How to Keep Your Home Staging Business Financially Healthy in a Crisis

Apr 02, 2020

It's a little crazy right now, and we all need some practical ways to shore up our finances and maintain the health of our home staging businesses. There are a number of simple things you can do right now to secure the future of the career you have worked so hard to build. Let's look at some ways you can keep your home staging business financially healthy during a crisis, like the current coronavirus pandemic.

Pause.

First, stay calm and base your decisions on facts and not fear. Dave Ramsey, a money-management expert, and creator of the Financial Peace University program, encourages us to remain calm and not make decisions while we are panicked. Reacting out of fear will usually result in poor choices. For example, immediately laying off your staff may seem like the only option, but you may be able to keep the team that you have trained by taking advantage of the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). This provides a low-interest loan for up to 2.5 times your monthly payroll, and it is forgivable as long as you don’t lay anyone off.   

Sell dated inventory.

If you have inventory that has already earned back more than its cost of acquisition (cost plus shipping, assembly, ordering time, etc), you might want to take this opportunity to beef up your cash reserves. If you purchased at wholesale, you can sell it well below retail and still at least recoup your investment. This can help free up storage space and allow you to refresh your inventory when business is back up.

Preserve your cash.

The biggest factor in businesses failing is a lack of cash. There will be disruptions to the flow of funds through this, and cash reserves keep your business and personal finances breathing. Stop spending cash on anything unnecessary and avoid high-interest credit card debt.

Focus first on paying those things that take care of your basic business needs, including rent, utilities, and vehicles. Payments on things like loans may be able to be deferred, and contributions to retirement funds could be paused. 

Cancel low- or no-benefit expenses.

Mike Michalowicz, author of 'Profit First', offers a simple tip on one way to do this. Ask your credit card company to re-issue your credit card with a new number so that any automatic payments are stopped from going through. There are probably things that you were paying for that you forgot and don't need. Don't shirk your obligations, but do use the opportunity to find those things that have been slipping through unnoticed. These are things that you haven't even been using and can do away with. Make sure your credit card company knows that you want to stop any subscription payments. Do this for both personal and business accounts. 

As a business owner, don't cut your own income to keep the business afloat.

Your personal credit score is going to be important in the future for getting loans, so that reported income needs to be there. As your own employee, you are eligible for stimulus benefits that could cover your salary.

Renegotiate.

Ask for a lower credit card interest rate or adjusted payment schedule. If your mortgage interest rate is higher than the current available rates, refinancing might be beneficial. You may also need to renegotiate your warehouse lease. One way to do that is to tell your landlord that you are not asking for a reduction in rent, but a reduction in the length of your lease. You might be able to change your contractual obligation from a 5-year lease down to 6 months or a year. They would probably be much more open to that than you not paying your full rent. Also, keep in mind that the first person to ask for concessions will probably get it. The second - maybe. But by the third or fourth, they are starting to pull back and say no. So you want to be the first to ask. Move quickly and be first in line.

Reduce your accounts receivable.

Go through your accounts receivable and try to get payment sooner as the longer it ages, the less chance there is that you will actually get paid. If clients are not able to pay the entire amount, ask what they can pay each month. Even if they can pay only small amounts, they are constantly reminded that they owe you money and it doesn't get forgotten. Offering cash discounts is another way to minimize accounts receivable losses.

Communicate frequently with your clients. 

Maintain and build on those relationships and find ways to keep serving their needs, so they stay loyal to you. We have created some great resources to help you.

Set up new general ledger accounts for COVID-19 expenses. 

Track any expenditures for cleaning supplies, protective equipment, etc. It is extremely important to record the hours that each team member (including yourself) is unable to work due to government orders, COVID-19 related isolation, caring for a child whose school is closed, loss of business, etc. Each of those reasons will affect different government stimulus packages, so accurate records will be needed. You will also need to be able to report on your income, expenses, and payroll history. 

Take advantage of government stimulus packages. 

Many of the benefits that are being made available apply to small businesses, including those people who are self-employed. There are multiple ways that you and your employees can still receive income. 

  • The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires small businesses to provide partial or full wages for 80 hours of Covid-19 related sick leave. This expense is then reimbursed through payroll tax credits.
  • The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act require 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave, including 10 weeks of partial or full paid leave, also reimbursable through payroll tax credits.
  • Expanded federal unemployment benefits are available in addition to state unemployment. 
  • CARES Act Low-interest SBA loans are available to pay payroll, rent, and utilities. These may be forgiven if you do not lay anyone off, and the portion that is forgiven is not taxed.

Diversify your services.

A fast way to adapt is to begin offering online staging consultations. If the real estate market slows down, renovations will increase. Consider adding redesign and color consultations to your service offerings. Our Staging Design Professional™ online certifications prepare you to offer redesign services along with your staging.

Know that Staging Studio is here for you. We are constantly updating our resources to support you and your business.

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