Brian Scudamore, 43, founded 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in 1989. Today, it’s among the fastest-growing franchises in the world.
Scudamore, CEO of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm, has built an entrepreneurial empire of about 3,000 employees and approximately $120 million in annual revenue. His company consists of three brands: 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, 1-888-WOW-1DAY! (a house painting firm launched in 2010) and You Move Me (a moving firm started in early 2013).
EL: You run three labor-intensive businesses. How do you motivate workers?
Scudamore: You can’t motivate people. You can inspire people. When you’ve got the right people who are internally motivated before they come to you, that’s the key. Steve Jobs had [job candidates] sit down and type on his Mac prototype. If their eyes lit up, he knew they saw his vision.
EL: But you need to incentivize employees who haul junk, paint houses and move furniture.
Scudamore: I don’t know if I believe as much in incentives as I did in my early days. We’ve built a culture that serves as its own incentive. Work hard, play hard. Five weeks of paid vacation. And we celebrate when we achieve our goals.
EL: Are team celebrations important?
Scudamore: This year, when we met our revenue goal for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we took a boat cruise around the Vancouver harbor. Our goal for 2016 is to hit $200 million in revenue. If we do, the entire company will head to Hawaii. People get into these big celebrations.
EL: What lessons have you learned about?
Scudamore: Lead by example. Be yourself. If you’ve got a clear vision, stick with it. There will be people who say there’s no way it’ll happen. When I started, I had 11 experts in the franchise world give me advice. They all said, “Your business can’t be franchised.”
EL: What led you to persevere?
Scudamore: In September 1998, a nice summer day, I was sitting on the dock at my parents’ vacation house. I was at a crossroads. I had been filling my brain with negative thoughts. So I thought, “If I can imagine a painted picture of a better future, what would it look, feel and act like?”
EL: So what did you conclude?
Scudamore: I created a manifesto that quickly had me seeing in my mind what we could achieve. I read the painted picture out loud to people when I got back to the office. It involved being in the top 30 metro areas by 2003. If employees got excited, perfect. For those employees who do not get it, they left the business.
EL: How do you get people to look beyond the daily grind to focus on your long-term goal?
Scudamore: In our seven-minute daily huddles, our first question is, “Who has good news?” It’s a great way for people to share their successes and learn from each other. We gather every single day.