How Showhomes Is Supporting Franchisees and Pivoting as an Essential Business



The traditional list of human needs is food (including water), shelter and clothing. Showhomes, America's largest home staging franchise, has been focused on the shelter area for over 34 years and their business model continues to thrive as an essential service. For many customers who need to sell their home during this difficult time, Showhomes' staging services are more important than ever, especially as many realtors are seeing a decrease in homebuyer interest

As industries across the world are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are being forced to find ways to adapt in the midst of social distancing orders and mass closures. As most states re-classify real estate as an "essential service," Showhomes is able to continue business for operations in all of their locations although they are having to adapt to changing market conditions by focusing on vacant home staging and virtual consultations. To continue offering customers these essential services and positioning franchisees for success during this unprecedented time, Showhomes has implemented several new initiatives, including marketing support, vendor partnerships, 3D virtual consultations, financing options for staging and resource newsletters. 

"As an essential business supporting the real estate industry, we remain open in one way or another in 100% of our locations," said Chief Operating Officer Matt Kelton. "In this unprecedented environment, timely information is essential, and we're focused on supporting franchisees through these challenging times. We are also communicating heavily with franchisees and working continuously on creative solutions to help offset any impact of COVID-19."

Showhomes has been providing franchisees with newsletters and Zoom conferences in order to keep everyone up-to-date in relation to the brand's new initiatives and the variety of programs available for small businesses across the country. In the weekly newsletter, the Showhomes team offers resources in relation to the CARES Act, SBA loan applications and Paycheck Protection Program loans. Showhomes has also continually followed updates and protocols recommended by the CDC, local departments of public health and the World Health Organization to guarantee the safety of guests and team members.

"While we want to be sensitive to people during this time, it also is a good opportunity to make people aware of our services while so many are stuck at home," said Kelton. "We are fortunate that 100% of our franchisees are able to continue offering their services, so it's important to make their customers and the general public aware that they are 'Open for Business. We are advertising aggressively on digital platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram and over the last 30 days our overall web traffic has quadrupled and our franchisee leads have doubled compared to a year ago.

In addition to making sure homeowners feel safe and confident in Showhomes, the brand is implementing new strategies to adapt to the changing demands of the industry. Virtual services have never been more important to real estate agents, whether to keep themselves and their clients safe or to comply with orders from our government. Showhomes is looking for ways to enhance business during this time, and a big part of that is getting comfortable in creating an end to end digital experience for the customer. The customer is able to receive an instant online quote for their home staging service, franchisees can provide an online video consultation, a digital proposal will be created, a digital contract will be signed, and they can pay via one of our digital merchant services providers. The entire transaction can be conducted in a matter of minutes saving time both for the customer and the franchisee staff. 

Marie Bonnet, a Showhomes franchisee based in San Diego, notes the importance of these digital offerings. "Throughout this crisis, I have continued to focus on social media in order to keep our customers informed," she said. "Moving forward, I think that the real estate market will become more digital than ever—the habits we are developing now will be the way we continue. Real estate agents will use more and more digital videos to show the listings, and the buyers will use digital offerings to find and choose the houses they will visit."

Showhomes is developing new services to keep up with the changing landscape, including virtual consultations, electronic proposals and incredible 3D virtual tours. Last month, Showhomes rolled out the customizable Levitate online quoting tool to all websites with tremendous results. For example, Showhomes Tulsa received a lead from their website for a $950,000 house, and the franchisee was able to close a $6,000 home staging job the same day. To keep up with the growing popularity of video conferencing, Showhomes has provided an enterprise version of Zoom for all of their franchisees. 

"Showhomes is in the heart of the home-selling season and, hopefully, when the pandemic eases up, we predict we will see an explosion of business as the sales cycle is compressed by several months," said Kelton. "March was surprisingly strong with a 16% revenue increase over last year. We also saw a 30% increase in YTD total gross revenue over Q1 of 2019, which was already a record year. Overall, the support and proven infrastructure that we are able to provide franchisees during times like this is why our franchise partners invest in our concept in the first place."

Through these initiatives, Showhomes has worked quickly to make sure franchisees are not only able to survive during these trying times, but also come back stronger than ever before. 

The startup costs for a Showhomes franchise range from $85,500 to $121,300. The franchise fee is $49,900. To learn more about franchising with Showhomes, visit https://showhomesfranchise.com/.