What I Do:
As a Showhomes®’ franchise business owner I provide a staging service to homeowners and realtors. Showhomes® is located in forty cities across the country and has had a presence in the staging business for twenty years. Showhomes® adds value to vacant houses that are on the market for sale by professionally decorating the homes to help sell them faster and increase their value. We help sell homes that are tougher to sell by creating a model-home atmosphere. We find people with gorgeous furniture to manage the home. Once the home sells we move the home manager into another Showhome®. My job is to manage the day-to-day business contacts with homeowners, realtors and home managers. The previous franchise owner is now retired, so my goal is to grow the business to a whole new realm of possibility. I am working on a business plan, staffing my team, looking at initial marketing needs and learning the operating systems. Additionally, I am focusing on objectives to promote generative prosperity for the company while providing consistent, quality service to the customer. Check out www.showhomes.com to learn more about my business!
How I Got Here:
For the past seven years I have been a Realtor selling over $21 million in real estate sales. (A Realtor is an independent contractor making money for the firm where their license is held by splitting the commission.) I come from a family of small business owners, so I have always had the ambition to own my own business someday. I was looking for a change from selling real estate while working on my business degree at RMU. During this time, I attended a seminar about buying a business provided by a local board of business brokers. It was here that I learned about creating a start-up business. However, I was attracted to the alternative of purchasing an already existing company. Earlier this year, the opportunity presented itself. A retiring Showhomes® owner offered to sell me his franchise! I jumped at the opportunity. This connection was a result of the contact I made with the business broker. During my real estate career I used Showhomes® to sell my listing of a townhouse development. As a result of having a professionally-staged model, all eight units sold for 99 percent of their list price. The owner was glad to be selling his business to me, a familiar and pleased past client. I also enjoy ‘flipping homes.’ (Rehabbing older homes and putting them back on the market for sale.) The fluctuations in the economy can carry a high risk in placing a lot of capital into one or two projects. Showhomes® gives me the opportunity to exhibit my talent in real estate and home development by staging vacant homes beautifully and selling them under an already successful brand name. I am a people-person and I enjoy having a lot of things going on at the same time. All of the processes and tools needed to develop the franchise in today’s fast paced culture are already in place. While owning a company is a huge responsibility and a lot of hard work, managing a small business provides variety that keeps me happy and satisfied.
How RMU Helped Me Prepare for my Career:
Having a BBA gives me the confidence I need to manage a company. From Financial Accounting and Economics, to Operations Management and Marketing, to Business Ethics and Consumer Behavior, the entire curriculum transformed me into becoming a more significant contributor in today’s business world. All of these courses provided real world examples in today’s business climate. Almost twenty-five years ago I received an Associates Degree of Applied Sciences from RMU upon completion of the vocational secretarial program combined with credit hours from another college. From there I landed a career as an executive secretary at a leading pharmaceutical company and after five years I worked my way up to assisting the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at their corporate headquarters. "Real college for the real world" is a true testament to the culture of RMU. The college provided a quality education that prepared me for a senior position. Two years ago, I went to the RMU placement department seeking job leads. Instead, I decided to apply for the Adult Degree Completion Program at the Lake County Location to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Business. As a single mother of three teens I was very grateful for the scholarship provided by the college to help with fulfilling my dream of completing a four-year degree. After just two years of hard work, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Magna Cum Laude! Graduation was a day of celebrating my achievement and made my family very proud! But the degree is not just a shining milestone; the education I received (once again at RMU) really was "real education for the real world." I never felt like I was just finishing a class in order to fulfill credit hours. Every class I took taught me applications for everyday business. I learned so much that I ‘didn’t know I didn’t know.’ I discovered a whole new business world even though I was already a successful business woman. When I first started the degree, I thought it was just a means to an end.
Advice to Current Students:
My advice is to remember: "By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch!" Someone once told me you never know where a job will lead you. If you are not content in your current position, look further. If you wonder how much longer you have to endure academic stress, keep persevering until it gets you what you want, especially as it relates to finishing school or an internship opportunity. For example, my internship with United Way taught me to become comfortable with public speaking. This is a vital skill to have in my current business. At the time it was difficult juggling all of the demands for so little pay, but the benefits are now paying off. I often wondered why was I doing this, but if I were to look back in time over the years at how one thing lead to the next, it all makes sense. If I connect the dots in my life, one experience always gave me something I needed for the next challenge. While you are unsure at the time why you are in a particular position in life, it is always comforting to remember that it is a stepping stone to the next career opportunity. Many times in my career I have felt I wanted to leave my position because of boredom, not enough income level or witnessing unethical behavior within a company. These obstacles were really just another door opening in disguise. Looking back I have gone from being an Executive Assistant to full-time mother, to helping manage a small architectural firm, then becoming a Realtor, becoming an entrepreneur rehabbing houses, to owning my own company. These are all linked together. Follow your passion and serve all of your life duties with integrity. This includes career, family and school commitments. Bring your excellence to those tasks and you will find yourself in a new place you never dreamed you could be. Dwell in possibility.
Robert Morris University is a private, not-for-profit associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree-granting institution, accredited by the Higher learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, 312.263.0456). RMU serves over 7000 students interested in getting an education that meets the demands of today's business, graphic arts, health care, culinary and technical world at its main campus in Chicago as well as at locations in Arlington Heights, DuPage, Elgin, Orland Park, Bensenville, Schaumburg, Springfield, Peoria and Lake County.