In this exclusive Q&A, we get to know Bob White, franchisee of bluefrog Plumbing + Drain and The Maids.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background. What drove you to franchise entrepreneurship?
Bob White (BW): I have always worked for myself since graduating from the University of Alabama. Shortly after graduating, I purchased a full-service carwash in my hometown of Columbia, TN. Operating a carwash teaches all types of skills such as recruiting and retaining reliable employees, customer service and being able to forecast the weather.
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All carwash owners are at the mercy of the local weatherman. If the local weatherman predicts any inclement weather in the coming days, your business suffers dramatically.
After operating the carwash for several years, I relocated to Dallas, TX where I entered into partnership with a geologist who owned a truck-mounted drilling rig. We started an independent environmental and geo-technical drilling company called Groundwater Monitoring, Inc. We provided services such as core sampling and monitor well installation to engineers and geologists throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
We sold the company five years after start-up, and a few years later, I entered the franchise world in 2001 by opening my first The Maids franchise in Dallas. I currently own five licensed The Maids franchise territories in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, all operated out of one centrally-located office.
Last year, 2014, I joined the bluefrog Plumbing + Drain franchise family and purchased the franchise rights to develop seven territories within Dallas, Collin, Denton and Tarrant Counties. We opened for business on November 3, 2014.
FC: Why did you decide to become a bluefrog Plumbing + Drain franchisee?
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BW: Over the years I have tried to get into the plumbing business, but the right opportunity just never came along.
I was introduced to the bluefrog Plumbing + Drain brand back in April, 2014 through a Facebook post. After a brief telephone call with CEO of Home Brands Group, Mark Dawson, and a visit to the corporate office in Tempe, AZ, I knew they had put together something unique in the plumbing industry and I wanted to be involved.
FC: What key criteria do you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
BW: When evaluating potential business opportunities I ask myself three preliminary questions: Is there a need for the service? Is it a profitable service? What are the barriers to entry? From there, I do extensive research on the Internet and read industry publications.
FC: What sets your bluefrog Plumbing + Drain apart from other plumbing businesses in your community?
BW: I think we have a very unique name and logo (our bright-blue frog, named Freddie) that are easily marketable and set us apart from competitors in the plumbing space. Also, we are very committed to the customer and provide first-class customer service. We stay open 24/7 all 365 days of the year and there is no extra charges for nights, weekends or holiday calls.
Our brand focuses on five key attributes: timeliness, safety, professionalism, consideration and a transparent value. We have guidelines to ensure that each customer receives the same high level of attention and service. For example, our service experts give each client a courtesy call while on their way with the projected arrival time, and email a photo of the employee that will be visiting each home.
FC: Tell us about the level of training and support your franchisor provides.
BW: It’s excellent! Leading up to a week of training at the corporate office, there are a lot of initial start-up items that the support staff assists you with on almost a daily basis.
The week-long training session at the corporate office is organized well and informative. Corporate provides computer, software and telephone training with a business coach, in addition to spending time covering marketing strategies, sensitivity and customer service training, how to recruit the right people and train them, and more.
Once my bluefrog Plumbing + Drain opened, bluefrog continued to support and provide guidance in these areas.
FC: What are the pros of franchising versus being an independent plumber? The cons?
BW: The biggest pro in my opinion is having a national brand standing behind you and helping you build awareness. It’s also great and comforting to build a business on proven systems. Up to this point, it’s been smooth sailing with no cons.
FC: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
BW: Make sure the franchisor is financially stable and committed to building the brand and your business. I see too many franchisors that are more interested in simply selling franchises than helping their current franchisees grow.
FC: What is your favorite part about being a bluefrog Plumbing + Drain franchisee?
BW: I really enjoy talking and collaborating with my fellow franchise partners. We have some solid entrepreneurs that have joined the franchise system who are committed to building their businesses the right way.
FC: How do you plan to grow your business further?
BW: My plan is to put a competent Manager/Master Plumber that wants to build his own business and someday own the territory in each of my seven territories. Over time, as they develop the business management skills by working closely with me on a daily basis, each one will have the opportunity to take the reins of my franchise with the profits they generate from their efforts.
Founded in 2014, bluefrog Plumbing + Drain’s mission is to become the premier plumbing and drain-cleaning service franchise. The company is part of Home Brands Group™, a national franchise system with more than 35 years of experience with brands Re-Bath® and 5 Day Kitchens™. For more information, please visit http://bluefrogplumbing.com/.