Our Process for Staging Homes

Having been in the home staging industry for almost 1o years, my sister and I have developed a process to help us pull a house together and create the best results for our clients. Having a process in place is important. It helps to simplify our decision making and inventory selection, be more efficient with our work-load and break the debate if we butt heads on styling decisions. It is an ever-revolving process and technology like 17hats also helps to keep us on track. Having a system is crucial in running any business, this is one of the best lessons I’ve learned working for Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth.

Today I’m giving you a peek at our process so that you might take away a couple helpful insights that make working with a home stager or staging your listing less frustrating and more efficient for you.

1. LOGISTICS SUPPORT

I have to mention logistics here because our job is filled with lots of moving pieces, so having a good handle on logistics is important.

We brought on Anita last fall, whose official title is Project Coordinator. She has been a great add to me & Yi Hsuen, helping us managing logistics, scheduling and invoices. The main decision behind hiring Anita was inspired by my experience working on photo shoots.

Having an agent really freed me up from worrying about paperwork and contract negotiations and allowed me to do what I do best on set. Having gone through that experience, my sister and I realized that we were getting bogged down by the day-to-day stuff, and we were distracted from getting the real business done — delivering a great staged home to our clients and passion projects like developing programs about home staging (like our free #30DayHomeStaging Challenge email course and some other cool mini courses in the next few months).

Having a workflow and templates in 17hats helped a lot. Anita, who is much better with customer service and logistics, is able to access the system easily and follows through. Because we almost tripled our volume last year, we switched to credit card payments and electronic signatures only to eliminate inefficiency and paperwork.

Having logistics support really helped us to have a smoother onboarding process with new clients, build a better client relationship.

An example of our workflow in 17hats. You can read about 17hats in our review here: http://www.staged4more.com/blog/review-17hats

Click on the photo to read our review of 17hats.

2. ON SITE VISIT & DRAFTING THE PROPOSAL

When a client calls, whether potential or repeat clients, I generally have a brief conversations with him/her to get a sense of the scope of the project. This is also a pre-screening process to see if we would be a good fit with their project.

Once the initial phone conversation has happened, Anita schedules / confirms an on site visit with the clients. On site visit is crucial because it gives us a great idea on what the neighborhood is like, who the target buyers may be and what finishes and color schemes we will use for staging.

This process can also get time-consuming on the back end, even though it may only look like the two of us had spent 15-30 minutes on site writing notes & taking photos for planning purposes. This is also why we had decided to start billing for on-site visits, because typically with bay area traffic, it takes about an hour or more to get to the site and back, not to mention we usually meet for another 15-30 minutes to discuss design plan for the property. So overall, drafting a proposal can take 2-3 hours.

3. IN STUDIO: DESIGN & PREP

Before we prep, my sister and I sit down together again and go through our notes & photos we took during our site visit. We would go through the photos room by room and double checking the proposal to see what we would need to pull to work with the home’s existing colors, finishes and architecture details. We print out our prep list and off we go.

Much like our actual staging process, we work from big to small. We normally pick the largest pieces first, like sofa, coffee table, rug, accent chairs, etc. and work our way down. Pulling and packing accessories take the most time.

Usually, our prep process takes 4-6 hours with both of us working. I’d pull accessories, decorative items, floral and Yi Hsuen pulls lighting, artwork and writing up the locations of the big pieces that are going to get packed first. (This is why we asked clients for at least a 3-day notice before scheduling the installation date, because we need to schedule time in for prep.)

4. STAGING DAY!

Our movers usually arrive at 8am, but my sister and I generally shows up at 7am to make sure we have everything ready before the job. Typically, load out takes about 1-1.5 hours, depending on the size of the job. Plus bay area traffic, we generally arrive on site between 10-11am. Once we arrive at the house, it’s a flurry of activities.

Our movers have been with us for a long time now and they know roughly where we want to drop furniture. They also know that they will need to assemble the beds, furniture and move all the bins to the kitchen. Once bins are out, I start unpacking everything, so we can visually shop decor pieces and accessories to style each room. Like the way we pull, we drop the big pieces first.

Once furniture plan is set, we start making beds, steaming linens. Generally when I style, Yi Hsuen starts placing and installing artwork. Depending whichever of us finishes earlier than the other, we start packing up for the day.

Before we leave, we do an once-over, to make sure every corner is covered and we are happy with the overall staging. More importantly, the home looks ready to photograph.

5. MARKETING

I’ll be the first to admit that we are usually not as diligent as we should be on this. :/ But I normally try to whip out some sort of blog posts or at least Instagram about it (at some point.). Social media is fairly important nowadays, since we actually see an increase in web traffic and sometimes even lead to other projects when we share our work.

6. WRAP & PACK

Our Home Staging ProcessOnce the home is sold, contingencies are removed (until contingencies are removed, your home sale is not yet a done deal. The deal can still fall apart.), Anita schedules a date for de-staging. We will go to the house at 7-7:30am and start packing. Movers show up at 8 to move everything out. Generally depends on the size of the project, on-site removal can take 2-3 hours and in studio, another 1-2 hours. After movers leave, we unpack the bins and restock everything.

All in all, from initial contact, prep, on-site staging to de-staging, pack and wrap, a home staging project can take about 75-85 man hours on average to complete.


I probably shared too many details here, but I’ve learned being transparent about our process has helped our clients understand how we work. Staging the home right can be a time-consuming process. One that has a lot of invisible pieces that are unseen and therefore undermined by our clients.

It is a lot of hard work. To have a fully stock 5800+ square feet prop house takes time to cultivate and develop. We also have to constantly be on our toes with trends and new inventory by frequently visiting vendors and furniture shows. But all is well worth it when we can pull something awesome together for our clients.

There you have it! That’s our staging process in a nutshell!


If you are a home stager reading this post, what does your home staging process look like? If you are a real estate agent or seller, are you surprised by what we go through to successfully stage a house? I’d love to hear from you!

Do you want a successful home staging business?

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Got something juicy to share? COMMENT below.

  • Thanks for taking the time to write the whole process out . Many more hours involved than most people would think . Id love to see how you determine pricing as well …I always struggle with knowing what to charge

    • Thanks Angela for commenting! That’s the age old question, isn’t it? That’s something I’m constantly trying to perfect as well. It is a bit of a puzzle for me as well, so much so that I’m organizing a $ & HR bootcamp in SF this summer.

      In general I look at how much labor & materials we would need and go from there. But I’d really like to figure out how to factor in our overhead costs more fairly. My business coach has suggested doing financial modeling to figure out our ideal profit margins.

      Thanks again for commenting!

      Cheers,
      Cindy

  • Thank you for writing this! My process is similar, but I think I’m in the need of someone like Anita. Is the Works low an app or program you like? I’ve been wanting to write something out like this so clients understand the total process and the hours it takes. Great blog!

    • Hey Michelle! I highly recommend having someone like Anita! She keeps us organized and can be in touch with clients while we are on site. It also took invoicing off my hands.

      We use 17hats now (you can sign up for a trial. I’m in the process of writing up a review and will post it in the next week or so), but you can do this on a spreadsheet or Google Doc for your assistant. It certainly has helped us systemized our business and makes it easier to be consistent with our clients.

      Glad to hear that this have helped! Feel free to pass it on to your clients.

      Cheers,
      Cindy