Building an Elite Home-Staging Team

Home-Staging is like running any other service business – you are trading your time for money. When you run out of hours during the day, your income stops. That is why it’s important to build a reliable team and a set of systems, so you can duplicate your efforts and revenue in the same amount of time.

Building a team is by no means easy and can be scary, but I believe that it’s the number one most critical factor when it comes to your business success.

I’m going to take this one step further and say that for us at Foxy, our top priority is the Team Culture. It comes ahead of client relationships, agents, or jobs.

Note: The reason I am putting so much emphasis on this is because the team culture is going to be built whether you want it or not. It’s important to be deliberate about it from the beginning, while you are still able to influence it. It’s easier to steer it in the direction you want it to go from the start, than try to change it in the future.

Why is a strong team culture so important?

  • You enjoy coming to work. When you have a team that is both – efficient & fun, everything becomes more enjoyable, including the mundane tasks. Sweeping the warehouse floor goes by way quicker if you’re cracking jokes while doing it.
  • Improve customer service. Your team is a reflection of your business. It’s important to get the attitude and presentation right, even for the employees who are not directly interacting with clients. For example, we get lots of reviews talking about our removalists being friendly and professional. People are watching everyone.
  • It reduces employee turnover. Having loyal, long-term employees saves you time and money on recruitment and training. Another benefit of cultivating good relationships among the staff members is that there are less interpersonal conflicts, which contributes to a better overall ambience.

I have recently come across this great analogy from the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings:

Personally, I think he’s made an excellent point. The saying “we are like a family” has become an empty platitude and quite frankly, the laughingstock of scoffing employees. To me – a family means unconditional love. It means that you have to put up with weird uncle Rick who causes trouble at family events. Members of an elite sports team on the other side, they would die for each other on the field, but they won’t accept someone who is underperforming. If you don’t match their standards, you won’t get carried along.

How to Build an Elite Team?

What has worked really well for us so far is this simple advice I picked up from Gary Vee.

“Hire Fast, Fire Faster, Promote Fastest.”

In this article, we’re going to dig deeper into the first two.

Foxy’s Hiring Process

One of the mistakes I see business owners do is they wait too long before they hire someone. Ideally, you’d want to start the process a few months before you need the person. This gives you enough time to create the ad, do the interviews and train the new employee. Rushing this process might make you more susceptible to mistakes and more likely to overlook red flags.

The most important aspect for us when it comes to hiring a new team member is who they are as a person and how are they going to fit into the culture. Yes, previous experience, talent and skills are important, but they are not everything. You can teach someone how to load a truck, but you cannot teach them how to be empathetic or have integrity.

We have a fairly short, 3-step hiring process:

Step 1 – Online Application

Before we put the ad out, we sat down and had a think about what is most important to us in terms of the type of person we want to attract. Then we include all the ‘buzz words’ in the job description, e.g. passionate, driven, fun, challenging but rewarding environment, etc.

The main purpose of the first step is to find out if the person can follow simple instructions and provide us with all the information we requested.

Step 2 – 30min Informal Interview

The reason we make this informal is to make the applicant comfortable. We want to create an environment where they can be their authentic self, which helps us get a feel on who they are as a person.

In terms of questions, we’ve had a lot of success with these three:

  • How would your best friend describe you? This is basically the same as asking “How would you describe yourself?”, but with this question people often go to a self-promotion mode and say things they think we want to hear. Asking it from the perspective of their best friend, they tend to answer with qualities relating to their character (e.g. funny, loyal, trustworthy…).
  • Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume. With this, we always provide more context before we let them answer. “For example, our Lead Stylist Jenessa is obsessed with plants and names them. I collect board games, I’m a bit weird as well.” Doing this gives them permission to talk about something that isn’t work-related. Are they fun to be around? Are they interesting?
  • How many sofas do you think there are in Australia? Weird, right? This non-sensical question is meant to throw them and put them under a bit of pressure. It has no specific answer, but we just want to see how they deal with that. The only wrong answer to this is to say “I don’t know” with no attempts to resolve it. The reason we ask this is to see how they think on their feet when there’s no specific black or white answer. Because let’s be honest, in this industry they will get in situations like that quite often.

PS: We never check references. I can literally hear the PR people screaming at the screen right now, but I’ll be honest – I don’t see the value in calling the three people they selected to hear about how great they are. That’s what the Trial Day is for, which brings us to the next step.

Step 3 – Paid Trial Day

This is a good way for us to see them in action and observe how they work and interact with the team. It also gives them a chance to find out what we do and who we are. We are very fast-paced and even though we make a point of saying it to people at the time of the interview, most are still surprised and admit to having underestimated the term “fast-paced”. After this day we talk to the rest of the team to obtain their feedback and then we establish whether they are the right fit.


Firing is a lot scarier than hiring, especially for someone like me who dislikes conflict. If hiring is guessing, firing is knowing. And I guarantee that you will know, because the wrong person will have a direct negative impact on the team morale and performance.

As a business leader, you need to make sure that you give new people the resources, support, and opportunities they need to grow. Of course, they will make mistakes, you have to accept that. But when it becomes clear that the person is not suitable for the job, you are responsible to make that decision for your business and your team.

At Foxy, we had to let four employees go. Two times the decision was made during probation and both people agreed that it didn’t quite feel right.

The other two times, they were both Stylists who have been with us for a while. In hindsight, we got it wrong and made the mistake of waiting too long. None of these decisions were made because there was a big ‘fire-able’ reason, it was just an accumulation of numerous small actions that added up and brought us to the conclusion “We’ve tried, and it didn’t work.” By the time it got to this point, they knew it was coming and were relieved we initiated the conversation.

Thanks for reading!

I sincerely hope you got some value out of this.

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