Gotcha Covered” says a lot about Window Fashion Professionals, Inc., Carrollton, TX. In the obvious sense, it refers to its flagship “Gotcha Covered” Blinds franchises and to the window treatments sold by this rapidly growing, shop-at-home business (61 franchisees in 57 months in 25 states). It’s also how company founders Mike and Debi Rose want their franchise owners to feel. From national name brand products to training to human resources and beyond, the company offers full coverage support.
For the customers’ windows, “Gotcha Covered” offers
blinds, shades, plantation shutters, custom draperies, solar screens
and accessories. These products are custom ordered by the franchise
owners directly through the vendors. The majority of products are
manufactured by national companies. “It’s a philosophy
that we embrace,” explains Mike Rose. “We’re riding
the coattails of national marketing and advertising campaigns .
. . It benefits our system to use brands that the end consumer knows
For its owners, Window Fashion Professionals offers extensive training
and regular updates. The training is based on the Roses’ own
experiences having started the company in 1995 and franchise opportunities
in 1999. The goal is business success. “We want our franchise
owners to develop something that some day in the future they can
sell—cash out—and receive a very good return on their
investment,” says Rose. “It’s an opportunity for
us to help others in business,” he adds.
OFF TO THE RACES
Training is one area in which “Gotcha Covered” Blinds
really has gotcha covered. It begins with 19 weeks of training,
but doesn’t end there.
The first two weeks are spent at the Window Fashion Professionals
facility near Dallas with prospects undergoing a 10-day training
program. “We really get into the business end, everything from
their advertising, their marketing, how to operate their offices
correctly, their accounts payables/receivables. We talk to them
about sales, the proper procedures during the sales appointment,
how to close a sale, how to order the merchandise and how to install
it,” says Rose.
The new franchise owners are tested on days three, eight and 10
with some 250 questions. “We do our best to prepare them to
get out in that third week and to begin their new businesses,”
Rose explains. But the training doesn’t stop there.
“We constantly work with them. We contact them every single
business day. We e-mail them work assignments, schedule consultations
with their business development managers, go over work sheets. We
do that for the next 16 weeks,” Rose adds.
Once this extended training program is completed, the franchise
owners return to Dallas for the final week of training—this
one all about the soft side of the industry. “We go over draperies
and accessories, pillow shams, cornice boards, bedspreads, comforters,
lampshades. So that once they complete this 19-week training program,
they’ve been trained on business, they’ve been trained
on the basic window coverings on the hard side and on the soft side,”
But still, the support doesn’t end there, necessarily. “We
make it a point to contact our franchise owners regularly . . .
Once they get past this learning curve they become very low maintenance—they’re
big boys and girls . . . They’re off to the races. We want
to reach out and let them know there are other things here for them
like our retirement program, like our national advertising program,
like our health insurance program . . . It’s got to go above
and beyond just teaching them how to go out and sell window coverings.
There’s got to be much, much more that we offer the franchisees
so that they will stay within our system and be happy to stay with
The goal of a franchise operation is the success of the franchise
owners. If they don’t succeed, the parent company doesn’t
succeed. “First and foremost it’s about the franchisee’s
success,” says Rose. “It’s about business. It so
happens our product line is window coverings, but our major goal
here is to succeed in business.”
The Roses see “Gotcha Covered” Blinds as an opportunity
to help others in business and, in many ways, avoid mistakes they
had made in the past.
For 18 years the Roses ran their own insulation and dry wall business
in Dallas. It grew rapidly and soon had 23 employees. But that success
didn’t exactly bring happiness. “We didn’t have the
foresight to bring on managerial help and assistance, so Debi and
I were working ourselves to death—round the clock trying to
take care of everything. Taking two-and-a-half days a week out trying
to collect money from some of our accounts so that we could make
next week’s payroll—we just got tired of it and listed
the business for sale,” Rose says.
They looked at what they could do with 18 years experience servicing
the homeowner that wouldn’t take a lot of inventory, a lot
of overhead or a lot of employees and wouldn’t come with a
bunch of accounts receivables. They found custom window coverings.
“We don’t have to have a warehouse; everything is custom
made to order, so we don’t have to pay a lot of money for inventory.
We get paid as we go. We’re doing business directly with the
end consumer, and when they decide to write up a contract, they’re
looking for their checkbooks. Believe me, that was a breath of fresh
Into its third year in business the Roses had written over a million
dollars in sales. “More than we ever made in those 18 years
selling insulation and dry wall,” Rose recalls. After five
years in business, they looked to franchise their operation. “We’ve
now been franchising for 57 months and we’ve opened up 61 outlets
in 25 states,” says Rose.
