Franchise Players

This Franchisee's Goal of Owning His Own Plumbing Business Was No Pipe Dream

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

As a plumber and draining industry professional who already had decades of experience under his belt, Trent Dawson wanted more. He was a third-generation licensed plumber whose family had owned mechanical, repair and construction businesses for as long as he could remember. In fact, his great-grandfather had been a master plumber before phone numbers even existed. But Dawson wanted something beyond a comfortable living and a solid family legacy: He had always set his sights on owning his own business in the field. So, seven-and-a-half years ago, he bought a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise in Ohio, where he's been growing his business and customer base ever since.

Name: Trent Dawson

Franchise owned: Mr. Rooter Plumbing, in Mansfield, Ohio

How long have you owned a franchise?

I’ve been a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise owner for seven-and-a-half years.

Related: Franchise Players: I Went From Franchisor to Retiree to Franchisee

Why franchising?

Franchised businesses provide owners with a really strong system to operate under, which was very appealing to me. The support from the corporate side was also a big draw. Starting your own business is always risky, but a strong franchise with strategic guidelines and procedures helps set you up for success and opens the door to endless business opportunities.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I’ve been in the plumbing and drain cleaning industry for more than a decade. I actually worked for another national company as a service technician before franchising with Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I’ve always wanted to be a business owner, and with my background in the plumbing industry, I knew I could put my expertise to good use by opening a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise in my area. Also, the company has such a great reputation and operates based on a set of values that are in line with my own. Good customer service is very important to me, and Mr. Rooter prides itself on just that. And, lucky for me, the territory was available for me to purchase!

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

We spent approximately $114,000 before officially opening for business, between the investment for our territory, our vans and exterior branding, tools, equipment and supplies.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I turned to friends and other local business owners for advice about running a successful business in this market. I also did a lot of research on the brand and found a lot of value, in reading franchisee testimonials and other success stories.

Related: I Was an Entrepreneur From Day One

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

In the beginning, I would definitely say that I underestimated the costs associated with starting up the business. It was a challenge to find funds to finance, and it became clear that availability for financing was limited.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

For someone looking to open their own franchise, I would tell them first and foremost to educate themself on the industry they’re getting into. It’ll make the startup process much more seamless if they’re knowledgeable about the products and/or services they’re offering consumers -- in addition to being well versed on the business and operations side. My other piece of advice is to be open-minded, patient, and strategic and surround yourself with good people who have your business’ best interest at heart. 

What’s next for you and your business?

Right now, I’m really staying focused on the big picture and overall growth of my business -- seeking opportunities that will help us continue to flourish while maintaining the high-quality service my customers have come to expect from us.

Related: This Repair Technician Proves Any Time Can Be Right to Start Your Business

Edition: October 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now