SSWF – Premier Home Staging & Design
Introducing: Donna Lamb with Premier Home Staging & Design
How long have you been in business?
Are you solo or have a team?
Solo owner with a part time assistant stager/bookkeeper, a handy man as needed, and a professional moving team.
Describe any specific challenges you are facing.
The sellers of this property had moved into another home in the same neighborhood and this was a vacant staging project. They owned a large and very heavy retail display case located in the main living area. The homeowners attempted to sell the display case prior to staging.
Unfortunately, the transaction fell through the day before staging and it had to remain in place. I decided to adjust my staging strategy for the furnishings in the room to incorporate wood tones which integrated more with the display case. In the end, I still noticed the piece but believe the adjustment compensated for a condition for which I had no control. This home had been on the market for over a year and sold in just over 4 weeks after being staged!
What got you into staging in the first place?
My spouse had a career change which required a relocation from Atlanta, GA to Northwest Arkansas. I had a full time 25 year career working with the Federal Government and there were no federal positions in our new area. I deferred my retirement and began thinking through how to re-establish myself after this change. On a morning walk through my neighborhood, it occurred to me how many corporate relocations were leaving empty homes without furnishings and thus not allowing prospective buyers to see the full potential of a home. With my Interior Design degree and experience in the design and construction industry, real estate staging seemed like the perfect fit for me.
What was your previous career?
Director of Design and Construction for the U.S. General Services Administration in Atlanta, GA
What do you know now that you wished you knew on your first day of business?
The business is a bit unpredictable and establishing a “one size fits all” contract didn’t work well in all situations. I have modified my prototype contract multiple times to meet the specific client needs. I ask as many questions as possible up front to understand the requirements of the client so I can more appropriately price the services and structure of the agreement. I have modified the contract language which allows for shorter or longer staging time frames. As well, I specify when I am allowed to retrieve my inventory if the home sells prior to the contract expiration.
What has been your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?
Naturally one would say it was a a good problem to have, but I didn’t anticipate the demand and rapid growth of the business as quickly as it occurred. I own my staging inventory and budgeted for the furnishings for the first year, however, I had to procure quite a bit more than I expected to keep up with the business. This has reinforced my belief that this was a much needed service.
What objection have you heard from a client and how did you overcome it?
Perhaps, the largest objection (broadly speaking) is the challenge to explain the value proposition of staging a home and gaining the understanding of its benefit to the seller. It is often difficult for some clients to grasp that prospective buyers have to truly envision themselves living in their home. The experience we create as professional real estate stagers is an investment that translates into a faster and more lucrative financial transaction. Overcoming it is often a matter of effectively articulating the vision and value for the proposed customer.