YAPClassic: Brian Scudamore on From Trash to Cash
YAPClassic: Brian Scudamore on From Trash to Cash
Brian Scudamore dropped out of both high school and college. But, at just 19 years old, Brian built a multimillion-dollar business that would come to be known as 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the company that pioneered the industry of professional junk removal. Brian then went on to use his success to scale two more home-service brands under his parent company of O2E Brands, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING and Shack Shine. Brian attributes his success to hiring the right people, dreaming big, and being willing to fail. Through franchising his companies, he’s also inspired thousands of entrepreneurs to live their dreams of owning businesses. In this #YAPClassic, Brian and Hala talk about Brian’s perspectives on financing a new company, why companies should all build their business like they plan on franchising, what elements must be considered while branding, and so much more.
– Childhood and how he was as a student
– Making your own luck and not taking no for an answer
– Perspective on getting loans and taking on debt when running a business
– Copying businesses and Scaling business
– Story of Acquiring Wow One Day Painting
– Elements to consider when branding
– Story of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
– Brian on firing his team and starting over
– The importance of customer focus
– “The Painted Picture”
– Brian on being a visionary vs an implementer
– Building a business like a franchise
– Brian’s secret to profiting
– And other topics…
Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, the parent company of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, and Shack Shine. Each brand has franchise locations in every major metro in North America and Australia.
Brian is the author of the books WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success And his second book, BYOB: Build Your Own Business, Be Your Own Boss. He is also
a regular contributor to Forbes, writing about small business ownership, franchising, and building corporate culture.
His companies have appeared on major media outlets including ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and CNBC. His story has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
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YAP Episode: #76: From Trash to Cash with Brian Scudamore
The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Most-Businesses-Dont-About/dp/0887303625
Brian’s Books: https://www.amazon.com/Brian-Scudamore/e/B07HYJ8FSS?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1650302541&sr=1-1
Brian’s Website: https://www.o2ebrands.com
Brian’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scudamore/
Brian’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brianscudamore/
Brian’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/brianscudamore
Brian’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bscudamore/
Connect with Young and Profiting:
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Hala’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yapwithhala/
Hala’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/yapwithhala
Text Hala: https://youngandprofiting.co/TextHala or text “YAP” to 28046
Hala: you have a really interesting come up story. And I think it's absolutely amazing. I'd like to start with that first from my understanding, you didn't finish high school.
Hala: You didn't finish college. What were you like as a child? What was your childhood like? And how are you as a student?
Brian: I was not a great student. Now. I am a student of life. I've always loved to learn. If you interviewed my parents, they would say Brian was the most curious kid, always asking questions. In fact, I kind of drove them nuts and I'm getting paid back by.
Brian: I've got three kids and my youngest, he asked me questions nonstop. So I get it. But that's how we learn. That's how I. I was never good with books. I was never good in school kindergarten. I wouldn't say I got a degree, but a diploma. And that's the only one I have. I've gone to 14 schools from kindergarten through to college, a university.
Brian: And what I was like as a student was very add, I was the class clown. I dropped out of [00:01:00] school because I just found it challenging and not. But again, I want emphasize, I've always loved to learn. So my way of learning is conversations like this. I will learn tons out of this podcast cause you'll ask me great questions.
Brian: They get me reflecting on my success, my failures, the journey. I love learning. I'm constantly asking people how they do what they do, what their passions are. And if I look at what motivates me and drives me is I love being the coach. I love being the person that inspires possibilities and other.
Brian: Especially if those people like me were not great in the school.
Hala: Yeah, I love that. You know, I think so many of my listeners are contemplating like dropping out of school and don't know if, you know, traditional schooling is the right thing for them. And it's great to have an example like you and so many other entrepreneurs that can do it without necessarily schooling.
Hala: And it's more of a. And like you said, the one-on-one conversations and mentoring, which kind of helped you get to where you are today. So I [00:02:00] heard that you convinced a college to let you into school and that you didn't finish high school and you essentially convinced a college to admit you without having that high school degree.
Hala: It's funny because I really relate to that. I. Terrible in my undergrad. And I remember I was begging my, the MBA director of my Alma mater to let me into the MBA program. I ended up getting like a 4.0 and doing great, but like, I also did the same thing where I was just like, you know, just took it into my own hands.
