Build A Business Relationship With A Stager In Your Area

January 22nd, 2013

I recently got a question about shooting vacant homes. As an ex-agent the concept makes me cringe. Good agents should be providing marketing advice to homeowners. One area is homeowners should do anything to prevent a vacant home. Typically the real estate photographer doesn’t get a vote on this issue but I believe that photographers can promote staging. One great way to do this is to create a business relationship with one or more stagers in your area. For those not familiar with what stagers do this video by Barbara Corcoran shows Barbara giving home sellers staging advice.

In upper-end interior photography stagers, frequently are called stylists or interior designers and are almost always are an integral part of a shoot. Similarly, top real estate agents frequently hire a stager to get a property ready for market or act as a stager themselves. Staging can involve rearranging the homeowners furniture, removing some of it or moving in furniture when listing a vacant property. My experience is that staging is always a win for the homeowner, listing agent and photographer particularly when homes are vacant.

Getting to know one or more stagers can help a real estate photographer get more business in an area because top agents have homes staged and agents that hire a stager are likely to care about good photography. Stagers and real estate photographers have the same clients! I recommended that real estate photographers do everything in their power to build a business relationship with one or more stagers. By business relationship, I mean refer business to each other. Stagers probably have more opportunities to refer business to photographers but it can work both ways.

Comments on previous posts about working with stagers indicate that many photographers understand the possibilities of working with stagers but few actually manage to partner with them. Here are suggestions for what a joint business relation looks like:

  1. Promote each others services jointly to new and existing clients.
  2. Suggest the stagger include photography services in their staging package. Negotiate a special mutually acceptable rate for a staging/photography package.
  3. Allow the stager to use photography from staging/photography package deals to market their staging services in return for getting photography business from the stagers clients.

All the stagers we’ve worked with are anxious to collect quality photographs of their work and I’ve never met a stager that could shoot good interior photographs. There’s just a natural symbiosis between interior photography and staging.

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7 Responses to “Build A Business Relationship With A Stager In Your Area”

  • Hello to all. I’ve recently launched a small campaign aimed at home-stagers in my area. As the key part of this process, I put together a “cold call” email template (using best practices from the world of sales & marketing) that has allowed me to introduce myself and my intentions. I have been fortunate enough to have already booked a number of meetings with home stagers over the next couple of weeks. I thoughtl it might be good to post it here, in the hope that it might be helpful to others, as well!

    If by some chance, the formatting of this email text doesn’t come through on this posting, and you’re interested in getting the final, formatted version (or you’d like to hear more about the best practices that have been used in creating the note), then please pop me an email and I’ll be delighted to forward it to you. Anyway, here goes (hope this helps! :-):

    Home Stager’s Name
    Business Name

    Good morning (INSERT FIRST NAME), my name is ______________, and I am a professional real estate photographer servicing (INSERT COVERAGE AREA). The chief goal of my craft is much like yours! Indeed, like you, I try to create a sense in the buyer’s mind that prompts them to say, “I’m home!”

    And like you, I know how important it is to have photos of your work that conveys your style and your commitment to excellence – images that show the best of your brand! These images must be free of the issues so commonly seen in poorly captured photos of home interiors, such as:
    • having wall corners or door frames that are not perfectly vertical;
    • showing walls or cabinets that have slight curvatures (known as “barrel distortion”);
    • poor lighting that loses much of the detail that makes a room or feature so special; or
    • cropping the photo in such a way that does not fully lead the viewer’s eye to the best elements of the room or feature.

    By combining a keen eye and zealous attention to detail, with professional grade photographic equipment and state-of-the-art editing software, I capture the best features of the homes that I shoot. It is my sincere hope that you will take a few moments to review my photography website – particularly the links therein devoted to interiors, detail shots and ‘before & after’ shots. My website’s URL is listed in my signature line below.

    I will follow-up with you early next week, with the genuine hope that we can arrange a time to have a chat (perhaps over a cup of coffee or tea) to discuss how I might add value to your business. If you’d like to reach me before then, then I’d be delighted to speak with you! My number is (INSERT PHONE NUMBER). In any case, I very much look forward to speaking with you!

    Kind regards,

  • Great article and from my experience 100% spot on! One of the best things to happen to me in 2012 was when a VERY GOOD local stager in the area reached out to me to shoot her staging jobs. She’s a tireless promoter of preparing and presenting a home at it’s very best, and already appreciated the value of good photography not just for the listing, but to promote her own business. Needless to say the relationship has been immensely beneficial. She’s introduced me to better clients, bigger homes and helped me fill out my portfolio with some of my best shots. And not only has she helped fill up my calendar, but I’ve picked up numerous new clients based directly from the work I’ve done for her.

    But the best part…. last night she posted on Facebook that she’s bidding a 17,000 square foot home! I’m gonna need a bigger camera 🙂

  • This is a great article. Going to give this a go using Tony Colangelo’s email template in the first comment.

  • I can sell any house in a matter of hours. Just let me decide the price and you’ll see.

  • Great info. I especially like the stater template that Tony provided.

    I’m curious to know how successful Tony’s campaign has been with this email. It’s well written, but I wonder if it’s much too long. I tend to keep things very brief, since I know people get tons of emails in a day.

    Of course, my campaign of brief emails has not really paid off either. 🙂

  • Hi Jesse, thanks for your note … I’m glad you liked the email template. My campaign has been VERY successful, when you consider that:
    • of the 7 emails that I sent out, I got face-to-face appts. with 3 of them
    • 3 others saying that they really liked my work and would keep me my email as a reminder for them re future instances of when they might need a photographer
    • the final stager has yet to return my email or subsequent phone calls;
    • of the three face-to-face meetings, EACH ONE has landed me at least one photoshoot and, in fact, the most lucrative one of these has booked me to do shoot two stagings (each at a $1 million dollar home), with a promise to do more!
    • moreover, upon finding out that I also have a portrait photography business that specializes in executive headshots, this particular stager hired me to do headshots for their 5-person team to put up on their website!

    Finally, as an FYI, the email template was written using best practices in writing such “cold call” correspondence. If you’re interested in knowing the science/research behind the best practices I can share that with you as well. As for your comment about the note being too long, one of the best practices used in the template is the combination of very short paragraphs, interrupted by the use of bullet points. So even though the total number of words used would make it “seem” long, in actuality, the flow and physical structure of the note allows the reader’s eyes to follow easily.

    And, of course, a big element of the success behind the note is the personal follow-up via telephone. Anyway, I hope this has been helpful. Please pop me a note if you’d like any additional information. 🙂

  • Thanks, Tony. Good to know that you’ve had great response from your email.

    Since I’m one of those people who gets tons of these types of emails every day (most of which I delete after the first line), I always tend to assume others do the same thing. Maybe not.

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