One Year In, bluefrog Gaining Ground in Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Industry

New franchise experiences steady growth since February 2014 launch.
One Year In, bluefrog Gaining Ground in Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Industry
At the end of year one, bluefrog Plumbing + Drain already had 24 franchises in place, with 21 of those off and running in 11 states.

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After launching a little more than a year ago, bluefrog Plumbing + Drain has established a solid footprint and is on track to achieving its growth goals.

Jeff Moody, vice president for operations with bluefrog, believes there’s room in the drain cleaning and service plumbing marketplace for the operation to grow nationally as it distinguishes itself from other franchises with much longer histories.

Same-store sales at its operations have shown good month-to-month performance, Moody says. The privately held company does not release financials.

At the time of its launch in February 2014, his goal was to see bluefrog with 100 franchises around the country in four years. At the end of year one, it already has 24 in place, with 21 of those off and running in 11 states.

“Texas has turned out to be our biggest market so far,” Moody says, with bluefrog beachheads in five cities: Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock, and Amarillo. That’s the result of coincidence, however, not any particular strategic focus on the state.

The company name and its blue frog cartoon mascot don’t hurt in drawing interest. They also help set it apart. “We’re not lost in the ‘rooter’ clutter,” Moody says. But it’s the company’s message and outlook that he believes has driven the early success.

The bluefrog franchise has been pushing distinctive, customer-friendly attributes. “We don't charge to show up,” he says. “We don’t charge extra for nights, weekends or holidays.”

Practices such as eliminating the trip charge and premium pay have caught the eye of consumers in the markets where bluefrog has started up, he says, and they’ve attracted franchisees who are in sync with the company’s approach.

“What we’re basically telling them is that we can help them go out there, we can make them better at what they do and make them business leaders within their companies — not just technicians out delivering a service,” Moody says. “We've delivered the message to the people delivering the service that the client is important.”

He points to the company’s Net Promoter Score — a metric measuring customer enthusiasm — and says bluefrog’s performance is consistently above 8 on the 10-point NPS scale. That’s significant, he says, because it’s harder in the drain cleaning industry to get a strong score.

That’s because the measure of satisfaction for the customer is to restore the status quo after a disruption, not getting some new perk in their lives.

“Nobody wakes up in the morning wanting to call the plumber,” Moody says. “Our clients don’t walk away with a new pair of shoes. They walk away with hot water again after they didn’t have hot water.”

The bluefrog franchise is part of Home Brands Group, an owner of remodeling franchise operations Re-Bath and 5 Day Kitchens.

Startup fees depend on the size of territory that franchise buyers seek to enter. The company offers to finance up to 70 percent of the franchise fee with a five-year term to pay off the balance, Moody says. Small Business Administration loans and preferred terms for military veterans are also available. There is also a discount for existing drain-cleaning businesses that affiliate with bluefrog.

To reach the four-year goal of 100, bluefrog will need to add about 25 franchises a year, but the company didn’t project it would already be 25 percent of the way there. “We’re far ahead of where we thought we would be,” Moody says. “We may grow more rapidly than that, and we’re fully prepared for that.”


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