How One of Showhomes’ Most Successful Franchisees Uses Practice to Give Back to her Community

How Showhomes franchisee Barbara Bliss used her passion for beautiful homes to give back to her community on Chicago’s North Shore.

Showhomes franchisee Barbara Bliss has always fostered a love for selling luxury homes. As a real estate agent on Chicago’s North Shore, Bliss was able to turn her natural intuition for design into a flair for home makeovers and flipping houses. Eventually, her expertise led her straight to Showhomes.

After working in the North Shore real estate market, Bliss noticed that many of the area’s homes were utilizing the Showhomes brand for staging. As a real estate agent, Bliss had used Showhomes staging to help her listings sell faster but when the opportunity to purchase the franchise came up in 2004, she jumped on it.

“Showhomes offered a perfect marriage of my love for flipping houses and real estate,” Bliss said. “Normally, it is very hard to put all aspects of real estate and house re-sale into one basket.”

Since jumping at the opportunity, Bliss has been bringing her expertise to the brand for an impressive 15 years—with a collective total of over $175 million in properties sold. Bliss attributes this success to a combination of her sales background, her love of real estate and Showhomes’ unique business model, which offers a combination of home staging, makeovers and updates.

“In this market, you have to do everything,” Bliss said. “Gone are the days of just putting your house on the market. While house staging used to be optional, sellers now have to do everything it takes to sell these houses, and the smart ones are coming to us. The great thing is that because real estate agents know our value and continue to recommend us, the company builds its own momentum.”

As Bliss explains it, the North Shore is an ideal market for her Showhomes franchise. For one, North Shore is a densely-populated area that features many luxury homes. Also, due to the struggling market, Midwestern homes can often stay listed for long periods of time, making Showhomes’ services invaluable to the sellers. If a house does not sell right away, the company is able to utilize that time for their home staging. This, along with the brand’s unique service of Signature Home Managers—a practice of live-in home executives—ensures that the houses are as perfect and functional as can be when presented to the potential buyer.

“Experienced real estate agents know that a beautifully-staged home tends to sell faster than a house that is not,” said Showhomes Chief Operating Officer Matt Kelton. “Vacant houses are often perceived to have a lower value than homes that are staged. Showhomes provides customized staging solutions tailored to each home, including design and decorating by staging professionals, whole house staging or partial home staging.”

Showhomes has proven to be a perfect fit for Bliss, whose love of renovating homes to fit in line with today’s trends has allowed her to oversee the entirety of Showhomes’ North Shore market. “I love the design aspect of helping buyers visualize what an ideal house can be, whether that is through painting a living room or selecting furniture,” Bliss said. “It’s satisfying because we provide assistance to our clients during one of life's biggest decisions.”

Beyond the business, Bliss has also been able to use her experience with Showhomes to benefit the community. This past June, Showhomes organized a historic house tour in the North Shore area, showcasing three landmark Showhomes rarely available for public viewings as a way to raise money for local charities. The proceeds from the event went to support the Roberti Community House and Bravo Waukegan.

“Showhomes does all of the marketing for the historic house tours,” said Bliss. “It allows the franchisees to contribute to the community by donating to charities that specifically help at-risk kids by giving them unique opportunities.”

Bliss’ favorite part of being a Showhomes franchisee is being able to make a difference. Whether it be providing a smoother transition from one home to another, or using the brand to add to her community, Bliss has found the deepest satisfaction in providing for others.

“Success is great, but being able to give back is by far my favorite part of working for Showhomes,” Bliss said. “If I can make a difference in people’s lives, that’s really what matters.”