To Kristopher Stuart, operating a business is a lot like his previous career as a professional firefighter. When challenges arise, Kristopher knows how to observe, orient, decide, act and then reanalyze everything he does.
"You have to follow dependable processes and maintain focus. You have to respond based on your previous experiences," Kristopher said.
Now, as Chief Operations Officer, he's implemented several strategies and processes to help expand the Bloomin’ Blinds franchise.
The Importance of Systems
With 13 years of experience working as a firefighter and paramedic, it's safe to say he's learned a few things about systems and structure. When charting unfamiliar territory and making the best decisions for the franchise, Kristopher has learned to evaluate one thing at a time while not losing sight of its role in the bigger picture.
As a retired fire lieutenant, Kristopher knows the importance of assessing several moving parts to get the best possible outcome for all involved. During his days as a firefighter, he is reminded of the need to consider a variety of factors when formulating a fire-attack strategy; from life safety, building construction, civilians in the area and sometimes even current weather conditions. He also knows the significance of assigning everyone a specific job and trusting their capacity to positively impact the situation without micro-management. The position of COO for a fast-growing franchise holds many similarities, he says.
"As a firefighter, you have a task assignment, and others are depending on you. The accurate completion of all tasks is required for a successful outcome," Kristopher explained.
Similar to working with a fire crew, working in the franchise industry requires teamwork.
"The team has to work like a well-oiled machine. The work done together, towards a common goal, builds that!" Kristopher said.
The Importance of Structure
Throughout his career, Kristopher has learned the value of solid systems, training and repeatable operations. As a fire officer, he created a training program to teach his crew how buildings were constructed and how to combat fires based on the various building types.
Drawing on his experience gained within the fire service, Kristopher created an in-house, franchise training program for new franchisees.
"We get people all the time who have no prior knowledge of the window treatment industry. We get to train them to the point where they can be profitable immediately upon returning home," he said.
Bloomin' Blinds has been able to leverage Kristopher’s previous career experience to implement highly efficient systems and processes to simplify otherwise complex tasks. Many of the installation and repair techniques Bloomin' Blinds uses today are the direct result of that experience.
"Even though I'm in a different uniform, the same principles apply from fighting fires to the franchise business; attention to detail, constantly changing factors, variety of emotional responses of participants, potential loss, etc. It all can play a part in the outcome." he added.
The Importance of Integrity
As a leader, Kristopher tries to view obstacles from many different angles prior to deciding on a course of action. A practice common on emergency scenes from his past. As the COO, he leads with three things in mind: clear goals, humility and compassion.
"With clear goals, people will follow. With humility, it’s about being introspective and having the ability to honestly evaluate your performance and make the necessary corrections. With compassion, you give people room to make mistakes which translate into learning opportunities; everyone was a rookie when they started. That's what makes a leader and not just a manager," Kristopher said.
By leading with these things in mind, Kris helps franchisees—and himself—stay motivated and be the best they can be.
Leading with a Level Head
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic over the last year, Kristopher, and the entire Bloomin’ Blinds executive team, continued to lead the franchise with clear direction.
Thanks to his experience working in a fast-paced, high-intensity field, Kristopher refined the ability to remain level-headed and steady in times of uncertainty or panic.
"We try to keep our leadership style steady – whether it's going well or chaotic. When the entire planet was losing its head, we remained calm and focused on getting past the present obstacle. The calmness was contagious. It showed in the franchisees success through COVID."
With clear guidance and calm leadership, Bloomin' Blinds expanded to 10 new markets, added 12 new franchise agreements and saw a 47% increase in year-over-year sales in 2020 alone.
Bloomin' Blinds Franchise Opportunities Await!
Our mobile franchise continues to defy the odds by remaining a steady, trusted resource for window covering installation and repair in communities across the country. With our low start-up costs, proof of concept, powerful marketing tools, streamlined operations and advanced training, Bloomin' Blinds franchise owners are set up for growth.