In 1989, Brian Scudamore, serial entrepreneur and founder of O2E Brands, was killing time waiting in line at a McDonald’s drive-thru. In the days before cell phones provided distraction, he happened to glance at a beaten up pickup truck advertising a junk removal service.
Thinking it would make a fine way to pay his college tuition, he invested his life savings of $700 into a truck of his own, and “The Rubbish Boys”, a door-to-door junk removal company was born. One man’s junk proved another man’s gold, and Richard was soon skipping classes to take calls and pick up jobs.
By 1997, The Rubbish Boys had passed the milestone mark of $1 million in annual revenue, but Richard saw problems with his current team, and the name of the business. He surrounded himself with a team who shared his goals, and re-branded as 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Shunning all offers of external funding, he decided to pursue franchising as his model for growth. Nowadays, 1-800-GOT-JUNK is the world’s largest junk removal service, boasting franchises across North America, and as far afield as Australia.
We asked Brian Scudamore his five top tips for entrepreneurs considering franchising their growing business:
Don’t Let Naysayers Stop You
When I first decided to franchise 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I approached my mentors (who were all experts in franchising) for advice. Unfortunately, none of them believed a junk removal business could be franchised. Although I understood their objections, in my gut, I still believed in my vision. I took each one of their objections and found a way to solve the problem. With a little focus, faith, and effort, I took something that seemed impossible and made it possible.
Do Your Due Diligence
Before I started franchising, I spent 10 years perfecting my model and making sure it was profitable before I sold the “recipe” to others. That’s why I believe in doing your due diligence: you need to know who you’re selling to, what your customers want, and why you’re different from the competition.
Paint a Crystal-Clear Vision
In 1997, I wrote the first painted picture for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? It provided a crystal-clear vision of how our company would look, feel and act in the next five years. As part of this vision, I imagined franchise locations in every major metro in North America. We achieved this goal and I credit our success to our team’s commitment to the Painted Picture. It’s a testament to the power of vision to scale a company nation-wide.
Create and Test Your Systems
Scaling 1-800-GOT-JUNK? didn’t happen overnight. It was a process of trial and error until I found systems that worked. Then I replicated that system across three more brands to form the O2E Brands family of home services. It sounds simple because it is. First and foremost, a franchise network relies on established processes. Author Michael Gerber says in his book The E-Myth: “people don’t fail, systems do.” Successful franchisors know how to build simple systems that anyone can implement.
Hire Happy People
Not everyone is cut out for the world of franchising; bringing the wrong people into your organization will inhibit growth. I learned this lesson the hard way in 1994, when I realized my team wasn’t aligned with my vision for the company. I had to make the tough call to clean house and start rebuilding from scratch. Since then, our business is based on the motto “It’s All About People.” You need to partner with people who understand your vision, and who will champion your culture and values.