Hala: Can you talk about making your own luck? And if you have any other examples of how you've made your own luck and didn't take no for an answer.
Brian: Yeah. So I believe that people need to work at an opportunity that they see for themselves. If you've got the spark and you say, okay, here's my opportunity, which at the time was getting into school, was getting into college and why I saw that opportunity or want it.
Brian: Was all my friends were going. I was the only one who didn't graduate from 12th grade. And I said, you know, I'm one core short from [00:03:00] graduating. I got to figure this out and you don't often get second chances. So I wasn't going to go back and complete another year just to get that one course. And I didn't want to miss out with my friends.
Brian: So I went to the admissions office of the college and had three different conversations with them. Pretty much begging them to let me in. I said, listen, I'm smarter. I get it. I miss this one class, but I can do this. And I wrote them a letter in the end that they like to appreciate it. And they said this guy's got tenacity.
Brian: Let's give him a shot now little, did they know that years later I would not actually finish that degree as well and drop out. But I guess they liked me and they liked my perseverance and. Now, ironically, while I talked to my way into university, I had to find a way to pay for it. My father is a liver transplant surgeon.
Brian: He certainly came from very humble beginnings, but at that stage when I was going to college, I'm sure he could have paid for it, but chose not to. He said, Brian's got to learn the lesson here. He has not [00:04:00] finished high school. It's not going to be a good return on it. If he really wants to go, he can pay for it.
Brian: And so I was in a McDonald's drive through of all places. So this beat up old pickup truck with plywood side panels built up on the box and I looked at the truck and said, that's my ticket to pay for college. I talked to myself in, I now found the money by creating or would have the money by creating this business, which at the time was called the rubbish.
Brian: It was just me. I had a vision for something bigger and off. I went hauling junk and within a couple of weeks, the business paid for itself. And by the end of the summer, I had enough money for college.
Hala: I love that. Yeah, I know about that story. And I know you only paid $700 for your first truck, which is such a little investment.
Hala: And so you probably ended up paying that back like very shortly after. What's your perspective on getting loans and taking on debt when running a business? Like did you purposefully not take on. And kind of build it really organically just based on your cashflow or was that just like an accident?
Brian: No, it's all [00:05:00] the money I had was a thousand dollars in the bank and so enough to buy a pickup truck.
Brian: I had had a $1,300 in repairs within a couple of weeks. So while I did recoup the investment, I also then had more money flowing out of the bank account to fix my truck. But I'm a believer that if you're going to get out and start a business, start within your means. If you've got a hundred grand in the bank and you think you can make a business work and you don't mind putting your life savings on the line, great, your 401k, whatever you need to do, but don't overextend yourself.
Brian: I don't love the concept of people getting out there and raising money a because it's not their money and B, because you need to understand the value of really being connected to every penny that you're spending and spend it frugally so that you can build out the business in a sustainable. Yeah. When people look at any of our franchises.
Brian: So I know you mentioned my parent company, I started called OTC brands. Oh two. We stands for ordinary to exceptional. [00:06:00] We took first the junk removal business, a very ordinary space and made it a very exceptional professionally run business through service and through finding the right. We're doing that in window washing with shack shine, we're doing it in the painting space with wow.
Brian: One day painting. When franchise partners come to us and say, Hey, Brian, I want the proven recipe. I don't want to reinvent how to grow a business. I want to learn from you, your team, your franchise partners, but I don't have a lot of money. We like that. We know people need enough money to invest in a franchise fee and to grow their business.
Brian: But we want people that come that go, listen, I've got about $25,000 in cash. We can figure out how to help them get the rest, but they're young, they're hungry, they're ready to grow something that's more important than having a whole stack of.
Hala: Yeah, I totally agree. It's so important to know how to be resourceful to, like you said, appreciate every single penny know where it's going be frugal.
Hala: I definitely
Brian: agree. I was looking at your, your [00:07:00] LinkedIn this morning and by the way, kudos to you for, I know I had technological problems in my office yesterday and we couldn't make this work and we had to rebook to today. So my fault, but you, you did a masculinity. On LinkedIn. And I thought, you know, great way to go, Hey, you've got a free block.
Brian: What are you going to do to work it, to grow things? And I noticed that your LinkedIn, you know, for six months you were at 200,000, I think in followers. And now you're at 53,000. Clearly you understand the value of hard work to build something. And it takes time and it takes dedication and commitment. And it's the same thing, whether you're growing a following or whether you're growing a business and spending.
