Franchise Success Equals Happy Franchisees


If you ever talk with Chad Hallock, Co-Founder and CEO of Budget Blinds, you immediately realize that happiness is important to him. Chad is a happy man with a positive, upbeat demeanor, and a pleasure to get to know. So it was no surprise when he defined franchise success as having happy franchisees. “Franchising is a relationship business and we are always thinking about how we can add to our franchisees’ sense of happiness. As long as they are satisfied and happy, we are successful,” Chad shares. “We know we can’t make anyone happy, but we can create an environment that is conducive to the satisfaction of our franchisees,” Chad continues. “It all starts with who we bring into our system; they must have a great attitude and impeccable work ethics,” Chad explains.

My recent personal experience as a customer of Budget Blinds confirmed everything that Chad was sharing with me. Earlier this year I needed window treatments and so I called them. From my initial telephone call all the way to when my blinds were installed by local franchisee Alan Barnett, I received nothing but great service.  As an inquisitive franchise professional, every time I have the opportunity to talk with a franchisee in my day-to-day life, I enjoy learning about their experiences. As I watched Alan work, I was impressed with his professionalism and obvious training; but, what won me over was his jovial and positive outlook. I started to ask him about his experience as a franchisee, and I learned that he was very happy with his decision, and that he had the utmost respect for the directors of the company. “These guys are approachable and I know I can contact them any time I need to do so, and that makes me feel good,” Alan shared.  I put Alan’s statement to the test when I asked him to connect me with Chad for this interview; and, of course, he was right.

Listening to Chad’s story of how Budget Blinds was born was inspiring. Most company founders take great pride in having built their companies on their own. Chad Hallock is different. He is a true team player, not just the leader of the pack. I couldn’t help but think of the Three Musketeers’ motto: “All for one, and one for all.” I believe Chad truly lives by this aphorism not only when it comes to his business partners, but also as it relates to his franchisees.

So, what drove Chad at the early age of 19 to create a successful business? “As I started going into people’s homes, I saw how successful people live. I realized that this way of life is not just for movie stars. I learned that we can all have the lifestyle we want, with comfort and beautiful things around us. We can all do this. When I got behind the scene, so to speak, I realized a greater realm of possibilities; I was inspired,” Chad shares. “I come from humble beginnings. As children, my siblings and I had to work hard to help my mother keep a roof over our heads. So, I already had the work ethic. Once I saw what success looked like for average folks, I had the encouragement and decided I wanted that for me, for my family, and also for others,” Chad continues.

Budget Blinds’ greatest challenge as a franchise company is entwined with their mission of bettering the lives of their franchisees by constantly reaching to add more value. “We are persistently pursuing ways we can add revenue sources to our franchisees. The company recently invested heavily on two new brands that will improve our franchisees’ bottom lines; one of these lines takes them into the commercial market more effectively than we’ve been able to do in the past,” Chad explains. “We also are always seeking for ways to create more leads and customers for our franchisees. We not only have marketing experts in house, but we also rely on outside professionals to best maintain an effective online presence, to maximize media exposure, and to ensure our brand stays fresh and creatively penetrates the market. All of these efforts are geared towards generating better leads for our franchisees,” Chad continues. “Every new initiative we embark on is first reviewed by our franchisees. We have committees with different focuses and we listen to them. We know we have great people, with great minds, and we seek their advice. If we aspire to improving the lives of our franchisees, we must constantly seek to understand what they want and find ways to providing that,” Chad adds.

Chad believes that in order to replicate success, franchisors must have a strong vision and must learn to communicate it clearly. “We spend a great deal of effort during our Discovery Days to ensure our prospects understand who we are as well as our goals and objectives. We need to make sure we are on the same page, if we are not, the relationship will never work,” Chad shares. “When you have been in franchising for as long as we have, you learn the truth to the expression ‘One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.’ In franchising, that rotten apple is an unhappy franchisee; so, we spend a tremendous amount of effort on the front end making sure we have the right kind of apple to begin with,” Chad adds.

Chad and his partners learned a hard lesson when they started franchising. They were so excited about selling franchises that they sold the territories where they had their ongoing business and all of a sudden they just had the royalties from that franchise as their only income which was not enough to feed the team. They creatively and quickly set up operations in another area and grew it rapidly, but it required a lot of scrambling around that a bit of foresight would have avoided. “So, if I had to do it all over again, I would never sell my primary area of business, at least until I have sold enough franchises. I also would have a business and franchise development plan sooner than later. I think we waited too long and experienced unnecessary pain that we could have dodged if we had a clear vision and game plan from the start,” Chad shares.

To business owners considering franchising, Chad Hallock has the following wise advice:

  • In everything you do, make it more about the franchisee than about you.
  • Create a vision where 1+1 is greater than 2, a vision of collaboration.
  • Ensure that your model is easy to teach and duplicate; the KISS principle really applies to franchising.
  • Have a very thick skin and do whatever it takes to make your first 10 to 20 franchisees successful, including losing money.
  • Love what you do, love your franchisees.
  • Don’t ever think you are better than your franchisees simply because you are not.
  • And most importantly, be happy, recruit happy people and keep them that way.


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