When it comes to having junk hauled away, it turns out a lot of people don’t want to hire a trashy-looking operation. That’s one thing Mike and Misty Davis have learned since starting 1-800-JUNKPRO 15 years ago.
“All of our people are drug-screened, clean-cut,” Mike Davis said of his employees. “They show up on time in clean uniforms. We get a lot of referrals from people who know we have a real clean-cut crew.”
The couple also learned that there’s pretty good money in making people’s unwanted things go away. The Davises originally started hauling junk as a way to make a little extra cash.
“About six years ago we decided we were making way more money doing that than we were working in a corporate job,” Davis said.
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That was Davis’ cue to quit his job as a driver with a uniform company and start working on the couple’s next move: selling franchises of their company, 1-800-JUNKPRO, across the country. And although Misty continues to work part time as an oncology nurse, the couple hasn’t looked back.
“Once you want to do that, everybody tries to talk you out of it,” Davis said of starting a franchise operation. “They’ll tell you it takes one to two million to get started and it takes five years.”
Turns out those predictions were right, but the challenges haven’t stopped the Davises. Today they’re licensed to offer franchises in all 50 states and have targeted 50 markets where they want to go first.
They’ve taken other steps, too, such as opening a customer contact center that’s capable of booking and dispatching 2,200 jobs a day, and making redesigns to the company’s customized junk truck to prepare it for mass production.
Hauling junk isn’t a new idea, nor is the idea of franchising a junk hauling operation, as a quick Google search will show. But Davis thinks 1-800-JUNKPRO has several competitive advantages, from the call center and truck to the company’s hiring practices and emphasis on recycling.
As for recycling discarded materials, it’s a break-even proposition at best on the front end that ultimately pays off, Davis said.
“You do (benefit) in a sense that some people will only use you because you do recycle,” he said.
About 60 percent of the materials the company picks up are recycled or donated to others for reuse, Davis said. Items are sorted at the company’s 8,000-square-foot facility in Valley Center.
“Recycling in Kansas is not the easiest thing to do,” Davis said. “Other places are more friendly.” And the more they have researched, he said, “the more we’ve realized there’s a big need to recycle this stuff.”
When it comes to donating items, Davis said the company works mainly with organizations such as churches and women’s shelters that give the items away rather than resell them.
“We have a relationship with them,” he said.
The work toward a franchise operation has been part of the company’s incremental progress. Originally operating as the Better Hauling Company, the Davises started negotiating in 2002 for the 1-800-JUNKPRO vanity number. The company got 1-800-JUNKPRO registered as a trademark in 2011.
Today, 1-800-JUNKPRO serves Wichita and a 30-mile radius with a workforce of eight employees. Davis says the markets targeted for franchising are all cities bigger than Wichita. Eventually, he envisions jobs for 110 people “right here in our corporate office.”