Brian: You've got to do it organically because then you can appreciate the value of how hard it is to get every dollar or every follower. So just wanted to give you a shout out.
Hala: Oh, thank you so much. Fine. That's so sweet. I really appreciate that. And coming from you, like, I can't even, you know, thank you so much for that.
Hala: I want to talk about how you have sort of like [00:08:00] copied other businesses and how you decide if a business is ready to scale. So you were in that McDonald's you saw a gritty pickup truck with like a sign on it for junk removal. Then you had the big idea, you know, I'm going to scale this. I'm going to get a bigger truck.
Hala: I'm going to do it better. I'm going to do better guerrilla marketing, and I'm going to scale this. And it worked, you know, you're in every metropolitan city in the U S right now, Huge. And I think he did something similar with one day painting where you saw somebody who did it right. And you were like, I can help you make the scale.
Hala: So can you give us a story of how you copied again? Maybe copy's not the right word, but how you kind of took someone's business idea and help them scale, or saw the potential in a business that could scale. And what do you look for in a business that could potentially scale? Tell us a story about one day painting.
Hala: Cause I think it's really.
Brian: Yeah, lots of great questions there. So what I did is I, I think I've got an ability to see opportunity and to look at things differently. So when I saw Mark's hauling that truck in the McDonald's [00:09:00] drive through, it was, Hey, there's an idea to pay for college. And yes, I went out and copied the model and I bought a truck and started hauling junk.
Brian: Exactly like mark did. But when I got a tuned to an opportunity, the bigger ideas. Was how can I be the FedEx, a junk removal, clean, shiny trucks, friendly uniformed drivers on time service, upfront rates, taking the industry to a level that had never been seen. And that bar to me was exceptional. So again, my company ordinary to exceptional O'Toole.
Brian: I said, I'm going to make this exceptional. And we're going to scale a business where we have people come in, who are investors, who are owners and partners, franchise owners, who will build the model out in their city. Paul Guy, who was the first franchise owner, built a million dollar business in his first full calendar year.
Brian: Today, he's got about $60 million worth of revenue across his franchise territories. So I then said, what is the opportunity in a new space? If I, I was in one 800, got junk for 22 years at this [00:10:00] point when I started to look for another opportunity. And it was serendipitous. It sorta just hit me, but I needed to get my house painted.
Brian: I didn't want the disruption of someone comes in your house and it takes two weeks and they practically move in and become part of the family and all that sort of stuff. And so I, I got some estimates. I had three different people that I found through Facebook friends who said here's companies. I would recommend the first two came in and.
Brian: Smelled of cigarette smoke showed up late. Didn't give me confidence that they were going to do the job well or quickly, but the third person impressed me. Jim comes into my front door. He's uniformed, he's got the shiny van outside. His company was called one day painting. And he said, listen, Brian prices.
Brian: Same as everyone else. I've done this for 22 years. My qualities the same or better than everyone else. But what got me excited, the kicker was that he said, when we agree on painting, I will give you back your home, freshly painted and transformed at the end of the day. And I said, [00:11:00] how is that even possible?
Brian: How do you paint a home in a day? It's not possible, but I signed up and I said, great, let's do it. I'd like to gym and sure enough ended the painting day 6:30 PM. I come home moldings trim the walls. One wall needed three coats because of the dark color that was there. He had painted my entire house and I was, I was so loud that I.
Brian: I got to get in on this. I can help you grow. I acquired the company and we renamed it. Wow. One day painting. Cause that's the feeling I felt. And I could see other customers across north America feeling that same thing. And so what I guess, what was different about what we would do? Things is the system.
Brian: This model of people think you can't paint a home in a day, but you're compromising quality. You're rushing. Absolutely not. Everyone knows you can paint one room with one person in a day. If it's a big room, maybe you need to. If you've got 10 rooms, then you need 10 people. It's a numbers game. Nobody's bumping into each other.
Brian: It's just a coordinated effort that gets this job [00:12:00] done without disruption and people walk out saying, wow. And so, uh, when we look for franchise partners to then take our system and model. And grow it. We're not looking for people to be painters. We're looking for people that see the opportunity, like our early day franchise partners with 1-800-GOT-JUNK who say, I want to build and grow a team.
