Jennie wrote an expose' on what she felt were wrongful pricing strategies taking place. Her (members only) post on Stage It Forward, entitled, “Get off your back and on your feet - and walk out of the red-light district!” describes her frustrations with the low ball fees other stagers are charging for their services. Jennie writes "When are we going to stop giving it away - and realize the VALUE of what we bring to the table? And if you are out there undercharging because you think it's the only way you can get business - for shame! Take another look at what your market will bear - and don't leave money on the table!"
While low ball pricing may be a new issue for Jennie in Sacramento, it is NOT new to other stagers in other markets across the country... including me. AND you might be surprised to know that I believe that while lowball pricing is occurring, it is NOT the biggest issue facing us. WHY lowball pricing is occurring is a bigger issue that I want to address here in this post.
So the BIGGER picture and facts as I see them are…
- FACT: It is very EASY and FAST for someone to become a home stager. NO formal training is required. (I happen to be this type of stager.)
- FACT: Because foundation training programs have made it SO easy and fast (from 1 day to 1 month) to become a trained certified/accredited stager, there is NOW and continues to be a glut of graduates empowered as a "professional" stagers entering the market place. In some markets there are more then it can bare. Of course the larger the market the greater the probability a stager WILL compete with a fellow graduate from the same foundation course they took, as well as a graduate some other training courses.
- FACT: The home seller/consumer has NO idea what good staging is or is NOT. Our industry has created NO way do differentiate/compare common types of service or FEES for those services we provide. (Even the auto industry has common TYPES of cars: Compact, Economy, Midsize, SUV etc...)
- FACT: When starting a new staging business there are those who are hungry for business and WILL undercut the "going" rates in order to get some work under their belts. A new stager's "pay" could be the opportunity to capture amazing after photos for their portfolio. (Heck, I did this when I started.)
- FACT: The home seller/consumer market has NO idea what staging costs. What a home seller believes staging costs is often based on a unrealistic understanding... that comes directly from TV shows like Designed to Sell. Shows like this NEVER take into account the LABOR fees to pay the host, Lisa LaPorte. or her team of staging laborers.
- FACT: The real estate market is extremely slow... and in some markets totally stalled. Because it is so slow, sellers are VERY cautious about spending their hard earned money on staging as for MANY, staging is an unproven risky venture. So for them the cheaper the better.
So, where this industry is at is the result of MANY players and circumstances working in tandem and unfolding over time. Companies, organizations and individuals must step up and work together and do their parts to create solutions… instead of trying to undo and undermine any attempt at building this industry. BUT, while some are not doing all they can, we still are making progress… one fine example of a company working to improve the home staging industry is Brook Furniture Rental. Brook's sponsorship of 2 of 27 national Stage It Forward RoundTables and their formation of a Home Staging Advisory Panel is a HUGE step and huge commitment to all in this industry.
Getting back to what can be done... First, all members of the home staging industry must realize this industry is no longer made up of 1,2 or 3 players... it is made up of 1000's... stagers, vendors, and trainers. The Stage It Forward (SIF) Group on AR and now SIF RoundTables are a START in the breaking down of the barriers between those individuals and companies that for whatever reason try/wanted to operate in a protectionist bubble.
RESA has been trying, (with limited success) to get foundation training programs to work together. The public needs a way to KNOW what a TRAINED STAGER is and how the consumer can differentiate a formally trained stager from a "yesterday I aren’t one today I is one" stager.
The 27 Stage It Forward RoundTables taking place across North America are tackling bigger issues that touch all stagers regardless of where they were trained, what market they are in, who there competition is, or how big/little old/new their staging company is. Those that try to ban, thwart or scare people away from the possibilities the meetings hold only help to keeps us all stuck.
The SIF Quartley Qwick Staging Stats (QSTAT's) WILL help to begin to address some of the issues above. Stagers who get jobs will know what average rate for staging is for a DEFINED type of staging in that market. Currently, how a stager ultimately chooses to PRICE their services is totally up to them. BUT with QSTAT's bench mark price ranges could be communicated. The competing stager's who presented THEIR solutions would have NATIONAL, STATE and LOCAL data that can be presented to the consumer to EDUCATE them to make an informed decision. You might say the staging playing field would be level.
There is so much more I can write about that will help begin to paint the masterpiece of a industry so many of us see and believe in. But for now... this seems to be enough.
Sorry this was so lengthy...