College Hunks Franchise Review: Q&A with Patrick Lombardi

Young entrepreneur quickly building successful junk removal franchise and moving franchise.

After years working in the food-service industry, Patrick Lombardi was more than ready for a change. His cousin had purchased a College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise and was pleased with the business’ growth, so when the Nashville franchise became available, Patrick knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.

What were you doing before College Hunks Hauling Junk?

I was a restaurant manager for Demos’ Restaurant, a very popular Nashville dining spot. I have a degree in math and statistics, but when applying for jobs I was in competition with 500 other people so I wound up in restaurant management.

How did you find out about College Hunks Hauling Hunk?

My cousin purchased a franchise back in 2010, and I had been watching him grow his business. When the owner here in Nashville was ready to sell, we purchased his franchise in November 2012. He had two trucks and had been specializing in the junk removal side of the business. We are now up to eight trucks, and we have added moving services, as well.

What sets your College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise apart from other independent moving and removal companies?

We hire leaders, not just movers and haulers. We do background checks, and we really have a different culture and atmosphere focused on growth, empowerment and a memorable client service experience. Just because many of our frontline employees are young doesn’t mean they are unprofessional — we have a closet full of brand-new College Hunks polo shirts to ensure our brand image is always crisp. No torn jeans, no unprofessional look. As an experiential brand, our guys are on stage at all times.

We also try to hire guys who have been in the military, because they understand responsibility, structure, discipline and accountability. We work really hard to empower our employees.

Our customers refer a lot of people to us for jobs because we are not only polite and friendly, but we do what we say we will do. Our team members understand what “H.U.N.K.S.” stands for — Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable Service, and they live our values daily. Once we built that kind of culture, we realized it was contagious with our employees and our customers.

What do you need to do to be successful in this franchise?

You have to be organized and willing to work hard to build your company. You also have to have the heart for mentoring and developing young people. It’s about much more than making money.

You have to be able to use technology effectively. Every truck has its own orders for the day. We use the Hunkware system at the main office to control operations, but we also use iPads with a GPS, schedule, customer notes and other software, so the truck operators can create invoices and take additional notes as needed. We have our own files for damage reports, liability waivers and expense reports — we are fully digital. We have our own cloud-backed database, so at the end of the day when I hit “submit,” I can look through our system to see mileage, gas, hours and everything else I need to know.

Who are your main customers?

We get hired by a lot of the female household decision-makers, but really our customer is anyone who enjoys and expects good customer service and quality work, both residential and commercial. In Nashville, we have a very wide range of customers, and we are looking to expand even more in that regard.

What does a typical day look like?

Our guys come in around 6:30 a.m., have some coffee and check the trucks. They roll out soon after, because our first moves are at 8 a.m. We split our trucks between junk removal and moving.

We also review the highs and lows of each day, so we can recognize and celebrate good customer testimonials, and also we see where we can improve.

Our operating hours are from when we open until the work gets done. There is no 9-to-5 in this world.

What do you like about the business?

When we bought the franchise there were only two trucks in the market, and they were focused exclusively on junk removal. We are now up to eight trucks, and we are offering moving services in addition to junk hauling. It’s nice to be part of a brand that lets you take the initiative to do that.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?

I love the idea that there is a brand where I can not only run my own business, but also provide an opportunity for our employees to grow and develop along with me.

We also get to make a difference in the community. For example, we’ll provide one of our moving trucks to work with Second Harvest Food Bank and try to fill the whole thing up with food. We set up a booth at a grocery store with them to do that, and then take the food and deliver it. Once a lady walked into a store for one item and came back out with two full carts overflowing with food just for us to donate. We believe in making a difference, and our guys are always willing to volunteer for our community-service projects.

Would you recommend this franchise? Why?

Yes, I would recommend College Hunks Hauling Junk. It’s hard work — you’re not buying a get-rich-quick scheme. You get great systems and a lot of help from the head office, but you also have to work with those resources to build your own franchise success.