Leanne Fisher is the Budget Blinds franchisee in Regina, Saskatchewan. Fisher got into the business in 2008 for the flexibility it offered her to spend time with her young family. Now a few short years later, Fisher has built a solid reputation in her community enjoying a significant amount of repeat customers and referral business.
BeTheBoss: Tell us a bit about your background before joining Budget Blinds and what led you to the franchise?
Leanne Fisher: Prior to the Budget Blinds adventure, I was a manager for a city fitness facility, and taught Kinesiology at my city's local college - no business background whatsoever! I loved both positions and the experiences that I was getting! However, I was also busy with a young family and wanted the flexibility of working from home on my own schedule, and reaping the rewards of my strong work ethic for myself. After looking for nearly a year at different self-employment opportunities, I met with the local Budget Blinds franchisee who was currently #1 for sales in North America. After hearing about their experience, the business model, and Corporate support....I jumped in with full force! Ordered the start up package and purchased my first territory within a month!
BTB: What has been the best part about your Budget Blinds Experience?
LF: The best part of my experience has been really understanding that the sky is the limit! After buying into the franchise, buyer’s remorse set in - which I now know is a normal reaction. What if the business failed? What if no one ever needed window coverings again? I haven't owned a business before - how will I know what to do? Looking back at those days makes me laugh. None of those worries have ever come close to being a reality. My current concerns are - "How am I going to keep up with all of the work and referrals!" A good problem to have! By working hard, being willing to learn, and using the support that is offered by Corporate I know I will never fail in this franchise.
BTB: What are the main factors that you attribute your growth to?
LF: Limitless availability to high quality products, affordable and competitive pricing, unbeatable warranty, and start to finish service have been integral in making our business so successful! In addition to that - our staff treat the customers like family! Even though Budget Blinds is such a large franchise, each area being locally owned and operated makes every customer important. We often hear from customers that the friendly, fun, and efficient service made their experience memorable!
BTB: Tell us a bit about your training and support that you and your team get from Head Office?
LF: The initial two week training session was amazing. Not only did they use classroom and practical hands on teaching to introduce the extensive amount of product knowledge, they also integrated the steps to starting and running a business. The trainers were knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to assist in areas where the franchisees needed additional help. On top of that, they were professional and fun! Once we arrived home from the Corporate training session - we were given individual business coaches that we used every step of the way to start up our business. I estimate that during the first 3 months of business, I would contact them an average of 10 times a day! And every time, they were happy to help, had the answers I needed, and a positive comment to keep me going! To this day, my staff and I access their expertise on a regular basis. I really don't think that I could have succeeded at a business without their help!
BTB: Why do your customers love Budget Blinds?
LF: The process provides customers easy, knowledgeable and reliable service! Free In-Home Consultation with educated sales consultants followed by complete professional installation once the product has arrived attributes to the success of the franchise. Budget Blinds has created a system that allows customers to shop in the comfort of their own home and have access to limitless options for their window treatments. Customers enjoy the one-on-one attention and education they receive from the consultants, and are always pleasantly surprised with the competitive pricing and service.
BTB: How do your customers find you?
LF: After 3 years of being in business, most of our leads come from referrals. Aside from referrals however, our logoed vans, mailers, networking partners (interior decorators, builders, realtors, etc.) and tradeshows are our main source of leads. When we first started the business, we acquired customers from door knockers, yard signs and the van. As Corporate teaches, we do layered marketing - a combination of organic and paid advertising. We invest in local print (mailers, newspapers, magazines), involve ourselves within the community (donating to the food bank, sponsoring local youth athletic teams, etc.) in addition to a referral program that we offer current customers who tell their friends about their experiences. After such a short period of time in the city, I can say that Budget Blinds has become a household name. When I tell people where I work - they are almost ALWAYS familiar with the company!
BTB: Do you have a favourite experience with a customer you can describe?
LF: There are so many amazing aspects of the business - high profit margins, flexible schedules, etc. However, my sales team and I can all agree that meeting and interacting with customers is the best part! For example, I went to one lady’s house that was very artistic! I mean she painted every nook and cranny of her house in a different vibrant color! Photographs and collectibles and craft supplies everywhere! I had so much fun getting to know her....and of course educating her on her window coverings! When I was leaving, I commented on a particular piece of art she had - I said "Out of all the pieces you have, this is my favorite". Several days later, a package showed up to our office with an un-signed note that read "Leanne - Thank-you for such a wonderful experience. Your kind words and positive attitude have changed my life. Please enjoy this gift." Inside the package was the painting that I had commented on! Later on, I found out that she was also the manager of a local provincial organization, and had sent out a mass e-mail to their staff recommending our company!
BTB: What would you say to someone considering Budget Blinds as a way to leap into the entrepreneurial world?
LF: It's scary....and the best decision I have ever made! Budget Blinds Corporation has the experience, track record, tools and support to make any entrepreneur successful! Coming into a franchise with no previous business or window covering experience, and being able to excel in the first several months is a tribute to the systems that the company has in place. Prior to entering training, I was nervous and skeptical about the purchase I had made. Once I left, I was 100% confident that this would be a decision that I wouldn't regret. From day one Corporate provides all the support and resources needed to continue growth and success. With continuation of the Canadian market's expansion, Budget Blinds is a franchise that can't fail.