Brian: I want to build an empire in my city and I want to build some wealth and freedom for myself.
Hala: So basically like you really liked his system. You really liked his attitude and he felt like this is a person that can grow a business. That's really cool.
Brian: I loved his idea. Of doing it differently. So you look at businesses that come in that say, we're going to transform a space.
Brian: One, we're all familiar with Netflix. You didn't need to go to the video store anymore and go get that tape and bring it home and return it and have late fees. They said, listen, we're going to stream movies and look what they've become today. It's taking a model and saying, how do you reinvent an age old space like painting?
Brian: I mean, even during the pandemic that we're in. [00:13:00] People will forever need painting no matter what's going on. We're trying to find innovative new ways to get in there. Virtual estimates. We're doing estimates where someone walks around with their iPhone on FaceTime or zoom showing us their home. And we're able to give them an estimate.
Brian: We're finding unique ways to deal with old problems and how to solve them, which is a big challenge. And it's something I enjoy being.
Hala: Yeah, that's really interesting. I want to touch on a point that you briefly mentioned. So one 800 junk used to be called rubbish boys. Your painting company also had a different name in the beginning.
Hala: So what do you think about when you're naming your brands? What are the important elements to consider?
Brian: Yeah, so I think it's naming the brands and what they look like. So let me start with shack shine as an example. And then when I tell you a 1-800-GOT-JUNK story, if I can, so shack shine similar.
Brian: Situation as well, one day painting. How did I find the business? I was looking to get my gutters cleaned out. I found a company. It was difficult [00:14:00] to find someone, but a friend introduced me to someone that was building this business called shack shine. I loved the business, saw the opportunity to also scale and grow it.
Brian: And I'd like the name, the tongue in cheek, sort of shack shine, you know, your home, isn't really a shock, especially some of the ones that we wash windows for, but I didn't like the look and feel of the design of the logo. And so I said to Dave, who started the business, I said, if we were to partner together or acquire your business, I'd want to redesign the look and feel of your entire brand.
Brian: Are you open to that? And he said, yeah, I think I'd be open to it. And I don't know if he really was. We then went off and hired a designer before buying the company. No Fox comes in and completely redesigned and revamp the brand. I presented it to Dave and Dave's like, man, we are doing a deal. He bought into how we repositioned the look and feel of his brand.
Brian: So words and visuals are everything. How we represent ourselves to the world [00:15:00] is incredibly important and it needs to be consistent. So again, the importance of branding, I'll tell you a quick one, 800 got junk story. We went from the rubbish boys. I want to expand out of Vancouver, where I started the business.
Brian: I was born in the United States. I wanted to expand into the United States and I thought the word rubbish was more of a British Canadian. Yeah, we had to come up with something different. And so our, your phone number at the time was 7 30, 8 junk. And I said, what could we use in the United States as an 800 number?
Brian: And we played on this old ad campaign called the got milk campaign that was in the nineties. We said, ah, 1-800-GOT-JUNK. And I got so lit up and excited about this idea. I immediately called the phone number and it wasn't available. And so I'm just like, ah, got to figure out how to get that phone number.
Brian: So I started making phone call after phone call to at and T the phone company, trying to find out who owns the number. And I was persistent as could be while not just making phone calls. I hired a designer to [00:16:00] design the logo exactly. As we have 1-800-GOT-JUNK today. As part of solidifying the vision that I'm going to get this phone number, I'm going to figure this out.
Brian: So at the end of the day, the person that owned the phone number was the department of transportation in Idaho. Government owned my number. Oh my gosh, I'm never going to get this. And so I took a route where I tried to sort of solve things and I went to the phone room. I called up and I asked for their phone.
Brian: And sure enough government has someone running their phones and Michael in the phone room after three calls finally said, you can have the number it's important. I don't know why you want it, but take it. And, uh, I called him a couple of days later, after all the forms were signed with at and T to sank him, he was no longer with the company.
Brian: I have no idea what happened, but I had my number. I got it for free and it was sheer determination that paved the way for the starting of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK brand that we built. That's
Hala: amazing. I love that story. And it's just another example of how you took things in your own hands and you made your own luck.[00:17:00]
Hala: You wanted it, you went out and got it. You made the phone calls. A lot of people probably thought you were crazy. Like you're never going to be able to do this. You're never going to get it, but you just use your charm and, and your grit and did it. So it's so many great lessons to learn from
Brian: that. Yeah. If you really want something bad enough and you can see the picture in your mind as pure possibility of what it could look like.
