My mom was embarrassed telling family & friends I was picking up garbage for money. Little did she know, the junk removal business would save my life.
This is the Junk Removal Dudes® story.
I remember the first few months of trying out an unusual “gig”. I was going around taking junk from people’s houses. I had a college degree, several failed internet startups, quit some corporate jobs in between, and somehow landed into picking up garbage in dirty moldy basements.
What a strange time in my life that was.
I had a unique childhood growing up, as I talked bout in another blog on here. (You can read that blog post here or check out my memoir on everything that happened in my life during my youth. Click here to read.)
My dad was let out of prison around this time after a 10 year stint. We thought he would have changed, he didn’t. So we kicked him out of our lives.
To add to that crazy time in my life, one of my best friends suddenly died in a car crash. And in between all that, an internet startup that failed miserably in which I was embarrassed nationally on a MTV documentary.
Somehow, through all these crazy things, I found myself picking up junk out of people’s homes. It was so random, weird and in a weird way, refreshing. I found something that I actually had fun doing – weird right? Who would have fun lifting heavy dirty junk out of peoples homes, barns or commercial properties?
Well, what started off as a random gig turned into something not only changed my life, but more importantly, saved my life.
My mom had asked me one day if I would be interested in helping remove some junk out of one of her house cleaning customer’s home. I was always used to doing blue collar work as a kid, so I said “Why not?”.
Then, oddly enough, a few nights later. I watched an episode on TV late at night. (I rarely watch TV, but for some reason that night I couldn’t fall asleep until around 4 am.) I turned on CNBC and this show just started. It was called “How I Made My Millions”. I saw something for the first time, a junk removal company being featured.
I had never seen a junk removal business and almost no knowledge of it at all. Living in a small rural farm town in Illinois, we just burned our own stuff. However, I was about 1 hour west of Chicago, and I remember on occasion seeing junk removal trucks on the tollway.
After watching that episode, at like 4:30 am, something happened. It was weird, I can’t explain it. I’m not religious or anything, however, I felt as if the signs were aligning for me to do it. To take it more serious.
Oddly enough, 10 years later, after a ton of blood, sweat & tears – I was able to accomplish my dream after watching that CNBC show 10 years prior. I told myself, “I will do this”. Sure enough, it happened a decade later.
As I mentioned earlier, the whole backstory of how all this started is in my book “A Dark Path To Light“, where I talk about how I overcame business failures, health issues and other hurdles and obstacles.
A lot has changed since the beginning. A tiny beat-up truck and the help of a friend in the beginning, to 200+ customers a month in the state of Illinois. (You can see all the crazy jobs we’ve done over the years on our Youtube channel – The Junk Removal Dudes. Click link to watch.) Please subscribe!
Here’s the thing when you are starting a junk removal business; it can require a variety of equipment depending on the scale and scope of your operations.
Here are some of the “must needs” for equipment and supplies you may need to get started in the junk removal business. Let’s get started below:
You’ll need a solid vehicle that’s large enough to carry and haul the junk you’ll be taking away. I started off my business with a small truck and trailer, however, I advise against this. I should have taken loans out and gotten nicer equipment that looked more professional but also was more efficient.
Looking back, I wasted so many hours unloading junk with my hands. I thought by saving money on equipment, it would make me money.
The opposite happened, I wasted tons of hours and lost so much money wasting time instead of being efficient. I recommend Isuzu dump-trucks. I recently bought 3 brand new ones to service the Northern Illinois area. Cory Kraus has been my Isuzu dealer and has been amazing to work with over the years. All our trucks we purchased were brand new Isuzu NPR trucks.
He sells nationally and can be reached at 630-876-9655. (Use TalkBenjamin to get a bunch of sweet discounts and codes)
Depending on the type of junk you’ll be removing, you may need personal protective equipment, otherwise known as P.P.E., such as durable gloves, solid masks, quality style goggles, and hard hats. (Have a designated storage box on the truck and have it neat and clean always!)
You’ll need a variety of tools to help you remove junk and to break it down into smaller pieces to remove safely. Some of these tools would include shovels, brooms, extra large rakes, wheelbarrows, and floor, sawzall’s with blades and stand up dollies.
Extra dumpsters or containers (just in case)
If you’ll be removing large amounts and big quantities of junk, you may need to rent or purchase dumpsters or containers to store the junk. You may want to buy one to have at your property just in case of overflow of junk. However, this is optional.
