right people in place.
That lesson led him to remove himself
from day-to-day operations and hire Launi
Skinner as president and chief operating officer during the summer of 2008.
“We needed someone to take the company to the next level,” says Scudamore, who
now spends his time brainstorming and providing a face for the company by making
appearances on programs such as Oprah and
The Big Idea.
Skinner, who had 14 years of experience at
Starbucks, most recently as president of
Starbucks U.S., was looking to work for a company that puts people first, exhibits excellent
customer service and has potential for growth.
She wasted no time in developing a strategic plan.
“When I started we had a strong vision of
culture and people, but we didn’t have a strategy,” she tells The Connection.
A key element of the new strategic plan
includes exploring ways to grow despite a
weak economy and a slow housing market.
Three or four years ago people moved more
often and were less inclined to hold on to and
make do with their possessions. Then the
financial crisis hit and the housing bubble
burst. With residential business down,
1-800-GOT-JUNK? is focusing on commercial business by targeting areas such as property management, real estate and retail.
Another area of focus is brand awareness.
Scudamore says that although the North
American market is saturated, a recent survey
found that “ 3 percent of the population in
North America knows who we are. There is
much room for growth.”
Whether it’s alerting people to the fact
that such a business exists or educating customers about additional services, people are
still at the heart of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.
Skinner says, “We know that by involving
people, people will be the solution.”
The ultimate goal
Since the company’s creation, Scudamore
has insisted on keeping it private to retain
control. But, he adds, the vision is the only
thing he really controls.
“I know there are a lot of people here who
are smarter than I am,” he says. “If I micro-manage, I’ll get in the way of them doing what
they’re good at.”
One way Scudamore inspires his employees
to put their best into the business is by having
a profit-sharing program. Although on hold
for the current year, it typically works out that
at the end of each year, 25 percent of the company’s profits are split among the employees
based on their performance. The profit-sharing
plan is part of the company’s history of cost-cutting measures—such as using office equipment it’s been hired to remove and sharing
hotel rooms on business trips. The Australian
operations were set up entirely over the phone,
e-mail and the Internet.
At the Junktion’s call center, words such as
“superb,” “terrific” and “sensational” are painted
on the walls to serve as additional inspiration
for employees who book and track junk-removal jobs. Just outside the call center is an
open space where all employees meet every
morning at 10: 55 for “the huddle.” The seven-minute meeting is a chance to go over goals and
share good news—professional and personal.
Founder: Brian Scudamore
Employees: 160 corporate staff;
nearly 1,600 system-wide
U.S. franchises: 183
Address: 1055 W. Hastings
Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9
18,000 cans of expired
sardines; 19,000 pounds of frozen animal
carcasses; prosthetic legs
Comments about Costco: “I believe
that Costco has developed the greatest
programs to meet the needs of small-business owners. Beyond shopping at
Costco for my business and personally, I
also encourage all 218 of our 1-800-GOT-
JUNK? franchise partners to utilize the
programs Costco offers. From their long-distance phone plans to merchant credit-card programs, Costco’s team has our
junk team covered.” —Brian Scudamore
In addition to building a global brand and
hitting their goal of $1 billion in sales by
2015—they’re currently around $100 million—
there’s plenty to do. And the wall says it best:
Make an appearance on The Late Show with
David Letterman, create a second franchised
brand and operate in 10 different countries.
“The goals are out in the open so that
employees will think, ‘I can impact us positively,’ ” says Scudamore. “I want everyone to
know that’s what they’re part of.” C
Brian Scudamore, center, believes his company’s most important asset is its motivated employees.
KIM S TALLKNECH T PHO TOGRAPH Y