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A Husband-and-Wife Team Converted Their Family Business to a Franchise to Make More Time for Family Jon and Kari Murdock knew it would take years to scale on their own, and Mr. Rooter's franchise model helped them grow.

By Chloe Arrojado Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the September 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Mr. Rooter Plumbing

Jon and Kari Murdock had a hard decision to make. The Kalispell, Montana–based couple had been running an independent plumbing business since 2015 — and then, in 2020, Mr. Rooter invited them to convert their company into a Mr. Rooter and join its 200-plus North American locations. The Murdocks believed that Mr. Rooter aligned with their values, but struggled over giving up their business's branding and identity. Ultimately, though, they decided it would take years to scale on their own, and felt Mr. Rooter had the right model to help them grow. Becoming a franchisee would also give them more time with their two daughters. Here, Kari explains the transition.

What sold you on turning the family business into a franchise?

Hearing about Mr. Rooter's customer focus and the values they have for their company really struck both Jon and me. That was very important to us — having integrity and being honest. We wouldn't have done it had those values not been part of the package, and we really focus on that when we talk to people in the community. It's still us. The name changed, but the values didn't.

Related: When a School Teacher Bought a Boat Club, Being a Constant Learner Kept Her Afloat

What were your concerns about growing the business independently?

Scaling up was a big challenge. There were a lot of trial-­and-error type things we would have to work through if we did it on our own. We felt like going with a proven model would be a better way to make sure we weren't wasting time and money in growing our business. We worked with a representative to develop a marketing plan and a budget. We got a new software system that helps us with our scheduling and invoicing. If we hire people in between the live training, there are online modules that explain our values and every step of our process.

What was the most difficult thing about transitioning?

It may sound silly, but the name change and losing our logo was the hardest step for us. It was so personal, having our name on the business. We'd hired a marketer and spent a lot of time developing our logo. But the most important consideration in the long run was for us to have a family life outside of the business, and the franchise really helps us do that. When it was a family business, we were on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Related: What to Know to Run a Successful Family Business

What goals do you guys have for the future?

We are currently looking for additional journeymen plumbers to join us as we continue to grow our business. We were told when we were first looking at the franchise that if you are required to be on-site for the business to run, you don't have a business — you have a job. That was a big "aha!" for us. So our ultimate goal is to own a business we can step back from and still have it run efficiently.

What are some of thenpros and cons of being a franchisee versus being independent?

The biggest pro for us is the community and the support we get — not just from the company, but from the other franchise owners. When you're a small business owner, you're working hard for yourself, and at times it can feel a little bit lonely or isolated. Now we make better-informed decisions, but they're still our decisions to make.

Chloe Arrojado

Entrepreneur Staff

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