Bidding on a staging job. How do you know what to bid? I’ve seen ads on Thumbtack for a 2000 sq ft home Staging 5 rooms and then a 1000 sq foot home with 3 rooms. How do you know what to bid without seeing the property?
– Aimee Musgrave, NY
If you ask 10 successful stagers how to bid a job, you would get 10 distinctly different answers. We have each developed our own system to bid jobs in a manner that works for our company, in our market. Some stagers bid by the square foot (I’m one of those), some stagers bid by the room – they have figured out how much each room will cost them to stage, approximately, and then they add or subtract to get to their bid. Some charge a percentage of the list price, usually 1%-2%. Some assign a rental value to each item in their inventory and add all those costs up to get their inventory rental price, then they add their other costs, including staging fee, outside labor/movers, assistants, gas, truck rental, etc. No matter how you choose, you need to know what your costs are going to be. How much are you paying your assistants per hour? How many hours will they be working (don’t forget packing, loading, installing, loading up the leftovers, unloading at your warehouse or storage, and putting everything away. Then multiply x2 because you are going to have to destage, right? When figuring our your assistants’ cost, don’t forget to add in state and federal employment taxes, workers comp insurance, etc. Then you need to know how much your moving costs are going to be. Are you renting a Uhaul? Don’t forget to multiply x 2 for install and removal. Add in the mileage you will pay, the gas you will put in the truck, etc. Are you using movers? Are you paying hourly or a flat rate? Do you have to pay the mover mileage or a fuel surcharge? Are you going to tip the movers? Then you have to figure in the cost of your inventory.
A good rule of thumb starting out is to figure out what your cost of acquisition is for that item (don’t forget to add in the sales tax you paid if you didn’t buy wholesale, the time to go pick it up or delivery charges, etc.) then charge anywhere from 10%-20% for the rental fee. Add in your staging fee and your company profit. I can’t tell you what you should expect for a company profit, but I will tell you most McDonalds franchises make 6%-12% per year. If you are making 10%+ profit in your staging business, you are a superstar!
If you are renting furniture, I suggest you create a spreadsheet of the items you use most and their cost to rent. When you are bidding a job, figure out how much the furniture you would like to rent will cost. Add in 15% in case the cheap sofa you want to rent is out of stock and you need to go to a more expensive one. If you create this spreadsheet, you won’t have to wait on your sales rep at the furniture rental company to give you a bid. You will be able to create one yourself. Other than the furniture rental and the delivery, all of your other staging expenses will be the same as above.
As someone who has bid on thousands of jobs, I will tell you that you need to figure out a way to bid your jobs that is fast and efficient. If you are taking a lot of time to bid jobs that you may or may not get, you are losing time that you could be spending on marketing, writing blog posts, meeting real estate agents and growing your business. Refer to past jobs that you have done that are similar. Don’t agonize over every lamp or vase or whether or not to charge $10 or $12.50 for a lamp. You will make yourself crazy. Try to come up with packages of accessories that you can use for many situations.