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Franchisee Success: How Chris and Lisa Gulliver Became Successful with Showhomes
Showhomes franchisees celebrate five years with purchase of fourth territory.

Husband and wife dream team Chris and Lisa Gulliver purchased their Showhomes San Diego in July 2010 and hit the ground running servicing the high end and luxury home market in northern San Diego county. With little brand presence or name recognition in the area, the Gulliver’s had their work cut out for them to lean on the marketing and brand reputation of Showhomes to create a solid foundation locally in San Diego, but their decision to invest in the company was handsomely reassured when they closed 2011 with nearly double the revenue of their first year. In the years following, they have achieved an average year over year revenue increase of 40 percent.

Through the years the Gulliver’s have grown their business and set the bar high within the Showhomes system, and now having just passed their five-year anniversary in business, the dynamic duo is looking forward to future growth as they’ve just purchased their second Showhomes territory. “We purchased La Jolla, which includes the beautiful coastal communities of La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Point Loma,” said Chris Gulliver. “We see huge potential to expand our business in this territory through both staging and home updates and have already had success making some initial inroads here in the past year with key Realtors.”

Here are some of the key milestones and learnings the Gulliver’s will have in mind to ensure success in both of their territories for years to come:

1851: How has your business evolved since you opened?

Chris & Lisa: We’ve been able to develop sound relationships with key Realtors and build an excellent team over the past five years, which is key to success in this business. Our relationships with the top Realtors in each of our territories give us continued repeat business. We are fortunate to have a great team of designers and admin staff as well. LoAnn has been with us four years while our top designer, Candy, has been with us almost three years.

We’re fortunate to have found a brand as dedicated as Showhomes to evolving with growing consumer needs as well. The new home makeover and home update services Showhomes offers has also been a great boost to our business in the past year. These additional revenue streams, particularly carpet sales, have significantly increased our revenues and, more importantly, our profitability.

1851: If you had to choose the biggest highlight since you've been in business, what would it be?

C&L: There have been many highlights and successes in our business, but a few stand out. One of the greatest successes was the opportunity to stage a 10K square foot, $6M mansion in La Jolla. Although we had staged several multi-million dollar homes in the past, this was our biggest and our first in La Jolla. This was our big break to make a good impression on Realtors in this market and would set the tone for our reputation in the area. The home is older and had been vacant for over a year, so it needed a lot of T.L.C. We basically did a home makeover since the home needed new paint in most of the main living areas. The home also needed a toned-down, updated look as it featured many highly taste-specific finishes like white marble and “gaudy” chandeliers. After Lisa and the rest of our team was through with updating the home, many Realtors who had seen the home both before and after said they didn’t even recognize it. The home was even featured on the nationally syndicated TV show The List. In addition to being very satisfying from a re-design and staging standpoint, this home has been profitable and we have gotten some positive press out of it.

1851: What do you most enjoy about your business? How about your dynamic as a husband and wife team?

C&L: Lisa is President and Lead Designer and Chris is VP and runs marketing and business operations. We both enjoy the challenges and rewards of each of these areas of the business. The one thing we learned early on through a previous retail business we owned is that these are our strengths and our expertise and we need to allow each other the flexibility to do the jobs that we are best suited for. Sure we’ve had our disagreements over the years, but we usually quickly get past them. Since we are co-owners we never lose sight of our goals for the business and we always focus on what’s best to move the business forward.

1851: What challenges have you had to overcome since opening your business?

C&L: There are many challenges in owning and operating any business. However, one benefit of a franchise business is that there is already an overarching system in place and best-practice processes. For us, the challenge has just been in tweaking the system - sometimes just by making slight adjustments - appropriately to best fit our market and our personal approach to the business. This is a business that has many moving parts with a lot of details and logistics. For example, every month we are staging several new homes and moving home managers from one home to another. With each of these homes we have contracts to get signed, movers to schedule and floor plans to create for the staging of furniture/décor. We need to plan on what comes from one home and goes to another or what to move from our warehouse to the job, assign the appropriate employees to each job, etc. It’s a matter of taking the Showhomes system and making sure the shoe fits just right for each individual job.

1851: What is the most rewarding part of owning a Showhomes franchise?

C&L: By far, the most rewarding aspect of owning Showhomes is having the ability to make a huge difference in helping to sell a home. We take pride in our work and in every home we stage, and we know it will make a significant impact in transforming the home into a more beautiful, warm and inviting space for a potential buyer. Selling a home can be stressful, and we enjoy being able to alleviate some of that stress for homeowners by helping them sell faster and at higher list prices.

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