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How to Conduct Online Consultations for Occupied Homes

Mar 19, 2020

By Julie Young, Staging Studio Co-Founder

At Staging Studio, we also own our own home staging company. So, we get it–we’re dealing with the effects of the coronavirus epidemic right alongside you. As we all practice social distancing, you can put your clients at ease by conducting occupied staging consultations online (also known as e-staging).

For many, it is still a great time to buy a home with historic low-interest rates. As an industry, we need to continue helping homeowners, builders, and investors get the highest offers for their properties while also taking all necessary precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

With so many working from home, this is a prime opportunity for those who plan to list their home in the near future to start making repairs, de-cluttering, staging a home office, etc. to prepare for market. They need your guidance and input now, so that they have a game plan for those projects.

As a certified Staging Design Professional®, you already have the knowledge and the tools to provide an occupied staging consultation. Online consultations use the same knowledge, but are presented digitally through a written report or live via a video chat service.

Adding online consultations can increase your sphere of business. Instead of losing business when you are unable to meet in person, provide an alternative.

Walk and talk with video calls

This is the most straight-forward way to conduct an online consultation. Meet with your clients via video call (we like FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp) instead of in person. Have them give you a complete walk-through on video, and offer your staging recommendations.

Here’s what we include in our own video consultations:

  • Up to 2 hours of consultation as we “walk” through the home
  • Covers everything from the front curb to the back fence
  • Includes furniture placement, art and accessory placement, repair recommendations, etc.

This works well for us because we never place our own inventory in occupied stages. We use only what’s already there, or what is purchased on behalf of the homeowner. Customize your offerings to fit YOUR business model. A video consultation should be very similar to your in-person occupied consultations, just online!

E-consultations via photo sharing

Another option for online consultations is to generate a report based on your client’s photos. With this method, we ask clients to complete a questionnaire about their home and share photos of each room. Then, we respond with a report detailing our recommendations.

Here are the steps for conducting an online consultation this way:

  1. Ask the client to complete a questionnaire on your website or via email. They should provide you with these details, plus any others you’d like to add:
    • Name
    • Street address
    • Phone number and email address
    • Square footage of the home
    • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
    • Number of living and dining areas
    • Age of the home
    • Specific areas of concern
    • Is the home currently on the market? If so, what is the list price?
  2. Give easy instructions to guide your clients. Ask them to:
    • Take photos or videos of each room to be staged, including the front and back exteriors of the home. Give specific directions for taking photos:
      • Make sure the floor to the ceiling is in the shot.
      • Take shots from each corner of the room.
      • If sending videos, start from the front exterior of the home and come through the front entrance.
      • Include shots of anything questionable like dated tile, worn carpet, cabinets, etc.
    • Set a clear pricing structure detailing what they can expect. For example, set pricing to accommodate the size of houses, such as: 6 rooms for $XXX, each additional room $XX OR up to 3500 square feet for $XXX. Over 3500 square feet for $XXX.
    • Let them know that payment must be received before you will send the completed consultation report.
    • Offer a conference call if needed.
    • Set up a Dropbox file (or other photo/video sharing site) and send the link to clients for ease of photo/video sharing.
  3. Once you receive the photos/video, review them.
  4. Create a Keynote or PowerPoint for your report.
  5. Create a cover slide with the front of the home and address.
  6. Follow with each room of the house. Each room in the report should include a photo, plus bullet points with your recommendations underneath. Editing, furniture placement, color recommendations, accessory/art recommendations and placement, etc. should all be included. Add any inspiration photos or links to specific references.
  7. Save your report in PDF form and email to your client or share via Google Drive.
  8. If needed, schedule a conference call to go over any details.

By conducting online consultations, stagers benefit by diversifying their business, gaining new clients, and saving on drive time.  Homeowners gain from getting professional advice for their home, on their schedule, anywhere in the world. Our whole community benefits from increased social distancing during this time, too.

As always, we’re here to help you grow a resilient business!

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