Franchise broker and risk management consultant saw owning a window film franchise as an opportunity that was too good to pass by
When Audrey Randall looks over franchise opportunities, she does so with a very seasoned eye. The longtime insurance and risk-management professional is also a licensed franchise broker, so she makes it her business to seek out the best brands, and then help entrepreneurs align with the right fit for their strengths. That’s why it’s so telling that, not long after she became aware of Frost Shades, she became the owner of Frost shades of Southwest Michigan and has been busy building her new business.
What was your background in business, and how did that lead you to Frost Shades?
I’ve been in the insurance and risk-management arena for more than 25 years, working as a certified risk manager and certified insurance counselor. Most recently, I’ve been helping businesses protect their assets and finances through risk-management solutions. With an affordable insurance solution, they can transfer exposure to an insurance contract, for instance. In 2018, I purchased a license with Business Alliance to join their franchise broker network, and also began my own risk-management consulting business.
I get to help people find franchise opportunities that align with their financial and lifestyle goals. I help them through the discovery process, which is a lot like the format I have used in risk-management consulting work. It’s a very similar approach in terms of the desired outcome.
As for Frost Shades, I was working with a candidate in the Washington, D.C.-West Virginia area, someone who was a very high-level marketing salesperson and who wanted to transition out of the government-related work they were doing. We were looking at a brand that offered blinds, drapes and shades, but the territory and demographics weren’t quite right. So, I began looking at anything that involved window treatments, and saw that most everything in that area was taken. What that told me was that if you’re working in anything related to windows, you’re going to have a high demand.
What happened next?
I knew that we had Frost Shades in our portfolio of 300 brands, so I did more research into its business model. As I dove in further, I found a lot to like about the business opportunity. I had heard some of the brand’s leadership speaking at events, and so I began to look at it not just for clients, but also for myself. I had been living in Madison, Wisc., and wanted to move back to Kalamazoo [Mich.] and this presented the opportunity to begin a business with a low cost of entry and launch in a wide-open market with little competition. I wanted in, and now I am. I purchased my territory April 1, but due to moving and all I didn’t really begin operations until Aug. 1.
What’s your territory like?
I actually am going to have two territories; one now, and then I plan to pick up a second one next year once I have everything going. My first territory is six counties, and it’s absolutely perfect for this market space. I’ve got Kalamazoo County all the way out to [Lake Michigan], and then down to the Indiana border and out east to the border of Calhoun County. It’s very big, but really is drawn perfectly for this area. One of the great things about being an early entrant into this brand is that such large territories are available. I don’t think that will be the case five years from now!
Can you speak more about why Frost Shades appealed to you, beyond it being in the supercharged window-treatment space?
It has strong business fundamentals, and also a creative aspect. I get to work with design and decorative film, and that gives options to each client. I am working now with an office space with windows to the ceiling, and so there we can have a decorative film that matches their aesthetic. People really do feel calm and energized when the windows are properly treated. And from a risk-management standpoint, solar absorption means solar energy reduction, and less ultraviolet light getting to people is very appealing to me from an environmental standpoint.
More than anything, it’s a simple business model. There’s a low cost of goods sold, so as a franchise owner I have a great price point for the film, and so have a good margin. I can grow the business slowly, by adding one installer at a time, and so that’s a manageable process. I want to have someone out installing while I am working on the business, and so far that is how it is working out. And lastly, the demand is there, which means I can grow a team and develop team leaders as well as grow the business.
How was the training and onboarding, from your perspective as someone well versed in franchisor operations?
This is a new brand and that is a work in progress. That said, if you are willing to work alongside the corporate team, they are evolving quickly, and it is getting better all the time. I can tell you right now that if you pick up the phone to tell them you need something, they will do whatever it takes to help you be successful. I have seen great improvement all across the board in the five months I have been involved, and I see it gelling and really coming together even more as we continue to grow.
Who’s the kind of person who’ll do well as a Frost Shades franchise owner?
Someone who is a team player, and someone who also takes total responsibility for what they are doing. The foundation is laid for this to be a very successful brand, but it’s still developing. This is an emerging brand, and so if you’re someone who wants to get in early on something and put in the work not just to grow your business but also help the brand grow, this is absolutely a phenomenal opportunity.