Blinds

From left, Kelsey, Kris and Kevin Stuart are the three brothers running Bloomin’ Blinds. “Three hands on one steering wheel,” is how Kris describes their management style.

The three brothers who run Bloomin’ Blinds, the window coverings franchise started by their mother, were set to move into new and roomier corporate headquarters this October. But Kelsey, Kris and Kevin Stuart will still share one conference room as their office.

“Three hands on one steering wheel,” is how Kris put it. They saw the benefits of tight quarters on their relationships, especially being able to communicate daily in person. “Us being in the same room, and seeing those pieces relying on the others to be done well, kind of took away all of the combativeness. That’s what led to some of that brotherly conflict, everyone trying to battle for position or hierarchy, aside from what God assigned us.”

Kelsey, the oldest brother and CEO, also cites the confinement of their old space. “I mean literally, these two guys are eight feet from me. We’ve learned to specialize. Kevin is the repair guru; Kris is the operations, installation and technical guy, and I’m the sales and marketing guy. We’ve all moved into our own lane,” he said.

“Bloomin’ Blinds was launched in our family’s garage 20 years ago, so it’s crazy to think that we’ll now occupy a beautiful, new corporate office—one that could swallow about 10 of those garages.”

For the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, Dallas-based Bloomin’ Blinds posted a 98 percent increase in sales, Kelsey said, and this year signed more than 11 franchise agreements. They planned 12 to 15 franchise openings for the remainder of 2021.

“2021 is on fire right now. COVID was good to us; everyone was working on projects vs. taking vacations,” Kelsey said, and they have several initiatives in the works. They’re planning to add people to the corporate staff to better support growth. “We’ll probably have 10 to 12 people besides ourselves. We’re going to create quite the team.”

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Bloomin’ Blinds is a mobile business started by Karen McGuffin, mother of the Stuart brothers.

They’ve completed an integration with an outside marketing team, Scorpion, that tracks the cost of leads and marketing spend vs. sales. “Now the artificial intelligence can see not only the customers coming in, but what they purchased and how much they purchased based on which ad” they saw. “That seems to have a real impact on our business. We have a definitive jump” in sales since March, when the information began coming in-house.

They were shooting their first national television episode, which will air in November.

They’re seeking an SBA 7(a) loan for working capital, which Kelsey called a “safety net. We could self-fund it,” but that would burn through cash. “There are no external investors. 100 percent of all shares are family-owned.”

They’ve started a Back to Business initiative, to help others who did not do well during the pandemic. A father-and-son team doing carpet cleaning in Salt Lake City received the first award, up to $5,000 in product value plus a $1,000 gift card for whatever they want.

And one other accomplishment, Kevin said: “We happily have retired mom,” Bloomin’ Blinds founder Karen McGuffin, who owns 25 percent. “She travels. She gallivants all over the place. Last I heard she was in Arkansas.”

Bloomin’ Blinds has 52 franchise owners with 56 franchise territories. Cost of investment is $80,000 to $140,000, and the business is home-based. The giant in their space is Budget Blinds. “In the U.S. alone they have 1,100 franchise owners,” Kelsey said. “We bump into them in every market.”

As for competition with their siblings, they still like to get their jabs in now and then. When asked what it’s like working with family, Kevin jumped in. “Nowadays it’s very nice actually. Back in the day, a little younger, we had our tiffs. We have our moments, but we always get over them. You can yell at each other, but you’re still family.

Kris shot back: “Good job, Kevin, just like we rehearsed.”

Source : https://www.franchisetimes.com/franchise_news/in-bloomin-blinds-family-business-no-room-for-rivals/article_40db045c-31d7-11ec-b591-bf3ac83af0f2.html

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