No experience needed as a Plumbing Bros franchisee

By Sarah Stowe | 22 May 2020 View comments

No tradie skills? No worries. There’s no experience required as a Plumbing Bros franchisee because the business model is built on a multi-million dollar business owner’s own competence and know-how.

James Riddle is new to franchising but he’s already passionate about providing business opportunities for enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

And he’s just signed up three franchisees, one each in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

What is different about the Plumbing Bros model is that franchisees don’t need to be qualified plumbers.

“Our entire purpose and why is to change the perception of plumbing,” James tells Inside Franchise Business.

James is critical of some of the high costs charged in cities like Sydney by plumbers who are often late to arrive at a job. That’s not professional, in his view.

And on the business side he’s keen to offer something different as a career path.

“There’s a common perception in trades that you do a four year apprenticeship, work for one to two years, then run your own business. That’s how it’s meant to play out for you.”

And that’s how it was for James. But he realised there was a better way to achieve success in the field.

“I’m the real life example. I left school at 16 and fell into plumbing, it was a stroke of luck. But I’ve learned by trial and error.

“After my apprenticeship I went out on my own early. It’s so easy to start a business with no skills. I went gangbusters quickly, and employed up to 12 people.

“But a tradie is not a business person. Once I lost the passion I didn’t have the marketing or finance skills.”

Five years on and James had to liquidate the business in 2014. But that was the catalyst for him to turn around his situation. He managed a commercial construction plumbing firm for two years and got the relevant experience.

And this multi-level experience of a plumbing firm is what has guided and shaped the Plumbing Bros business model.

James and his co-founder Joe Papiccio have run the Perth-based firm for three years so they have ironed out any wrinkles in processes. James then worked with a franchise development expert to get the franchise model just right.

“The franchisee is getting their own business. We assist with marketing, they do everything from phone calls, bookings, doing the work and invoicing. We provide the systems and processes.”

James is adamant that Plumbing Bros won’t use subcontractors, only plumbers employed on the books. If the franchisee is a non-plumber, they employ a master plumber as the compliance officer.

Franchisees purchase a marketing territory and there are two levels: the low- level entry point with a $55,000 franchise fee; a master plumber franchise with tools for $120,000.

The business model is appealing to people from all walks of life, men and women.

He says some people have lost faith in their own industries and are looking for something more lucrative.

James says plumbing has remained steady through the GFC, the stock market crash, even  COVID-19.

“We’ve had an influx of enquiries,” he adds. “Plumbing isn’t going anywhere.”