Why an Insurance Industry Exec Decided to Start a College Hunks Hauling Junk Franchise
Carl Carter’s College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise in Jackson, Mississippi has doubled revenue in 18 months
Carl Carter, a longtime resident of Jackson, Mississippi and former Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, started considering a new career when he realized he had gone as far as he could go in his insurance industry job. Carl, 52, dreamed of being his own boss, but notions of self-employment always got put on the back burner. When he finally started researching franchises seriously he was drawn to the College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise because of its outstanding reputation and the overall growth potential of the moving and junk hauling industry. Carl figured out that no company in his region provided both junk hauling and moving services under one roof. That changed in January 2013 when Carl opened his franchise in January 2013. Carl says he’s succeeding with firm resolve, a sense of adventure and the support of his wife, Jennifer. College Hunks Hauling Junk of Jackson has doubled revenue in past 18 months and Carl expects the trend to continue.
Here is his story:
What were you doing before College Hunks Hauling Junk?
The bulk of my career was in the insurance and workers compensation field. I served as an administrator for a self-insured insurance plan — the Mississippi Hospital Association and other groups that formed merged funds and paid workers compensation benefits to their employees from these funds. I was one of the first people hired to manage one of these funds and get them started. That market for merged funds is not what it used to be, and the board of directors for the group plan I was managing decided to close it down because of market conditions. In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to start my own business. I had helped the insurance programs I worked with start from the ground up, and I was ready to do the same thing for myself. I think almost everyone has had a desire to start their own business, but to do it you have to be willing to take the risk. I did it at 50, so it was a big transition.
How did you find out about College Hunks Hauling Hunk?
I was looking for a new career in a market niche I could promote. I researched my options and determined that in our area didn’t have companies that provide both moving and junk hauling, and College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving do just that. By becoming an owner of this franchise I can provide a service that my competitors aren’t capable or willing to do. Plus, just the name itself is a conversation piece, especially in this area. The brand and colors really stand out. College Hunks Hauling Junk is not an easy-to-forget brand. It’s an aggressive brand. People see us, hear our name and they remember us. It doesn’t mean they’ll immediately call on us, but we’re embedded in their minds. It’s not a boring brand!
What sets the College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise apart?
We are more professional than our competitors. It’s in how we dress, how we act and how we train. HUNKS stands for Honest, Uniform, Nice, Knowledgeable and Service or Students. Another important thing — Nick (Friedman, President and co-founder) and others at the home office really stress the importance of the branding, the culture and the core values we preach to employees. It makes a difference. I sit down with each of my employees to discuss the importance of image, branding, values, etc.
I have experienced working with companies that don’t have a purpose, and they usually dissolve. I saw it happen time and again in the workers comp field. When you maintain purpose and stick to your goals, you prosper. That’s what I preach, and most competitors in this industry don’t do that. College Hunks Hauling Junk is building leaders. We have to remember that a lot of our folks are young people. We hope they will learn about business — how to run one and how not to run one. I probably go into more details about how the business is doing than other owners, because it’s important to me. My business card title isn’t owner — it’s head coach. I want to be more than just an owner.
We also have “always branding” as a core value, which means we are always positive and enthusiastic. That doesn’t just mean branding the company — it also means branding yourself in your personal life and professional life. I tell my employees that with our name, our trucks and the uniforms we wear, people will watch us as we drive by. I see people smiling and laughing all the time when we are out in the community. (I don’t know if they are laughing at me because I am not a hunk!)
Other important values at College Hunks Hauling Junk are to create a fun and enthusiastic team environment and promote great customer service. A lot of people have never been taught how to provide great customer service, and that’s a skill that will stay with them forever. We also want people to enjoy themselves and promote the collegiate environment we enjoy.
What makes a good College Hunks Hauling Junk employee?
Professionalism, honesty, integrity, the initiative to do things, and a level of leadership. The ability to make a great first impression matters a lot to us, too. We’re basically looking for people who can reflect the core values we preach.
What kind of person makes a good College Hunks Hauling Junk franchisee?
I think you have to have the ability to wear many different hats. You have to be a good leader. You do have to have some marketing and communication skills, good people skills and good organization skills. Ambition and drive are important. You have to understand that there is no silver bullet to a successful company. It’s not easy. It doesn’t come overnight.
What does a typical day look like?
I don’t know if any day is typical. You may have a big move in the early morning and have to be at the office at 6:30 a.m. to meet the crew and get them on their way. You’ll likely have to handle other calls coming in, do some marketing when you can and put out any fires. I have days with 4 or 5 jobs, and it’s just going non-stop all day. Even on slow days you are doing something, and you are always learning as you go.
Is there a misperception about the moving and junk hauling industries?
Sometimes the word ‘junk’ doesn’t portray the jobs we do are dealing. We have to adapt to some difficult situations — like when a customer is going through a tragedy. We need to be sensitive about customers’ personal events. For example, a family calls us and mom and dad have passed away. They need our help. We go to the home and realize they’ve been hoarding. The family is traumatized. Our guys can get in there and get it done for them, and handle it in a respectful way.
What drives your business?
About 65% of my business is moving or labor. Usually it’s residential individuals hiring me to do the labor for their moves. Then there is the junk hauling part, which is a mix of residential and commercial. It’s not just one particular kind of customer who hires me — there are a lot of different types of people who need us, and I expect to build a broad referral base as I grow.
What do you like about the business?
Working with the young people. Half of them are college folks, and working with these kids is quite a bit more fun than working with corporate boards. I probably see myself as more of a head coach than an owner. You have to have the ability to get them to follow you. If they don’t like you, if they don’t respect you, they aren’t going to stay around very long.
Would you recommend this franchise?
Yes, I definitely recommend it, as long as you understand that is going to take commitment, hard work and vision. It’s not something just to dabble in.