What does it mean to be remarkable?
Brian Scudamore, CEO and Founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, who in 1996 was operating the million dollar plus company at the age of 26, said it means, "You've got to get out there and be loud and proud... You've got to stand out. You have got to have a brand that is worth remarking about."
He learned much about this type of philosophy from the book Purple Cow, written by one of his mentors, Seth Godin.
It's kind of like Sir Richard Branson's recent flying superhero-saving nurses publicity stunt to launch Virgin Mobile Canada.
Like Branson, Scudamore takes risks. He and his company want to make sure they get noticed. After all, they're "building the Fed-Ex of Junk removal." He does know, however, that beyond the gorilla marketing, his strategies and his team of motivated employees and franchise partners are key to sustaining the brand. "It's all about the people," he said.
After changing the company name, from Rubbish Boys to 1-800-GOT-JUNK (Scudamore was looking for a more professional name and was inspired by the Got Milk campaign and the 1-800-FLOWER model, where it doesn't matter where you are in the country, you can call one number), Scudamore knew he would be able to build a brand. It had never been done in the industry.
"Junk removal is not something new. It's been around forever," he said. "But, it is similar to some other industries where brands have come in and successfully dominated and created a very branded industry.
"Look at Starbucks. There used to be a mom and pop coffee shop on every corner. You don't see that anymore. It's all Starbucks."
1-800-GOT-JUNK is heading in that same direction. Perhaps you'll never find it on every corner, but July 2004 marked its 100th franchise. The company's short-term goal is to have 250 franchise partners with system-wide sales of $100M by the end of 2006.
And, its long term goal is to be the World's Largest Junk Removal Company with a presence in 10 countries by the end of 2012. "We're building something much bigger together than anyone of us could ever build alone," said Scudamore.
He is committed to maintaining and strengthening this type of team work. The growth of the company depends on it and it's also what makes the brand special. "We're only as good as we make ourselves out to be. If we're out there not delivering on our on-time service and up-front pricing that we promise, then our brand doesn't build. People will start to look at us and say, 'These guys aren't as good as they say they are.'
That's the problem with having such a well-established brand and reputation; you have to deliver on your promises. You simply cannot hide from a disgruntled customer, especially not when you're wearing a big blue wig and standing beside a large mobile billboard, waving to the morning commuters as they pass by. The "Honk if you love junk" sign will not help either.
By Christina Lee
Christina Lee is Editor of The Image Architex Online Marketing Magazine (http://www.theIMAGEarchitex.com). Visit the site for more articles on branding and general marketing practices, opportunities, tips and ideas for small-sized business entrepreneurs, artists and producers.