Brian Scudamore is one of BC’s most successful entrepreneurs. Accolades include the Globe & Mail’s Top 40 under 40 and Fortune Magazine’s Small Business Best Bosses Award. His franchises include 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me and WOW 1 DAY Painting. But how did it all begin?
An Early Start to Entrepreneurship
At an early age, he learned about business while working at his grandparents’ Army Surplus Store in San Francisco. He then used his entrepreneurial spirit to start a snack shop at school and make a profit from his classmates. Some years later, at the tender age of 18, he was waiting in line at McDonalds when he saw an old junk hauling truck going through the drive-thru and thought “I can do that, but better”. He went out the next day, spent his entire savings – $700 – on a truck, and started The Rubbish Boys.
In the early days he relied heavily on guerilla marketing. He’d do anything to get in front of his potential customers, from neighborhood junk patrols to posting sticky notes and signs on happy customers lawns.
Restructuring the Business
Five years into the business, he started to struggle. By that time, Brian had several trucks on the road, with 11 employees and generating $1 million in profit, but things didn’t feel right. “I realized the problem was the people,” he remembers. “Some were fine, some were actually quite good, but a few were negative and brought the whole group down.” He took a big chance and fired his entire team, and started from scratch. “It’s the most important lesson I’ve learned,” says Brian. “And it’s one that today helps to ensure we hire the right people for all my businesses.”
It’s a lesson that paid off. Ten years after opening The Rubbish Boys he franchised his thriving businesses and renamed it 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and never looked back.
Building on Success
In 2013, following a poor experience when moving house, Brian was inspired to bring his customer service focused business model to the moving industry. He opened a pilot in Toronto and Kansas City in the February of that year. Following its success, he opened an unprecedented 20 franchises, overnight, throughout North America in May 2013.
“We are a success because we have leveraged the systems and (literally) the very best operators of our 1-800-GOT-JUNK? brand,” explains Brian. He took the unconventional action of offering the initial franchise opportunities to the very best of his 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise partners. This meant that they already knew the systems to successfully move the business forward. One year after launch the opportunity was opened to the general public and he is actively brining on new franchise partners. “With 1-800-GOT-JUNK? it took us 15 years to grow to the size You Move Me will be in just 2 years,” predicts Brian.
In the first eight months of business, You Move Me recorded $5.17 million and is expected to generate $14 million by the end of 2014, with an estimated 42 franchises. “I always knew I’d have multiple, home-service brands, but I’ve never been in a rush to push these out,” reveals Brian. “I had faith that when the time was right and the right idea presented itself, I would take action.”
The success of You Move Me is because of its highly customer-focused emphasis. A common theme through each of Brian’s businesses. As soon as he came up with his third brand he learned everything he could about the moving business and created a concept unlike anything in the market. He wanted to make moving fun. Small touches like his movers calling ahead to customers for their coffee order in the morning and leave a housewarming plant when the job is complete, give him the competitive advantage. “We are a success because we are a fresh face in a stale and fragmented industry,” he observes.
When asked who inspires him, Brian replies, “I’m inspired by the people I work with every day. I’m surrounded by smart, innovative, motivated people and that fills me with inspiration.” It’s his value in the people in his organization that he sees as his biggest strength as an entrepreneur. “A long time ago I learned that I could never afford to compromise on the quality of people I hired. I had to treat them the right way and offer them a culture in which they could thrive and grow in their careers.” As the visionary for the company he recognizes that they are stronger as a team than any one person on their own, trusting his team to execute his vision and building a great brand together.
At the headquarters, nicknamed the ‘Junktion’, Brian had a program called “Can You Imagine”. It’s a wall where people can post their “big, hairy, audacious dreams for the company,” he explains. Coming from a background where the odds of his success were stacked against him, he is the first to encourage others to dream big. “People told me my first business could never be franchised. I believed strongly that I could do it,” he remembers. But he believes that if you have faith in the possibility, then everything can happen.
David and Goliath
So what’s next for You Move Me? In the David and Goliath battle of moving companies his ambition is for You Move Me to be the David. “We want to be the moving company that is top of mind for people everywhere – not because we’re the cheapest or most accessible – but because hiring us is like having family and friends move them.” With his proven track-record, his fate almost seems inevitable, but he knows from experience that success is a result of a lot of hard work and a laser focus on the big goal.