Chances are you know someone who has had a horrible moving or junk-removal experience, or maybe it has even happened to you. The truck comes late, you find cigarette butts in your carpet, you’re overcharged—you know the drill. 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, however, offers a refreshing alternative. As the company’s director of finance, Brian Bacon explains, “We’re not two scruffy guys who show up late in a dirty truck. We have friendly, uniformed drivers, upfront pricing, and a clean fleet of trucks.”
1-800-GOT-JUNK? is turning the ordinary (and ordinarily messy) business of junk removal into an exceptional customer-service experience. Drivers give on-site estimates and then simply haul away unwanted items once an agreement is met. Fees are based on volume in the trucks, and there are never any labour charges or hidden fees. It’s a customer-friendly approach the company hopes to extend into other household-services markets.
Dos & Don’ts
Introducing new brands
Look for strategic opportunities to integrate brands into areas such as marketing, generating leads, and customer communication. This will save time and boost sales.
Budget conservatively. It’s exciting when you know your new idea will change the world, but remember that generating revenue and income takes time.
Keep expectations in check. Always take the long view when planning for organizational growth.
Roll out your concept before it’s ready. Make sure that your branding and training programs are well developed before introducing your concept to the field.
Reinvent the wheel. Try to emulate existing best practices whenever possible.
It might seem like one big organization when you’re dialing the number, but the company is actually an agglomeration of small businesses with the same mission. Bacon oversees franchises throughout North America, and he’s also helping to turn 1-800-GOT-JUNK? into a multibrand company. Most recently, over the past three years, he has been developing WOW 1 Day Painting, a brand offering professional painters who can complete high-quality painting projects in a single day. He’s also growing You Move Me, a full-service local moving company with a consistent, customer-driven, professional process. “[Each] brand is organized around professionalizing an unprofessionally managed industry,” Bacon says.
As 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s branches rapidly expand, Bacon is helping the company think strategically about its growth. He was named the director of finance in July 2010, and today he oversees the company’s financing, accounting, and budgeting responsibilities, which include preparing financial statements, managing the treasury, and providing counsel to the COO and CEO regarding the development and structure of the company. Bacon also provides advice to individual franchises, assisting them with insurance, vendor recommendations, and the development of training and compliance measures for frontline personnel and operations.
With more than 15 years of experience as a chartered accountant working with entrepreneurial businesses, Bacon is intimately familiar with the management of growth. He was CFO of lululemon athletica, the prominent fitness-apparel retailer, from 2003 to 2007, and the company doubled in size each year he was there. “That pace of growth taught me about how to deal with people in a stressful environment,” he says.
Bacon is certainly putting his experience to good use. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been [at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?], both about the franchise network and interpersonal issues,” he says. Instead of a top-down decision-making process, his company relies on consensus, so Bacon balances his communication to maintain a good exchange of information in the workplace. “It’s important when working with small businesses to know how to communicate up to leadership and down the line to franchise partners,” he says.
Bacon hopes that, as 1-800-GOT-JUNK? develops its new brands, it will be able to bring the same level of care and attention it has brought to the junk-removal industry to a variety of others. “This is the start of a big metamorphosis for the company,” he says, “and we take our definition of excellence seriously.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Director of finance
Years in the business
Where did you start your career?
I’m a chartered accountant, so I started my career working in a public practice audit firm. In my case, it was Coopers & Lybrand before they became part of PwC.
Describe yourself in three words
Integrity, open-minded, teachable.
Advice to those just starting in finance
Learn what role finance plays in your business, and then provide counsel that will add both value and support.