Case study: Staged to sell

Photo: Schmechtig Landscapes
Photo: Schmechtig Landscapes
Buyers of landscape staging services are often looking for quick fixes. Photo: Schmechtig Landscapes
Buyers of landscape staging services are often looking for quick fixes. Photo: Schmechtig Landscapes

One landscape company helps clients sell their homes.

As Michael Schmechtig observed real estate staging become popular and help sell homes, he got an idea. Buyers get their first impression of a home before they even get through the door—so why not stage the exterior? He put the idea in motion in 2010, when his company, Schmechtig Landscapes in Mundelein, Ill., added exterior staging to its service roster.

Since launching the service, Schmechtig Landscapes has worked with real estate agents and their clients to stage properties for faster sales.

“If the landscape looks like it was well taken care of, it immediately gives the buyer a good impression of the overall home,” Schmechtig says.

Due to the specialized nature of this service, there’s not a set pricing structure, Schmechtig says. Clients agree to a staging plan and the projects are then priced based on time and materials. A simple staging that includes new mulch and bed weeding could cost several hundred dollars. A more elaborate staging project including mulch, new plantings and seasonal containers could run closer to $5,000.

Schmechtig prefers adding color at the front door to boost curb appeal.

“Any time you add color, you’re bringing attention to the area and making it a focal point,” he says. “So if the seller has a nice entrance way, color helps make a good first impression.”

While there’s little investment required for a staging service, it requires a good designer. “Exterior staging projects are usually not big budget projects; you need to have someone who has a good eye for aesthetics,” Schmechtig says. “That is, someone who can take an unattractive landscape or neglected yard and quickly—and inexpensively—turn it around.”

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Photo: Schmechtig Landscapes

Most jobs are sold and designed by maintenance account managers or landscape designers. Installations are performed by maintenance enhancement crews or construction crews, depending on the scope of the project.

Marketing the service is a challenge, Schmechtig says. Many homeowners simply don’t know this service exists, likely because sellers who require a landscape fix-up aren’t the type of homeowners who’ve had a landscape company caring for their properties. Schmechtig has found routes to reach prospects through introducing the exterior staging service to local real estate agents, interior staging professionals and interior designers, getting on their radars with one-on-one meetings, networking events and office presentations.

Schmechtig Landscape also lists the service on its website.

The result has been a handful of projects per year, adding about $50,000 to the company’s annual revenue, plus exposure to clients who may need other services in the future.

The firm also has done exterior staging for parties and events such as graduations and weddings. Unlike staging for a home sale, event staging is a service Schmechtig Landscapes offers only to existing clients.

“It all goes back to our mission; we are a full-service landscape company and nurture long-term relationships with our clients,” Schmechtig says. “We never want our clients calling someone else to get something done on their property.”

Payton is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.

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