I Was an Entrepreneur From Day One
Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Bob White says he has been an entrepreneur "from day one." Immediately out of college, with no entrepreneurial experience, he opened his own full-service car wash. White loved being his own boss and followed up the car wash with a string of other business projects. Today, he is a franchisee for bluefrog Plumbing + Drain and The Maids. Here's how White developed his passion for entrepreneurship.
Name: Bob White
Franchise owned: bluefrog Plumbing + Drain and The Maids in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
How long have you owned a franchise?
I opened my first 'The Maids' franchise in 2001 and still own and operate the business. I opened my first bluefrog Plumbing + Drain franchise in November 2014.
Truthfully, I never anticipated going into franchising until I came across an article in The Wall Street Journal about the growth of the home services industry. I was driven to commercial and residential cleaning franchises after my own experience seeking a dependable and reliable company to clean my home. After researching various opportunities, I signed a franchise agreement with The Maids. Since then, I’ve expanded my service offerings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by joining the bluefrog Plumbing + Drain family as the master franchisee for the market. I like the idea of joining proven business models that provide support from both corporate and fellow franchise owners.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I’ve been an entrepreneur from day one. Immediately out of college I sold investment real estate. In 1987, I purchased a full-service car wash, which I managed and operated from 1987 through 1991. Upon moving to Dallas, I sold my car wash and acquired an independent environmental and geotechnical drilling operation. The business was bought in 1998 by a national drilling operation, which led me to open The Maids and eventually bluefrog Plumbing + Drain.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I had been researching various business opportunities within the plumbing industry for the past 10-12 years, but the right opportunity never came along. I’ve actually known Mark Dawson, the CEO and president of bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, since we were 12. We’ve been friends on Facebook and catch up every few years. One day, he posted a photo of the bluefrog Plumbing + Drain logo. I was immediately intrigued, so I sent him a private message inquiring to learn more. We set-up a time to speak and after 15 minutes, I bought the rights to the entire Dallas/Fort Worth market. I was drawn to the level of plumbing industry experience that the franchisor’s top executives brought to the table. I also love the “bluefrog” logo – our name and branding certainly separate us from competitors in the crowded plumbing space.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Approximately $90,000. Breakdown as follows: $50,000 franchise fee, $4,150 for decals & signage, $11,500 inventory, $6,125 on vehicles & equipment, $3,300 corporate training & travel, $5,000 recruiting, $4,100 attorney fees and $5,750 advertising.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I had known for years that I wanted to get into the plumbing industry, but it took a long time for the right opportunity to arise. Throughout those years, I did lots of research on the Internet, including reading industry publications and following news from industry associations. I also spoke with several franchise development teams and their franchisees to determine if they were the best opportunities for me.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I knew recruiting quality and qualified plumbers was going to be a challenge, but it was more difficult than I anticipated. bluefrog Plumbing + Drain’s support team was able to point me in the right direction and did a great job helping me find top-notch candidates, while weeding out ones who weren’t a good fit.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure the franchise you are looking into offers something unique within the particular industry. And last, but not least, make sure the franchisor is committed to building the brand and your business. Too many franchisors are more interested in selling franchises than helping their franchisees grow their business.
What’s next for you and your business?
I purchased seven franchises in the Dallas/Fort Worth area from bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. I just recently began operating in my first two territories. Therefore, my goal over the next 24 months is to begin operations in the remaining five.