S.O.S. Staging Training Home Needed for November 5th or 6th!

PRES training home clients are ecstatic over the transformations in their home! We’re looking for 1 great (well, not so great actually) home for November 5th or 6th 2013.

If you have a property on the market or want to by early November consider taking part in our ‘free’ professional home staging practicum. We thought we had our staging training home all set for our PRES students November 5th or 6th but the deal has fallen through! During the 5 day PRES Staging & Redesign Training course, students are taken into real clients’ homes to apply the theory they learned in the classroom. Our training home clients are carefully selected by the PRES Resource Centre Founder & Creative Director, Dana J. Smithers. What’s essential in the training homes is that there are at least 3 major rooms to transform, enough art and accessories to work with. Some homes may have more opportunity for learning proper furniture placement and others may provide the perfect opportunity for teaching the ‘art of hanging art’.

You’ve heard the expression ‘The way you LIVE in your HOME is not the way you SELL your HOUSE’ and this couldn’t be more true than in this situation for this seller! Many people that have lived in their home for a long time change the function of their rooms to suit their needs. They might do this because they are now ‘empty nesters’ and have more options of how they can live in their home now. For STAGING the property to get ready for prospective buyers you want your home to be inviting and evoke positive emotions so buyers are excited to see themselves in their new space! Only about 10% of the population is good at visualizing which is why it is so important to create an inviting, functional look in each and every room. And that’s exactly what we did here…

The main living room is being used as an office area for living…

The way you live in your home is not the way you sell your house!

The way you live in your home is not the way you sell your house!

We looked in other rooms for more attractive looking furniture and found these sofas in the family room…

This is a much more inviting living room now!

This is a much more inviting living room now!

So if you are a seller or a realtor and you have a property that can BENEFIT from having the PRES staging students come in to totally transform the space into a WOW look for your buyer CONTACT US NOW for the consultation!

3 Secrets To Becoming a Home Staging Expert!

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There are many ways to grow your reputation as an expert in any industry. If you want to be recognized as a ‘home staging expert’ there are some very specific strategies that you can implement to do this. In reality becoming an expert can sometimes be more about ‘perception’ than actual fact. Some people do this through their marketing efforts by calling themselves ‘The Number 1 Home Staging Company’ or ‘The Experts To Meet All Your Needs’ . You could say something in your company profile like this ‘Together your team has 30 years of experience in preparing homes for selling’ and in reality ‘your team’ might consist of you and one or more contractors who have been doing their own homes for years and include this in their ‘total years of experience’. So, you can see there are many ways at being a perceived home staging expert. I’m not saying what is ‘right or wrong’ I’m just giving you examples.

Whether you are just starting out in the industry or you have been in it for awhile now, you can use these 3 secrets to build your reputation locally. If you want to franchise your business then you want to think bigger picture nationally and internationally.

3 Secrets To Becoming a Home Staging Expert…

Establishing a great reputation as a reliable and professional home staging company is your foundation to becoming a home staging expert. While you don’t really need years and years of experience, you do need to be able to deliver on your promises to your clients. This will give you confidence and also get you ‘word of mouth referrals’ as part of your unpaid sales force!

To fast track and build your reputation this is what I suggest you do:

1.  WRITING articles, earticles, blogs, free reports, ebooks or books. Provide high-content high-value information that your ideal client would be interested in knowing about. You can do this for local or national posts and do it consistently. Sign up for other people’s enewsletters and social media sites so you become part of the home staging expert community. And if writing is not something you re good at you can either a)hire a copy writer whom you will meet networking or b) make comments on other people’s submissions. You can agree or disagree about what someone else has written and do it consistently so people will start to see your name often. Making comments or guest blogging are two effective ways to get yourself recognized – and recognition eventually leads you into being perceived as an expert.

