What Are You Paying Me For? A Four-Part Series About Price & Value
Jennie Norris, ASPM®, IAHSP-Premier®, President & CEO, Stagedhomes.com®, IAHSP® Chairwoman, Owner, Sensational Home StagingI attended a real estate networking event not long after I moved to Denver and a Realtor come to me and said, “It seems that all the Stagers in this market have increased their prices 100% and I cannot find anyone to work at the rate I paid before.” Intrigued I asked him about the pricing he had received and did my best not to laugh (or throw up in my mouth) when he shared that he was getting a vacant house Staged with rental inventory and time for only $500 – all inclusive. I asked what happened to the person he was using, and he said, “She is not longer Staging.” REALLY? Hmmm – I wonder why? Maybe it’s because she ran herself into the ground and was losing money – not able to even cover operating costs. It does not surprise me in the least this Stager is no longer around. And it upsets me to know there are still more wearing the same shoes of that Stager thinking “If I do it cheaply, people will hire me.” My experience with anything CHEAP is that it does not hold up and the quality is poor. Cheap shoes, cheap clothing, cheap vacations . . . and Cheap Staging. How many of these Cheap Stagers are lurking in your market and just what do we get paid for anyway? This question has haunted me these past days as I mulled it over. It seems that the gap between wanting Staging to work but wanting it to be cheaply priced is still there and getting agents and sellers to walk over the Bridge of Value and understand WHAT we do in Staging needs to happen. So just what DO you pay for when you hire a Stager AND WHY am I worth every dollar? First, I have set up a BUSINESS. This means I have licenses, education and insurance. I have memberships, marketing fees and costs. That is called OVERHEAD. So the projects I do in Staging must at MINIMUM cover these basic operating costs to owning and operating a business. I did not get into business to lose money. It’s not just a hobby for me and it’s not just a way for me to get a creative “fix” by tweaking someone else’s house instead of my own. Next, when I work with your client as a Realtor or with you as a Seller – you are not just paying me for ideas – although that is a large part of it. You are paying me for my vision and my ability to effectively communicate that vision to the Seller in a way that does not hurt their feelings or make them get upset at you for bringing me in to their house. Anyone with creative bones can spew out an idea or thought. The key is to not do it with mean-spiritedness, not to offend. That takes experience and training. I am sad to say that an estimated 50% of the “Stagers” in any market DO NOT have proper training and therefore are stomping all over the feelings (and odd items, poor paint choices, and clutter) of a Seller – instead of honoring that client. When you pay me – you are paying for a skilled NEGOTIATOR, someone that understands the PSYCHOLOGY of Staging, and the MOTIVATING factors for a Seller. You are paying me to make YOU look good to your Sellers . . . and if you are the public you are paying me to share honestly with you about your house and to explain the reasons behind recommendations in a way that makes you WANT to make changes. You are paying me for my KNOWLEDGE of the market – and to know what should be done (or does not have to be done) to sell your house or listing. We are Selling your house or listing – and my job is to know WHAT recommendations are MOST important in your market. I study statistics, I stay up on trends. I know what colors, fixtures, flooring, cabinetry, counters, etc. – are the ones Buyers want to see (and which ones they don’t) . . . and I know what it’s like to move and sell – it can be emotional, stressful, sad . . . and I don’t take that lightly. I am your advocate for future business referrals, Realtors. When you use me – and we form a Partnership for Success – I will help YOU get more business. You see – Staging is NOT just about a “look” and having an idea for where to put the sofa or what clutter to take out. Staging is a PROCESS – and it involves human emotions and feelings. It involves SKILL – creative and psychological . . . and It is a key tool to help sell a house to help the Seller achieve their goals and for Realtors to be successful. Knowing all this – don’t you think it deserves the value that brings? Do you still think it should be CHEAP or want it to be CHEAP? And knowing that someone like me is out there and knows how to handle your client, is someone you can trust, is professional, has standards, training, and much more – don’t you believe that is worth the value I bring?