December 2019

The Future’s so Bright … You Gotta Wear Shades: Budget Blinds has you covered

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Bob Engler meets with a client in the Bluffton showroom.

The sprawling Bluffton showroom at our local Budget Blinds location has long been a feather in the shared cap of co-owners Bob and Kate Engler. Not traditionally a part of the Budget Blinds business model, the showroom serves as a freestanding vision board, enticing you with all of the possibilities for dressing your windows in style. Shades, blinds, plantation shutters, artistic roll-downs in eye-catching patterns—all presented like the works of art they are across three storefronts worth of space, letting you walk through the options as you envision how each would look in your home.

It’s a unique aspect of the local Budget Blinds franchise, and one that is getting ready to receive a high-tech upgrade. “We wanted to create a space where we can educate consumers about home automation and how their shades can fit into it,” Bob said. The smart home revolution has completely changed our relationships with our homes, letting us delegate the chores of turning on music, adjusting the temperature and setting the mood to Alexa, Siri or Google.

And, as the new showroom addition proves, that includes letting your smart home open and close the blinds for you. Centered around an Amazon Echo, the new home automation showcase illustrates how a simple voice command can raise or lower your blinds, giving you simple control over your home’s lighting and mood. Simpler still, you can learn how geofencing can be used to raise or lower your blinds automatically when you enter the home. “It’s not just for multi-million-dollar homes anymore,” Bob said.

The showroom concept has proven so crucial to the local Budget Blinds franchise that it’s been replicated in Beaufort, allowing the Englers to extend their reach north of the Broad. Their team of technicians and consultants had long been traveling to Beaufort, as well as Hardeeville and Ridgeland, but as the areas around Lady’s Island and the downtown area have begun booming, a permanent storefront seemed like a natural fit.

“We used to have people coming down from Beaufort to check out our showroom in Bluffton, so we knew the demand was there,” Bob said. They opened their Beaufort storefront in October and were immediately proven correct. In a little under a year, their business north of the Broad has nearly tripled. “It’s been crazy.”

The Beaufort showroom carries on the Englers’ tradition of being in the right place at the right time. Before opening the franchise, Bob had been a golf pro seeking a change of career when he happened to meet a business broker who steered him toward a Budget Blinds franchise. As luck would have it, the local franchise rights to the California-based company were available. It was serendipity, much as it was when their second location opened in Beaufort to an untapped market.

But if you ask Bob, the success of the Beaufort showroom isn’t just a matter of luck. It’s a matter of getting the right people in place. “The team over there does a really great job of letting us serve that market and being a part of the community there like we are here,” he said.

Being part of the community is as crucial to the DNA of Budget Blinds as its elegant showroom. Whether it’s sponsoring an event or contributing to local charities, the Englers have made giving back a big part. “It’s sort of our way of thanking all of our customers for all of their continued support,” Bob said. 

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