Brian Scudamore On Growing A $250 Million Business

In this episode, I chat with Brian Scudamore. Brian is the founder of O2E Brands, the banner company for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. We’ll discuss how he built a $250 million dollar empire, the challenges and struggles he faced doing it, and put his 9-figure insights to work for your business regardless of where you are now!

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Jeremy Reeves: Hey everyone. Jeremy Reeves here, back with another episode of The Sales Funnel Mastery podcast.

And today, I have on the line, Brian Scudamore and you may or may not recognize his name, you probably recognize his trucks that are probably driving all around your town.

He owns 1-800-GOT-JUNK? along with WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine.

Brian obviously, as you can tell is a serial entrepreneur. He has been doing this — Brian (inaudible 0:44.6) the exact year, but I know 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is roughly 150-million dollar company. It has been around since I think the 80s and now he is kind of just conquering the entire you know, home service market which is kind of awesome.

I want to give in to your story of why you chose that market you know, he has made appearances on ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and CNBC. He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and the list can basically go on and on and on for about the next half hour about your background, every amazing thing that you have done, but instead of doing that, Brian, first of all, welcome to the show and let everybody know you know, go a little bit deeper into your story and to your background, so people can kind of get to know you a little better.

Brian Scudamore: Yeah. Thanks for having me Jeremy and I always enjoy talking to an audience about their entrepreneurs and people that are interested in the startup world. We have done this now since 1989. We are about $250 million business (inaudible 1:49.0) 250 this year and O2E Brands is the parent company which stands for Ordinary to exceptional, O2E Brands.

We have got 4 companies now from junk removal all the way to windows, gutters, power washing under the Shack Shine brand so we are having fun and growing the entrepreneurial world through different home service brands.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice. I love it.

Before we get into all of the business stuff, I always like to start off and ask a couple — kind of get to know you questions, right.

So the first one is what is the worst habit that you have ever had and how did you get rid of it?

Brian Scudamore: Oh, interesting. I think the worse habit is probably not being as good of a listener as I can be. I am a big believer in a philosophy of “Leaders Eat Last” and that a leader needs to listen to other people, share their opinions before they speak.

So while I say it is a bad habit that I used to have. I think I am still working on it and getting better, but I tried to have my team speak up and share their thoughts because they are the brilliant ones with all the answers and how am I to really formulate, visionary thinking if I cannot get other people’s ideas are. So a little more time listening.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah. I love that. I love that.

And I think that is something that a lot of people could use some you know, some work on it including myself you know.

Okay, second one you know, I am sure you have a bucket list. I am sure you have crossed a lot of things off, you still have a lot of things to cross off. If you had time to only cross off one more thing in your bucket list, which one would that be?

Brian Scudamore: Well, it is interesting. So I was actually just looking at what we call our 101 Life Goals list and I have got you know, 101 things on there from giving over a win free a day hug which I got to do, to do in a safari in Africa, a hot air balloon which I got to do.

The one that I would keep — if I can only check one off is to live to be at least 101 years old. So that way, that would allow me to still accomplish all the other things on the list.

Jeremy Reeves: Oh I like it. You are doing the genie cheating approach. I like that.

Brian Scudamore: Being strategic.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I like that.

Alright, next one is, if you could change one thing about your life instantly. If you could just you know, actually you know, a genie in the bottle you know, if you could rub the bottle and something in your life change instantly, what would that be?

Brian Scudamore: Nothing.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice. I like that answer. I like that. Beautiful.

Okay, next one. What is your favorite drink? Could be alcoholic or nonalcoholic or you know, what is your favorite drink?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah, I love my red wine. I am not a big fancy wine sommelier type but I definitely enjoy red wine and just a glass with friends or family.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice, okay.

And the last one is if you had to choose a spirit animal, what would it be?

Brian Scudamore: If I had to choose a spirit animal?

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah. First thing it pops in your head.

Brian Scudamore: I have to ask you what that is. What do you mean by spirit animal?

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah. So basically, if there was — and first thing that pops in your head you know, if there is an animal that describes you, what would that be?

