I could probably write a book to tell you why all home stagers should join the Real Estate Staging Association
. As one of the first members, and charter leaders to the group (I've been the Regional Vice President in the South since 2007)
, I'm a HUGE proponent. Most of the time you'll hear RESA members discuss the benefits of membership revolving around credibility, visibility, and camaraderie. While all of those things are great reasons why you should consider joining RESA, I'm going to tell you one that you may not have thought of yet. But first, let me remind you that....
RESA is a support system for the home staging industry
Since I've recently sold my Charleston home staging company to open up a new home staging company in Jacksonville / St Augustine, FL
, I've had the joy (not) of re-experiencing all of the new stager growing pains. Where I once had one of the largest companies in the industry, I am just like any other new home stager now, looking for business, trying to get in front of my customer, and set my business apart from the competition. While I do, of course, have the advantage that I've already played this game before and know a lot of what works and what doesn't, every city and town has its own nuances. What worked in Charleston, doesn't necessarily work in Jacksonville or St Augustine.
Joining the local RESA chapter, meeting and talking with other home stagers, who have been here, give me a lot of ideas of what is working and what isn't. While my competitors may not want to share their best kept secrets with me, the really good ones can be a sounding board. It's the thing that I've loved best about working with such great professionals in our industry. When you work from a place of abundance and realize that rising tides carry all boats, you are willing to help your competition. When they do well, you do well.
Home stagers refer business to other home stagers
So this leads me to that best kept secret about RESA. When you create bond with other local stagers, you pass business back and forth. The strongest home staging companies develop market niches. They don't take any and every job out there. When they are offered a job that is not within their niche, they usually don't want it. If there is a way to refer that customer out, while not losing market share or worrying about unethical behavior, they do.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an insurance agent ask me about home staging. His customer specifically needed a home staging job that used a home manager. The customer's home insurance was about to skyrocket due to the home being vacant. Already on a shoe string, the customer needed solutions. Well, my company, Rave ReViews Home Staging, does not offer home managers. I do know two local home staging companies, both members of our local RESA chapter, who do. One phone call and two emails later, the customer had what they needed, and the insurance agent, a member of my networking group, gave a stellar testimonial about my professionalism to our group. I didn't lose out on business, I gained another advocate for my professionalism.
Last week, this same staging company, called me to ask if I was willing to take on a large scale, luxury vacant home staging. This owner specifically didn't want a home manager. I met with the agent and was just told last night that I had the job. The other stager, familiar with me because of meeting me in our local chapter, felt completely comfortable referring the work to me. While I had been the Regional Vice President of the area that chapter fell under, this particular stager had never been to convention, and wasn't familiar with me, my company, or my work prior to joining the chapter.
Don't just go to the RESA meetings. Have lunch with the members.
Truth be told, I did a lot of research before I opened my home staging company. I made it my point to know who the key players would be before I opened the doors to my Jacksonville home staging company. I knew their work. I knew their marketing strengths, and where and how I could compete against them. Unlike Charleston, I would have real competition in the Jacksonville and St Augustine markets. Rather than playing hide and seek with them, after the first Real Estate Staging Association meeting, I walked up to them, introduced myself, let them know that I was aware that they were my biggest competition, and invited them to lunch. Funny, no one had done that before.
We had a great talk about how we could work together to pass along referrals for work we didn't want, or wasn't profitable for our business models
. Now, a few months later, we have passed some great leads back and forth, leads that are profitable for our business models. We also all look good to our clients. They know that we are looking out for THEIR best interests. In the end, that will win more business all around.
So, while you are considering what you need to do to grow your business in 2013, take a few moments and determine if you are using the Real Estate Staging Association to its best benefits. If you aren't a member yet, join. If you just go to the meetings, but haven't established quality relationships with your PEERS and COLLEAGUES, then rethink how you are doing business and make a correction in 2013. You don't know what business you are missing out on otherwise....
Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging
For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).