Brian: You figure it out and you stick with the program. Most people would have given up after a couple of phone calls, trying to get the number I didn't give up till I got it, which was 60 phone calls. Wow.
Hala: That's amazing. It's such a easy to remember name. Everybody knows 1-800-GOT-JUNK. It's like 1-800-CONTACTS.
Hala: It's it's, you know, up there with 1-800-FLOWERS. It's huge. So congrats. Let's go back to 1997. So you were still the rubbish boys at this time. If you hit $1 million in revenue, and at that point you were actually, you were doing well. I mean, a $1 million business is not too shabby, but you were misaligned with your team and you ended up firing nine out of [00:18:00] 10 employees from my understanding.
Hala: Why did that happen? Why do you think that things kind of. To that level where you felt like you needed to get rid of your whole team, how did you decide to do that? And what did you do to build your company back up
Brian: after that? Yeah, it was one of the darkest days of my, uh, junk removal career. If you will, it was five years into the business.
Brian: It was 1994. We were a half a million in revenue. And the way I like to explain it, as everyone can relate to the one bad apple spoils, the whole bunch saying, and I probably had, I have a team of 11. And I had nine bad apples. I didn't know what else to do. I had lost hope in my business. I wasn't having fun any longer.
Brian: I wasn't enjoying the people I worked with now. I was the only one to blame. I'm the one that hired them. So I sat them down at a morning meeting, all 11 people. And I started with two words. I said, I'm sorry that I've let you down failed you. Haven't given you the love and support that you've needed to be successful.
Brian: [00:19:00] Maybe I didn't even bring the right people into my organization, but the only way I knew to solve things was to start again, wipe the slate clean and get rid of my entire team. They didn't love it, but I did it with a heart. I treated them fairly. I was transparent and honest, and I took it as a big learning moment for me.
Brian: So as the leader of the lesson for me over the next six months as I was rebuilding the business, It's all about people finding the right people and treating them right now. You mentioned my book, WTF, willing to fail. This was a WTF moment. If I've ever seen one, it's suck trying to rebuild the business, trying to hire people again, but it gave me a fresh start and opportunity to find nothing but happy.
Brian: Smiley, optimistic people are hiring practice today. The number one thing we look for happy. Okay. The second I get onto your podcast yesterday, when we said hello, I mean, you're smiley, you're energetic. It's awesome. Right? Those are the people I want in my world as my friends and connections and so [00:20:00] on. And so I went out on a, on a path of chasing down, happy, optimistic people.
Brian: We hire an attitude. We train on skill. We build something bigger and better together. So while it was a dark day, a dark six months of rebuilding. I'm sure. Glad I didn't have to take the thousands of employees we have now and make that kind of change. And it really taught me something.
Hala: Yeah. I love it. I heard you say something on another podcast that you're slow to hire quick to fire, and I love that.
Hala: I think that's so smart. You know, like taking your time, making sure you actually know someone, making sure that you enjoy spending their time, that you like their energy because energy is contagious.
Brian: Absolutely. And, and when I say slow to hire quick to fire, it's not like up, someone's made a mistake. Boom.
Brian: You're out of here, you're fired. You know, it is very much, we still take our time to do any sort of changes. Right. And make sure we've given someone a chance to correct. But we also don't waste our time. There's nothing worse than an, a manager or a leaders [00:21:00] live bringing someone into the company when you know, it's not going work.
Brian: Cut them loose, free them up to another opportunity, help them find another opportunity. We let someone go recently. It just wasn't the right fit. But I did believe they'd be the right fit somewhere. And I was helping coach that person through a new opportunity. They're good. People let's help them, but it's not always meant to be and make sure you make that decision sooner rather than.
Hala: Yeah. Talk to us about the importance of customer focus. Cause I think that one of the reasons why you actually let these people go is because you felt like they weren't customer centric, you felt like they were misaligned with your value proposition to your clients, which is like, you know, go above and beyond, make them super happy.
Hala: Give them great service. Tell us about the importance of that to you and all of your businesses and how you implement.
