Top Players in Franchise Development: Matt Kelton
Top Players in Franchise Development: Matt Kelton

Showhomes’ COO explains how the brand’s unique approach to expansion and development has opened the door for rapid expansion.

For Matt Kelton, franchising has always been a significant part of his career. He first broke into the industry right out of college by becoming a franchisee with ColorTyme, the nation’s oldest rental-purchase franchise company. After being a local business owner for a few years, he then took on a variety of roles in corporate America. But he found his way back to franchising when he became President and COO of Computer Renaissance.

Most recently, Kelton decided to take his years of franchising experience and expertise to Showhomes, the nation’s largest home staging company. He serves as the company’s COO, where he oversees the brand’s franchise development efforts and strategic operations. Showhomes is currently in rapid growth mode, with plans to double its size within the next three years. That ability to expand at such an impressive rate is due to the brand’s development process—it takes a different approach than other franchise brands operating within the industry.

Over the past 30 years, the Showhomes brand has evolved to become more than just a traditional home staging franchise. 1851 Franchise recently spoke to Kelton to learn more about that success and ability to stand out from the competition, along with Showhomes’ unique development process and future plans for expansion.

What makes Showhomes’ franchise development process tick?

We’re a little different in terms of what we do as a franchise. It’s really important for us to connect with our owners face-to-face. We’re not like a restaurant or other franchise chain—there’s a strong visual component to what we do. That’s why we like to get prospective owners in to see our program for themselves right away.

We also try to establish an emotional connection with our franchisees right off the bat. There’s a lot of passion involved in home staging—our owners typically come to us with an interest in design or real estate. At its core, Showhomes is a true owner-operator model. That means our franchisees are involved with their businesses—they’re not simply making an investment.

What have been some of Showhomes’ major milestones?

This year is actually a big milestone for us—Showhomes has officially been in business for 30 years. Right now, we have 58 locations in 18 states, and we’re continuing to expand our reach across the country. We’re experiencing record sales, bringing in record profits and have opened up our doors for business in two new states so far this year. We’ve also helped facilitate the sale of close to $30 billion in residential real estate, making us the largest home staging brand in the U.S.

What are you most proud of in terms of Showhomes’ development efforts?

Showhomes has become so much more than a traditional home staging company. The brand’s model has changed and evolved to include remodeling, allowing it to have multiple revenue streams. That’s not a small feat, especially considering we operate in a $100 billion industry. Those revenue streams then give us the opportunity to tap into higher level buyers than we have in the past.

I’m also incredibly proud to say that our franchisees love their businesses. The numbers in our Item 19 are strong, and we have a lot of momentum in multiple markets right now. That momentum is huge—it’s essential for all businesses to build on momentum. And right now, we have more growth potential and opportunity than we’ve ever had.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses?

It’s simple, but our most successful franchisees follow the system that we’ve laid out for them and adhere to Showhomes’ code of values. They also market aggressively, have a team of talented employees in place from the get-go and cultivate a strong network of contacts and referrals. At the end of the day, our franchisees are able to grow their businesses because they’re delivering a high quality product.

We also do everything that we can as a brand to make sure our franchisees have the tools they need to succeed and expand. We spend a lot of time looking at profitability and helping our franchisees take the most profitable jobs. Ultimately, we want our local owners to have as much time as possible to run their businesses and do what they do best.

What are your goals for Showhomes in the next few years and how do you plan to grow the brand?

Within the next three years, we plan to double the size of our franchise and grow to 125 total units. We’re also looking to triple our revenue, which will be done in a variety of ways. We’re constantly working to utilize the industry’s best practices, whether it’s expanding through a franchisee referral or engaging prospective business owners on social media. Going forward, it’ll be increasingly important for us to stay up to date with emerging technologies and grow by targeting specific markets for development. Showhomes has been around for 30 years, but we’re going to keep making advancements as we grow.