Window Fashion Professionals, Inc. believes it has a lot to offer
potential “Gotcha Covered” franchise owners. It begins
with three investment levels.
The Silver level is its most prevalent. It includes territory assignment
and training, and the new owners must purchase or lease their own
van with graphics provided. The Gold level offers the same training,
sampling and territory size, plus the company provides the owner
with a new van (title and keys). The Platinum level includes all
of the above, plus training for up to six people and all the furnishing
for a storefront.
Rose emphasizes that all three levels receive the exact same training
and business development support.
Beyond that, “Gotcha Covered” assesses all of the franchise
owner’s purchase volume from approved vendors and funds a percentage
of that to a retirement account. The company has purchased its own
insurance agency and has developed that human resources service
within its corporate office, offering individual and group health
“The reason why we’ve enjoyed the measure of success that
we’ve enjoyed thus far is because we’re giving real substance
to our franchise owners,” says Rose.
Selling and buying a franchise is a two-way street. The parent company
and the potential franchise owner have to be a good fit. Deciding
that is a process “Gotcha Covered” Blinds calls “discovery.”
Prospective franchisees must perform due diligence. It begins with
an eight-page booklet they must complete before entering into a
contractual agreement. “We want them to do market research,
research on their competition, pricing research so that they can
assess their potential profit margins within their own territory,”
Rose explains. “We require that they begin developing a business
plan with us. We want to make sure we’re compatible.”
In completing the business plan prospects confirm van payments,
operating expenses and general expenses including insurance, telephone
and debt service.
The idea is for both parties to enter into a contract with eyes
wide open. “All the time they’re looking at us through
this project, we’re looking at them. Are they able to follow
instructions? Are they able to take these assignments and complete
them in a timely fashion? If they are, chances are they’d make
a good franchise owner,” says Rose.
Once the assignments are completed, the potential franchise owner
is flown to Dallas for Discovery Day. “We hang out together.
We go have lunch together. Our staff joins us; some of our franchise
owners will join us. After the Discovery Day we will debrief with
the staff and some of the other franchise owners and ask, ‘Hey,
what do you guys think about this person?’ We try to make a
good decision because our business success is dependent on their
business success and, quite honestly, their failure is our failure
He adds, “We don’t want their money. We want their business
success. If we take our time and do our due diligence, we can make
an informed and educated decision.”
The same attention to detail is taken when it comes to assigning
franchise territories. “Gotcha Covered” Blinds subscribes
to Arbitron, a service that breaks down the United States into designated
marketing areas (DMAs) based upon the specific demographic information
the company is looking for. Arbitron then assigns all the “Gotcha
Covered” franchise territories nationwide.
The DMA information is stored in the company’s computer system
so that all it has to do is enter a prospect’s home ZIP code
and it will tell them if that area is occupied, or if it is available.
“Gotcha Covered” Blinds likes to keep franchise owners
close to home.
Specific territory demographics are proprietary, but Rose says it
requires a minimum of 50,000 qualified households. “There are
no apartments, there are no post office boxes, there are no business
address, there are no homes below the poverty line. These are owner-occupied
homes or homes that are occupied by renters.”
UNDER THE UMBRELLA
Even with its success, “Gotcha Covered” Blinds might not
appear to be growing very fast compared to its peers. But that’s
all right. “We would prefer to grow at a good, steady pace,”
“We’ve got to make sure that our infrastructure will accommodate
our franchise growth. If you can’t take care of the people
that are in your system and you’re just focusing constantly
on bringing in new people, then what you’re going to do is
develop a revolving door. They’re going to be going out the
back door as fast as you bring them in the front door because there
is no substance to your program.
“We want to make sure we have people on staff—business
development managers—that will help our franchisees achieve
business success,” he continues. “As our sales grow, our
infrastructure must accommodate that growth. When we raise that
bar, then we can go back and look at selling more.”
To support its program, Window Fashion Professionals has recently
added new staff members and has moved into a new facility. Looking
ahead, it plans to have 100 or more franchise owners in its program
by this summer and is working on establishing territories in Canada
But that’s just the beginning of what Rose sees ahead. With
Window Fashion Professionals as the umbrella company and “Gotcha
Covered” Blinds its leading business, Rose looks to add four
more franchise opportunities in the near future.
First up is Prestige Plantation Shutters, a company that manufactures
shutters that is just beginning to offer franchises. In June, the
company plans to add Covington Blind and Drapery Cleaning, followed
by Caribbean Sun Screens in the fourth quarter of this year. And
in the first quarter of 2005, there are plans to offer Certified
Window Fashions Installers to the group. Each new company would
be available to new franchise owners or existing owners, and none
would compete with any of the others.
By this time next year, the Roses should have the entire window
coverings sales, installation and maintenance process pretty well