Brian: Well, I think as someone who's a consumer myself, I enjoy when people treat me in a friendly, happy manner. I enjoy when people do what they say they will do, [00:22:00] which is rare in this world of business.
Brian: There's so many experiences we have where a promise was made and it wasn't delivered. So some of my favorite companies fed up. Anytime I've ever had to Curry or something anywhere in the world. I mean, it just, it does show up on time and it's amazing. Their slogan in the early days was the world on time and they deliver on that promise Starbucks, the drinks are done, right?
Brian: People are friendly. If they make a mistake, they give you a free drink voucher for next time. They just do the little things to treat you in a way that you walk in and you've given them the customized drink of choice that nobody else on the planet drinks just you've got that recipe. But somehow they remember it.
Brian: The next time you come in and they treat you by name. I think what a business does, the little things, right. That helps like the examples I've given of those brands growing and dominating the world. And. The thing that motivates me the most in the world, besides my family is building businesses with amazing people that want to be a part of [00:23:00] something that want to join our movement of building great businesses.
Brian: But they have to understand that platform of exceptional customer service. That's the bar. When someone reaches out to me as a CEO and says, Hey, there was a mistake, something went wrong. The first thing we do is we. We take responsibility for that mistake. And then we say, how do we learn? So this doesn't happen again, humans make mistakes.
Brian: It happens, but it's how you care about the customer. And if you can truly care, that's how things grow and scale. And the last thing I'll say as a philosophy we have, which has been something we're proud of. And I think something that's been very impactful in our. People will often say the customer's always right.
Brian: They, that the customer's the most important. I disagree. I think the people, your employees are the most important. So on a hierarchy, I believe take care of your people. They will then take care of the customer. And if you take care of the customer, they will then take care of the brand, both growth of profits and revenue.
Brian: And so the most important person in our entire organization. [00:24:00] It's people finding the right people and treating them right. When they get it and they've been treated right. They will treat the customer with love and respect.
Hala: Yeah. I think that's great guidance. And I think that's principles that everybody should follow.
Hala: You mentioned it a few times that as you were trying to grow your business, you really envisioned it. The FedEx of junk removal. And another thing that I heard you say before is that you really wanted to get on the Oprah Winfrey show as well. And so like, you did a lot of like visionary things where like you put something out in the universe and I'm not sure like what your practice was.
Hala: If you wrote it down, if you had a vision board, what it was, but you basically put these things out there. I do this all the time. So I want to be the female, Tim Ferriss, and I keep saying it out loud and I keep saying it everywhere because I want it to happen. Right. So tell us about how you kind of set big, hairy, audacious goals and what you do to kind of make sure that you subconsciously take the actions to make that happen.
Brian: Yeah. So I discovered a process. I didn't create [00:25:00] this. Others use the same type of process, but I stumbled into it. I call it the painted picture. So that would be my language for that. 19 97, 8 years into my business. I was a million in revenue, which was exciting. I had the right people now in my business, but I just felt stuck.
Brian: I felt like it's junk removal. I'm a college dropout. I'm a high school dropout. Can I build this business? Do I want to what's the potential. So I went away for a retreat and I wanted to be creative and solve this problem. Reflect. So I went to my parents' little cabin. It was a tiny little beat up place on Bowen island, about an hour from Vancouver.
Brian: And it was a nice sunny summer day, September. And I sat out on their dock and it was in a doom loop and I was like depressed and just feeling bad about myself and my business. And I said, what if I can imagine just pure possibility, forget all the negativity. What is. I can build something great and amazing.
Brian: What could that look like? So I took a [00:26:00] sheet of paper and I started to write down not what I hoped to build, but what I was going to build in five years time, by the end of 2003. So I started with the date December 31st, 2003. Brian's painted picture of 1-800-THOUSAND. I said we'd be the FedEx of junk removal.
Brian: Cause I had that bar of, we had an ugly beat up old dirty trucks, but what if we could have clean, shiny well-branded trucks like FedEx? I said, we'd be on the Oprah Winfrey show. First of all, I loved her as an entrepreneur and as a leader and an amazing woman. And I thought I'd love to meet her. Yeah. Wow.
Brian: Imagine if she helped propel our brand into the universe. And I imagined all these things of our culture, how we treated people in the franchise owners and the millionaires we would build and support in this world. And so I took that painted picture and after I wrote it, I went from pure doomed. This is unbelievable.
