Meet Jeff Hunter: Why a Plumbing Franchise Makes Sense

March 25, 2024


What is it like to own a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchise, especially if you do not have a background in plumbing? We’re spotlighting Jeff Hunter, owner of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Sherman, TX, whose journey from the corporate world to franchising offers valuable insights for anyone considering a similar path.

Hear from Jeff himself about his experiences and why a plumbing franchise was the right choice for him.

What was your background prior to franchising?

Jeff: Prior to franchising with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, I was the head of operations for a family office. We owned and operated nine companies, and I was over the corporate staff. Of those nine companies, two were restaurant-concept franchises. That’s where I initially got my understanding of the franchise world and the value that a franchise brings.

We built a lot of businesses over the six years I was there, but I wanted to do my own thing. That role equipped me for entrepreneurship, and it was a natural progression to look at what franchise opportunities were available.

The pandemic helped me narrow my search because I knew I wanted a franchise that would be recession resistant, not threatened by technology, and around for the long haul. When I considered those three criteria, it led me to the trades.

I was in the Air Force for six years as an aircraft electrician and Mister Sparky may have seemed like the more obvious choice for me. Believe it or not, that wasn’t sexy to me. Plumbing was.

You can’t live without air conditioning or heat, and you certainly need electrical, but the long-term viability of plumbing and the nature of the business stood out to me. It’s a year-round business that won’t have the shoulder seasons like the others will.

You had some experience with franchising, but no plumbing experience. Did you have any concerns about being a newcomer to the plumbing industry and diving in with a new business?

Jeff: That’s a question I get asked a lot, and a lack of plumbing experience didn’t concern me in the beginning. I’m comfortable with people, I know people, and I knew I had to hire the right talent to help me with the plumbing aspect.

There are so many intricacies involved in a plumbing business, including inventory, parts ordering, and having an educated conversation with a customer. My lack of plumbing experience became more of a concern after I started my franchise.

To overcome that, I expedited my goal of getting a plumbing manager on board, and I found the right person to fill that role. I have a really great team, and I’m excited about who I have on my bench to build from.

What skills from your previous experiences have been the most helpful to you?

Jeff: From a leadership perspective, I’ve led people and started businesses. I know what that takes. I’ve worked with franchisees that did not come from a management background, and leadership has been a bit tougher for them.

People are the name of the game. Knowing your objective and not getting distracted is important. It’s stick-to-itiveness, as Dick Vitale would say.

You also have to trust the process, as Mark Dawson [Executive Vice President of Service Trades Brands, Authority Brands] would say. Trust the process, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel – that’s the value of the franchise. Learning that from my last company was invaluable. Having worked with two different franchise concepts, I realized that those who were most successful were those that followed the process.

Has there been anything that was unexpected for you when starting your franchise?

Jeff: I didn’t think it would be so hard to hire plumbers, especially quality ones.

Have you found any resources that have been helpful with hiring?

Jeff: CareerPlug, a BuyMax resource, has been helpful with providing different avenues to hire people. Also, over time, people begin to learn we’re in the area and want to come work for me.

It took me four or five months to build my team, but now that I have those people and I have a solid foundation, we’re ready to take off. We’ve done well in the past, but I wasn’t as confident in my foundation. Now I am.

How are you measuring success for your franchise?

Jeff: To me, money is not everything. Obviously, I need it to live and as a business owner, I want to make money. In January, we surpassed our revenue goal by 190%. So, we absolutely crushed it.

Getting efficiencies in place and knowing you have an efficient operation is one way I measure success. Another way is customer feedback and that’s done through five-star reviews on Google. We’ve done well with that, but there’s always room for improvement.

What’s also great to see is that even if our call volume is low, we’re still reaching our goals. My plumbers are hitting their KPIs [key performance indicators], which is another way to measure success. When they’re hitting those KPIs, it doesn’t take a lot of calls to make good money. They’re making the most of what they get and turning it into a success with every interaction. That’s really encouraging to see.

I had a plumber go into a job that we thought was only going to be about a $300 job. He turned into an $1100 job, and he’s doing that on every single call and getting five-star reviews to boot.

It reminds me of when I used to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. People would make fun of me because I’d take so long with customers. In the rental car world, if you sell customers the insurance, you did really well. I would sell that more than anyone else, but I took longer with the customer.

So, by all means, let’s take the time with the customer. Let’s serve them well and build their trust, and they’ll buy from us. I see that happening with my guys and it’s evident based on our KPIs. They’re hitting those numbers and hitting them on a regular basis.

What resources do you use the most or find the most helpful?

Jeff: My Franchise Business Consultant, Dave Zitney, has been fantastic. The resources and the people that work for Authority Brands, not just Benjamin Franklin, are fantastic.

I heard the support network espoused before I joined Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, but the reality of it has been even better. I can call up any franchisee and ask them questions or ask for support. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, they’re always there to help. Always. I’ve never had one turn me down. Even today, I reached out to a franchise owner and his first response was that he’d help with anything I needed, including visiting his location.

I’ve got a bigger franchisee to my south with Benjamin Franklin and their operations manager, Chris McCutchen, has just been phenomenal. Any time I have a question, he’s who I go to the most. He knows plumbing, and he’s always there to help me.

Are there any ways that being a franchise owner with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing has changed you personally or professionally?

Jeff: It’s been a reset. I was in the C-Suite before with my previous job, and now I’m back in the intricacies of running a business and I’m much more involved with the people.

You have to value people. You have to establish boundaries, and I think it garners the respect of your team when you do. People want to know what the boundaries are and how they can operate.

The value of people has been refreshed in me as a new franchisee with a new business. How we need to treat our people, train them, and develop them is key.

Is there any advice that you would give someone considering franchising as their path towards business ownership, knowing what you know now?

Jeff: Do it, absolutely. Don’t be afraid. I know there’s not many franchisees that were non-plumbers with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and I’m one of the first few to do that. It didn’t scare me because I knew the support was there and I knew I would find a way.

You need resolve to make it happen. You have to be honest with yourself before getting into a franchise that you will have that resolve. Otherwise, it’s going to be a tough row to hoe.

I’m tasting some early success because of my determination, as well as the great franchise community and the team with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Authority Brands.

Is there anything about you or your business that you want to share?

Jeff: My son, Carson, has special needs and works as an apprentice plumber for me. He has some physical limitations, but my guys have been fantastic with him. They are so accepting of him and brought him in to show him the ropes.

Originally, I wanted Carson to experience something else. However, it felt like others saw his disability and dismissed him. To bring him into my franchise and give him a chance has been incredible. It’s nice to see him flourish in this environment.

What are you looking forward to with your franchise?

Jeff: I’m excited for what’s ahead. I’m not a very patient person, so I want to see this business grow. It reminds me of when your kids are young. You want to enjoy every stage, but you also can’t wait to see what the next phase is like.

I know I have to blaze the trail, and it will take time and patience to get there, but I’m looking forward to the next stage and all that it will bring.

Learn More About the Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Opportunity!

Are you ready to start your own entrepreneurial journey? Contact our team today to learn more about franchising with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and how you can go after your goals.

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