Brian Scudamore: My favorite animal is an elephant. I used to think that there are smart. They are big. They stand out. They you know, pioneer roads through you know, trees.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice. And it is actually funny, I was just watching the jungle book with my 2 sons the other day and my wife and in that — I do not know if you remember seeing that from when you are younger when it came out. They just redid it and in that, the elephants are actually like the gods of the forest you know. They are the ones that are paving all the — you know, they are putting in the dance, they are moving everything you know, so it is actually interesting, it is pretty good. I like it.

Brian Scudamore: (inaudible 5:42.7) they did a great, a great new version of that movie. The special effects just blew my mind —

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, I know. It was, oh my God, the animals are so real. It is incredible. I like it.

So alright, so now that we kind of got to know you more as a person you know, let us kind of shift into the you know, the businessman Brian, alright.

So first of all, you know, when you first started 1-800-GOT-JUNK? That is your, you know, that is kind of what started everything. That is what really put you in the map. Why was that you know, what was like the reasoning behind it?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah, it was simple. I was in the McDonald’s drive-through in Vancouver. I was trying to think of ways to pay for college. I was 1 course short of graduation from high school and I (inaudible 6:27.4) my way to college, but I have to find the funds to pay for it.

So I had a need for a job and there I was, McDonald’s drive-through (inaudible 6:34.8) pick-up truck filled with junk. That was the Aha moment. I went and bought a truck on my own for $700 and started hauling junk.

A week later and the rest is history. What motivated me or inspired me to pay for college also got me to drop out. I had 1 year left in my diploma so to speak in business school, but I was learning much more about business running the business and I made the bold decision to drop out.

My father who is a liver transplant surgeon who thought I was absolutely out of my tree, but we golf the other weekend and you know, he is proud of me and I am proud of him, it all worked out.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, yeah, definitely you did. I mean going to 250 million is not an easy task you know.

So in the beginning days you know, what where some of the things that really kind of move the needle for you so to speak you know. Was there any, was it the message, was it that the actual service was unique you know, I am pretty sure you were — you were the first one really to bring that you know, that service to the marketplace you know, what do you think really you know, kind of put you in the map?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah, what is interesting, I was not the first one to bring it to the market, not even close. There were thousands of junk removal companies that were just like me one-truck owner/operator hauling junk in any city across North America, but I was the first to do is bring the market together and say let us create a professional FedEx-like brand. Clean and shiny trucks, friendly uniformed drivers, exceptional level of service brought to an ordinary industry.

And I started the and scale the business from Vancouver to Seattle to Toronto and today we are in every major market in North America and Australia with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.

Jeremy Reeves: That is awesome.

I actually did not know that. I thought you guys were actually — I thought you pioneered that whole industry, but —

Brian Scudamore: You know, we did it at a bigger scale than anyone else, but people have been picking up junks since you know, since the world started right. People have stuff to get rid out of it and you know, 1 day (inaudible 8:46.0) buggy-type model and you know, we just professionalized the very fragmented industry, the same way that Starbucks professionalized and created a brand in a mop-and-pop coffee shop world. We have got on to do it in the junk removal space and of course now you know, our real vision and inspiration is how do we do it in other arenas? How do we take an ordinary business and make it exceptional like O2E Brands our name says, we are doing it with windows, gutters, power washing, and the house detailing space with our newest brand, Shack Shine.

So we have got 4 companies that are doing this in fragmented home service markets.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay. So is that kind of like your, you know, your kind of go-to strategies, looking for services that you know, that are kind of providing like the basic level service you know, they are really not, they are in it almost like transactionally rather than actually trying to given an experience to the you know, to the consumer that is buying it? Is that kind of like your, you know, your MO so to speak?

Brian Scudamore: That is pretty much it you know, it is working for us. We have got 4 brands. We are — I would not say taking over the world, but trying to do it at least in North America and stay in focus and we do see that by 2021, we will be a billion dollar globally admired brand with 10 brands across the continent.

Jeremy Reeves: Congratulations in advance for hitting the 1 billion dollar market.

Brian Scudamore: Thank you. Thank you. I know it will happen and you know, money is not — it is not about the money. It is about the billions of measurement for us, where we would say, hey look at this scale and significance of what we have created. Think of the thousands of people that had to be a part of building these brands and our ability to build leaders and help change the world one entrepreneur at a time, it is pretty exciting stuff.

