St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


No, I really don't want to grow my Charleston Home Staging business. No, SERIOUSLY!

I think it sounds crazy to most people when I say that we really don't want to grow our Charleston Home Staging business anymore.  The fact of the matter is that I'm pretty serious when I say it.  Some of you in the industry understand exactly what I'm talking about though.  Most of you who get it probably own inventory.  

Because this kind of statement is contrary to most people's opinion, let me elaborate.  My company, First Impressions Home Staging & Interior ReDeisgn owns a lot - no I mean A LOT of inventory.  We are right around the 3/4 of a million mark with around 50 vacant homes staged at a time on average.  Think about all the little knick-knacks, paddy-wacks and chauch-kies (yeah, I know I spelled that wrong) that we own.  It kind of blows my mind.  We have 3 full time stagers, 2 part time stagers and 2 part time assistants (one staging, one admin).     

Charleston Home StagingLike most Home Staging businesses, we do both occupied homes and vacant homes.  Our business is to some degree cyclicle.  (Though I can't remember when we've had less than 35 vacant homes staged.  I think it's been at least 2 years now.)  When the Charleston Real Estate market is at its peak, we are constantly running out of furniture.  It seems every busy season we grow our number of staged properties by at least 2-5. 

Two to five properties growth twice a year doesn't sound like a lot, but think about it.  How much stuff can be consumed in a property?  You have sofas, chairs, rugs, artwork, throw pillows, towels, and the list goes on and on.  Last year, making mid six figures in sales and having a steady stream of homes staging and unstaging, we still managed to spend about $80,000 in new inventory. 

home staging inventoryThis brings me to my point.... If we had not expanded our business last year by the 2-5 homes a season then that $80,000 would have been PROFIT!!  So this year, rather than working on expanding our business, we are trying to figure out how to streamline it.  We are studying the numbers.  We are figuring out what exactly we need to do to get our profit margins up while keeping our inventory needs down. 

Getting too much work seems like a funny problem to have, but actually it just is the way it goes when you do everything right.  So, next on our list is actually to dial in our business demographics a little more and cut the fat.  As always, I'll keep you posted on how that goes....



 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 or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 10 commentsMelissa Marro • July 22 2011 06:27PM


Hi Melissa - That's quite an interesting problem to have! Best of luck working it through.

Posted by Judy Klem, Home Staging, Senior Move Management, Fairfield/New Haven counties (Transition Stage LLC) over 7 years ago

Melissa, You are making plenty of sense to me.  Better to grow smart that grow big without restraint.  Congratulations on your success!

Posted by Kathy Strader, ASP (Memorial Staged Homes) over 7 years ago

Melissa we struggle with the same principle. Both my partner and I feel that we are standing on the edge of the next level of our business. The number of staged homes - especially vacants - which are out at one time have grown from 3 - 4 to 12 - 15 at any given time. This increase has happened in the last year and because we do not own all our own furniture, we have been struggling with suppliers to meet these demands. Additionally, our own inventory boggles our minds and we know with the growth rate we need to make some very important changes and upgrades because we don't see that we have a choice but grow our business. 

We have expanded our team to include a staging assistant/handyman who is a godsend. The next step for our business which I feel will happen this fall is that we're going to need a part time office assistant and very possible a part time stager.

Good luck with your endeavors and I hope that you manage to keep more money in your coffers going forward!

Posted by Heather Cook, Quality Home Staging (Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc.) over 7 years ago

Judy - Thank you!  We have a bit of a plan, but let's see how that actually works out.

Kathy - EXACTLY!!

Heather - Good luck on that next step.  The thing is that it never seems to end.  When you keep growing, it feels awesome until you find that as soon as you are ready to pay large dividends,  you have to go buy more stuff.  When I was out sick (most of this year) and I wasn't out getting more leads, our sales were down but our income was up.  Interesting, huh? 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 7 years ago

Sounds like you're looking to leverage your staff and inventory in the best possbile way for the greatest  ROI.  You'll do it, too!

Posted by Julia Maher, Connecticut Home Stager (Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes) over 7 years ago

Hi Melissa, we experienced the same thing with our last company. We were up to 19 employees and found out pretty quickly (about the end of the first year) that we made more profit with only 11 employees. I wish you all the best in finding the right mix for your company. Time well spent as in the end, no sense working all those hours and earning less profit.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 7 years ago

Leveraging the ROI is what businesses all across North America have been doing for the past couple of years.  It is one reason, unfortunately, for the unemployment rates.  We are realizing that sometimes more is not better.  Thanks Julia & Michelle!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 7 years ago

If anyone can make the best of this business, you can Melissa.  You have proven yourself time and again!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 7 years ago

Interesting problem. I assume your business has grown as the inventory of homes has increased.  Where in the Charleston area do you primarily stage homes?

Posted by Foster Smith Summerville, Summerville & Charleston Homes for Sale SC Realtor (Carolina One Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Foster - Just emailed you privately. If you do not receive it, please let me know. 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 6 years ago

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