Budget Blinds Reflects on Pandemic Lessons Learned
North America’s largest window covering franchise reflects on how COVID-19 has changed it for the better
March 22, 2021 // Franchising.com // IRVINE, Calif. - As the U.S. business community slowly opens up and returns to what will be a new normal, many service-related companies that were previously dependent on face-to-face consultations have had the rethink their operations, service offerings and in some cases, entire business models.
These companies also had to respond to new customers and even investors drawn to the attractiveness of a home-based, in-home consultation business during the lockdowns associated with the pandemic.
One example is Budget Blinds®, North America’s largest window covering franchise with more than 1,200 locally owned businesses in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
When the pandemic hit in February 2020, the company implemented a new virtual design consultation and installation platform that allowed homeowners to shop for window coverings and accessories and then arrange installation with peace of mind, and then provided business owners with the expanded training and other virtual resources they needed to adapt to the changing landscape. The company developed other programs with and for its franchisees to protect their businesses and adapt to the changing landscape, ranging from human capital resources and financial programs to business operations and processes.
A year later, Budget Blinds continues to grow (it moved up five spots in the just-released 2021 Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500 ranking of franchise brands to finish at #12, right behind McDonald’s and ahead of Ace Hardware, Hampton Inns, KFC and 485 other household brands) – but as a different company than it was this time last year.
Reflecting on a year of challenges and opportunities, the team at Budget Blinds, part of the Home Franchise Concepts (HFC) family, offers this list of ways that COVID-19 has adapted to a changing landscape.
- All-virtual design consultations are now a permanent offering. Customers now have their choice of a Budget Blinds virtual or traditional in-home consultation, or to create a personalized blend of the two for maximum effectiveness, safety and peace of mind. While most Budget Blinds business owners offered a virtual option for communicating with homeowners prior to COVID-19, the pandemic made virtual consultations an official part of the service offering for all 1,200 franchisees moving forward. (The same approach has since adapted by HFC brands Tailored Living®, Concrete Craft®, AdvantaClean® and Kitchen Tune-up®).
- Expanded (virtual) training at all levels to leverage the move to virtual. Business owners are taught not only the special nuances of virtual presentation and customer service but also how to work with homeowners to get accurate measurements and other in-home info essential for a successful project, and even how to arrange a near-contactless installation when necessary.
- Whole new ways to communicate with customers. The added dependence on virtual communications inspired a new level of in-house virtual communications between brand and local business owners, franchisor and franchisee. The brand found new ways to communicate such as town halls and virtual conventions.
- Expanded staff and resources to accommodate the demand for home-based, in-home consultation businesses during and since the pandemic. While COVID-19 necessitated a reduction in force among many organizations, Budget Blinds expanded its team to accommodate customer demand in in-home services, and investor demand in in-home franchises that allowed business to (mostly) continue during the pandemic.
SOURCE Budget Blinds
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