging job and the prospective client is not valuing your skills and talents. Here are a few things that might help you stay positive about your value and your worth regardless of the situation:

  • Look at everything that you bring to the table - you may be new to the home staging business or you may have been in the business for awhile. Regardless you have many talents and skills you bring to the table along with the investment you have made in learning your craft. Make a list of them along with your core values. Have them handy in your moments of doubt.
  • Ask yourself is this ‘fair market value’ for my work  - you know if you are charging a fair price for your services or not. If  your charges are fair then do not justify them. This may not be the right  client for you.
  • If something does go sideways how can you straighten it  out – breath, step back and think about what needs to be done to get back on track with the job. Perhaps it means making an adjustment of the original services offered, or revisiting the client expectations.
  • Keep open and honest communication flowing - while you may think your business is about staging homes, it really is  about relationships! The only way to create and maintain great relationships is with open communication. When you are in the midst of feeling doubt think about the value you know you are giving to this client. Let the client know what they receive from working with you. Great relationships are priceless and lead to more business opportunities.

The real bottom line comes down to you valuing yourself. The only way to really achieve what you want in your home staging business is to honestly look at our Core Values and see if they equal your True Worth. If they do, then stay the course, if not, revisit them until they are in alignment with each other.

Learn to Makeover Your Home Like a Pro on Oct 25th

Do you drive your family crazy by re-arranging your furniture every month?

Do you look with envy at the home decorating photos in magazines and wish you knew how to do that yourself?

Have you even wondered what it would be like to learn home styling as a profession but have no idea how to create a business around your passion?

I want to invite you to a FREE webinar I’m hosting on Thursday, October  25th called “7 Secrets to Sizzling One-Day Home Makeovers” where I will offer valuable tips and strategies that you can use to give your living space a makeover just like the pros!

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

(In a hurry to register? Just go here:

In this FREE one-time-only informative webinar, I will be sharing exclusive insider secrets that will teach you how you too can create your own personal living space, no matter the place or the budget!

On this free webinar, you can learn:

  1. Clutter & Organizing – Whether you are getting your home ready for selling or just want to get rid of the chaos with all your clutter, there are simple ways to do this. Find out the must-use keys to being most effective at this so you can stop tripping over all your ‘stuff’ for the last time!

  2. Function – One of Dana’s tag lines is ‘the way you live in your home is not the way you sell your house’ and yet interestingly enough ‘the function’ is the most critical first step in building up any room, whether you are living in it or selling it. Find out the critical component of function you need to know in any home make-over project you take on.

  3. Styles – It’s very important that you ‘get’ what style you like. Whether it’s traditional or country or something in between, learn how to qualify your style as ‘good eclectic’ and avoid the dreaded ‘bad vibe’ syndrome.

  4. Focal Points – Do you have a fireplace and a grand piano battling for attention? Rooms or areas can have more than one focal point but first you must learn this trick Dana will share to know how to play up the more important ones and not lose emphasis on the others.

  5. Furniture Placement –This is very key in any room. Whether it’s your living room or family room, discover Dana‘s insider secret on knowing the right way to place your furniture and how that makes a difference in how smoothly the conversation flows . . . or doesn’t!

  6. Art Placement – Using Dana’s extensive experience after hanging over 1000s pieces of art, she will show you how you too can create sensational groupings that have a great impact on any wall . . . and which ones don’t!

  7. Accessory Placement – Ah, the decorations on the cake – so much fun and delicious when it’s done right! Find out the magic number that plays a big role in creating the perfect placements.

Whether you are wanting to learn staging and redesign for your personal knowledge or have considered starting a professional home staging and redesign career, you don’t want to miss this important information I will share with you!

You’ll want to sign up NOW before you forget. Here’s the link:

I trust you’ll join me to listen in on the webinar!


P.S. I know that I will be sharing some amazing information about home styling on this call and I’m going to jam-pack it full of insights, tips and strategies you can use right away — even if you’re not looking at home staging as a career, anyone with a passion for decorating can really benefit from this information. You don’t want to miss this complimentary webinar!

Here’s that link again:

BNI Vancouver is looking for a designer and a home stager…interested?

BNI (Business Network International) is a professional networking and marketing organization specializing in word-of-mouth-referrals. This well-tested organization has more than two decades of experience, and is international in scope. BNI is the world’s largest business referral organization of its kind – with over 5600 chapters in more than 44 countries – including Canada, USA, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. There are currently more than 250 chapters across Canada, located in most major communities – with 27 chapters located right here in the Lower Mainland. For additional information, and member testimonials, please visit the BNI website for local chapters.

On October 17th you are invited to attend a VISITOR’S NIGHT at BNI CITY LIGHTS!

At present, there is JUST ONE BNI DINNER CHAPTER in Canada, making it a great opportunity to consider BNI City Nights – while positions are still available. Membership is limited to one position for each area of business specialty. BNI City Nights has been around since 2008 and generates $1,000’s of dollars of business each month for its members. They invite you to see for yourself who is involved and how they are benefiting, explore how to expand your business through potential membership, and perhaps even submit an application to join.

