• Tenay Benes, Owner

Stager Horror Stories

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

In my quest to build a professional staging business that combines all the fun creativity of staging with the professionalism of a client services company, I sometimes ask my clients why they chose us over other stagers. Here are just a few of the stager horror stories I’ve heard. I don’t believe that this is how the staging industry must be and I want to share them as outliers—what we must protect against by our professionalism and servant-hearted attitude. Following you will see home staging before and after photos in Howard county and the other areas we serve.

1. The Failed Stager

I received a call Saturday afternoon from a realtor who was extremely upset. She was about to list her friend’s half-a-million-dollar-house and when she saw the photos after the staging she got her friends to purchase, she freaked out. 

Dining Room (Before)

Kitchen (Before)

Office (Before)

Reading Nook (Before)

Family Room (Before)

Guest Bedroom (Before)

Guest Bedroom (Before)

Kids Bedroom (Before)

“It looks like the stager put a patio table from a Walmart into the formal dining room! The bedrooms look disjointed, the office looks like a storage unit and there are fake plants—everywhere! I’ve been calling her for three days but she won’t respond! Can you restage the house for a second set of photos by Monday?” She sounded so sad that I agreed to do the short-notice project, which turned out great and got the house a full-price offer in 2 days in a neighborhood that doesn’t move houses quickly!

Dining Room (After)

Kitchen (After)

Office (After)

Reading Nook (After)

Family Room (After)

Guest Bedroom (After)

Guest Bedroom (After)

Kids Bedroom (After) I later got the rest of the story: the stager refused to take responsibility for anything, refused to pick up her extra inventory (which we moved to the garage during the restage), then texted on a Sunday evening demanding to pick up everything on Monday morning at 7 a.m. No bueno! Here’s our complete Before-and-After gallery to capture this impactful transformation.

2. The No Show Stager One of my realtor clients understandably decided to try another staging company when mine had a period of low availability. After one experience, he came back and said he’d have his clients wait however long they needed to have us stage their occupied listings. I asked what happened: “She just didn’t show to her appointment. No excuses, no apologies, no responsibility. She didn’t even answer my calls afterwards.”

When all else fails, show up on time.

3. The Mean Stager

At a realtor team presentation, the team leader shared about another stager they recently let go. He started with, “She was absolutely dedicated to her work, she poured her heart and soul into making sure the staging was perfect, and no one worked harder than her to get things right.” “Wow, that sounds great!” I replied. “Why did you let her go?” “Well,” he continued, “she was mean to our clients. She would look at an empty-nester widow who is struggling with the reality of needing to downsize to a retirement home and say, ‘Your furniture is ugly, I can’t work with this. You need to get it all out and bring in my rentals.’ When they would try to explain how their memories with their furniture were so precious, she would become even more mean. I can’t understand how you can love staging but hate the people you’re staging for.” 

The number one benefit of capitalism is that you don’t have to put up with bad service.

I told him I agreed wholeheartedly. “Our stagers aren’t allowed to be mean. In fact, we schedule extra time to spend with empty-nesters because we know that being able to talk about their memories (and have them honored by us) is an important part of the preparation for staging and listing.” That’s why we operate around a vision statement that is highly relational (see www.calmcastle.com/about for details.)

Moving is a highly stressful life event, which requires compassion and empathy from those who provide moving services.

Those are just a few outlier horror stories that I hope can prove the point that home stagers are in the people business and people deserve to be treated well, like honored guests in our lives. 

What about you? Do you have any staging horror stories you’d like to share?

For related articles, see Four Staging Mistakes to Avoid and Four Times Home Staging is Not Worth It.

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