We Asked the Owner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK for the Secret to His Success

Brian Scudamore is the business mind behind the incredibly popular, multi-million dollar franchise 1-800-GOT-JUNK. We sat down with him to find out which tactics, strategies, and lessons have helped him become the success he is today.

But it turns out, he attributes a lot of his success to something really, really simple.

In this TGIM short, you'll...

  • Learn how Brian managed to get mentioned on Oprah and Dr. Phil.
  • Discover the immeasurable value of reaching out to your mentors.
  • Find out how the media can play a big role in your business' success.

Check out the full short below:

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I've always a big believer that you never know what you'll get unless you ask. It's picking up the phone and calling, that's a tough thing to do in the day and age of cell phones and people don't have them listed, but figuring out someone's e-mail address and sending them an e-mail, going to LinkedIn and sending them a LinkedIn post. I'm available if anyone wanted to gt in touch with me they can, I think that you've got these big time entrepreneurs that you can connect with so easily because everybody's on social media. One thing I've learned from dropping out of high school and dropping out of college is I had to ask a lot of questions to get the answers to get the learning, and I would encourage people to think not about what you want to say but think about the opportunity of what you can ask. People often love to talk about their problems and what's going on, but think about the question you can ask that will help solve everything.

It's like when I tried to franchise the business and all these experts told me this can't be franchised. If I didn't ask the question, why not, what's stopping me from franchising this business, well what makes 1-800-GOT-JUNK unfranchisable so to speak. Asking the questions, then you really get the answers, and that's how I think we grow as people and grow as businesses.

Most important thing, I think, when reaching out to someone to make an ask, is know what your outcome is, what do you want from that conversation. If you could have three minutes with Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, what do you want to know, and really knowing that you've picked the best mentor on the planet to get that advice from. Pick wisely, decide who you're going to pick up the phone and call, or go to their office and visit, then just do it. Just connect and reach out and ask for help. One of my mentors is Richard Branson and I knew he was coming out town to launch Virgin Mobile, a new brand. I found a radio station he was going to be at, and I showed up. I was thirty eight years old, it's not like I was this seventeen year old, and I didn't stalk him, I just showed up and I said, "Hey, Richard. Big fan," and we connected for a few minutes and it inspired me and gave me a lot of energy, but realizing just how easily you can connect.

I was side by side with a mentor of mine who wasn't a mentor at the time, he was the founder of Subway, Fred Deluca, and I saw him nearby and I said hello, and I hit it off with him, and I said, you know, you're my hero. You've built this massive world wide brand with Subway, I'm building a franchise company myself, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, and I'd love some advice, do you think I could call you sometime? He said yeah, absolutely, and he wrote down his cell number for me and said, call me anytime. I called him several times over the years, I remember talking to him at times when he was in his car, and he would make time for me, forty five minutes at a time to walk me through a challenge I was facing with my tiny little company when he's got his eleven billion dollar business. I thought he was so generous with his time and that opportunity would have never come about hadn't I actually said hey Fred, I know who you are and I've love to connect.

I became a big fan of asking for help from the press. When I picked up the phone and called the Vancouver Province in 1992, our local newspaper, and I said, "I got a great story to tell." They said, "What is it?"

Here I am talking to the news room and telling them that I was a student out of work, looking for a summer job and a way to pay for college and that I just bought a truck and started hauling junk. Essentially the basic business model that turned into 1-800-Got-Junk. They loved the story, they put us on the front page of the paper with our phone number emblazoned on the side of the paper. Bus drivers were driving down the streets waving their newspapers at us as we were driving by. We were local heroes for about 15 minutes. I learned that the power of free press is A: it's powerful stuff because it's mass media and B: it's free. It's free if you just pick up the phone and tell your story. We're in the storytelling age. People want to hear stories.

The media world has changed and often now you've got contributorships, people like myself who are writing our own stories. I write for the Wall Street Journal, Profit Magazine, Forbes, the Globe and Mail, and that same philosophy of just ask. I went down to visit my buddy Lorne Feldman in New York and knocked on his door and said, "I'd love to write with you for Forbes." He said, "You're an entrepreneur, you've got some good energy. Love to give you a try. Write your first article and let's see." It's all about asking. I think opportunities, we live in a world of opportunity that these opportunities are often very close to us, but you've actually got to go that extra step and go ask someone for their help. Ask someone to be a part of the momentum that you know you can build together.

Show notes:

About TGIM: TGIM is a podcast for people who can’t wait for the week to start. In each episode we’ll be bringing you inspirational stories about entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles, built incredible businesses, and are now living the life they want.