This annual list of the best plumbing franchises was posted on August 26, 2022.
People need plumbers. Water pipes and drains are important systems that have to be regularly maintained and quickly repaired when they go wrong. Without them, life would be difficult at best and impossible at worst. When they go wrong, leaks and blockages can lead to huge costs through lost water and damage to the buildings they’re in.
While some homeowners choose to maintain their own plumbing, most don’t have the specialist skills or tools, and that has created a substantial market for plumbers, in which franchises play a significant part. The plumbing services franchise industry is worth $1.4 billion in the US, with nearly 3,000 businesses employing over 7,000 people.
This industry covers a variety of related work, and franchises usually show their strength by covering the full range. This includes unclogging drains, fixing leaks, maintaining and repairing water heaters, inspecting for problems, and even dealing with septic tank systems. The workings of toilets, showers, boilers, and garbage disposals all have to be understood to get the job done. It’s an industry that relies on technical skills, specialist equipment, and experience with practicalities to do a good job. A recognizable brand can provide customers with reassurance that they’ll get those things.
Plumbing work isn’t just about repairs and maintenance on occupied properties. New builds and big renovation projects need to have plumbing installed, meaning that plumbers can often find work on construction projects. Work contracting for construction companies can provide a regular income stream in areas with a booming housing market, allowing plumbers to more reliably pay their bills.
Up until 2020, there was strong demand for plumbers and their services, leading to expansion in this industry. Economic growth spurred residential construction projects, for which plumbers were regularly employed. High per capita income meant that consumers could afford to pay plumbers instead of trying to fix leaks themselves, and even to bring plumbers in to upgrade and replace existing plumbing systems. The franchised part of the industry grew by half a billion dollars in seven years.
The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on plumbing franchises, as it did on so many industries. Limited access to homes and the economic slowdown hit plumbing revenues, though not as hard as many other industries, setting revenues back a couple of years. Due to its critical nature, the industry began recovering as soon as the economy did, and revenues for 2022 are almost back to where they were pre-pandemic. A large part of the industry’s revenue comes from work on new single-family homes, and as construction recovers, so does plumbing.
Demand for franchised plumbers is expected to keep rising, but at a decelerated rate. Growth in the industry is currently only 0.1% per year, and a looming rise in mortgage rates is expected to lead to a decline in residential market work. If housing investment and construction slow, then plumbers will feel the impact.
Competition for plumbing work can be high, but the need for specialist skills helps to balance this. If you have the training to do the job well, or can find employees who do, then you have the foundation for a solid business. Keeping on top of the latest technology is also important. Advances such as push fit piping and specialist industry software can make a business more cost effective and provide better results for customers.
As in any customer-facing industry, people skills are important. Plumbers who create a good impression, both through their technical work and their positive attitude to clients, will get the critical recommendations they need to make their business grow. Many customers rely on word-of-mouth recommendations for home repairs, and you need that word-of-mouth to be good.
The Top Plumbing Franchises of 2022
Rooter-Man provides both residential and commercial customers with plumbing, sewer, septic, and drain cleaning services. Licensed and fully insured, each locally owned and operated location offers a full range of plumbing services, including 24/7 fast emergency services and maintenance plans. Their attention to the details of top-notch customer service and fair pricing are what has helped them become the largest plumbing franchise in the nation.
Rooter-Man also markets its own brand of non-acidic, non-caustic drain cleaner called Liquid Rooter Bio Concentrate. It can clear a range of clogs (organic waste, paper, grease, fats) with special enzymes containing live bacteria to attack grease, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates while also controlling odors.
Founded by Donald MacDonald in North Billerica, Massachusetts in 1970 and franchising since 1981, the number of locations has climbed steadily in recent years from 489 in 2012 to the current total of 768 (up from the previously reported total of 757), of which 25 are company-owned and 51 are located outside the US.
2. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing approaches the business of plumbing from the wise words once spoken by Benjamin Franklin himself: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.” The company’s tagline is “The Punctual Plumber,” which the company backs up with not only a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but also an on-time guarantee that pays customers $5 for every minute a scheduled plumbing technician is late.
The full range of plumbing services covers design, installation, and repairs, including 24/7 emergency services, but the company never charges after-hours fees, not even during weekends or holidays. It also offers a regular plumbing maintenance service called The Ben Franklin Society Membership Program.
This franchise is part of the Authority Brands family of companies providing a wide range of in-home services, including plumbing, electrical, residential cleaning, at-home care, swimming pool repair/maintenance, and pest control. Founded in 2000 and franchising since 2001, the number of locations has held relatively steady in recent years and currently stands at 266, of which none are company-owned and 10 are located outside the US.
3. Mr. Rooter
Mr. Rooter is a full-service plumbing and drain cleaning company, providing both residential and commercial customers with up-front flat-rate pricing free of overtime charges. The company stands by its work with several “done right” promises, including a 30-day Done Right Promise related to drain cleaning, a 90-day Done Right Promise on repair workmanship, a 1-year Done Right Promise on replacement workmanship for residential clients, and a 30-day Done Right Promise on all workmanship for commercial clients. It also offers a membership maintenance and perks program called the Advantage Plan.
Mr. Rooter is part of the Neighborly family of home service brands. Neighborly is the largest home services company with more than 30 brands and 5,000 franchises in six countries. Founded by David Duck in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1968 and franchising since 1972, the number of locations has been declining in recent years from 353 in 2012 to the current total of 245 (up slightly from the previously reported total of 238), of which three are company-owned and 24 are located outside the US.
4. bluefrog Plumbing + Drain
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain serves both residential and commercial customers with a full range of plumbing and drain cleaning services, including 24/7/365 emergency service, no overtime charges, free diagnostics if it leads to a paid repair, a free home plumbing evaluation, and their bfpd Proactive Protection Program with 15% discounted services, priority scheduling, and free annual plumbing inspection and evaluation. They also separately offer a maintenance agreement to keep a customer’s plumbing system in tip-top shape.
Stellar Service Brands is the parent company, which owns other residential and commercial service brands such as Restoration 1, Softroc, and The Driveway Company in addition to bfpd. Founded in Waco, Texas in 2013 and franchising since 2014, there are currently 19 locations, of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
5. Z Plumberz
Z Plumberz helps both residential and commercial customers meet all their plumbing, sewer, and drain issues in a timely fashion. The company has invested a lot into training, and not just for the franchisee owning and running the business, but also for plumbing technicians. Each location employs certified, licensed Master Plumbers, Journeymen, and Apprentices, and every team member attends extensive initial and ongoing training in the company’s state-of-the-art training facility. Customers know every Z Plumberz technician has the experience, skills, and training needed to do the job right the first time.
Z Plumberz is a subsidiary of its parent company, the BELFOR Franchise Group, which is a family of brands that provide cleaning, maintenance, and restoration services. Founded in the Midwest in 2007 and franchising since 2017, there are currently 17 locations, of which none are company-owned and one is located outside the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.