Spend less, make more. It’s such a simple concept but, like most things in the real world, it’s easier said than done. Not so for some franchisees who recognized a low-cost opportunity in the crowded franchise industry and through hard work, dedication and following the brand’s blueprint, have been able to turn a low-cost investment into a booming business empire.
Showhomes has been the leader in the home staging game for nearly three decades. The franchise has been able to separate itself from the competition by attracting the highest-quality franchise partners, and a lot of the draw comes in the form of the brand’s low investment requirements to get a franchise off the ground.
Last year the brand was named one of the top 50 low-cost franchise opportunities in the U.S. by Franchise Business Review, a publication that highlights the top opportunities in the marketplace based solely on assessments from actual franchise owners. The publication, which compiled data by surveying 10,000 franchisees representing more than 135 brands, listed Showhomes based on the system’s leadership, training, support and financial outlook.
A couple who will attest to that ranking is Mike and Janine Callahan who jumped into business ownership with Showhomes in 2009 and in a little over five years have amassed a highly successful home staging business that continues to grow. The two were high school sweethearts and have a history of recognizing a good thing when they see it. In 2008, Mike was working as a franchise consultant and after an introduction call with Showhomes, it dawned on him that the concept would be the perfect marriage of his and Janine’s backgrounds – Mike's skills from a career as a mortgage banker and Janine’s career in design and décor.
“The affordability was something that stood out to me,” said Mike. “While the concept itself was a really good fit for us and played on our previous careers and talents, an affordable fit was important for us to make the leap into business ownership.”
Mike and Janine’s Showhomes empire spans the Fox Valley area in the western Chicago suburbs. After purchasing their first Showhomes territory at the end of 2008, they grew to purchase a second territory just one year later in 2010.
“About a year into it, we started saying ‘Wow, if we can do this with one territory, how about two?’ We still had bandwidth and the capability to expand beyond the first unit. So we were only a year and a half into it and thought that if one was doing that well, two would do even better. Pretty scientific, I might add,” chuckled Mike.
The pairing of franchisee and franchisor has been a perfect match. The couple has taken home multiple awards at the Showhomes annual conference. They can claim a 2010 and 2014 Top Decorating Franchisee, 2011 Franchisee of the Year (due to triple digit growth year-over-year for three years), and in 2012 and 2014 they became brand ambassadors.
The Callahans are humming along with two territories now, and are about to close out 2015 with another record year for sales at both locations. While settled in with their two busy territories, the couple advises new franchise prospects as they enter the Showhomes system and offers a multitude of advice.
“We discovered very early – and we tell every new franchisee we speak with – don’t be afraid to make mistakes. But first, learn from the other franchisees that have made those mistakes already,” said Mike. “That’s important. People are afraid to fail, and I feel like we’ve learned more from the things we fail than our successes. So we tell new franchisees that come into the Showhomes system; spend time utilizing the other franchisees, learn from their mistakes. Finally, don’t be afraid to make your own, because you’re going to so just get in and do it.”
The initial expense to start their Showhomes franchise was around $50,000 per territory. When the Callahans joined they also had no cost involved in renting an office, warehouse, or any special equipment since the franchise could be run from the home. So, they were able to immediately get to work increasing their connections in the community and growing their business.
Though Mike warns; Showhomes came with a low-cost of investment to start, it was the time, effort, and hard work that they invested into the business that really allowed it to start paying off in spades.
“Buying a franchise is buying a business,” said Mike. “If you’re ready and willing to work as hard as you need to succeed, then by all means you should proceed. But proceed with something you have passion about. We run into people along the way who have purchased a franchise and they feel like they’ll just lay back and count the money as it rolls in. That’s just not how the world works. We went into it knowing that we’d get out of it what we put into it, and we have been extremely happy with the results.”