A week in the life of a home stager
Like most people on the planet, we try to show the best of the best on our social media platforms. And don’t get me wrong, we absolutely LOVE our jobs and it’s such a blessing to be able to make money doing something that brings us joy and fulfillment. However, there are a ton of behind-the-scenes activities that rarely make the feed, so today I wanted to share what a typical week may look like at Olive & Opal. Mind you, we were quick to learn that there is no such thing as typical in this business. Take a look!
DAY 1 – Today was a little bit of everything! Melinda and I started the day separately but both working on idea boards for two design clients. We were introduced to an amazing program, Design Files, last summer at RESACON in Las Vegas and it’s truly the easiest way to pull together idea boards. The program is super user friendly and ultimately allows you to tag different products online through the click of a button and then pull your preferred products onto an idea board for presentation. Clearly we’d need a total work session to go through the process, but here’s the best part – through the click of one button, the program saves ALL the product information, including picture, price, source, link, item description, etc. I can’t imagine doing another idea board without it. Here's an example of a board we pulled together in Design Files:
We connected in the afternoon for a local RESA chapter meeting. To all you home stagers, RESA is such a great way to share knowledge with other stagers in your community. We have learned so much information about our market and best practices, as well as met some amazing people at RESA events.
We had to sneak out a few minutes early to head over to a client’s property to do our final walk through before the scheduled project. Wow, this house was recently renovated and we were crazy excited to get going on the project. After the walk through we drove back to our warehouse to prep and pack for a project the following morning. Melinda created this amazing checklist to identify all the pieces we will need for a given project. It totally helps us stay on track when packing.
DAY 2– We met our movers at the warehouse to load up the truck for today’s project, but as we were in route to the project site we received word that the project was delayed so we quickly turned around and back to the warehouse. Hey, it happens and we adapt. I can’t talk about moving without mentioning the amazing Ben at Big Helpful Gentlemen Moving, who we use exclusively for our projects. Ben and his team are awesome and we literally couldn’t do a thing without them. Have you seen us, we’re munchkins?!
The delayed project opened up a few hours so Melinda went back to the client idea boards and I hopped into Quickbooks to work on our business. As the token accountant in the team, I get the pleasure of keeping the books, yay. We tried out a ton of different accounting software systems, but Quickbooks ultimately best met our needs. One thing that I would recommend for stagers just starting out is to invest in an accounting software, invest in an accountant (even if you are one yourself) and invest your time to keep your books up-to-date. Clearly it’s the least glamorous part of the job, but one of the most important.
We then changed out of our yoga pants to meet a realtor and client for an occupied staging consultation. We so often work in vacant properties that it’s so fun to actually work with the client and verbally discuss how we can help them get their property ready for sale. Today’s client was SO fun! We typically bring quite a few handouts to leave with our clients, as well as bring paint samples and other options, so I always fill up my J. Crew canvas tote with all my “stuff” for a consult. It's lightweight, durable, LEOPARD. Perfect.
The consult wrapped around 4pm so we made a quick stop at a local bar to meet my husband for a “working” drink. Good thing Billy G’s has wifi because we were able to finalize idea boards to send to client that evening, even with a beer in hand!
DAY 3 – Today was occupied primarily with a vacant staging project. We left the warehouse first thing with Ben and team and got to work. An install can take as little as a few hours, but today’s project consumed most of the day. We try to assemble any new furniture before a project, but today’s job required a few on-site assemblies and included a missing shower curtain rod, bed sheet and steamer so a trip back to the warehouse was necessary. Again, these things happen even with a detailed checklist. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the steamer is a stager’s best friend. Don’t leave home without it.
There were a few voicemails for new opportunities at the end of the day (yay!) so that evening I returned calls and sent out a few bids.
Another tool that we cannot live without is our CRM software, Dubsado. We use this program to create bids, contracts and invoices, as well as communicate with our clients, schedule out projects and track our jobs start to finish. We highly recommend Dubsado – it really automates so many processes that were once manual. Win!
DAY 4 – Today I got an email that a shipment of dining chairs for a project later this week was delayed so I went straight to Gateway Online Auctions to search for replacements. Gateway is located out in St. Charles and it’s great for sourcing furniture. They receive truckloads of new Wayfair inventory into their warehouse weekly, marked down to amazing prices. I found 6 awesome dining chairs and a bar cart, squeezed them all in my car (how?!?) and headed to the warehouse to unload.
Once at the warehouse, we again prepped the pack list the next project this week and also took an overall inventory to find what pieces are low in quantity. With that list in hand, we ran to our local HomeGoods and Target to pick up some items where we’re running low (apparently we go through throw blankets really quickly!).
Finally before bed, we confirmed the project timing this week with our movers as well as for 3 opportunities for next week. We’ve found that sharing a Google calendar works best for us, nothing fancy.
DAY 5 – We’ve been busy with project preparations and sourcing this week, so today was largely dedicated to working on the business again, largely focusing on social media and finalizing our 2018 financials in Quickbooks for tax purposes. With social media, we’ve really tried to start to batch our work (check out this podcast by Jenna Kutcher) but while we always try to get ahead there are usually urgent matters that seem to derail our lofty ambitions. Oh well, we'll get there one day! I swung by Michael’s to pick up an over sized frame for an amazing huge art print and then off to get the kiddos.
So there you have it, a week in the life of a home stager. We don't always know what will come our way every day, but it’s super fun and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. And next time you see a picture of us with our hair down and curled (and we’re wearing actual clothes) remember that we are probably paying for that picture. Normal life is dirty hair covered by a hat and yoga pants covered in Styrofoam remnants 😉