Brian: I can see this. I can feel it. I, you know, I get goosebumps when I even retell the story. I took this sheet of paper, my painted picture, and I brought it to groups of people, my friends, [00:27:00] family, employees, different people. And I, I shared the painted picture and I said, what do you think I was all excited? And I had two sets of people.
Brian: One group said she Brian, top 30 metros in north America, getting on Oprah, being the FedEx of junk removal. I think you're smoking some hope dope. Like this, this isn't going to happen. And then I had the other group that said, wow, this is unbelievable. How can I be a part of it? So I actually had employees leave because they didn't think.
Brian: I was grounded in reality, and that we were going to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, but we did every single thing in that painted picture. 96% of it, by the end of 2003, we hit the top 30 metros in north America. We were the FedEx of junk removal. Nobody was near our size and the guy on the Oprah Winfrey show and got to give her a big hug and had four and a half minutes of fame on national television in front of 35 million people.
Brian: So my process is. See it in your mind, don't let doubt get in the way you [00:28:00] say you want to be the female version of the Tim Ferriss. I mean, that's part of it is just talking about it and this'll happen. You'll find somebody, have you met Tim Ferris?
Hala: No, I'd love to,
Brian: but. You're going to have somebody who goes and any of the audience that's listening.
Brian: If you know Tim Ferris, you got to introduce this amazing business leader and woman to Tim. So let's make it happen. But part of it's just throwing it out to the universe. So I believe we help each other as entrepreneurs. So from a painted picture perspective, if I can ever help anyone that's out there and you want to see my vision, that I've just talked about, go onto LinkedIn, follow me, or go to Instagram, wherever you need to do.
Brian: And send me a note saying you painted. And, uh, someone from my team will send you a copy of our painted picture and an article I wrote that goes into more depth of, of how to create one but huge fan of vision. Every successful leader and person in this world has had a clear picture, not. But a clear picture of what there looks like.
Hala: Totally. I think it's so important [00:29:00] to, like you said, have a clear vision, say it out loud. I also think it keeps you accountable. I purposely say I'm going to be the female version of Tim Ferriss because I feel like if I say it out loud, I hold myself accountable to all my listeners, all my fans for me to accomplish, you know, as big as things as he does.
Hala: So I love. I love the way that you do your, your vision board with that wall and painting. That's amazing. Let's talk about the interplay between being a visionary and an implementer at your company. I know that you actually don't do your operations from my understanding you hire outside CEOs for your brands and presidents.
Hala: So why did you decide to do that? And how did you decide to do that? And why do you.
Brian: Bye wore every hat in my company, up until a million in revenue, maybe even up to a couple of million. And then I started to realize there's things I hated to do. There's things I wasn't good at. And as the owner of the company, it doesn't mean that you're the best at everything and usually far from it.
Brian: And so I was in my own. And I realized in [00:30:00] about 2008, when I had a COO in the business that wasn't the right fit any longer. And I got that person out of the business after 14 months, my franchise, it just wasn't the right fit. My franchise owners started to say, Brian, what are you doing here? You just got rid of a COO.
Brian: You're not the guy to take it to the next level. We're here because of your vision, but you can't execute us out of this situation. And so I got out there and I said, okay, what am I good at? I made a list. What am I great at? What do I love to do in a business on the other side? What are all the things I'm bad at that a business still needs or that I don't like to.
Brian: And I went and found someone that was great at these things. And so I hired Eric Church after interviewing 75 CLL candidates. I found someone who was the right leader for me. He's been around eight years. I sure as heck hope he'll be around forever. We took the company from a hundred million to over 400 million in revenue together.
Brian: And it's super exciting when you've got the right fit. So I think businesses often have a visionary and an implementer. [00:31:00] I'm not great at execution. I've done it, but it's not my deal. I want to be the idea person. I want to look for new brands. I want to find great franchise partners to build something bigger and better together with if you focus on what you love to do and what you're best at, stay in that niche.
Brian: That's how you really grow and scale an awesome business.
Hala: Yeah. I think it's so hard for people when they're first starting out with their business. You don't have a lot of resources, so you're wearing a lot of hats and I think it's really hard to let go, but I think it's, like you said, it's super important.
