This is a guest blog post by Randy Shacka, President of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK.
Throughout my professional career, I have been fortunate to work and grow with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK on both the franchise and corporate sides. I first got my start as an intern in 2001, while I was working on an engineering degree at Michigan State University. From there, I moved to work for a franchise in Florida, and two years later relocated back to Lansing, Mich. to work at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK headquarters,
assisting start up franchises with support and training.
During the past decade, I have served as Franchise Development Specialist, Director of Operations, Chief Development Officer, and most recently Chief Operating Officer in 2011. On August 1 of this year, I assumed the role of President. It is a huge honor to be the first person outside of the family to serve in this capacity, and I am proud to continue working in a family business with Brig Sorber, CEO; Jon Sorber, Executive Vice President; and Melanie Bergeron, Chair of the company, as well as Founder Mary Ellen Sheets.
Given my unique tenure with the company, I thought I would share a little more about the lessons I’ve learned, along with the vision of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK as we begin our next exciting chapter.
1. Starting out:
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK began in the early ’80s with brothers Brig and Jon Sorber who were looking for work during the summer break from high school. They utilized an old green pick-up truck and began moving yard waste, brush, and just about anything people wanted hauled away. They saw value in hard work and customer service right from the beginning.
Around that time, the boys’ mother, Mary Ellen Sheets, posted an ad in the local weekly paper, complete with a hand-drawn logo she created on a napkin.
As the boys went off to college, Mary Ellen continued to get calls for their service, so she hired on some help, bought a larger truck, and continued to grow the business. She took a leap of faith with the concept and began franchising in the late ’80s, with the first out-of-state franchisee being her daughter Melanie Bergeron in Atlanta, Ga. Fast-forward 25 years for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK and today there are 230 locations deploying over 1,400 trucks within 34 states and four countries.
2. I am most proud of:
The people in our system and their ability to adapt and flourish with change. This was particularly evident during the recession of 2008, when TWO MEN AND A TRUCK sought out technology and process improvements to cope with the changing financial landscape. One of the process improvements was implementing an automotive supplier approach (ISO 9000 certification); it changed the way in which we operated many aspects of the business and forced us to put thoughts down on paper to standardize key processes. As a result, we experienced significant growth.
3. There is always room for improvement:
One of our biggest challenges has been the shift from an order-taking mindset to one where we actively sell our services. Before the recession of 2008, the phones were constantly ringing and sales were great. For most franchisees, the biggest problem was having enough trucks to meet demand. But we weren’t ready when phones stopped ringing. We didn’t have the proper training to shift into sales mode, which made for a tough couple years. We resolved to make changes that ultimately reshaped our organization, but were absolutely the right thing to do. As a result, we’re seeing steady growth numbers. We recently celebrated our 33rd consecutive month of growth with 15 straight double-digit growth months.
4. Success factors:
In 2008. we implemented a new three-part strategy of people, process, and technology to position this brand for the future and enhance our ability to thrive in an ever-changing world. We focused on hiring professionals that could better support the needs of our franchisees and could contribute to a growth strategy for the future. We standardized training and other operational programs to improve efficiency, and we improved technology to allow for more centralized franchise support.
Another important factor in our success, I believe, is the extent of our financial measurement and transparency. Mary Ellen came from a systems analyst background. She emphasized numbers and the objectiveness of data from the very beginning. We track every possible metric and share them with all of our franchisees, allowing for some friendly competition as well as best practice sharing from the system’s top performers.
5. Future goals:
One goal is to continue to invest and grow the brand while strengthening the bottom line of our franchise owners. We base a great deal of our vision on feedback from franchise owners and know that their success is our success. We are seeing major success from the changes made – 33% over the past two years, compared to industry projections of 2.2% growth. Another goal is to grow our franchise network by 40 new locations over the next 18 months. We have a very strong management team and we’re on track to hit the quarter-billion revenue mark by the end of the year. I couldn’t be more excited about the direction of the company.
6. Looking to get into a franchise business? Here’s what I learned:
Look for a franchise that interests you. Don’t get too caught up in the earnings potential of a franchise. It is important indeed, but I would also find a concept for which you have genuine passion. Secondly, look at how the franchisor is set up to help. Do they have adequate training? Will you have continued access to staff? How much of their resources go toward franchise support? And finally, take an honest look at yourself. Are you a self-starter? Can you multi-task? Are you a people person? Running a franchise takes a huge amount of effort and skill. You shouldn’t go into it without having examined all aspects of yourself and your business, but it can also be one of the most gratifying endeavors you undertake.
That said, if the shoe fits, it might make all of the difference for you. I am grateful for the opportunities a franchise business has given me both professionally and personally, and I look forward to continuing my journey with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK now and in the years to come.
It’s your move.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the largest franchised moving company in North America. It includes 230 locations and more than 1,400 trucks on the road. Each location is independently owned and operated, and sells boxes and packing supplies. For more information, visit www.twomenandatruck.com.