Ben Franklin
Left, General Manager Mike Mohn; right, Durand Hopkins.

Plumbing Franchise Offers Strong Support, Bright Future

July 19, 2018
Durand Hopkins knows what franchising is all about, and he knows the bright future that awaits him with Benjamin Franklin Pluming.

With 27 successful years in home services behind him, Durand Hopkins is looking forward to the great things that lie ahead for he and his family, as the owner of a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchise.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is operated by Clockwork, Inc., a member of the Direct Energy group of companies that also includes One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky electric.

And though he’s only been a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchisee since February of this year, Hopkins can already speak volumes about the help he has received from the Direct Energy/Benjamin Franklin support team, and the plans that are in place for franchise expansion.

Hopkins knows a thing or two about franchising, because he’s worked for or owned three others during his career. He started in the residential service business in 1991, when he graduated from high school, and was hired by Stanley Steamer as a carpet cleaning technician.

In 1998, he accepted a management position with Coit Carpet Cleaning in Cleveland. One year in, he felt ready to venture out on his own, and started his own business, National Steam Team.

Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola, Fla. In 2004, and Hopkins traveled south to help with relief efforts. It was there that he saw the potential that existed in the water damage restoration industry. Back home in Cleveland, he became trained and certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration. His water restoration work occasionally brought Hopkins in contact with a local Benjamin Franklin franchise in the Cleveland area. He was impressed with Benjamin Franklin methods, image and good service delivery.

In 2013, he became a ServiceMaster water damage restoration franchisee in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties in Northern Ohio.

Hopkins eventually believed plumbing would be a great way to expand his services to his water restoration customers, so in 2017 he signed on with a ServiceMaster plumbing franchise and was soon one of the top producers in the ServiceMaster Home Services plumbing division nationwide. When ServiceMaster corporation decided to pull out of the plumbing business, he contacted Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

For each new franchise conversion, a multiple-person team is dispatched to provide extended, on-site instruction and mentoring for three to five months, depending on the size of the business and the amount of work required to get the new enterprise off the ground.

Hopkins says the Benjamin Franklin Plumbing organization’s support community is a tremendous help, and he looks forward to the future he can enjoy with his wife/business partner Tonya and their three young daughters.

“Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchisees receive unmatched support from other franchisees throughout the country,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive and personable, and the growth plan they have for me is going to give me some financial independence.”

The growth plan outlined for Hopkins includes first expanding throughout Cuyahoga County and into a neighboring Ohio county to the south, and then adding one new territory per year, over the next 10 years.

“And when you buy a territory, it’s your territory,” he shares. “It’s not like someone else can come into it. You have all the rights to the territory you own.

“The one thing that excites me more than anything is that the training Direct Energy provides for technicians and franchise owners is going to produce jobs, and that’s really important to me,” he said. Hopkins has a special commitment to youth, and when not in the office, he volunteers in helping young people see the importance of careers.

Hopkins is aware that franchising has some negative connotations, such as strict quotas and no control, however, his experience with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing has been nothing like that.

“Some entrepreneurs may think you don’t have as much control, because ‘Big Brother’ is looking over your shoulder, but that’s not the case with Direct Energy,” he said. “They assist you in growing your business, and they protect the brand and the industry, so that it’s consistent across the country.”

For each new franchise conversion, a multiple-person team is dispatched to provide extended, on-site instruction and mentoring for three to five months, depending on the size of the business and the amount of work required to get the new enterprise off the ground.

Hopkins had praise for Greg Roche, his Benjamin Franklin area development manager.

“Greg has been a great help through the entire process. He has actually worked through the system as a franchisee, and ended up with several trucks. I want to say I would like to have a 100-truck operation, but I’m not sure of what the exact number that will be. He’s able to guide me through the whole process.”

Hopkins currently operates 13 trucks. He admits to very busy days. If there were eight days to a week, he could fill them. But he is confident in the plan of action that will be his guide.

“With the Direct Energy growth plan, I’m able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be working hard, but I see how it will create financial independence for me and my family.

“With Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Direct Energy, I really feel like they protect the brand,” Hopkins said. “When you have someone assisting you in growing your business, it helps to bring consistency. It really is a partnership. There are certain qualifications you have to meet to get into a franchise, which is important so that the brand is protected. They provide systems for everything related to the business.”

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