Jeremy Reeves: Nice, okay.

Was there a point you know, on your way, kind of building the business. I am sure you have had you know, probably I cannot even count how many stumbling blocks and you know, road blocks and obstacles. What were some of like the biggest things that you had, the things that were you know, maybe you had or maybe you did not, but you know, if there were any, what were some of the times when you were going and you were going and you were going and then something just you know, a huge obstacle in your way that you thought that you would not be able to break through it and then — how did you, you know, break through that?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah. Five years into business. In 1994 I fired my entire company. I have 11 people, 1 bad apple spoils the whole bunch and I had 9 bad apples out of my 11 — team of 11 and I (inaudible 11:21.5) you know what I got to get rid of everybody. This is not working for me. I am sure it was not working for them and I took responsibility as the leader and sat them all down in the room together and said I just screwed up. I did not hire the right people, train you, and give you the love and support that you need it and sorry team, but this is not working out. We are going to part ways and that day or the next day, a lot of pain going what am I going to do here. I am like going to rebuild my business. I got one truck rather that I can drive at the time. I cannot drive my (inaudible 11:51.4) and you know these employees and it was a difficult road in building things back, but what it taught me was learn from the lesson of — I have made the mistake bringing on the wrong people. How am I going to ensure I always have the right people.

And you know even when someone comes to our head office today it is called the “Junction.” They see a big sign. The first thing they see is a big sign that says, “It is all about people.” And that is our commitment to everyone that comes into that door. Find the right people. Treat them right. It is a special place, but we have worked hard to keep that.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah and you know, I would like to get your thoughts on this you know, because a lot of people when they are hiring, it is about, oh well you know, we are going to pay X amount of dollars and kind of looking for whoever takes that you know what I mean, rather than saying hey, you know what, who is the best person that we can find you know.

What are your thoughts on kind of paying employees and you know, your hiring process like who you are looking for. What types of qualities they have and that sort of thing like in terms of hiring the right person versus just hiring someone to fill the role?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah. We are slow to hire quick to fire. We really take our time in selecting the right people. And we involved the potential employees in the process to make sure that they feel it is a mutual fit.

So when we put someone through the interview process here we called it the beer and barbeque test. I read an article about it on Forbes and what the beer and barbeque test is (inaudible 13:22.1) every person that is interviewing someone to ask themselves could they see themselves having a beer with this person? Do they like them? Are they interesting? Are they interested? Do they have the passion in life.

And what we do with the people we interview is we just make sure there is a good strong connection because culture is everything.

And then we asked people to say okay let us put them through the barbeque test. Could you see them in a company barbeque? Could you see them interacting, having fun, having a drink, having a (inaudible 13:49.7). Are they people that you know would take the business seriously but not themselves or not take themselves too seriously?

We like to work hard and play hard and have fun. So when we interview people, it is often 8, 9, 10 interviews that they will go through, but you know, at the end of the process, both sides are pretty certain that it will be a sure thing.

Now nothing is a sure thing, but you have a pretty good track record to bring in the right people on board.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay. And are there any certain qualities that you look for you know, in terms of you know, I guess you know, skill level or do you focus more on — I guess more of a question is, do you focus more on the skill or the person?

Brian Scudamore: We still focus more on the value. So we hire around attitude, train on skill now before hiring a CFO as we just did recently you better hope that person has their papers (inaudible 14:40.6) but we hire first on attitude and what that means for us is we look at their values. Our values as a company, the abbreviation is what we called “PIPE.”

Passion, Integrity, Professionalism, and Empathy.

Do they have passion for life and for their career? Do they have the integrity, the professionalism in everything they do? The empathy that hey, cut yourself and other slack when you make mistakes, be willing to learn from mistakes.

So our values (inaudible 15:10.6) is used as a filter if you will for really helping to screen and find the right people based on who they are as a people much more than their skill level.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay, yeah and you know what, I am starting to hear that from more and more and more people you know, as I kind of grow my own business you know, and hiring people and that sort of thing is more — what you said, you know, hire on — hire basically on value and train on like the skills you know what I mean.

