Showroom vs Home Office: how the home improvement franchise model is changing

The home improvement sector's franchise model has undergone a significant evolution. The traditional concept of bricks-and-mortar showrooms as the centre of operations is encountering a formidable challengeru2026 the home office.

Showroom vs Home Office: how the home improvement franchise model is changing

And with online sales’ shares of all retail spending rising to a record high of 33.9%1, new technologies and a younger generation of customers are reshaping the landscape, ultimately influencing prospects’ decisions when it comes to which franchise model to invest in. 

Is it a passing trend or the future of the industry? Here, Will Frankling, founder of the innovative home improvement franchise, Kitchen Makeovers, discusses how such brands have had to adapt their approaches to suit the ever-changing behaviour of consumers.

Times are changing

Societal change is happening all around us – it is an unavoidable fact of life. And as 44% of UK British people now work from home at least some of the time (hybrid or full-time remote)2, the events of the last few years have introduced us to a new era for the home renovations sector. With people spending more time in their homes than ever, it has made the kitchen one of the central points of our lives again. And whilst many are feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis, home renovation activity and spending are at the highest rates reported since 20183. Consumers want to renovate their kitchens, but both entrepreneurs and consumers alike also want to find cost-effective alternatives to satisfy the demand. 

Whilst the high street has shown signs of improvement in recent years, total retail footfall in the UK is still well behind pre-pandemic levels. High streets, retail parks and shopping centres registered 11.5%, 5.3% and 20.3% lower footfall since 20194. A younger, greener generation of online shoppers has forced the industry to adapt. Consumers want products that are more affordable and more sustainable, so emerging brands within the sector must step up to meet that demand. 

A new challenger rises

The concept of a home office as the central hub has gained remarkable traction, replacing the conventional showroom with a dynamic digital counterpart. This innovative shift brings online showrooms right to the doorstep of customers. 

By eliminating the need for a physical showroom, franchisees are experiencing significant reductions in their overhead costs. These newfound savings can be channelled into bolstering crucial areas such as sales, marketing and franchise development. Not only is there a growing generation of customers looking for online solutions, but this transformation is also enabling these sought-after services to be rendered at a more affordable and competitive price point. As a result, this model of franchising not only adapts to the changing market dynamics but also positions itself as a cost-effective and customer-centric solution.

Digital alternatives might just be the ‘secret ingredient’ a growing tech-savvy generation needs when it comes to kitchen renovations. This is affirmed further as it has been reported that millennials account for 44% of all online retail shoppers in the UK5, a trend that future generations are likely to continue propelling even further. 

There’s no school like the old school

Showrooms are a tried-and-tested model, that is not an opinion, it is a fact. Despite the rise of digital solutions, there remains a genuine appreciation for the experience of exploring things in a physical space. As a result, it becomes imperative for franchises to strike a balance between embracing innovative digital strategies and meeting the demands of consumers who seek the hands-on engagement that only a physical environment can provide.

The ability to show a level of knowledge and professionalism in person can be a real asset that cannot be as easily conveyed online. Whilst there is a growing trend for online sales, there’s still a very large market for those that prefer to do their shopping in person. While the conventional showroom may have competition, it would be premature to declare it obsolete. Rather than fading away entirely, the traditional showroom will need to adapt to the changing landscape. For example, at Kitchen Makeovers we have adapted our own model by taking the showroom to the customer. We maintain that hands-on engagement but also take advantage of new technologies to help the client fully visualise the changes in the comfort of their own home. 

The home renovations sector is changing, whilst the showroom model used to dominate the sector, technology and a new generation of customers have shown that competition is growing. The kitchen renovations market is a large one and, even though the showroom isn’t going away anytime soon, the home office and in-home customer experience looks set to become a leading preference for consumers and franchisees alike. 

1 Elizabeth Cooke, 2022, The death of the high street? Future-proofing our centres

2 ONS, 2023, Characteristics of homeworkers, Great Britain: September 2022 to January 2023

Houzz & Home Renovation Trends Study, 2022

4 British Retail Consortium, 2023, Return of the weekend shopper

5 MoneyTransfers, 2023, 20 Insightful UK Online Shopping Statistics for 2023

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