In this second installment of the Nick Friedman interview, BOLD Business catches up with the College Hunks Hauling Junk co-founder and discusses Effortless Entrepreneur, his new book with Hunks co-founder and co-author Omar Soliman.
BOLD: In your book, you discussed the difficulties of working with your best friend. What’s the hardest part of this working relationship?
NF: I think the most difficult part is that our friendship does and can suffer. There are weekends when we won’t hang out, we won’t talk or don’t plan trips because we’re always working together; that’s probably the biggest negative. Still, I think it’s important to recognize that the friendship should come first, and that’s the most important thing. We try not to let the business put a strain on it.
BOLD: You mentioned how difficult it was to manage “Generation Text,” or those employees who grew up with a different approach to work. How did you ensure they were effective on the job?
NF: One thing that is key with our business is that our front-line employees really are the ones that have the biggest responsibility. They represent our company and carry forth our core values and business vision, because people don’t see Omar and myself; they see whoever is answering the phone and showing up at their door. We recognized that for 18-25 year-olds, their definition of a customer experience was very transactional. They go to Subway, they order a sub, they get their sub. Our customers have a different expectation. In order to discover their expectations, we had to do some digging.
For starters, we conducted an exercise where we had our employees define what they think our customers are expecting when they call us. Once we gathered all of the information, we looked at some of the things that could happen on the job that would make our customers disappointed, and then came up with another list. It was a list of what we should be doing all of the time to prevent customer disatisfaction. We showed our employees this list, and we reiterated it. Also, we have the employees self-evaluate themselves, we do role play and we practice …. eventually, everything came together.
BOLD: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever recieved?
NF: The piece of advice I quote the most is to work on the business rather than in the business doing day-to-day stuff. I still find myself working in the business, and it’s very rare to get to that effortless point where you’re always on the business and not always in it. That’s the piece of advice I see being the most valuable when it comes to growing a business.
BOLD: For those people interested in becoming entrepreneurs, what one piece of advice can you offer?
NF: Read books about entrepreneurship. I never read any, so I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was until we started the business and people started calling us entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is not for everybody, but it’s certainly an opportunity that should be considered. It’s not really taught in school or by parents, so you have to educate yourself about what starting a business really means.
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