(Ambrosio’s note: I discovered BungoBox through small Google Adsense text ads that kept appearing on my blog. When I finally visited their site, I was so impressed with the quality of their content and branding that I knew I had to feature the company. Please visit the BungoBox website to see a great example of a new franchise concept with a distinctive brand message that really stands out. I also appreciate the contrast of their fresh business model in an otherwise old-school industry. Tom Cannon, CEO of BungoBox, was so gracious in granting my request for an exclusive interview, which we completed in record time. Thank you, Tom!)
Tom Cannon served in the US Navy during the First Gulf war, been instrumental in the launch of three successful companies, held executive-level positions in sales, marketing, and management and today is the CEO and co-founder of BungoBox. He created the company with his cousin Bob Cannon, a commercial real estate investor and broker.
1. What made you decide to start BungoBox?
I just love business — all aspects of it are just fun to me and it makes me feel more alive than anything. I especially love simple businesses that can change current standards. The greatest and coolest ideas seem to come from tech companies and I am the biggest geek when it comes to new technology and the power of the web.
Every once in a while, a great idea comes along that is not necessarily technology-related, but involves a more traditional service/bricks and mortar business. I believe that BungoBox is one of those ideas. We will change an entire industry with a simple concept, and technology and the Internet will be some of the key tools we use to do this.
So why did we decide to start BungoBox? It’s a once in a lifetime idea that if executed properly could be revolutionary. We thought we could execute well enough to be the best at it and so far, I believe we are.
2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a moving supplies franchise?
Until now, I would have said that this would be a difficult category to do business in. It has a bad reputation for poor customer service and a lot of consumer distrust. Someone should be interested now because BungoBox will provide a customer experience that is long overdue in the industry.
There is plenty of business out there to go after too — 20% of the U.S. population move annually. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Additionally, this does not even quantify the extremely large commercial side of the business, which in my opinion is just as large and is a sizeable portion of our business.
3. What sets BungoBox apart from your competitors in the moving supplies industry?
For the most part, our competitor as of now is the cardboard box. Therefore, hands down, our solution is better than that antiquated method of moving. Over time, we anticipate new competitors to enter the market and compete with us directly on the moving box rental concept. And frankly, we are preparing for that competition which we know will come. We will simply provide a better customer experience through constant and consistent improvements.
We are set to beta our new site and software in early July that will blow the doors off anything out today. This will be the third version of the platform behind our website and ordering system. It will cost the competition hundreds of thousands of dollars to catch up to our technology — and at least a year, even if they have the money.
We are currently designing several new products in order to enhance our current offering and also redesigning some of our current products in order to make them better, stronger, and less expensive.
Finally, we strive to have the strongest, most recognizable, and most compelling brand. Our goal is to define the market. If you want to rent boxes for moving, you will rent a BungoBox. With a projected 10 – 15 locations by the end of 2011, we are well on our way to building a large interconnected network that will be difficult to duplicate.
We are looking for driven and determined self-starters. They must have an entrepreneurial spirit but have the ability to channel that spirit within the confines of an established system.
5. Can you describe the ideal territory and neighborhood for a BungoBox franchise?
Our current territory is set at 1 franchise per 1 million in population. The more dense the population, the easier it is from a logistics standpoint.
6. Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?
Those that are the most successful in the early stages are those that follow our lead and allow us to navigate the course based our our successes and failures. Additionally, they do not just sit back and expect business to knock on the door. They work our system with energy and determination everyday.
7. What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?
We spend a lot of time on the road with our franchisees in their markets. We provide them extensive on the job training in their markets in order to help them understand the best way to interact with various personalities and to deal with any questions that come their way.
Most recently, we spent 4 days in Phoenix and made 30 face to face sales calls with the new franchisee. When we left, he had multiple new customers, multiple follow up sales appointments and meetings, and several requests for quotes of a very large size.
Additionally, we provide back office assistance in the form of a customer call center and dedicated reps to assist the franchisees in their daily tasks and efforts.
Without getting too much into specific numbers, our original location was cash flow positive within 8 months and profitable in the first year. Each location has opened strong enough to either be out of inventory in the first month or begin to have major inventory concerns.
9. Can you describe your typical day as CEO of BungoBox? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I wear many hats. I can be on the phone with our Phoenix location and fifteen minutes later be on the phone with our Tampa location. I deal with PR, marketing, technology, product development, and strategic partnerships. My day is extremely unpredictable and always subject to change.
I enjoy a great many things about my job. You see, I love business, I love creating something from nothing and I simply love that BungoBox is that spark in someone else’s life. We are changing lives by creating businesses all over the country and changing our customers’ moving experience at the same time.
10. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about BungoBox?
The goal of BungoBox is to be the largest and most innovative moving box rental company in North America. We are currently the leader in both categories and expect to maintain that position by working with the best franchise partners and always keeping our customers at the center of our focus.