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In 1989, university student Brian Scudamore bought a used pickup truck and started a junk-removal service. Today that service, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, is the world’s largest junk-removal franchiser, with more than 200 locations covering 48 of the top 50 metro areas in North America. The organization has scooped many national and international business awards for its fast growth, corporate culture and management practices. Recently, it twice topped Watson Wyatt’s list of the “Best Companies to Work for” in British Columbia. Vancouver-based 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has more than 1,050 junk haulers who drive 455 trucks and post annual system-wide revenue of $70 million.
The primary challenge is managing hyper-growth. Hiring dozens of people while trying to maintain system efficiencies hasn’t been easy. And with the Olympics coming to Vancouver in 2010, the task of finding commercial space has been tough. Despite the hurdles, however, the company has consistently reached its targets for revenue and employee and franchisee satisfaction.
For the past two years 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has been playing The Game, and results have been terrific. The company is more profitable than ever before. “In 2004 our bottom line after profit-sharing payouts grew by about 800%. This year profit is trending 50% higher than that,” reports CEO Scudamore. “That’s a clear sign the program is working.” In 2005, employees collected shares of the 25% profit pool at semi-annual Profit Pay -Out Pool Parties.
Success has much to do with The Game’s inclusiveness and it’s power to create a lively culture of accountability. Every morning at 10:55 sharp, employees (and visitors) stand for a five-minute huddle to share breaking news, review daily metrics an d address obstacles. Scoreboards capture progress on key goals such as new franchises, profit and the bonus pool. A rigorous education program for corporate staff includes Financial Statements 101, line-of-sight training, scoreboard management, a bonus plan workshop and cross-training.
Some 17 different people control the 17 lines on the P&L, and during weekly all-company financial meetings they review, forecast and devise action plans. “I can’t believe we have so much fun forecasting with the entire team,” says public relations manager Christopher Bennett. Now, people in IT understand the marketing budget; call center reps know PR. And everyone’s offering new ways to reduce costs and boost earnings. One employee slashed the drinking water budget by a third, and inspired others to find wins of their own.
Scudamore receives high marks for injecting the 3Ps (passion, partying and productivity) into life at headquarters, known as The Junktion. Each year he treats every one of his 125 corporate staff members to a private lunch, and urges them to set and achieve 101 personal life dreams. “A huge opportunity awaits any business that o pens its books, as secrecy in the workplace limits growth and creativity,” Scudamore concludes. “When employees are in the know, the result is better alignment, communication and cooperation.”
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