And I think that is a big distinction because I think most people when they are hiring people it is like okay, we need somebody who can do A, B, and C versus we need someone who has the values of A, B, and C and can also do A, B, and C you know.

I think that is a big — I think that is a big shift.

Now when you first started like when in the process did you I guess come into that realization you know, did you always hire based on values or in the beginning was it more of skill based and then you kind of learned over the years that it was — there is a bigger impact you know, kind of per employee based on the — hiring based on values.

Brian Scudamore: Well, earlier on, as I told you, the first 5 years when I hired all the wrong people, that was me just thinking you know, someone applies. Do they seemed like they can do the job and we made the decision right on the spot.

So putting process in place came from understanding that you cannot just hire anyone. You need to be selective. You do not just go to a party and go hey, you want to be my friend you know, you find your friends through time organically and you are selective because everybody is so busy that you cannot just be friends with everybody and spend time with everyone.

So we do that same thing with employees. We take our time. We made sure it is a good mutual match and when it is, it is magic.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay, nice.

And how do you go about you know, when people are in the company, when your — you know, because people grow you know, they grow personally and they get getter at their jobs, they get better at kind of being of employed in your organization.

How do you go about kind of moving them up the ranks you know, do you keep them? Is there — do they kind of stay like in a certain bubble if you will or do you kind of you know, do you allow people to kind of rise to the top or you know, how do you go about moving people up in the ladder?

Brian Scudamore: We pay attention to developing our people as a part of who we are (inaudible 17:34.6) to be brand. We have what we call the leadership way. We have our way of developing people the leadership traits that really matter that we spend time on, and so a lot of our meetings are focused on leadership development.

We do a lot of internal training because we know it is cheaper, much more effective, and a better process if we can find people internally and grow them from within. It is hard to find the right people and when you got someone inside your organization who has all values, the energy, the enthusiasm, they kept the vision of the company and they just need to be trained up makes way more sense to do that than to go to the outside hire some recruiters and go through a big lengthy process to find someone that you just do not know what you are getting.

So leadership development you know, Nike one said, I think they are famous for saying that they are marketing company that just happens to sell shoes, we are a leadership company that just happens to remove (inaudible 18:32.8) to keep people’s homes move their boxes you know, that sort of thing and so leadership is really, really at the core of everything we do.

Jeremy Reeves: Okay, I like that.

Yeah and it reminds me you know, kind of you know, hiring from within and moving them up the ranks versus looking from the outside, you know, outside perspective. It is kind of the same thing as you know, a lot of people spend too much time focused on bringing in new customers what if they just focused under existing customers you know, it is — you kind of get them back into your business. They are worth more — you know, cost less to kind of re-acquire you know, for a second purchase that sort of thing.

So when it comes to you know, let us jump into marketing a little bit you know, because obviously, you know, you cannot really grow to 250 without you know, knowing what you are doing and having a big idea that moves people you know, so what are some of the things that you have done for marketing that really worked for you and this could be early on in the days where I am imagining it was a lot more you know, a lot more hustle, a lot more kind of you know guerilla marketing if you will versus now where you know, you have a lot more momentum you know, you can go on a lot bigger like you know, like you have been on ABC and Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Oprah, you know, those kinds of things where it is more mass exposure, but you know, along the way, what were some of the big marketing breakthroughs that you guys had?

Brian Scudamore: (inaudible 19:52.4) leader marketing goal has pretty much always been about hustle whether it is knocking on doors of potential customers, knocking on doors of media outlets and trying to tell them a great story. ABC, Oprah, all those things, Dateline, Nightline, (inaudible 20:08.1) those are things that came to us from working it, from really getting out there and pounding the pavement and so even today (inaudible 20:15.6) being a bigger company, quarter of a billion, we are still all about the hustle.

Our franchise partners are doing guerilla marketing locally making sure their vehicles or parts (inaudible 20:24.5) high profile visible billboards that generate business.

And then you know, the one thing that might be different today versus the earlier years is we can afford to do some mass advertising that we could not afford in the earlier days.

So 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is an example. We have got $8 million a year radio budget. That is a lot of radio and you know, it works well for us, but you got to build a business to grow it to the size where you are able to make those things happen and we feel fortunate that we you know, reached that level.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, sure, okay.