Great uniforms for branding
Providing your employees with great looking uniforms can help establish your brand and make your team look more professional and trusted.I spent several months coming up with my logo. I am in love with the final outcome of the logo. Thanks to Devon from Two-Five designs for creating this masterpiece!
Marketing & advertising materials
A solid laptop is needed – You’re going to really need to put most of your efforts on social media and a great ranking website with solid SEO. This is the most important and first thing you should fix before doing any other type of marketing.
Secondary, focus on postcard mailers, yard signs and other more old school methods of marketing. Everything works, however, focus online to get the best bang for your buck.
After each customer project is finished, have them take a photo of the work truck and have them post it on their social media for a chance to win a free $100 gift card to a restaurant in the area. Network with the local business owners so its a win win for everyone in town!
And – a ton of leads will come from both the customer and the business owner where you buy the gift card from.
The right type of business software
What you will really need is solid business software to help you with managing your scheduling, the billing, and any inventory. Quickbooks is needed for accounting as well!
Licenses and insurance
Depending on your location and what state you live in, you may need to get certain types of licenses and insurance to operate your junk removal business.
What helped me grow my company is over-paying my employees and treating them well. I don’t view them as just workers, I really like my employees and take good care of them. When they show up, they all love to see each other and ride together throughout the day.
This to me is important because I’ve had so many crappy jobs with horrible co-workers. I wanted to change that and have a fun culture for my employees. Some of them have been with me now for 6-7 years!
You will also need to get Gusto for payroll as well. Also I like to hire from within and to promote. Whoever is a stand out worker on your team, promote them, give them fat bonuses.
3.) Marketing & Advertising
1.) Social media 2.) Targeted postcard mailers 3.) Yard Signs 4.) Network network network (See below) 5.) Targeted email blasts to realtors (Do all this, often as possible!) Consistency is the key here. Also, GET REVIEWS AFTER EACH CUSTOMER! THIS IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT!
Have the customer write the review before your guys leave.
Recently, I talked about this in a previous blog post, but I said that most American business owners are “severely network deficient”. Just like being deficient in magnesium or vitamin C, people to, can be “network deficient” as I coined it.
Every time you go out to a restaurant, talk to everyone near and around you. Do this for 1 year, and tell me all of the cool things that come from this. All you have to do is say hi, introduce yourself, ask about them.
Don’t focus the conversation on money or business, just genuinely try to get to know them. Then, at the very end, give them your card with a 10% off coupon.
You won’t believe how much cool experiences have come from doing this the last few years. Not just a ton of business, but a ton of great new friendships with quality people.
Go to each real-estate office in town and every bank. Bring donuts, talk, hang out with them. Build a solid rapport. When you drop off the donuts, also drop off cards and a print-out sheet of all your 5-star reviews. If you do this, you’re set.
5.) Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Something happened to me when I turned around age 33. Some spark was set in my head. I finally decide to try and scale my business. Instead of truck, I decided to go all in and got several more brand new dump trucks. Instead of spending a couple hundred a day on advertising,
So now I was now spending a thousand a day on advertising. I felt all that blood, sweat and tears made me more mature, brave and much more courageous.
Also, I think honestly, part of it was a mid life crisis kind of feeling. I kept reminding myself how “all of this is temporary”. With that in mind, I respected the fact that time was limited on this earth. So I told myself to go for it. Why not? Why not try to get bigger and better?
What do I really have to lose? I already had so much craziness happen to me during my youth. With this mindset, I told myself to go all out for the future in my 30’s and moving forward.
6.) Having fun through discipline
These two together can be a lethal combination for good. You need to have both FUN & DISCIPLINE. Now, is that possible? Yes*.
Yes, it is.
Through hard work and accomplishment, comes the fun. But, along the way, you have to have fun with what you’re doing too. You can’t just work hard doing something you hate, otherwise you’ll lose your mind. Remember, money is nice, but if you’re not enjoying the ride – what’s the point?
Yes, you can combine the two (Fun & discipline). Get working on BOTH. If you had a record month with great reviews, go celebrate a little. Treat yourself- A
Did you find this article helpful? Then feel free to check out my story on video on the Talk Benjamin Youtube channel! VIDEO BELOW – Enjoy!
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Also, if you’d like to book a consulting session on how to start your junk removal business, I offer 1 or 2 hour coaching sessions as well. Feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com for more info.