How Blingle! Became One of the Fastest-Growing Franchises of 2023
Zach Beutler of HorsePower brands explains what it takes to turn a new franchise brand into a glowing opportunity.
Holiday, event, and landscape lighting franchise Blingle! is the second brand launched by HorsePower Brands, which also franchises Mighty Dog Roofing. Despite just beginning to franchise in 2021, it has already claimed a spot on Entrepreneur's Fastest-Growing Franchises list, landing at No. 144 in 2023. We spoke with HorsePower's cofounder and chief development officer Zach Beutler to find out what makes Blingle! shine so brightly.
How did Blingle! get started?
My partner, Josh Skolnick, and I acquired the business in 2021 and rebranded it to Blingle!—"bling" and "jingle" combined—and began franchising it. The business model was solely around holiday lighting, and it was fantastic. But we felt there was also a huge need for landscape lighting and event lighting, so we added those services, and now we've found them to be an even bigger piece of the business than the holiday lighting.
What makes Blingle! stand out from other franchises?
What we've found is that buying a Blingle! franchise is a logical business decision, because the business makes money, but there's an emotional component, too. You're making holiday dreams come true. So franchisees are drawn to how the brand makes people feel. And it's just been a rocket ship. We typically run one training academy a month, and in October we had to run four academies back to back to get all of the franchisees open before the holidays. Today we're approaching 200 territories awarded, and I think we'll be around 400 by the end of 2023.
How do you prepare for that kind of growth?
We knew coming into this that Blingle! was going to be a hot brand, and to be able to scale without having a dilution of support to the franchisees, we were going to have to make a significant investment in infrastructure. So we actually started a secondary business called Lights for Christmas. We signed a 50,000 square foot warehouse, and imported $12 million worth of Christmas lights, to give franchisees direct access to the supply chain at lower costs. We would not have been able to sell very many franchises at all if we didn't have that resource for the franchisees.
We also started with a much bigger corporate team behind Blingle! than we had started with for Mighty Dog. There's no way we would have been able to open almost 30 locations in 60 days, as we did, without a big team that could handle that type of growth.
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Besides the emotional aspect, what draws franchisees to this concept?
On the holiday side, it's a residual business, with something like a 93% retention rate. There aren't that many residual services annually like that, and the profit margins are incredible. It's not a hard service to install, and we can train franchisees to do it in about 30 minutes. So it's not skilled labor like HVAC or plumbing. It's easy to learn, and there's huge demand.
Then after the holiday season, they can dive right in to landscape lighting and event lighting to diversify and have a year-round business.
What types of franchisees has Blingle! attracted?
We don't require franchisees to purchase multiple territories, but we have no single-territory operators. The average is three territories per franchisee. About half are semi-absentee, or as we like to call them, semi-involved; they have a full-time job and run this business on the side.
We've had several franchisees who referred family and friends to the brand to become franchisees themselves, which happens with other brands, but not at the same rate—there's definitely something special about this specific brand. One of the things we're really proud of is our first franchisee of Mighty Dog Roofing came back a year later and was the first franchisee of Blingle! and we have several franchisees of our other brands that have followed suit.
What advice would you give to other franchisors looking to grow a new brand quickly?
I think franchisors tend to really underestimate how much capital it's going to take. We think you need at least $3 million to $5 million to launch a franchise brand correctly, and no one else does that.