“Have you ever tried to collaborate with your competitors?”
Phoebe: “Yes, we created an event specific for Home Stagers in Brisbane, covering all aspects of business they could benefit of and gain knowledge from. We also tried to create a coffee table book that celebrated the work of all stylists in Australia. Although we had a great turn-out at the event and it was very well received, the coffee table book was met with criticism and little participation as most didn’t want to appear alongside a competitor.
The thing is… I don’t view other Stylists as competitors. To me, I think of the concept in a similar way to General Practitioners. They each have a small business they are running, getting a certain dollar amount for each patient that walks through the door, but they don’t treat other local practices as competition. Rather, they work symbiotically and are just genuinely trying to help people.
That’s how I view it too. I just want to help people sell their houses for more. It doesn’t bother me when our clients choose to go ahead with someone else, as long as they have done some element of styling to present their home better, that’s all that matters.”
“That’s sounds selfless, but don’t you feel frustrated when you lose business to someone else?”
Phoebe: “Of course, it sucks when you lose 10 jobs in a row, but my focus shifts to what can we do better for a client or what additional value can we add.
Jake: “To add to that, that is why we go into any consult with the view that we are going to provide as much value as we can. Because even if the clients don’t go with us, the agents they are going with can see that we provided value and that’s more of a relationship and a marketing and branding point of view than anything else.”
“So why do you think that other Stagers steer away from collaboration?”
Phoebe: “I think it’s based on fear. Many people in the staging industry and real estate in general believe they have some secrets to the industry that others don’t. That’s why they keep it close to their chest, in fear of being copied.”
“Is there a secret?”
Phoebe: “No there’s not. All the information is readily available. Jump on Google, you will find suppliers, blogs on furniture positions and linen recommendations. Head to a trade fair and you will see the latest trends, emerging suppliers and great deals. Go to a conference and you will hear business advice, sales psychology and design knowledge. Everything is searchable.
I understand some of the secrecy around pricing, leads or referring agents, but other things make no sense, for example – sharing who their suppliers are. If we support them, they support us – which helps the entire industry grow. I don’t get why some Stylists fail to recognise this.”
“If others are this fearful, why are we sharing our ‘trade secrets’?”
Phoebe: “People are surprised about all the things we are happy to share, but we’re not putting out anything new. We’re sharing things that everyone already knows.”
“This industry could be so much bigger if we could learn from each other and collaborate. There are many different things we could all learn from each other, but only a handful are happy to talk about it.”
“Aren’t you scared of someone stealing our ideas?”
Phoebe: “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. People can try to replicate what we do but bear in mind it took us years to create the foundation we currently have. Three years of building relationships, establishing a following on social media platforms, failing and getting back up. You can’t copy the journey.“
Jake: “That’s right. And we’re just sharing our own experience, we’re not saying we are the experts, and this is how you should do it. We can tell people exactly what we are doing and how we are doing it, but they still have to execute it.”
We’d love to hear from you – where do you stand with this topic?
Do you agree or disagree with Phoebe & Jake regarding embracing collaboration in the home staging industry?
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