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  • Writer's pictureJana Uselton

Home Stagers: What is your Company’s MVP and X-Factor - Jana Uselton

What is your company's MVP (Minimum Viable Product)? In other words, if you were to deliver a Home Staging package to a property, what is the minimum requirement of that final product to ensure the client is satisfied enough with the result to keep their process of selling moving forward?

We can easily look at vanity metrics (such as likes, kindness on the phone, a response to an email, etc.) that help us believe our clients are happy with our services, however, they may just be barely satisfied and are not to the point of complaining to the public. The one indicator that shows us if they are truly satisfied is if they return for more business or refer us to their family and friends.

Now the question becomes, "What can propel our clients over the edge into being thrilled with us and our services?"

Let's explore! We heard several keywords and phrases multiple times at the International Builder Show and the Inman Connect in New York. The keywords were "One-Stop-Shop", "Client Experience" and "Integration". Now more than ever before, it seems our clients want to make one request for service and have it all done for them. They are busy, they don’t want to talk it out; nor do they want it to wait. Sound familiar? Yes, this can definitely make our jobs more difficult, but it’s also a challenge to solve and overcome. How we respond will determine our future longevity.

Establishing a Benchmark or Baseline Product

If your company offers several core services, it is vital to establish what minimum baseline products go into that service. For example, if you offer three different Vacant Staging packages labeled Essentials, Premier, and Luxury, it is important to establish the minimums per area that your company feels are important to deliver. This includes furniture, art, and accessories per zone, the quality and price point level of those items, and the ideal installation time.

It is imperative to note the frequency and level of client care before, during, and after each product is delivered. This service must always be exceptional and not differ based on the service level or client category. Yes, our luxury clients may need more of a concierge-type service, but we do not deny this same care to any other client. We understand that most clients are easy to work with, however, the service level must always be remarkable no matter what type of product we are providing.

What is Your Company's "X-Factor?"

Even when client care has the minimum or baseline level of touch points to be expected we need to ask how we take this portion of the business to the next level. This becomes the "X-Factor" or the "Experience Factor" as we label it.

When Do We Pivot or Push Through?

As we identify and assess our company's final products, deliverables, and service level, maybe we just aren’t living up to the expectation of our clients. So when do we push through any changes that need to be made and when do we pivot to a niche area or offer other products or services? We have all experienced this. The upset client is frustrated because of the product we delivered to their property. We must then ask ourselves, where did we drop the ball or did we drop the ball at all?

If we do recognize that the ball was dropped by us, we have several choices to make. First, we have to fix the current situation and then we must assess if we want to continue to grow in this area or pivot to other services that are more profitable and that we can nail every time so clients are very satisfied with the results.

If we choose to push through the learning cycle and continue to develop processes and procedures that help us elevate our product and service, it is vital to go back to the training fundamentals and expand the X-Factor from there.

How do you do this? By planning, doing, measuring, and improving. Systems are everything. Just visit Starbucks and intently watch their process. Notice the timer by the drive-through window that counts down how long customers are in line and turns red immediately if they have been waiting more than three minutes. Notice the baton passes of service through employees many times without a word. The system tells the baristas what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

We must train our team just as if they were onboarding at Starbucks. This ensures a proven, repeatable, product and system that is less likely to have an unpredictable outcome. We encourage you to read any book you can on "Six Sigma" and "Lean startup." As our companies ramp up into the busy season, these thought processes are timely for our growth.

We may also need to pivot when our services are no longer required or become less requested. With all the markets changing, attending conferences, being involved in continuing education, reading articles by industry leaders, etc. will help us know when it is time for our services and businesses to pivot based on current data and consumer behaviors.

In the book, Lean, Ultimate Collection, the authors talk about how most challenges we face within our deliverables of products and services are due to a lack of training. When we ask the question "Why?" five times, we usually find the core answer is related to

this root cause. The goal of this "why" exercise is not to blame others but to identify the opportunity to have a foolproof training system. Once this is established, it is easy to isolate incidents and see if they were human errors. If everyone is following the system they were trained to follow or is leading and creating the system to follow, errors will drastically decrease. Once we have top-notch teams running these top-notch systems, leveraging, diversifying, and scaling becomes seamless.

Could you open up a new market several hours away in just two months? If so, how? And if not, why not? The answer to this question could be what your company is lacking in its current location needs to be fixed. When we play this scenario out in our minds or better yet on paper, it becomes a great exercise to show us gaps that need to be filled, trained up, and scaled.

Here's looking forward to a thriving season of growth and development for you and your teams.

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