From High School Sweethearts to Franchise Partners

Husband and wife team, Mike and Janine Callahan are using their background and their individual strengths to make their Fox Valley Showhomes a success. The Callahan’s are high school sweethearts who have been together for nearly 38 years. Mike was a former mortgage broker and Janine’s background is in design and décor. After Mike retired, he went back to school to pursue post graduate education and then back to work as a consultant. He began consulting for people who wanted to buy franchises, and after a Showhomes intro call to introduce brokers to the new company, it dawned on him that this would be a wonderful opportunity for he and Janine as it’s a perfect blend of their backgrounds. He called the franchise owner and two weeks later purchased their Showhomes franchise back in 2009 in the Fox Valley and have been working together ever since. Mike and Janine did not ever dream that their professional careers would merge, but this opportunity couldn’t have been a better fit for the two of them. Together they have built an award-winning location, earning awards including 2010 top decorating franchise, 2011 franchise of the year due to their triple digit growth year over year for 3 years, and in 2012 they become brand ambassadors.

Janine initially had fears about working together. But since their roles are so different in the company it has allowed them both to shine while supporting one another. Mike’s roll is more about interacting with the business and marketing end of the company. And Janine’s never in one place—she is out scouting properties, pulling furniture and decorating homes.  Janine is right brained, and Mike and left brained—it is the perfect yin and yang.

What services does your Showhomes offer?fox valley party

We can do anything from the front curb to the back alley to help sell a home.  If the home is completely vacant we bring in furnishings, hang art, bring in TV’s, and make it look like someone is living there. Janine loves the challenge of creatively staging quirky rooms and spaces, to give buyers an idea of what they could do with the space. We also stage from top to bottom and can bring in a home manager. The home manager’s role is to care for the house and make sure it shows well; anything from making sure to turn on music, mow the lawn, and make sure the sidewalks are shoveled to making sure that there is no water in the basement. If a person is still living there we can do a one day makeover where we lighten things up for example by moving existing furnishings to best accent the home.


We have a total of 10 employees including ourselves.  Janine is the lead designer.  And we have a fabulous staff with varied talents ranging from professional organizers to designers like Janine —Janine’s goal is to train herself out of a job. I want to teach each person on the team and empower them to be able to function without me.


What are some interesting stories about working with Showhomes?

The owners of a (doll brand) were the owners of a 14,000 sq. /ft. home in St. Charles, Illinois. It sat on 22 acres with pond, pool, guest house. The home was on the market for five years with no offers. We went in and staged it. We sold in a short time. The owners are such big fans they are now considering opening a franchise of their own. The homeowners liked what we did so much that they actually hired Janine separately to decorate another one of their homes in Florida.


Also, when Hollywood is filming in the area they use houses on the market for the stars to stay in. A studio once tried to get a famous Hollywood hunk into one of their homes for six months.


What groups or charities are you involved in?

We are very community-minded. We are also very involved in our church (Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL) and that has brought up a lot of charitable opportunities. When we started the business we decided that each year we would donate a portion of our earnings to a charity. We recently donated to Camp Reynolds Wood, and in the past we have given to the Fox Valley Pregnancy Center and most recently Fox Valley Food for Health.

Mike and Janine truly enjoy their association with the Fox Valley Food for Health. They were able to get one of their contract designers into the program after she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time this past year. Jeannie Harms, a professional organizer and longtime friend, has been working with Mike and Janine for three years, and has recently ended chemotherapy and is finishing radiation. She is doing well and is actually back working a light schedule.



Founded in 1986, Showhomes has helped Realtors® and homeowners sell more than 25,000 residential properties worth more than $8.5 billion, by transforming high-end vacant houses into fully-furnished, inviting, valued Showhomes. Currently serving prominent communities in 20 states, Showhomes is a rapidly expanding franchise system with 61 offices nationwide. Boasting the expertise of long-time real estate and interior design professionals, Showhomes is a one-stop-shop for home staging, home redesign, “One-Day Makeover’s” for currently occupied homes and its proprietary Home Manager program – a proven model to get upscale vacant homes off the market, faster. Every major national media outlet in the U.S. has praised the work of Showhomes, the company’s work has also been featured on Oprah, HGTV and the Travel Channel.  For more information or to learn about franchise opportunities, please


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