College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise owner Steven Roper reviews the franchise opportunity
Steven Roper purchased his College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise in Raleigh in November 2011, and he tripled its revenue in just two years. How did he do it? Steven, 62, who managed stores for retailers like Target, Sears and Kohl’s before buying his junk-removal franchise and moving franchise, recently shared his story with us:
Why did you decide to change careers, and how did you decide on College Hunks Hauling Junk?
A neighbor of mine was a franchise consultant, and I had medical reasons to get out of retail — my feet were giving out on me after 37 years of standing in stores. I started looking for opportunities and was fortunate when a franchise came up for sale locally.
Fundamentally, what attracted me to College Hunks Hauling Junk was the name — it’s a fun marketing piece, and the marketing aspect was very appealing to me. Then, as I dug a little deeper, I learned the core values of the company, which are things I have always stood for in my career — things like creating a fun, enthusiastic team environment where people enjoy working, that builds a great culture and gives a team a focus. I have always been involved in mentoring employees and building leaders. Throughout my career I developed a lot of people into assistants who then became store managers. Building leaders is one of College Hunks’ core values, and helping people get to a higher level was very appealing to me. Another core value is to listen to, fulfill and delight your customers. We talk about WOWing and amazing customers. My No. 1 title is “Director of Wow and Amaze,” and that extends to the way I treat my employees. If I WOW and amaze my Hunks, they will WOW and amaze my clients. Every single one of my guys, their No. 1 job responsibility is to WOW and amaze.
How do you WOW and amaze your Hunks?
Part of it is having a great atmosphere where they know they can talk to me. People need to be able to feel they can talk to you. I’ll bring chips and salsa or pizza to meetings, and I ask them for their input: “What are some things you guys can present to us to take the business to the next level?” I do a quarterly review with them, and we have objectives and chart progress and discuss ways to improve. We are constantly giving them feedback and building their business acumen.
It didn’t happen overnight here. We have slowly put our current team together by always hiring better workers and leaders. I have about 17 people on staff now, and most of them are part-time. Most are also younger — in their 20s. I do have a couple of older guys, too, but they are young at heart, like me!
What kinds of lessons do they learn?
One of the College Hunks values is “always branding.” I teach them that it’s easy to wear the colors and drive great-looking trucks, but that branding is also about how they represent themselves. HUNKS stands for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable Service. The College Hunks mission is to “move the world,” and that means more than moving stuff — we move people emotionally by taking care of them. Moves are stressful. People are worried about how all of their personal belongings — everything they have worked for — are going to be treated. We talk about meeting customers’ emotional needs all the time.
It starts with the way you approach and talk to the customer — it is the way your estimator goes into the home or your team goes out to complete a job. You introduce yourself and ask customers: “What is important to you? What are the important factors we need to keep in mind for you?” Then we sit down with them and review everything we have heard. We make sure customers know we have listened to them. On the day of a move, we make sure the entire crew introduces themselves instead of just a crew leader. The crew leader is trained to ask again: “Okay, what is important for you today? What should we be keeping in mind?” That immediately builds trust and takes quite a bit of the stress away from our client.
What sets College Hunks Hauling Junk apart?
We follow through and do a great job. You can talk about providing great customer service and stress-free moves, but you also have to walk it. Our goal is to always get a “10 out of 10” for customer service on surveys. We have an “A” from Angie’s List and have won the Super Service Award two years in a row, and we are working very hard and setting higher standards to do even better.
What kind of person makes a good College Hunks Hauling Junk franchisee?
You have to have a high energy level and be passionate about your business and driving high-quality results. If you are passionate about your business, you will develop passion for it in other people, too.
I think mentoring has to be something you have the ability to do — and the desire to do. It does take extra effort to put quarterly reviews together, but mentoring is mostly about what you do on a daily basis — it’s about making guys understand they are crucial to our success and that we are looking at them to help us be successful. They are the face of the company every day. We don’t do it on our own.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different. That’s what I like about it! I normally network two to three days a week with real estate agents, property managers and others. I have a franchise manager who is here every day at 7 a.m. to get crews started. At one point that was my job, but now I concentrate on marketing and human resources, as well as accounting and the physical assets to keep the infrastructure running. I’m probably at five or six networking events a week.
How large is the opportunity for growth?
My five-year plan is to reach $1.5 million in sales, which is very attainable. I think we’ll get there without any question. When I retire, I’m looking at being around $2.5 million. Revenues have tripled since I bought it.
Would you recommend this franchise?
Yeah, I do every time anyone asks. I think there are a lot of pluses to the brand. I’ve been successful with it.