 

2.  PRESENTING – you can do this individually or with a group but however you chose, get yourself known to the public through office realtor talks, library talks, home show talks, trade show talks – any talk will do whether there are 100s of attendees or only a few. No one needs to know how many people you attracted just the fact that you did it is the first step! Get some great testimonials from your attendees and use those everywhere you can e.g. your website, your business cards, post cards, flyers, etc. It’s not about bragging from an ego perspective, it’s about letting people know that you have a solution to their problems and you have the social proof through testimonials. You might belong to a home staging association and do a talk on a specific subject like colour trends, window treatments or perhaps you are a social media whiz and could share that – think of something you can offer the group and submit it. Look for strategic alliances like paint stores or furnitures stores that would love to have you come and do a talk to their customers.

 

3.  GETTING MEDIA COVERAGE – this is actually easier than you think and you do not have to have years and years of experience to have an article published in a magazine/emagazine or newspaper/enewspaper! All you need to do is ‘pitch’ an idea to the editor for a magazine and to the production manager for radio or television. They are always looking for topical stories of interest to their viewers/readers and home staging is definitely worth talking about. Often you can find an on-line submission form that will tell you specifically what they want to know about you and your topic. Take time to come up with some catchy phrases that are a little bit edgy and interesting e.g. ‘How to get your home ready for selling’ is not as good as ‘5 Top Tips To Sell In a Down Economy’. Have some great ‘Before & After’ photos ready to submit with great stories and great results and add a little emotion in there and you have a winning combination pitch.

 

I do consider myself a home staging expert and have been fortunate to have some great media coverage over the years. My reputation has grown in the home staging industry locally and nationally. My goal is to be internationally recognized as a home staging expert and I will continue to implement off-line and on-line marketing strategies that lead me to accomplishing this goal.

 

Is Social Media a ‘Time Waster’ For You?

If you are a home stager, redesigner, decorator, professional organizer or feng shui consultant it’s most likely that you are doing most of your on-line marketing yourself or you may have hired someone to do it for you. Your on-line marketing starts with your website, email campaigns and connects with your social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Since marketing is all about ‘educating & informing your ideal client’ it makes sense that you can do this through social media. Here are a few quick facts about social media:

  • Facebook has over 750 million users – 86% of Canadians use Facebook and 50% of Canadians are on social network sites
  • Almost 2/3 of the social media users in Canada are 35 – 54 years old and 40% of people over 55 are actively using social media
  • 50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – notably Facebook and LinkedIn
  • The most popular sites in North America for small business are Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube and Twitter

In your business the purpose of using social media is to increase your brand awareness so that you can get more traffic to your website. By getting more traffic to your website you have more leads, and more leads take you to more sales. Social media works because it:

  1. Connects you with your ideal client – once people like what they are reading/seeing (photos and videos get read more) they will sign up to be a follower of your posts – they can also let their followers know about you
  2. Creates more visibility for your brand for brand recognition – your image i.e. logo, keywords, tag lines, etc, need to reflect a consistent brand so your audience will recognize and remember you quickly
  3. Promotes your business - by you supplying interesting content of value to your audience they will keep coming back for more. Actual promotions or discounts or free offers can work well as long as they are not too salesy

But I admit it can be a ‘time waster’ if you don’t set some boundaries and goals around the amount of time you are blogging, posting, writing or responding to discussions that interest you. Experts say 15 minutes a day is great for staying connected and visible. Many businesses automate their postings through Hoot Suite or Ping so that they just write one post and it automatically goes to their other sites. The only cost to doing your posts, blogs, etc is your time and if you find that is too valuable you can hire a copywriter. Or take time to write out a month’s worth of blogs or posts and schedule them to go out through the month. This can cut down on your daily time.

You can also pay for advertising on many social media sites like Facebook and of course the world of Google provides opportunity for recognition with good SEO work as well as paying for ads.

The question to ask yourself is which social media sites will you spend time on to increase your revenues – and is this your goal? You can measure your success (view traffic and conversions) by using many of the tools on these sites and many are free. SEO work of course is another one of your measuring tools that you can hire someone for or do yourself.

So what does all of this mean to you? If you think social media is a ‘time waster’ then I would really suggest that you revisit who your ideal client is and find out which social media sites they hang out on. You might just enjoy it!

Is it Time To Revisit Who Your Ideal Client Is?

