Pratt and Shelley Barndollar are no strangers to preparing homes for market.
For more than 30 years, Pratt worked for an oil and gas company. The job required both he and his wife to move often—domestically and internationally. Throughout those years, Shelley provided the interior design and Pratt handled the updates and renovations on their own homes. From buying and selling homes so frequently, the two of them developed a deep understanding of what changes, alterations and renovations make a home stand out on the market.
Eventually, Pratt and Shelley were ready to settle down and look into business ownership. When they saw a Showhomes Home Staging franchise for sale in Houston, they immediately knew it was the right fit.
“Most importantly, we wanted to find a business we could run together that we were happy doing. Showhomes was it for us,” Pratt said. “Over the years, we had developed the ability to look at a home and know how to make it appeal to buyers—Showhomes gave us the opportunity to make a living out of doing what we loved.”
Another big selling point for the Barndollars was the fact that the location they purchased—Showhomes Houston—covered a majority of the sprawling city. And with a population of more than two million, that’s a significant reach, Pratt said.
“The fact that Showhomes Houston’s territory covered such a wide swath of the city was an important deciding factor for us,” Pratt added. “Showhomes has been in Houston since 2003, so there was already brand recognition there, too.”
While the size of the Houston market lends itself to Showhomes’ services, it’s ultimately the area’s affluence that has made it an ideal fit for the brand. Home staging has caught on in recent years—today’s buyers, when looking at higher-priced homes, expect them to be staged and prepared for the market. As such, the Barndollars have seen additional competition come onto the market—but nothing that matches the luxury staging that Showhomes offers.
“On any given week, there are thousands of homes on the market. And given the wealth of Houston’s communities, many of them are million dollar homes. It’s important to select luxury stagers who can do the home justice,” Shelley said. “These homes have a specific need. When a potential buyer walks through, they need to feel invited by the presentation of the room. We pay attention to the balance, texture, color and feel of each room. We spend a lot of our time pretending we’re the buyer, walking from room to room to see what kind of emotion it evokes. If it’s not comfortable and pleasing, we figure out what we can do.”
The Barndollars purchased the Showhomes Houston franchise in early 2016. So far, their attention to detail in every home they serve has paid off in a big way. According to Pratt, the homes they had prepared last year sold—on average—58 percent faster than comparable homes in the same area. One-third of their homes had an offer within 30 days. Their goal now is to continue expanding their reach throughout the city and to build even greater brand recognition.
With 58 units across the country and another 10 expected to open their doors by the end of the year, Showhomes nationally is well on its way to crossing its milestone 100-unit mark. The Barndollars are just one of many franchisees helping to grow Showhomes’ footprint throughout the country. Target development markets like the Houston metropolitan are wide open, meaning there are still multiple opportunities for new franchisees to become a part of Showhomes’ system in the area. Right now, there are two active markets within the greater Houston area, but according to Matt Kelton, the chief operating officer at Showhomes, there’s still room for a total of four.
Showhomes offers franchisees the unique opportunity to either break into the rebounding real estate industry or add another revenue steam to their bottom line. Affordable start-up costs also make it easily accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs—initial investments for franchisees range between $45,300 and $78,000.
“If you’re passionate about home design and looking to go into business for yourself, but not by yourself, Showhomes provides an unparalleled franchising opportunity. Successful owners like the Barndollars have proven time and time again that our model works,” Kelton said. “We’re excited to continue working with our new franchisees to provide the support and tools they need to become successful local business owners.”