After a whirlwind weekend in Ft. Lauderdale I have finally returned home. I had a great time and learned a ton at the annual IAHSP (International Association of Home Staging Professionals) conference and expo. The theme of the conference was “Raise the Bar”, and I felt like they certainly did that! The first morning was jammed packed full of information. The energy in the room was so high and everyone was excited to be there. Great music was played throughout the day to keep people energized and focused.
We kicked it off with Jennie Norris, the President and CEO of StagedHomes.com and IAHSP Chairwoman, telling us how we can “Raise the Bar” in our lives and careers by being clear about what we want, staying connected, and practicing good habits. She used the BAR acronym to show us ways to “Raise the Bar” on business, communication, staging work, involvement, and attitude. Jennie was a dynamic speaker and had great advice.
The next presenter was a real estate photographer who stressed the importance of professional photography and building a “Brand”. We learned that, in order to brand yourself and your business you need to stay consistent and be comfortably YOU. She also stressed that our job is to sell “Welcome Home”.
Blair Hamaty, the CEO of Setting the Space was a fun, energetic, and entertaining speaker. He prides himself on being the “YES man” and says that saying YES is what got him to where he is today. Blair’s advice is to accept any challenge presented by a customer, help them solve their problems and to never say “NO” to any price. He also expressed the importance to diversification, thinking outside of the box, and finding other ways to improve your business and to make more money.
After a quick bite to eat we were back at it and learning from Sandra Holmes, the president of Home Staging Concepts and IAHSP Vendor Affiliates Director, about buying wholesale and partnering with local artists to bring unique pieces into your staged properties. I took about 6 pages of notes in the short time Sandra was speaking and I could have listened to her the rest of the day. Everything Sandra had to say was very relevant to me and our business. I think after hearing about all of Sandra’s success we might finally bite the bullet and buy wholesale…couldn’t hurt to try! “Buy low, rent high, sell high!”
After this power-packed morning we had a few of the event sponsors talk about their products. SURYA was the main sponsor of the event and surprised us with a few great deals just for being at the conference. I just received my 830 page SURYA catalog in the mail last week, so I was excited to learn more about the company and how their wholesale program works.
The main event!! Jeff Lewis from Bravo TV’s “Flipping Out” was our last speaker of the day. Everyone was excited to meet him and hear what he had to say. HE WAS AMAZING! Exactly like what you see from him on the TV show. He was hilarious and entertaining. He started off with a little gossip about the women of Real Housewife’s and talked about his baby girl, Gage and of course Zoila. He answered every design question we threw at him. Yes, he still likes and uses gray! He went off on a playful side-splitting rant about how much he despises millennials that had the whole room rolling on the floor. After Jeff’s inspiring talk it was time to meet him! Somehow, I got lucky and went out a side door to get in line, this is where I basically ran into Gage! I immediately told him how much I loved him and how his and Jeff’s relationship is like Jon (my husband) and mine. I am the type A, go-go-go personality type (like Jeff) and he is the calm, cool, and collected one (like Gage). He got a kick out of that and took a selfie with me. After waiting in line for what seemed like forever I finally got to meet Jeff. I was beyond star struck and could barely talk besides telling him how much I love him. He posed for several pictures with me and complimented my necklace which I was super excited about. Time to head back to my hotel room and de-brief from this intense day.
After a quick wardrobe change I headed down to the hotel bar for drinks with friends. Two glasses of wine later it was time for the dinner and awards banquet. After a typical “banquet” dinner the awards ceremony started. I knew I had entered INhance IT! in for an award so I was on the edge of my seat with excitement the whole time. With this being my first time having any involvement with the organization I thought there was no way we would win, but we DID! INhance IT! won Home Staging Team of the Year! I was beyond excited! A huge Thank you to everyone at IAHSP for recognizing all of our hard work this past year. Almost 11pm and its time for bed!
Day two of the conference was just as jam packed with great information. The first speaker on Sunday was Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist. Let me just say, she is one of my most favorite presenters EVER! Even though I took her three-day course (EPS) I took pages and pages of notes and loved looking at her amazing transformation pictures. Krisite is a class act and extremely comfortable on the stage.
Next up was Joanne Lenart-Weary, the president of The JLW Company. She taught a great two hour class on color. We explored our new SW paint decks and learned how to divide the deck into four parts to find the perfect color for your client. JoAnne is extremely knowledgeable and had great advice on choosing paint colors for any room and being confident in ourselves to make the right decision.
Between Kristie and Joanne’s presentations we all received our “IAHSP- CB Color Basics Designation”. I think that getting a designation while at a conference was the icing on the cake! What a great value-add!
Kevin Htain, CEO of Identity Home Staging, lead an entertaining talk on design trends for 2017 and beyond. He is not only a great speaker but also hilarious! I thought I knew it all when it came to design trends but I learned a ton from Kevin. Flamingo wallpaper is IN! Enough said!!
Home Staging contracts and how to protect and represent your company is something all stagers, new and old, need to revisit from time to time. David Peterson, Co-owner of Synergy Staging, gave a great presentation on the different kinds of contracts and what each should include. One of my favorite pieces of advice from David was not contract related but something I am going to implement right away-pin towels together to prevent people from using them. Genius!
Theresa Thomas, CEO of Stage Right! Home Staging, was the speaker I took the most away from. When she made the statement “It’s always about price” it really hit home with me. We have been struggling with pricing because of what our competition is offering, but once she said this it all clicked for me. We just need to get in the door and upsell! She also talked about charging what you are worth and how to understand your value. I am going to take my notes from her session and really think about what Is holding me back and who we are!
I must say, I admire, Mary Scalli, owner of North Huston Blinds and Simple Elegance. She commits to taking 10 weeks of vacation a year. She had tons of great advice on how to run your business so that you can step away and still be efficient! Her ideas on how to use Pay Pal to its fullest extent might change how we do business.
Nick May, a business entrepreneur and marketing expert, had great advice on how to write effective blogs and where to draw inspiration for the blogs. I learned about backlinks and guest blogging in order to get traffic to our website. Facebook adds can drive business to our website as long as we are doing them correctly.
As the conference came to a close I had to jet out and catch my Uber to the airport. Sad that it was over, but energized to get back and implement the things I learned. A huge Thank you to everyone that put this together and made it such a great learning opportunity for stagers from all over the world. Looking forward to October 2018 and the conference at High Point!