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College Hunks Franchise Review: Q&A With Jim DelVecchio

October 14, 2014

What does this former sales director like best about the moving franchise and junk removal franchise? Read on.

Owning and operating his own business was high on Jim DelVecchio’s priority list, but after a negative prior business experience he knew how important it was to find the right opportunity. With College Hunks Hauling Junk, he got the sound investment and solid support he was looking for.

Jim DelVecchio owns a College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise in Columbus, Ohio.

What were you doing before College Hunks Hauling Junk?
Most recently I was with a company called GameWorks — these were indoor entertainment centers along the lines of Dave and Buster’s, around 40,000 square feet. I did that for 13 years. We did a lot of corporate and group events, team-building events. I am originally from Cleveland and had gone to Texas to work with GameWorks. They expanded to Columbus, so I took that store to be closer to home. Suddenly, though, they closed. The ownership was Sega Entertainment in Japan, and they just decided to shut down. Some stores were doing well, but some others were not. The leases were really expensive.

That was in early 2010, and I found myself deciding whether I wanted to go back to corporate America or try to do my own thing. I began researching franchises and decided that was the way to go. I’m a big believer in franchises, because you can get your business off the ground and going quicker than an independent startup. There’s no doubt that a national brand has a big advantage. You pay the royalties and other costs, but I find it to be well worth it.

How did you find out about College Hunks Hauling Hunk?
I used a franchise broker, which worked out well for me. I had been in many meetings and had looked at a lot of franchises, as I had made some qualifying calls. College Hunks Hauling Junk was mentioned, and I’d seen them on Shark Tank and kept my eye on them. What kept coming up with CHHJ was the investment level. It was very manageable for someone getting started, especially compared to a restaurant, and the potential returns made sense.

When you look at the actual operation itself and learn about the core values and how Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman started the company, you learn they are the real deal — super-smart, super-hardworking. And the way the system is set up — it has a lot of policies and procedures, but it also has a lot of communication — makes it top notch. They want to build leaders, which really intrigues me. It’s not just something they put on the wall — they really believe in it. We run our business that way. If I can take something I’ve learned in 30 years of business and help one of my employees, that means I have given them something that they can use now and later. Being able to have an impact really is important to me.

What else sets College Hunks Hauling Junk apart?
You can, for less than $200,000, own your own business, be up and running and be successful. For me, risk was an important factor. I would have been more willing to take on more risk in my 20s, but at this point in my life I wanted to be more secure about the potential of the business. I know that if you have a business doing something people don’t want to do themselves, you will always have a job. People hate to move their own stuff, and they hate to haul things away. I don’t think there’ll be a robot wrapping couches in pads and loading them on trucks in my lifetime. It’s not a fad; it’s a real need.

You get a lot of support from the home office. CHHJ does an outstanding job in that regard; they have every resource you could possibly need. There are weekly and monthly calls, but in between they are very reachable. I have never had any trouble getting anything I asked for, which has been very satisfying.

Another good thing is the call center. We do pay for it, but it’s an unbelievable benefit. They really get us customers, and they know the questions and concerns the callers have. If I weren’t paying for that, I would have to hire someone to staff the phones in our office, and that is a high expense for all-day, every-day coverage. Plus all of the call center calls are recorded, so if I have a question about a particular client we can listen to the original call. Clients can also book online, which is another great offering that doesn’t cost us anything.

What do you need to do to be successful?
You need to work on the business, not in the business. You don’t want owners driving trucks, doing the jobs. I brought in an operations manager who manages the crews and jobs, which allows me to focus on growing the business and sales. Everything in my day needs to be about how to generate sales and profits. A lot of my time is spent on sales and networking events, on calling Realtors, on hiring the right number of people and on buying the trucks.

You have to focus on leads and prospects, and many of those are from the Internet. Another solid source is Realtors. We also work to find people who can refer us business, such as assisted-living centers, apartment managers and property managers. Realtors have monthly meetings, and we go and do presentations. We also go to a lot of networking groups, like Big Fish Networking in Columbus. We go to trade shows when it makes sense. I would say I spend about 50 percent of my time in the community doing networking and sales.

Who are your main customers?
We run the gamut from commercial to residential moves from apartments all the way to five-bedroom homes. We also work with a lot of people going into assisted-living homes. We have a very broad demographic, which is good for business.

What do you like about the business?
Every day is different. We work to give our clients a stress-free experience, especially those who are moving. The ability to do that really has an impact. It’s pretty neat to see. I also like hiring some of the youthful employees and watching them grow as team members and as people, as far as what dedication and hard work brings them. I know they are learning lessons they will keep their whole life.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t do before?
It takes a lot of hard work, but there are a lot of benefits. If you like what you are doing it doesn’t seem like work, and there is a lot to be said for being your own boss. The amount of effort I put in is what I get out, and that really does determine my level of success. I like the fact that I can make my own schedule — although it does mean I have pretty full days. But that is my call, and I like that. My wife, Marcy, says I just don’t like having people tell me what to do, but I think that’s a characteristic you’re going to see in a lot of business owners.

Would you recommend this franchise?
I absolutely would recommend it. I did my homework on a lot of different franchises, and this is the one that came out on top. CHHJ is a proven brand with good systems, policies and procedures, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet. We hit break-even the first year — even turned a little profit. Be sure you have the commitment, and be sure you call around and ask a lot of questions. I do think people will be very pleased with what they hear when they do that research and talk to the people at College Hunks Hauling Junk.