Company Profile: Designed To Sell
I’ve been a Graphic Designer for most of my life, and originally I did a local interior design course for personal interest. However, I loved it and continued it for three years. I ended up doing a Ciity and Guilds in Interior Design and a short Homestaging course with my Interior Design tutor, Louise - who was trained by the House Doctor.
In 2015 I left my full-time job and started to work part-time. I had been really interested in doing Home Staging as a job so in 2017 Louise and I decided to start Designed to Sell. However with me working part-time and Louise working full time the business never really gained any traction, as we just could not spend enough time on it.
We made a decision Spring 2019 to really focus on the business. Around this time I was interested introduced to a lovely lady called Liz, who is a de-clutterer. She advised me to join the HSA (which I had not heard about) as she was a member of APDO (the decluttering organisation) and found it very useful for her business.
I joined the HSA which really helped push my business forward. I decided to do the first-ever European training by the IAHSP and became one of their first European Certified Stagers. I also signed up with a business mentor who has really helped me and kept me focused. But there are struggles starting out - and we are learning as we go along.
I think the hardest thing we are finding at the moment is getting regular clients and creating partnerships with Estate Agents. I have created a presentation to give to Estate Agents, but it's not easy getting them to spend the time with you so that they understand the benefits of Home Staging.
We have also created e-books which we can promote and sell - they are on Amazon. One is on Feng Shui and one on Tips for Staging your home. But again we struggle to really understand how to advertise these on Facebook so are not getting any major sales. And of course, you can always get help with Social Media - but this costs and at the moment there is no steady income.
The course really helped me understand what offerings we should give to clients and how to formulate our Consultation Reports and Proposals. Also, it helped massively understand how to price our services. However, we are adapting these as we go. The very first project we got involved in required major Project Management of remedial works - as the client lives abroad. And we did not really know how to price this - or if we really even wanted the work - as it will take months and isn’t really what we want to do.
The second project was on a large empty house - it had some old furniture left in it - but most had gone to the new home. The major issues we found with this was getting the items to the property - we bought chairs, bedding, and some decorative items, and a day bed - and it took some planning to get it all there to arrive with the rented furniture. We also found that we may have not got enough decorative items for the project – when you are buying the pieces you seem to be buying loads. But when you put the items you have bought into an almost empty space they get swallowed! So we decide we need to get a lot more pieces and more fake greenery on our next project,
As the couple had moved out and left pieces in odd rooms, we had some moving of furniture to do on this project – as well as building a couple of beds. Luckily we could call on our partners who helped us on the day but we cannot rely on this – and have now managed to find a local handyman – who will help us with odd jobs, building furniture, etc. Another issue was that we did not realise that the rental furniture company would require a deposit. We have paid this but in future, I think this is something we will pass onto the clients.
So far we have done one Consultation Report and one full Hands on Staging. We have bought some items of furniture, used some from our homes, and also rented furniture.
We still need to learn how to properly create an inventory of our furniture and decorative items. Also, we are not big enough to hire storage at the moment so everything has to be stored in our garage, or spare bedrooms.
It can be difficult to begin with as you have no before or afters, but as I had done the IAHSP course luckily I could use some of theirs and also other members kindly let me use their photos - so again the course was a massive help!
I do feel that we are getting there slowly - in fact, we have had two enquiries this week for occupied staging! We have now got someone who will be helping us do our Facebook ads for our e-books, which we should be getting done in the next few weeks. And now we have some practical before and afters of our own we can promote those on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
So issues we have can be put down to the following
1) Lack of experience and before and after photos
2) Understanding how to price when we feel we are quite new
3) Understanding how furniture rental furniture companies work
4) Physically getting the furniture to the homes. Obviously hired furniture is fine but at our first hands-on staging we did struggle getting everything we had in our cars to the house. I am looking at buying a new car in the next month or so and will probably get a large car van.
5) Building purchased furniture and furniture being moved around the property. This is fine for some pieces, but when the furniture is bulky and heavy and the property is over two floors we feel we will need help – as we would like to build our inventory of furniture and rely less on rented.
6) Getting relationships with local estate agents and getting them to understand the value of Homestaging.
7) Knowing how to keeper and up to date inventory of stock and where to store it once we destage our projects.
8) Time: Louise works full time and isn’t in a position to give up her job until the business is making enough money to pay us. So that is obviously an issue with her having to take days off when we have projects.
I’m very excited about the future of the business. We do seem to be gaining some traction and have had a few enquiries mainly via the website. Again I think the fact that we are on Houzz, HSA and Trusted Land really help those enquires. I have spoken to House Vault and I will be signing up with them – they are aligned to Rightmove – so you can see in your allocated area who has reduced, or taken off the market etc and then send them a letter. I believe this will also be invaluable.
We learned a lot from our first few projects and I am sure as time goes on and we have more projects and clients we will become more confident and assured of our procedures!
To learn more about Jackie and her projects please visit http://www.designed-to-sell.co.uk