November 7, 2013 By Pres Ⓡ Staging Resource Centre
As you start to think about growing your business you will soon realize that you need good Strategic Alliances that you can refer to your clients to do the necessary work needed to prepare a property for selling. It is critical that you have great relationships with anyone that you recommend to your clients. You may find that many of your strategic alliances will offer you referrals and/or commissions which can be another revenue income stream for your home staging business.
1.What is a strategic alliance According to Wikipedia the definition for a Strategic Alliance is:
A formal relationship between two or more parties to pursue a set of agreed upon goals or to meet a critical business need while remaining independent organizations.
Since most home stagers are solopreneurs who hire contractors it would make sense that you have a ready and reliable source of strategic alliances to call upon and refer to your clients as needed. It is critical that you build great relationships with your alliances so that you can communicate when things are going well, and especially when things are not. Most home stagers will agree that certain trades people can have great intentions but they do not always deliver the required results in the time frame stated and often go over budget. It will be up to you to follow up and check on the quality of work your strategic alliance is delivering during the project, and when completed.
2.Identify your strategic alliances Many new home stagers say they do not have any strategic alliances and are at a loss as to where to find them. Have no fear, because they are everywhere and you probably already have some you were not aware of! For example think about who you or a family member has hired as a painter, contractor, gardener, handyman, electrician, etc. Ask them if they liked working with them and if they delivered what they promised on time and on budget. Over time you will be able to build up your strategic alliances so you can confidently refer them to your clients.
Another great way to build your strategic alliance list is by finding out who your clients have used in the past that they were happy with. Every time you meet someone new either at networking or seeing a potential alliance’s truck parked outside a home, introduce yourself and see if you have a connection with them. If yes, then take their card and follow up with them so you can decide if the two of you can work together. You refer them, they refer you. Ask them if they pay referral fees if you find business for them. You might also consider giving referral fees to some of your best strategic alliances.
Many trades people leave their business cards in coffee shops or hardware stores. Take down the information and follow up and see if you want to work with them. You can also check out the classifieds in local newspapers as they often advertise in newspapers.
3.Building relationships with your strategic alliances Before you make that final decision of who you want to have on your list of strategic alliances, meet with them for coffee and provide them with some of your marketing materials.
Take the time to really explain to them what it is you do and, find out what they really do. Request some of their literature or at the least their business card.
A word of caution: I don’t recommend that you ask a strategic alliance to quote your rates. Ask them to leave that to you, and do the same for them. There are many nuances to the home staging business and only you can make the call for the service charges.
It is best to have at least 3 strategic alliances for each category where you think you may be referring someone to your clients. You will need to have more painters and handymen or women who do small jobs as alliances as they are often booked up especially in summer months.
It’s good to have ‘low- to no-tolerance’ for any strategic alliance that you have referred who does not deliver what they have promised to your referral. You can decide if they ‘messed up’ once if that is acceptable to you or not. Any referral of an alliance that you give reflects on you and your business so the better the relationship is the better communication you will have between you, should you need to have ‘that chat’.
4.Many new home stagers say they do not have any strategic alliances and are at a loss as to where list of strategic alliance Following is a list of many of the Strategic Alliances that you will need to help build your business.
- Mortgage Brokers
- Inspectors Builders
- Handy Wo/Men
- Closet Maker Companies
- House Cleaners
- Window Cleaners
- Carpet Cleaners
- Flooring Companies
- Window Treatment Suppliers
- Glass/Door Companies
- Equipment Rental stores for pressure washers, etc.
- Kitchen & Bath Stores
- Boutique Home D&eactue;cor Stores
- Lighting Stores
- Gardeners and Landscapers
- Moving Companies
- Storage Companies
5.Disclaimer for strategic alliance It’s best to put a disclaimer in your list of strategic alliances stating something to this effect:
Our company has either personally used the services of our referred strategic alliances, or our clients have referred them to us stating they were reliable and provided a quality service to them. Each strategic alliance has his/her own business and is responsible for their own insurance, quotes and services provided to you.
6.Discounts and referrals fees from strategic alliances Most of the suppliers that you source from should give you a discount starting at 10%. The more you purchase from them, or refer business to them, the higher the discount can become. Typically you just need to show that you have an established business and fill out an application form with them. Many small companies such as yours starting out, will be asked to pay by credit card at the time of purchase. Once you become more established and if you operate with very large purchases then you would be invited to set up an account with your supplier so they would bill you monthly.
Always ask your supplier if they give discounts to stagers – they almost always will but only if you ask!
You may also find that some of your strategic alliances will not give you a monetary option but would rather work out an arrangement whereby you refer them to your clients and they refer you to their clients. The better relationship you have and the more referrals you can give a strategic alliance the more likely both business will grow and prosper.