Covering windows from coast to coast
A leading provider of window finishing accents, Bloomin’ Blinds ‘covers’ the window decor competition
Enjoyed by so many customers from coast to coast, Bloomin’ Blinds have become a staple in the window finishing accents of countless homes. Based in Texas, Bloomin’ Blinds and its many member franchises can be found across the United States in more than 35 states from California to the Carolinas, with more than 70 owner-operators to date and many more planned on the way.
We recently spoke with brothers Kelsey and Kris Stuart, respectively the company’s chief executive and chief development officers. Youngest brother Kevin Stuart is its chief technology and training officer and self-described jack of all trades. Headquartered near Dallas in Plano, Texas, both brothers ‘cover’ expertly for us how a Bloomin’ Blinds franchise can be a profitable business for franchisees.
Kelsey is a second-generation window-covering professional, with two decades’ worth of personal experience, working both in the field and in franchise leadership.
“It’s a fun job,” says Kelsey. “You can work hard and be happy at the same time.”
“I taught him everything he knows!” Kris kids with a big laugh. “I suppose he should be proud of it!”
As the CEO of Bloomin’ Blinds, Kelsey is very keen on the strategic growth and scaling of each franchise business and creating a culture of enthusiastic fans. Kelsey leads the corporate franchise team as the example, rather than as the exception, and he takes pride in a team that interacts like family.
That’s a mighty important word with Bloomin’ Blinds—family—as Kris will tell you. A former firefighter and paramedic, he’s been with the company from its very beginning back in 2001, when he worked as its first-ever field tech. As Kris reveals, it’s that family approach—treating all of its franchise team members like one big family—that has helped Bloomin’ Blinds take off as a runaway success.
“That terminology matters,” he says of the word, “family,” adding, “It’s important to say that out loud. We’re all working with each other, and no unit holds a commitment more tightly together than a loving family. That’s the glue that holds us together: three brothers leaning on each other like a pyramid or three rifles stacked together. If one of them is moved, they all fall. That’s how we approach it; that and growth and people have been receptive to it.”
Today, Bloomin’ Blinds brings in nearly $3 million in annual revenue. Kris serves the company’s franchisees through growth and business development coaching, and he takes great pride in fostering owners’ abilities to become self-aware business operators.
“If your blinds aren’t becoming to you, they should be coming to us!” Kris jokes. “That’s the jam.”
Yet of course, behind the punning humor is a very serious point. As he adds, your windows set the tone for your entire home. All of Bloomin’ Blinds’ custom window blinds, shades, shutters, and draperies are made by top manufacturers to guarantee you get a beautiful final product.
Whether you’re an interior decorator or a dedicated housewife who wants her family’s home to look its best, the good folks at Bloomin’ Blinds realize that good form is important. However, it’s the function, says Kris, that comes first.
“That,” he says, “and meeting our customers’ needs. As a family-based and family-centered company, we understand the importance of values and integrity in what we do. We put our customers first and prioritize service.”
With design following form and price following design, it all works out in the best interests of Bloomin’ Blinds’ informed customers, says Kris.
“That way,” he adds, “we pretty much guarantee that our customers avoid buyer’s remorse. We meet them where they need to be.”
Kris adds that Bloomin’ Blinds is one of America’s fastest-growing window-covering companies. How do you explain that level of success? Simple, says Kris: customer commitment.
“Since day one,” he emphasizes, “we’ve worked hard to ensure that our customers always come away from a visit with Bloomin’ Blinds content and that they’re satisfied. We are here to make sure your questions are answered and your blind repair, sales, and/or installation needs are fully taken care of. That is our promise to our customers.”
Kelsey shares his younger brother’s assessment.
“That’s just listening to your customers,” he observes, “just being honest and transparent. We like to think of ourselves as the un-contractor: the exact opposite of all the negative stereotypes.”
“We’ve always been focused on that. A lot of that goes into the way we treat people. We can all relate to what that (purchase) process feels like. The people that are drawn to us like that relational feel. They like doing business with us in a very relational way. We all know what it should feel like, and that is what we all expect and deserve.”
Bloomin’ Blinds franchise owners are known for their high level of integrity, Kelsey notes.
“We don’t have to do it the sleazy way,” he observes, explaining that the Bloomin’ Blinds family is a cut above.
This honest, customer-first business formula is a recipe for success, as Kelsey points out, adding as well that it’s important to stay humble, stay focused and never limit your scope of service.
“Do all that,” he says, “and your business will grow.”
An award-winning company
Kris notes that Bloomin’ Blinds has achieved much recognition and garnered a lot of positive attention. It won the award for Best Franchise for Veterans. It’s been recognized for Best-in-Class Products by Hunter-Douglas Blinds and Norman Blinds, and Bloomin’ Blinds is well known for its expert design consultants.
Kelsey says Bloomin’ Blinds can do it all, customizing a package to suit any taste. Whether you’re talking shutters, faux wooden blinds, exterior shades, composite shutters, roller shades, cellular shades, or genuine wooden blinds, there’s something to make everyone happy.
As it was for many companies, COVID ended up being something of a blessing for the Stuart brothers and their company, as Kris explains. The pandemic’s state-enforced restrictions compelled many homeowners to seek more home-centered services. The Stuarts adjusted their plans and adapted accordingly, to much success. They added a call center, more management, and staffers, as well as a training team.
“We got all the experts in the chairs,” Kris remarks.
It’s that level of expertise, combined with strategic plans and roadmaps to rapid success, that’s making for a bright future for Bloomin’ Blinds, as Kris further notes.
“In five years,” he predicts, “I think Bloomin’ Blinds is going to be viewed as the respected and knowledgeable authority on the window-covering space. We’re good at knowledge transfer. We’re excellent educators. We do it for our customers. We do it for our franchisees, and we do it for our employees.”
With that capability comes responsibility, he adds. To that end, there is not and will not be any question, Kris emphasizes, about Bloomin’ Blinds’ abilities as a retail provider.
He adds that high-tech components, including cordless technology for operating blinds, more convenience in home accessories and—very important indeed—child safety will also all be important factors.
As in all other types of modern businesses, the mom-and-pop shops in the blinds business will simply go away over time, as Kelsey observes. By attrition, Bloomin’ Blinds and other like entities will inevitably gain prominence and dominance in that market share.
“We view ourselves as a service company, not as a sales company,” says Kris. “The heart of service is being available and ready. We’re a service company and everything that goes with that. We just happen to also sell products well!”
Kelsey adds that Bloomin’ Blinds is taking an analog industry into the digital age.
“I’d like us to be known as a company that’s a little restless,” he continues, “that’s always looking for innovation to improve our customers’ collective experience and improve our franchise owners’ efficiency and create a ‘wow’ impression with our customers, that they’re getting the most for their money.”
As America’s economy slowly improves, Kris stresses the word, “resiliency.”
“We’ve marched this thing to the top of our mountain,” he says, “and we just keep layering on more dirt, making the mountain bigger. We’re comfortable, being uncomfortable. We don’t get scared and run for the hills. Ours is a strong, resilient company that is unafraid to make its path.”
“We’re also considerate,” he adds, stressing integrity. “It sounds cliché, but we listen. We believe in applying the utmost consideration to someone’s home.”
“We are the ‘should’ company,” Kelsey concurs, citing how things should be done.
“Do the ‘shoulds,’” Kris concludes.
AT A GLANCE
Where: Plano, Texas
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