Franchising advice from a National Guard Veteran turned junk removal franchisee
When we meet someone for the first time, we usually find out within the first five minutes of conversation what the other person does for a living. We’ve been trained to ask people what they do, but a more profound question to ask would be, “Why do you do it?”
The “why” will almost always spark a more interesting conversation and a deeper connection to the person you’re speaking with.
As the owner of a JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchise, I’m often asked if owning a junk removal business was something I aspired to. The answer is a resounding no.
Junk removal might be what I do, but that’s not what pulled me into the JDog franchise system. Rather, I was drawn to the opportunity by the mission behind the work.
Veterans serving Veterans
JDog Junk Removal & Hauling promotes business ownership by Military Veterans and Military family members. As a Veteran myself — 16 years (and counting) as a soldier, currently serving as a Logistics Officer for the Army National Guard — I love that their mission is to reduce the Veteran unemployment rate.
I began working for a franchise owner who showed me how he empowered Veterans through meaningful employment. With our shared military background and appreciation for standard operating procedures, we built a community and a camaraderie that mirrored what we each had when we served.
We also had the opportunity to preserve the environment by keeping up to 80% of what we collected out of landfills. Through this diversion, we provided Veterans and others in need with valuable household goods or clothing they couldn’t otherwise afford.
In my mind we were winning on all fronts — earning a living, helping the environment, serving Veterans, and contributing to the less privileged among us. Talk about purpose.
After learning the ropes for a few years, I decided to start my own franchise, opening up a new territory in Ocean City, Maryland. In just over six months of business, we’ve found charities to partner with, including Atlantic General Hospital, the ReStore, and Coastal Hospice. And we’re hoping to hire more Veterans to our crew.
For me, the Veteran mission and environmental focus of JDog was a natural fit, and as a franchise owner, I’m promoting that purpose every day.
But there are a lot of good franchise models out there to consider. The takeaway is to find a mission you’re passionate about and to serve with purpose. Then, it won’t feel like work.
Finding a business model that works for you
Franchising offers several benefits and advantages over starting an independent business.
When considering franchising, it’s important to research the various organizations and franchise models. Some franchises offer a strict structure where no matter the location, you offer the exact same product. For example, you can expect your McDonald’s hamburger to taste the same in Maryland as it does in California. Other franchises are less rigid, providing a loose framework and guidelines to work from. Only you know what would work best with your background, education, knowledge, and lifestyle.
If you have ever heard the saying, “every business is a marketing business,” franchises are winning at this. The brand recognition you have the moment you open your franchise doors puts you immediately ahead of an independent company. Additionally, the support and training you receive from the franchisor may prevent costly mistakes many business owners make in their first years in business.
Funding and sourcing equipment are a major pain point for many new businesses, but as a franchise owner you may have access to these resources based on your affiliation with the franchise. You’ll also benefit from the network of other franchise owners you can collaborate with and learn from as you run your business.
Advice from someone who’s been there
My biggest piece of advice as you explore the franchising world is to not box yourself into an industry. Junk removal was never on my radar. My education and background didn’t lead directly to it, yet I’ve found so much fulfillment and success in this career.
At the end of the day, what you do is not as important as why you do it. We all need to make a living and feel good about how we do that. I’m proud to say I own a JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchise, and I’m living proof that anyone can be successful in any business.
About the Author
Carol Vaillancourt is the owner of JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Ocean City, MD and a Logistics Officer for the Army National Guard.