It’s been my experience and observation in this business that your ‘Ideal Client’ will most likely change over time for one main reason:

You have changed your business model so you have a new focus. Perhaps you have added or deleted some services. This is most likely because you have recognized that in order to continue to be profitable you need to make some changes. And being profitable is what business is all about!

And getting total clarity on knowing who your ideal client is, is your first step before you create any of your marketing materials. All of your branding and your USP will be built around getting the attention of your ideal client. This is of course assuming that you have clarity on ‘what you are selling’.

As a home stager and/or redesigner you will have two primary target groups that you offer your services to – realtors and home sellers/owners. Your secondary target group could be home builders and investors. Another important group will be your strategic alliances and some of your industry-related professionals. It’s important to know who you are targeting so you know where you can find them, what compelling message they need to hear from you and how you will deliver your message to them.

There are 4 Key Areas for you to look at when identifying your ‘Ideal Client’:

  • Geographics – where do they live (how far are you willing to travel?)
  • Demographics – gender, age, family status, monetary status, etc.
  • Off-Line Psychographics – where do they shop (clothing, furniture home décor items, tiles, flooring), work out, eat, hang out, any religious/spiritual groups, any cultural association etc.

  • On-Line Psychographics – what social media sites do they use (Facebook, Active Rain, LinkedIn, Houzz, Pinterest), what websites do they check out, what groups have they joined, etc.

You will not be an ideal fit for every client out there – so make sure that your branding is attracting the type of client you are looking for. If you are a solo-entrepreneur home stager then you are your brand. Since your brand symbolizes your identity, your promise and the experience you deliver every single time – your ideal client is expecting your company to provide them with the results they are looking for.

 

PRES Courses

Take some time to work through this DETERMINING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT EXERCISE. In a previous enewsletter about Creating An Ideal Client Profile you will see a different focus on personality type and values. I invite you to take a look at that to learn more.

1. Know your IDEAL customer client (also known as market, target market, client, prospect customer profile, audience, segment and/or niche).

2. Create a message that speaks to your IDEAL client. What would they want to hear from you? How do you solve their problem? How do you get them the results they want?

3. Select effective marketing tactics that reach your IDEAL client. There are hundreds to choose from so find the BEST ones that will attract your ideal client.

If you don’t have an ideal client yet do your best to come up with answers to these 4 key areas, and if you have not met your ideal client yet – think and feel what that would be like to work with them.

 

Geographics Demographics Psychographics On-Line Psychographics
Where will you find them – be specific Age, gender, income family, pets Where do they shop, what do they read, where would they volunteer What websites will they look at; what kind of social media do they use
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing THROUGH Adversity

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Several of my coaching clients have been experiencing ‘adversity’ this month or aka ‘lessons’ and wanted some advice and support as to how to handle certain situations. I decided to reuse this Feature Article that I wrote some time ago because it captures what I shared with them…

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that adversity is a state, condition or instance of serious or continued difficulty. All of us solopreneurs in the home staging business have certainly faced situations that were full of adversity. In the beginning of your business you may not have learned the secrets to learning and growing from all the adverse business situations that come into your life. I am going to share some of those with you.

But first, let me tell you some stories about me that I have not shared with very many people because I was a bit embarrassed by them. When I first took my training I actually set the house on fire! When I did my very first redesign (home makeover for living) my client was horrified and put everything back that night! When I staged my first vacant my client refused to pay me the next month’s rent on the furnishings! I could go on but you get the picture. I was just starting out and all this adversity was staring me right in the face!

 5 SECRETS TO WALKING RIGHT THROUGH ADVERSITY

So how did I go from all these ‘first’ horrors to becoming as successful as I am today? Here are my secrets you can learn from:

