So often we are asked if we can meet a staging deadline for an open house or a photo date. If we can do so, I will always tell the client up front. If we are booked I will also tell you we simply cannot make that deadline, but will always give you the next available date when we can do so. In all my years staging, I have never had to re-schedule a stage date because we could not meet the agreed deadline. We have, however, been re-scheduled by the client from time to time who was simply not ready to list/stage just yet. There is a booking process we must follow to ensure jobs proceed smoothly.
We are often contacted by the Realtor on behalf of the homeowner for a staging estimate. We always determine who will be paying for the staging, the Realtor or the Homeowner? We need to know who our client is. We do not charge to provide an estimate. An estimate consists only of a proposal for staging a property. We will not give any advice on improvements, furniture placement, paint colors, etc…. that is part of a staging consult and we do charge for our professional consultations, which last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours on average.
We always provide a firm written staging estimate with a contract detailing the scope of the project, the furniture to be rented, the rooms to be staged, the length of the contract, the full staging cost and the monthly rental cost. Before we can proceed, we require a signed contract along with a deposit. Once we have this in place, we proceed with the booking, confirm with our movers, and arrange any furniture or stock rentals required for the project. When we complete our proposal we know what furniture we will bring in and how we will set up the large pieces and accent pieces. The décor and color scheme is determined after the job is confirmed. We confirm the fine details of the design after a contract is signed and we have received a deposit. It is at this time that we will actually finalize the design and begin to set aside décor and furniture pieces specifically for this project.
Unfortunately we cannot confirm a booking or proceed with a job with only a verbal confirmation without anything in writing from the Homeowner. If the Homeowner is paying for the job, we need to ensure the Homeowner is fully aware and in agreement with our contract terms. I have actually had cases where I am asked to proceed without the names or any contact information for the Homeowners, even though they are “supposed” to be paying for the service. No business would deliver thousands of dollars of furniture or equipment to any home without a signed agreement and payment terms up front. It shocks me how often I am “asked” to complete a project without even the Homeowner’s names/contact information. Sorry, not possible….
Approximately 50-60% of the work is completed before we ever arrive on a job site on staging day. It takes time to plan a design, arrange for or book the right size, color and style of furniture for the space. Then to complete the design with décor and accessories that go well with the furniture color and style that was available for the job. Then we need to coordinate movers, pack, and load all furniture and accessories. Once we arrive on site we simply unload, unpack and set up. We already know where everything goes! Set up is a relatively quick process compared to the rest. This is similar to obtaining a listing and marketing it vs. negotiating a solid offer. Most of the “work” has been done well in advance of the offer. Weeks or months preparing a property for listing, finally obtaining a listing agreement, all marketing required to generate the showings to finally receive an offer. I have yet to meet a Realtor who would market a property, at their own expense, without a firm listing agreement in place. So, why would you expect your Stager to move in ten or fifteen thousand dollars of furniture and décor with no signed agreement?
There are rare cases where someone will “confirm” with us verbally, and actually try to “book” a date without a contract. I simply will not do so, we just do not work for free. We are quite happy for our staff or a courier to pick up a signed contract and deposit if need be. I have had situations in the past where we have given clients the benefit of the doubt, only to have them cancel at the last minute. Sometimes they receive an offer, and are unsure if they wish to proceed with the offer or staging. Now we wait until the client is certain and we have a signed contract and deposit. The last thing we want is to have a cancellation, after we have put in all that time in design and planning, and packing. Everyone should be paid for the time spent.
We have learned, it is simply not in our benefit to move on to this planning stage without a signed agreement. We have a number of full time staff and we are always busy with one project or another. The beauty is that some projects have firm deadlines and others do not. I have the benefit of fitting staged jobs in between my time spent on design projects, when deadlines require. This ensures all work gets completed but we never seem to have “down” time. However, with multiple projects always on the go, I do have to be careful how I spend my time. I have clients waiting for my time so I cannot be spending my time on clients who are not certain they wish to proceed, just yet! Whenever you are ready, I will be more than happy to look after you to the very best of my creative skills! Until then, we have work to do!