Business Lessons Learned From Piles of Junk

By Jeff Naeem, owner of Junk-a-Haulics

I learned a tremendous amount in my first three years in business, and I’m happy to share it! Although hauling away people’s junk may seem awfully low-tech and “un-sexy,” Junk-A-Haulics has taught me several key things, among them:

  • Take the unconventional route when marketing
  • Over-deliver and exceed customers’ expectations
  • Find people smarter than you to hire
  • Know when to delegate and when to outsource

So, let’s elaborate. Here are some of the best practices Junk-A-Haulics has implemented. First, incentivize your employees. We give our staff bonuses when they reduce expenses while completing a job. Second, know your margins. Track every direct and indirect expense– and know when to say “no” to a job that will simply prove unprofitable for you.

How do you decide when it’s time to delegate or outsource work? When your time is worth more than you can pay someone else to perform that function. As the business leader, you need to remain focused on “high pay-off activities.”  What about hiring? Simply put, as someone once advised me, “Hire slow; fire fast.” Remember, you are placing your company’s reputation in the hands of those you hire. And reputation is the one thing only you can build– or tear down.

I’m a “youthpreneur.” I conceived my business idea at 23 and launched it at 26. My advice to those starting out or planning to enter business: start young, grow strong. Why? When you don’t have a big mortgage to pay and you’re not putting your family at risk, it’s easier to run both your personal life and your business on a lean budget. You can be bold and do the things that need to be done.

So, if you’re not taking on a lot of debt, should you take in investment? Not until you build up enough value in the business. Otherwise, you risk giving away too much equity– and often diluting your ownership to a dangerously low level. Stay lean; bootstrap it for as long as you can.  We’ve been able to grow as much as 70% year-over-year, and that’s worth holding on to.

Use technology to your advantage, no matter what business you are in. It doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Today, there are many no to low cost tools available that will help you manage growth. We use economical WordPress plug-ins to create an online booking tool to schedule jobs. This has helped us to compete successfully. We also use Google docs for real-time collaboration among ten employees that are dispersed geographically. By supplying our employees with iPads, we have been able to secure immediate, on-the-spot customer reviews and feedback, which helps us stay on our game and to market ourselves effectively. In a business that is typically a “one-off”, we have achieved a 30% customer repeat rate. How? By responding promptly and by delivering total customer satisfaction on every job, even if it is inconvenient.

Jeff Naeem is the owner of Junk-A-Haulics in East Hanover, NJ. Visit www.junkahaulics.com

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