From Healthcare to Home Staging
For over 30 years, Jill Ackerman had a nursing career, holding executive positions as Vice President Professional Services, Cornwall Hospital and as Manager in the Ontario Government Health Services. In 2012, Jill decided to make a complete switch, from designing healthcare programs to home staging. She formed her own Home Staging Company, Stage Right. Stage Right is a 2015 Readers Choice Award winner and nominated again for 2016.
A beautiful kitchen staging by Stage Right
An Interview with successful entrepreneur, Jill Ackerman
We asked Jill some key questions about her business.
Fab. Fem. What made you decide to switch careers?
I retired from my government job but wasn’t ready to retire from life! When I was graduating from high school, girls typically went into teaching, nursing or secretarial work. There weren’t the opportunities available now and I was going to get into this wonderful new world doing something I felt passionate about, but where I could still be considered a “service” profession. I debated whether to go into real estate sales or the emerging field of real estate staging. I figured I had worked all the nights and weekends I ever wanted, so it was natural for me to want to control my hours.
Fab. Fem. What training did you take to make this transition?
I wanted to make sure I had the credentials that would demonstrate my commitment to appropriate qualifying and continuing education, so I researched a number of programs and decided to take the CSPI (Certified Staging Professionals International) course, becoming a CCSP (Canadian Certified Staging Professional). I followed my basic course with
certifications in residential renovations project management, colour consultation specialization and vacant staging specialization. So I feel I can offer a full range of services that will help clients’ properties to sell quickly and for the highest price their market will bear.
Fab. Fem. To own a successful home staging company what skill set do you need to
Like most businesses, staging is a one of relationships, so I believe the most important is strong interpersonal skills. Selling one’s property is incredibly traumatic and I need to help the seller transition from having a “home” to having a “commodity” that needs to be dressed to sell. Second, I need to have the technical skills to complete projects competently and cost
effectively. Third, good organizational skills in order to go from consultation through staging to destaging smoothly, and do this often with multiple clients!
Fab. Fem. What has been your biggest surprise in this career move?
I think my biggest surprise has been how long it really takes to get up and running, and make enough connections to keep it growing. My other big surprise is how much I really love it. I’ve told my husband more than once I’d rather be working than socializing!
2017 Strategy – A smart move by StageRight
2017 is just around the corner and Jill is wisely creating a strategic plan for next year, after coming off her BEST YEAR EVER! Here is a sneak peek into the key parts of her 2017 business strategy.
- She has identified 4 key listing realtors that she worked with in 2016 that are “go getters”. Jill is a creating a great offer to encourage these realtors to align exclusively with Stage Right.
- Jill is going to join the Chamber of Commerce in her key market and drop the Chamber where she has very little business. Her goal is not just to “attend” chamber events but to volunteer her services as a chamber “ambassador” helping orient new members and guests at events. This is a fantastic way to build relationships and offer additional value.Now that Stage Right’s target market is clearly defined Jill is going to create some very specifically positioned Facebook ads. These will be directed to the direct consumer of her services. Business comes directly from this segment of customers as well as Realtors.
- The sales target has been set at 20% growth over a banner 2016. This might seem like a big stretch, but looking at her Q3 and Q4 2016 run rate, Jill realizes getting out of the gate early in 2017 she should easily be able to reach this goal.
- Looking at the expense side of her business, Jill knows 2016 was the year of expanding on her furniture inventory to stage houses and 2017 will be the year of consolidation. She is going to allot 2% for inventory replacement and hold it there.
Stage Right is also going to exhibit in a local realty show in 2017 as it was a successful source of leads in 2016. All the key costs for developing materials for this show were incurred in 2016 and can be re-purposed in 2017 with no additional expense.A car wrap for her beloved “Whitey Ford” Ford van is on the expense list. It would be a great moving advertisement for her business. Wisely this investment depends on being on track with her sales targets and does not exceed her allocated advertising budget. A smart decision.
Finally the key question we asked……….
Fab. Fem. What do you love most about being a woman entrepreneur?
The fellowship of women and the active and powerful support we lend to one another. Women are not competitive, we are complimentary and we lend one another strength rather than sabotage. We understand one another.
Women Entrepreneurs are a supportive Tribe!
Bio: Jill Ackerman is a professionally certified home stager serving the Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga areas. Stage Right offers a number of different home staging services, staging for selling and staging for dwelling. Homes staged by Stage Right typically sell fast and at full or over list prices.