You know, what were some of the things like you know, I think you have it down now, but you know, earlier on with your messaging you know, because a lot of times it takes people a little bit tweaking here and there you know, to really narrow down their messaging you know, the whole like message to mark a match making sure that what you are saying is what your customers want. Did you have any problem with that or is it you know, when you brought it to the market, did it just click with people?

Brian Scudamore: I think something we have learned is do not tweak too often or too much.

So the phone number 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the colors, the look and the feel, we stuck with it and just settle, let us be consistent even with Shack Shine. We got to a point where we said okay, we are new business here. We got to figure some things out, but let us just figure out the core messages. We call the industry house detailing because just like you detail your car, you should detail your house, wash it, power wash it, do the windows.

So we came up with house detailing. We came up with the brand (inaudible 21:58.2) Shack Shine but it is keeping it simple and not tweaking too much. I think too many companies constantly change their message, their look, their brand and it confuses people and I think the consistency is something incredibly, incredibly powerful.

You look at Uber, I mean, Uber keeps changing their logo, I do not get it. They have got a big company, a big brand why mess with something and it happens all the time in businesses and I do not think it is the smartest move to be making.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, you know what, I think there is something to be said there because you know, when you are changing on your message, it almost makes the market feel like you are not sure what you are doing or what your vision is for the company you know what I mean. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Brian Scudamore: Yeah. You are sending a message that you are not confident, that you are not clear, that you do not really believe in what you are doing and you are absolutely right, it is important stuff.

Jeremy Reeves: Yeah, okay.

And one final kind of big question that I am — I am kind of interested in it because I am always — I am always interested in how people you know, basically what their vision of the future is.

So you are at $250 million now, right, and you (inaudible 23:07.2) started 0, got all the way up to $250 million, I am sure there were some you know, some kind of changes in your strategy and your vision along those you know, ways that you have to adjust and kind of keep building.

You mentioned before that your — the next like huge goal is a billion. What is your — what is your visionary plan or strategy for hitting a billion?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah, a lot of things. Our strategy for getting to a billion is really amassing these great brands in home service spaces. So 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me our moving brand, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING our painting brand, Shack Shine our house detailing brand. There are 6 more brands to go and I do not know what those will be at. They will probably be in the home service spaces.

And it is taking something ordinary could be carpet cleaning, could be lawn mowing, who knows and making those ordinary businesses exceptional through customer experience. It is finding the right people and training them right and then really having a clear vision of what the future looks like for that brand so that people have a road map or a destination that they are working towards and you put all those pieces together, vision, people, systems, great branding, and it is a lot of hard work building a business but one of the things I love about O2E Brands is that I think we give people a platform or a springboard of which to grow something much quicker together versus people going out and building them alone and it has been a lot of fun and will continue to be fun.

So our strategy is stay focus. Stay consistent and finding great, great people.

Jeremy Reeves: That is awesome. I love it.

Well, hey I have learned a lot you know, from you, you know, today. A lot of what I deal with this more of you know, people like the 7 maybe 8 figures and it is cool talking to somebody who is taking it beyond that and gone to not only 9 figures but multiple 9 figures you know, now you are trying for 10 which is awesome.

I am excited for you to get there. When I eventually — I will see it, I will read it somewhere and see that you hit a billion. I will celebrate for you.

Brian Scudamore: Awesome. Thanks Jeremy. These overnight success story sure take a long time, but as I said, we keep it focused, we have fun. We are getting there.

Jeremy Reeves: Sure, yeah. And you know before we hop off, let everyone know where they can find out more about you, connect with you, or you know, anything else that you would like them to do?

Brian Scudamore: Yeah. If anybody wants to get in touch I am on Linkedin, is the best way to find some of the articles we have written, some of the media attention, videos about the culture of the company, and if anyone has a desire to learn more about vision I am always happy to share our painted picture, how we created our vision and what our future looks like and they can just simply email me, [email protected].

Jeremy Reeves: Sounds good. Well, hey, it was a pleasure talking to you and thanks again for coming on.

Brian Scudamore: Yeah, thanks Jeremy and all the best to you.

Jeremy Reeves: You too.

Brian Scudamore: Okay. Take care.

Jeremy Reeves: Bye.

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