@Biz Ledger Coffee answers:An interview with Kathleen Sarrett, president of Staging Homes by Design Inc.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Address: 435 Pennsylvania Ave. Suite 222 Glen Ellyn, IL
Owner: Kathleen Sarrett
Year business started: 2003
Web address: www.StagingHomesbyDesign.com
A: Home staging and styling involves rearranging, decluttering and removing personal items within an owner-occupied home for sale. This helps buyers visualize themselves living in the home, highlights the key architectural features of the home and maximizes the homes perceived living space. An important distinction between staging and interior decorating is that the goal of decorating is to personalize a space, whereas the goal of staging is to depersonalize it, as well as to give the home a sense of style. I work hand in hand with the seller and the agent to create a climate whereby the house will sell more quickly and for more money compared to competitive non staged properties.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: My desire to stay busy on my days off from my airline job and to help people sell their homes.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: In my case; I would say consumer education. When I first started, 10 years ago, not many agents or sellers knew what staging was all about. Now even the NAR recognizes its importance with resources on its website for agents and sellers regarding staging. I attribute much of this to the HGTV channels' programs which really brought staging to the forefront, as a needed and necessary component to sellers and agents home marketing mix. Today I get calls from sellers regarding their interest in my staging services for a home they are about to put on the market, often even before they hire agents,
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Creating beautiful spaces for homeowners and the excitement and accomplishment of hearing a property sold soon after I have staged it. It always makes me feel like I contributed to the sale. The other thing I enjoy is the good friendships I make with the sellers. Often the sellers aren't believers, but by the time we are done and they see the results they do a 180 degree turn. Often they hire me come into their new home and I will set that up for them.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: No, though I loved rearranging my mother's furniture in her home when I was little. The first time I saw a box of 64 Colors in a Box when I was 5, I almost fell over. I thought how could there be so many beautiful colors in the world? I had lots of dreams and goals as a young person. I became an international flight attendant for a major airline as my main career; flying gave me blocks of time off so I was able to try out other exciting jobs. In 1983 I got my Real Estate license with my mother's real estate firm and sold real estate for a while. I found at lot of joy and talent in helping sellers get their homes ready for sale. I then went on to stage homes and let others deal with contracts and negotiations.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Hoping the work I have done will make a difference in the sale of a home I staged that day. I also worry that the seller won't keep their newly staged home in "show ready condition." My motto is "The harder it's to live in a staged home the faster it will sell."
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Training, training, training. Never start a business before you have been properly trained. And find a great mentor to help you through the process. Join and participate in organizations and associations that promote your type of business.
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