  1. What if… you had an accident - when small accidents happen in my training course I have always just asked the group to stop, breathe and ask ‘Did anyone die?’ If not, then we decide how we can solve the problem. There is a solution to everything – focus on what the solution is. If you cannot fix what has been done, then let the client know and pay for the damages. It is usually less than your deduction anyway.
  2. What if… your client thinks you have charged too much - the best way to avoid this situation is to make sure you have provided a written estimate or quote that they have signed. That way everyone understands what the terms are, and when payment is expected i.e. upon completion or a deposit. You would have the terms on your quote. Every good home stager is worth her/his weight in gold. We do amazing work for very little money compared to the overall amounts of money that the home seller and Realtor will make!
  3. What if… your client does not want to pay you - in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich he describes a little girl who was sent to her mother’s employer to collect her pay cheque. The employer did not want to pay it. The little girl did not budge; she just kept saying I am waiting for payment. At one point it seemed that the employer was going to throw the little girl out, but still she did not budge. Finally the employer gave her the money and she went home. The moral of this story is stay the course – keep sending the emails, or making the phone calls to get what is rightfully yours. Whenever possible ask for your retainer before you start work!
  4. What if… the home seller does not take your suggestions - this situation happens very rarely because we all do fantastic work – right? Well it should be the case but it isn’t always. You know that you are an expert (or getting there) at what you do. Sometimes the home sellers and/or Realtors think they know better than us. Or worse yet, they only do part of what we have suggested and the rest of the house looks like a disaster even though they think they have staged it. Always do your BEST WORK and let it go. Focus on working with your ideal client who does exactly what you say and totally respects your work.
  5. What if… you forgot to charge for something - I know I am not the only one who has faced this adverse situation! In the beginning I didn’t really realize just how much work there was to staging a house! Training is one thing but actually doing the job on your own and being responsible for it, well that’s a whole other story. Just know that at times you are going to undercharge and there will also be those times where a staging job didn’t take you nearly as long as you thought it would and yet you were paid for it just the same. It all works out over time and it is great learning so that you do not make that mistake again!

Do not take these things personally - whenever we face adversity often the first thing we think of is to blame ourselves and call ourselves unpleasant names. Life happens to everyone and the best way to get on and walk on through is by knowing that you do not need to take these things personally. Remember that we all see situations through our own personal filters, just the way our clients do. Learn, grow and move on to attract the things you want to in your life.

Some people just don’t realize how important that first-impression entrance is!

First impressions are everything whether you are living in your home or preparing it for selling. When I taught interior decorating and now home staging, I always loved to talk about how making a WOW entrance sets the tone for the entire home.

During the 5 day PRES Staging & Redesign training course we go into ‘real client’s homes and work with what they have for living or selling. In this case, the wife’s mother had given her a gorgeous mirrored cabinet that she placed in the front hall. This is a heritage home and while that cabinet is gorgeous and modern certainly works with traditional – it didn’t quite represent what this family was all about. And that is one of the primary functions of a home’s entrance. It needs to let people coming in know about ‘who lives here’. People discern that quickly based on what they see, paint colours, clutter or not and overall just how inviting the entrance is.

This is the heritage’s entrance before….

Beautiful cabinet but not really fitting in here...

Beautiful cabinet but not really fitting in here…

And this is the entrance way ‘After’. What is so amazing here is that the piece of art we put over the oak cabinet had been in the owner’s possession for over a year but they had not even unwrapped it from the framers. This beautiful photograph is from the historical Vancouver archives and is a photo of their home in the 1940s! What a statement for this family!

Gorgeous and a WOW!

Gorgeous and a WOW!

And this is how they really felt….

From Lesley the wife: WOW, We are so impressed! Our home looks like a show home. We are thrilled with the transformation. Dana’s team is so professional and kind we can’t say enough. Even our seven year old twins said, “Our house is now the best!” We couldn’t have made our house a home without your talent. Many thanks for a fantastic job.

From Thomas the husband (and we know husband’s don’t usually gush this much): Dana has worked a miracle. Our family home is 101 years old, divided into separate rooms and of course filled with all of our stuff. Dana and her team came in and made those rooms distinct. We were not aware of the mix of colour schemes and furnishing styles we had going on in each room but Dana was. She put the things that should be together, together. Moved furniture, drapes, area rugs and art work. She gave distinction, theme, flow and space to each room. Love it, love it, love it.

I can’t wait to go home and view it again. It’s like I moved into a new house and bought new furniture. Dana you and your students are amazing. Thank you!!”