Every business has a story. We want to share yours.
The International Association of Home Staging Professionals is proud to highlight business owners and companies in an around the business of Home Staging, Real Estate, Design, and Short-term Rental, though our IAHSP Articles Features.
Our goal is to highlight and explore the various business models and services that are offered throughout our ecosystem and community, giving both the public and our membership the ability to learn more about the businesses and services available through our vast network of service providers and businesses.
Let's dive right into our latest IAHSP Article.
Q. Thanks for taking the time to sit with us to share your story with our readers. Can you start out by sharing a little bit about you and your company?
I’m Nedra with Effortless Charm Staging and we specialize in staging vacant homes in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex. Originally from a small town located just outside of Houston Texas, I graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in Finance and have lived in the Dallas area for over 20 years. In addition to vacant home staging, I offer occupied consultations and paint color consultations. I previously served as the VP of Membership of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) Dallas Chapter and continue my membership with RESA National.
I have my Staging Design Professional and Master Color Consultant certifications with Staging Studio and Occupied Consultation Specialist certification with Bobbie McGrath. The training courses helped me discover what I don’t know I don’t know about Home Staging and what an involved business it is. The thing I love the most about the Home Staging industry is the commitment of the seasoned stagers and their willingness to elevate the profession so that we are respected for what we provide. When starting out, it’s very easy to think that staging homes will be fun and easy. Thankfully, I have my Project Management Professional certification because it’s mostly project management with a bit of flair!
Q. Everyone has a story about how they got started, what was the inspiration or the catalyst for you starting your business?
The story behind the business started in Corporate America, where I never really progressed the way most people do by getting multiple promotions over time. I was working for a mortgage company 7 years ago where the Senior VP expressed that she didn’t think I was a good fit for the position. I was completely shocked and saddened, and due to the wisdom that I have, I started looking at my blind spots. I had a conversation with someone who I consider to be a sharp and impactful coach. She said to me, “You’ll never be able to give them what they need because that isn’t your self-expression – go be who you are!” I took her advice and ran with it! I learned that trying to fit into a particular mold or follow someone else’s path doesn’t work for me.
Q. What services do you offer? And why did you choose to offer those particular services?
We offer Occupied Services, which include our Walk & Talk and Paint Color Consultations. We also offer Vacant Home Staging and the clients typically includes Real Estate Investors, Listing Agents and Homeowners who are looking to sell their property. The "why" behind offering these services is first of all, my passion is Vacant Staging and the overhead is expensive. I have a background in Finance and Project Management, so I tend to listen to stagers who have business acumen. An extremely beloved seasoned stager has often recommended to offer low-overhead services because it doesn't cost anything but our time. When times are slower on staging vacant homes, the revenue from consultations cover the overhead just fine.
Q. Did you ever have a project or customer, where everything was going wrong or the project was challenging? Can you share about that time, and how did you find a solution, or over-come the challenge?
I will admit that growing my business slowly has given me a lot of time to learn from others' experiences. Because of that, I can say that I've had one experience where a miscommunication took place. I was working with an agent who provided details on the staging and in her text she mentioning needing to schedule the cleaning lady. I assumed that she was going to schedule the cleaning lady to clean the property BEFORE staging day - doesn't everyone know to do that?! I have a clause in my contract that if the property isn't stage ready, that we charge a fee. Her client initialed that particular area of the contract, signed and paid for the staging. We arrived on staging day and the home wasn't cleaned. On top of that, there were strong odors present in property. When I called the agent, she confirmed the cleaning would take place AFTER staging day - because that makes sense, right?! In that moment of frustration, I put my certified project manager hat on and knew that I needed to honor the contract as it was written, which I did. I didn't like it and I honored the contract. Afterwards, I charged her client a fee, assuming he truly read the contract and understood it. The agent got upset about it and because I practice being wise, I called a longtime realtor friend who gets an A+ when it comes to professionalism. She said to me, "I don't want you to be out at an event, see this person and not feel good about the situation that's currently going on". I followed her recommendation of refunding the client his money and charging the realtor half of the fee. I then communicated to the realtor that because I'm looking to enhance my relationship-building skills, I will use this as a learning experience and make sure I provide transparency to the agent about the contract beforehand. Her hangup was that my company isn't like the other stagers she's worked with, and I confirmed that I've never had an agreement to be like another staging company. I want to point out that I originally intended to send the contract to her and she declined, confirming that she wanted to be left out of it. Going forward, I send a sample contract to the potential client, verbally confirm the property will be cleaned before staging day and include images to a "stage ready" hyperlink so they can see what we mean by stage ready. I do my best to help them help me. This experience taught me how important it is to have mentor friends in our corner. Life is going to happen and before I react, I take a deep breath and have a conversation with someone who is wiser than me, so they can guide me accordingly.
Q. Running a business is not always easy. What have you learned about yourself and your business, since launching your company?
I have learned that I enjoy project management and the unpredictability of what we do. My "thrill seeking" moments come from staging because I see it as opportunities for development. I've done a lot of personal and professional development over the years and staging gives me a room to practice what I'm learning. I've also learned that it's way more business and project management that I ever thought.
Q. We've all had either an employee or a customer that makes what we are doing worth it all. Can you share with us a story about an employee, vendor or customer that really impacted you and touched your heart?
I do my best to learn from all experiences and the one that impacted me the most is the situation where the miscommunication happened with the agent. I don't always learn anything when a situation goes well and trust me, I'm very thankful for those situations. It's the ones that challenge me to step out of my comfort zone that expand me as a professional. I will say the majority of my clients are like me - thorough communication, organized etc.
Q. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice on how to manage or grow your business, what advice would you give yourself?
My advice would be to take formal training sooner rather than later. I'm analytical, which means someone can recommend that I do something, but unless they tell me WHY I'm doing it or the quantitative impact, I will not understand why I'm doing it. Formal training gave me insight into the business model, pricing, and they "why" behind my decisions.
Q. If a potential client were reading this article right now, what would you tell them about you, your team or your business that would convince them to choose your company?
I would tell a potential client that if they're looking to gain education, choose my company. The reason is because I've witnessed many stagers saying things because they can and they rarely have the facts and business acumen to back it up. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and those stagers do get a lot of business. What makes my company valuable is that I'm interested in educating people so they can make the best choice for them, even if they hire another stager.
Q. What is one fact about you or your business that most people might not know?
I worked as a freelance makeup artist for many years and my first love is makeup! I was known as someone who could "beat a face!" lol
Q. Where do you see your business going in the next 5 or 10 years?
I see it adding additional services for Investors and staging Short-Term Rentals.
Q. It was so great sitting with you to learn more about you and your company. How can people find out more about you and your business?
Visit www.effortlessstaging.com to learn more about us and see our work!
Q. Thank you so much for sharing your story with IASHP Articles!
You're welcome and thank you for asking!