You know how important strong client relationships are if you’re in the home staging business. You get new leads from real estate agents and other industry professionals. If you don’t have a strong working relationship with the people who send new gigs your way, your operation will quickly fizzle out and fail.
According to the National Association of Realtors, around 31% of sellers’ agents said they always stage a home before listing it, and 13% stated they did so only when it was difficult to sell. How can you build client relationships and get in good with those who feel staging is an important aspect of home selling?
1. Seek New Builders
Spend time going to local open houses in neighborhoods where they are still building new homes. Most builders either hire stagers to decorate or use a local real estate agent to prepare the residence for walkthroughs.
Get to know the style and the people hiring stagers. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are there doing research because you’re a home stager. You don’t want to waste their time if a buying client walks into the home, but you do want to chat and get to know them if no one else is around.
2. Learn How to Invoice and Get Paid
Perhaps you did the staging work, but now the client isn’t paying you in a timely fashion. Knowing how to approach the situation can help you maintain a positive relationship with the client and a good name in the industry. Accepting low-ball offers or unprofessional behavior can create negative effects for your new business that can be hard to shake.
Set firm expectations on pricing from the start, and keep in mind the going rates for home staging even if you’re brand new. Politely and firmly ask for updates on when you can expect payment.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to remind them you are waiting. You may need to work out a payment schedule if the client is having a lot of issues getting you the money you’re owed. Use legal action as a last resort. If someone consistently fails to pay you, stop taking work from them and move on to clients who do what they promise.
3. Ask for Referrals
Stay in touch with past clients even after the job is completed. Touch base with the real estate agent and invite them to lunch. Take the time to occasionally deliver a basket of cookies or vase of flowers to the ones giving you the most work.
Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re trying to grow your business and would appreciate referrals. Most real estate agents and builders know many others in the industry. You may wind up with more work than you can handle.
4. Request Feedback
You might be the best stager in your town, but there is always room to improve. Ask your clients for feedback on how you’re doing. Is there anywhere you might improve?
Pay attention to negative comments. They might hurt for a second, but the complaints are often where you can improve the most as a business owner.
5. Exceed Expectations
Part of building a strong client relationship is knowing what your customers expect from you. If you aren’t good at communicating and asking questions, take some courses in business communications. Learn how to gather the details you need to do the best job possible.
Once you understand your client’s expectations, go above and beyond. If they like fresh flowers in the kitchen, add a couple more bouquets throughout the home. If they pay you to stage the living room and the kitchen is a part of an open concept floor plan, add it in.
Communication Builds Your Home Staging Business
Building positive rapport with your customers takes time and ongoing effort. Use automated tools to stay in touch by sending out emails or mailing letters on a set schedule. Thank your clients for the jobs they give you and strive to get a little better with each project you complete.
Over time, you’ll gain a reputation as one of the industry’s best home stagers, and clients will flock to you for advice.
Article submitted by Evelyn Long
Editor-in-Chief, [email protected]