Hala: Once you start to actually make money and you can afford to hire experts and outsource, you really got to think about like, what is your core competency? Like, what am I really good at? What can nobody do better than me? And then what do like is a time suck? What makes me feel drained after I had. What am I not that great at that somebody else probably would love to do and would be passionate about and kind of make sure that you, you hire the right people.
Hala: That's how you scale, like you said. So I think that's great. I want to talk about franchising. I know we don't have that much time left, but I do want to pick your brain. Tell [00:32:00] us about the franchising model, why you chose that direction instead of going, just being like a corporation and what the important elements of a franchising model are.
Hala: And also I've heard you say in the past that like everybody can implement principles from franchising in their business. No matter if they're a franchising business or not. And so I think that's also important for people to kind of get like the main principles and why.
Brian: So two things I love about franchising.
Brian: So I grew up with McDonald's being everywhere and I had admired Ray Kroc's business model. He took the McDonald's brothers and said, here, I can systematize everything with you. And we can scale this incredible brand together. What I loved about what Ray Kroc did is he brought owners into his business.
Brian: He said, listen, you want to build something? You want to build something in this town or this city. I've got the proven recipe and they matched up the proven recipe in the systems with the people, the ability to have someone who's got [00:33:00] skin in the game and watch them grow and develop beyond their wildest dreams.
Brian: That's what I love about franchising. I also love the fact that franchising is about systems. What's the best practice on how you do everything. So with 1-800-GOT-JUNK, I read a book called the E-Myth revisited by Michael Gerber, highly recommended. I've looked at that book. And I said, okay. He says, build your business out like a franchise.
Brian: Even if you don't anticipate, you'll choose that model, have all the best practices documented. So I said, how do we answer the phone? How do we price jobs? How do we market the business? When things are slow, everything had a one-page best practice of here's exactly how we do. It started the business started to look, feel, and act so much like a franchise and the consistency and the branding and the look and feel and personality of, of our people.
Brian: So we then said, okay, let's look at the franchise model and Oprah and others. Got, we got great publicity in that franchise engine started to roar and, uh, people started to come to us [00:34:00] and we said, what we offer is this proven. Many entrepreneurs want to figure things out from scratch. That's part of what drove me is I want to invent things.
Brian: A lot of people want to make money and have freedom and lifestyle. They want to control their own destiny. They want a proven recipe. They don't want to waste time figuring it out. So again, to your unique ability and do what you love best. Taking a recipe and executing is amazing. Some people want to bake a cake and they want a proven recipe and boom, off they go.
Brian: Some people want to invent different recipes and figure out, you know, what kind of cake could I invent, understand who you are and then figure out what type of business is. Is it a franchise? Is it a corporate startup or whatever? You might be interest. I
Hala: love your example of how you guys created all these best practice, one sheets based on all your little processes, big and small, that really inspires me.
Hala: I have three new interns, so they have a new assignment to look at all the different areas of the podcast in our agency and [00:35:00] come up with processes because it's so important to train new team members and to just like have efficiencies. And like you said, that's the only way you can really scale very cool stuff.
Hala: So my last question to all of my guests on the show is what is your secret to profiting in life?
Brian: I think it's grow where you're planted. I heard that from Verne Harnish, a mentor of mine, and Vern said, you know, listen like you can entrepreneurs get this? You introduced me as a serial entrepreneur, which I don't want people to think I'm jumping around from business to business.
Brian: I have three brands. I also have three wonderful kids. You stay in this situation where you go, these are all home services. They are all taking ordinary fragmented businesses and making them exceptional by sticking to our knitting and staying planted in what we can do best. That's what I want to own. I think one of my secret formulas has been to not be driven by money.
Brian: I like the freedom that money can provide of a cabin [00:36:00] I've got here in Whistler that I love to ski with my family, but I'm not a fancy cars. Fancy boats have all the toys type person and driven by building things with amazing people and having fun. Experiences together. And the less I became driven by money, the more the money just started flowing to a point where you're like, what do we do with all this?
Brian: Let's invest, let's grow. Let's provide amazing opportunities. So I think those would be what I'd leave you with is understand what you're best at and grow where you're planted and then understand what really motivates you. It's not for me. It's the watching entrepreneurs live the dream of business ownership.
Brian: That's what gets me out of bed in the morning.
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