How to Prepare Your Staging Business for CoronavirusMar 13, 2020
By Debbie Boggs, Staging Studio Co-Founder
The last few days and weeks have been chaotic due to COVID-19, or coronavirus, and the foreseeable future looks pretty, well, unforeseeable. What does all of this mean for the staging and redesign industries, the real estate market, and for you as a small business owner? What can you do to protect yourself, your staff, and your business as we deal with the coronavirus outbreak?
It is important to look long-term in your business. There may be some momentary setbacks this year, but long-term your business can maintain high growth.
Communicate with your clients
First, let your clients know that you are taking extra precautions. One way to do this is through social media. We also created an email template for you to customize with your logo and information. Download it for free here.
Homeowners hosting showings need to take extra precautions to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Add this downloadable infographic to your leave-behind folder to help them stay safe and healthy while selling their home.
How does the real estate market impact the staging and redesign industries?
In our 13 years of staging, we have ridden the wave quite a few times and seen high and low markets. We started our business in 2007, and within a few months, the recession was in full swing. That sounds like terrible timing, but our business grew that year and every year since, in spite of what the economy was doing, because the staging industry is incredibly resilient. This is because regardless of whether it is a seller’s market or a buyer’s market, staging plays a key role in netting the highest profits in home sales.
When the real estate market is down, we call it a buyer’s market. That means that there are more properties available than there are buyers, so buyers have more options and power. The competition among properties is stronger and only the most desirable ones get offers. Staging is pretty much a no-brainer in these times because it helps a home stand out above the others.
Diversify your business
Regardless of the type of market we are in, the staging business thrives. At the same time, you do need to diversify and make sure that you’re adapting to those different markets to broaden your base.
In a down market, sellers may choose to stay in their home and wait for the market to come back up before selling. Since they’re staying in their home longer, remodeling and redesign needs increase.
This is an opportunity for you to diversify your business and make it more resilient. If the market turns and we go into a time when home prices aren’t rising as they have been, 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.
Prepare for social distancing and isolation
We need to be thinking not in terms of self-preservation, but community and global preservation. You may not be concerned about getting the coronavirus yourself, but you do need to be concerned about the vulnerable people around you, like the elderly, and the employees whose children may have their school temporarily closed.
Many businesses are now faced with, or soon will be faced with, the possibility of quarantine or social isolation.
A lot of the following suggestions apply to any disaster, and as a business owner, you need to always have a contingency plan. Here are some practical things you can do to prepare and minimize the impact of coronavirus:
- Ensure that you and your team can access crucial information remotely.
- If you have been old school in the way you do business – getting a check or key in person, paying bills in person, banking in person – now is the time to get online with all of that.
- Do you have a backup plan for others running operations if you are unable to be present at work? Everyone on your team should be cross-trained so that they can cover for each other.
- Make it your goal to hold in reserves enough money to meet payroll for 3 months. We realize that not everyone has been able to build that safety net yet, but it should be part of your business plan to get there.
- This WILL be a difficult time, we don’t want to minimize that. If you do not have that margin, be upfront with your staff. Don’t wait until payday and then say, “Whoops, sorry. Can’t pay you this week.”
- Think through your inventory stock and your projected needs. Prepare for any possible supply chain disruptions.
Plan for sick/quarantine leave
As a business person, you are looked to as the leader for your team. They need to feel that you are doing what you can to protect them and care for them.
If your employees don't feel like you're looking out for them, they will not feel comfortable communicating with you if they are ill or have been exposed to coronavirus. If they fear losing their job or not getting paid, they may risk coming to work sick and exposing you and the rest of your team to COVID-19.
We have said many times that the most expensive thing you will do as a business owner is to find, hire, and train your staff. While it is difficult to pay someone for a couple of missed weeks due to isolation, it is even more expensive to hire and train a new person for that job.
Ideas for employees to work from home
Think outside the box on what can be handled remotely. Here are a few ideas:
- Forward calls to employees at home so they can serve in an admin role.
- Follow up on bids.
- Set up an online system for your documents. Check out our Tech Tools list for our favorite online systems.
- Pull for jobs remotely using an online inventory system.
- Write email templates and pipelines.
- Write blogs.
- Take an online course.
- Edit and organize photos.
- Create social media posts.
- Clean up your contact list.
- Freshen up your website.
- Repair, paint, or assemble furniture. You might consider moving some of these project pieces to an employee's home to give them a job to do if isolated.
- Take pics of your inventory now and if someone is stuck at home, they can use the photos to create an inventory system.
- Train your team. Our Staging Design Professional™ Professional Level was designed with your staging and logistics team in mind.
- Conduct occupied consultations over a video call.
Look to the future
We have not seen a major negative impact on the staging or redesign industries as of yet.
All that we have discussed here are good business practices that you should have in place whether there is a crisis or not, so you’re not losing sleep at night. The virus may add urgency, but these are all things that are important for the long-term health and security of your business.
We want you to reach that level of success where you do have the margins to absorb some losses if you need to. We are here to help you get there.
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