If you are interested in attending and learning more about BNI City Nights, please CONTACT Marci Deane at 604-816-8950. She will reserve you a seat and add your name to the guest list.

Date: Wednesday October 17, 2012
Registration: 6:00 pm – 6:15 pm
Meeting Time: 6:15 – 7:45 pm (please arrive early to register & network)
Location: 1100 Granville Street, Vancouver
Inside the Chateau Granville – Best Western Plus Hotel
Meeting Cost: $25 includes your meal!

You will be given an opportunity to promote yourself and your business, so please prepare a short 60 second “infomercial” that details your name, business name, and what products or services you provide. Also, please bring plenty of business cards – there will be several local business owners and professionals to network with that day!

There are also other BNIs who are looking for home stagers like BNI Upper Levels. They meet every Wednesday at 7AM at the Northland Golf Club in North Vancouver. For more information contact Eva Assoignon at 604-785-3205.

Why You Need To Use FACTS + INTUITION For Your Business Decisions

Throughout our lifetimes we constantly have to make decisions both personal and professional. Some of our decisions are based on facts, some on emotions and some on what is often called our ‘gut feeling’. Interestingly enough there is a brain-gut connection so we do make decisions based on what our brain tells us to do and also what our ‘gut’ tells us to do.

We also use our ‘intuition’ which is often referred to as ‘hunches’ to make decisions. According to a variety of sources intuition is described as:

  • The act by which the mind perceives the agreement or disagreement of two ideas
  • Quick and ready insight
  • The act or process of coming to direct knowledge without reasoning or inferring
  • A way of knowing, of sensing the truth without explanations
  • Intuitive messages often do not come with any logical reasoning to support them
  • Hunches acquired by listening to your inner dialogue

As an entrepreneurial home stager, you will be faced with many decisions in your business and your personal life that will contribute to your success.

So before you make any decisions ask yourself if it is the right decision for you at this time. Base your decision on facts and what your intuition tells you.

1. What are the facts that support you in this decision?
This is where your logical mind comes into play. Do up a Contrast Sheet where you put your objective at the top of the page and create a column for the PROs and the CONs of this decision. When you do this exercise you will quickly see which is the better decision. Then just do to another check, use your intuition to see if this ‘feels right’ for you. If not, dig deeper because just one idea on the PRO side may outweigh all the other reasons on the CON side.

2. Use your intuitive mind to assist with your decision.
All of us are born with ‘intuitive muscles’ but most of us do not use them until we realize what they are! A technique that can help you develop those muscles is by being quiet, sit with your dilemma, and just allow ideas to pop up into your mind. They often seem ludicrous when they first come to us, but over time, they may be exactly the answer that you are looking for.

3. Notice if you are making a ‘FEAR-based’ decision.
All ‘fear-based’ decisions are negative and based on lack of some kind. As a small business owner you will find that your business goes up and down. And the down usually means that money is not flowing abundantly as you would like. You may decide to do a job just for the money even though everything in your gut is saying you do not want to do it but…but…but… You might be working with a client or a partner who is just not a fit for you but…but…but… Listen to these thoughts in your mind and make your decisions based on what feels good to you.

Home Sense is the BEST home decor store for home staging!

I encourage PRES home stagers to build their inventory with Home Sense decor. It’s affordable and it’s trendy and if it doesn’t work you can always exchange it for something else. I am definitely not saying that the quality or the style from Home Sense is going to work with every home but for staging and adding additional pieces to the seller’s existing – it works!

Having been in the home staging business for over a decade now, I built my inventory by making selections from Home Sense that I knew would work in the majority of the properties I was staging. I have also gone shopping for my clients at Home Sense for staging their home for selling or updating the look of their home for living. When I have a client who is not style savvy I will take photos for them and then encourage them to get to that Home Sense store ASAP! I’m sure you have experienced the frustration of not buying something that you liked when you saw it and then when you went back…GONE! My motto now is ‘If I like it, I buy it and I can always return it.’

If you are just starting out building your inventory spending around $500 will get you some nice ‘small accessory packages’ that will bring you pure profit after using them just a few times. Many home stagers are fortunate enough to have rental furnishing stores in their area so they can rent the larger furnishings such as sofas, chairs, dining room tables and chairs, beds, dressers, etc. By doing this in the beginning you will be able to avoid storage warehouse costs. It might be something you can look at in the future as part of your growth business strategy.

Here are some of the purchases the home seller made so that we could update the look of her home for selling. We used 2 new sets of bedding and draperies for the master bedroom and the little girl’s room:

Home Sense cushions, throws, bedding, art, lamps, etc.

Canvas art from Home Sense – suits this casual lifestyle for selling.

Living Room ‘Before’ Staging

Not the best of choices for selling but it does work for them living

Living Room After with Home Sense Purchases!

Spare set of slipcovers refreshed the tired sofas while the new art and accessories updates the look of the home.