Founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK shares his biggest WTF moment • St Pete Catalyst
Brian Scudamore founded the company that has grown to become 1-800-GOT-JUNK at $ 1,000.
In over 30 years, he’s turned it into a half-billion dollar junk transportation company with franchises in the US, Canada, and Australia, and he’s aiming to double the size.
“We have had hundreds of successful franchisees who have built millions of dollars in business,” Scudamore said during Entrepreneurship Thursday, a series of lectures hosted by the Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program at Stetson University School of Business Administration has been. “But let’s be transparent and say we had a lot of mistakes too, people who couldn’t get it to work.”
Scudamore said he learned from these situations and tried to limit the focus to who would be good franchisees. These are the people Scudamore called “the four H” – happy, hungry, hardworking and practical.
“We want happy, optimistic people. We have very young people. We have people who are older. What they have in common, however, is a happy, optimistic attitude towards the world, ”said Scudamore. “You are hungry. You want someone who says, ‘I have to do this job. This is not an investment. This is my only investment and I will make it happen.'”
People who are practical and work hard are also key. The company’s first franchisee, Paul Guy, worked in the business and understood it before focusing on running what is now today’s $ 60 million business, Scudamore said.
Despite many similar success stories, Scudamore celebrates failure. He is the co-author of a book, WTF, which stands for “Willing to Fail”.
“Failure is a gift. If you make a mistake, learn from that mistake and find out how that mistake will improve me next time, ”said Scudamore.
He cited his own epic failure. Five years after starting the company – originally called The Rubbish Boys – Scudamore had $ 500,000 in sales and 11 employees, but they weren’t the lucky positive people he wanted.
“I had a team meeting and started with two words. I said I am sorry. I am sorry that I let you down. I am sorry that as a leader I failed to select the right people and give them the support and training you needed. The only way forward that I saw was to start over, so I fired all 11 people, ”Scudamore said. “That was a terrible failure because it was nobody’s fault except me as the leader.”
He went from five trucks to one and had to rebuild the business.
“By peeling off the patches and starting over, I had to play every role in the business and had to rebuild it. But I was very careful going forward. My motto was that it’s all about people. Find the right people and treat them right, ”said Scudamore. “So I started choosing people in a completely different way. Not only did I find people who could pick up trash. I picked people who were happy, optimistic, hardworking and people who wanted to have fun together. “
The mass layoffs and rebuilding the business are a short-term pain that has resulted in long-term gain, he said.
“It allowed me to see my luck in business in terms of profits and growing the business,” he said. “First and foremost, I have to build a business that I love. It’s not about removing rubbish. It was about taking care of customers and building an extraordinary business and I could have fun again. “
Various skills are required to run a large company. Scudamore focuses on corporate culture vision and cheerleading.
“I’ve made a list of the things I’m good at and enjoy doing, and I find other people who do the other things,” he said.
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Scudamore found an operating system that would work for other home service companies. He’s now set up a holding company, O2E Brands, which also includes Wow 1 Day Painting and Shack Shine, a home details business.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic is a good time to start a business. He started his own company during a recession in 1989.
“What happened is that people make career decisions and ask, ‘Is that what I really want? “Said Scudamore.
His advice to those who want to change is, “Don’t focus so much on the idea … just start and do something, then you fail, learn and optimize as you grow and hopefully you find it out and build a successful company. ”