Cleaning Up! 1-800-JunkPro continues to prosper
Name: Mike Davis
Title: CEO, Founder
Years in franchising: 5
Years in current position: 21
In 1999, Mike and Misty Davis launched a simple family business with just a truck and a trailer as a way for the husband-and-wife team to make a little extra money on the side. In 2016, the company turned to franchising to spur growth.
Today their company, Wichita-based 1-800-JunkPro, offers both junk removal and dumpster rentals through 9 locations in Kansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Junk removal is a lucrative field, part of a $50 billion industry fueled primarily by homeowners moving or remodeling, but also by the needs of offices and commercial businesses. To put it in perspective, 1-800-JunkPro removes more than 22 million pounds of junk through its franchised locations each year (that’s 11,000 <tons!>). Not all of it goes into landfills: the company tries to donate or recycle as much of the collected materials as it can.
“We have become a throwaway society; people have more and more to dispose of,” says CEO Mike Davis. “We want to meet those needs better than anybody else.”
Homeowners are the company’s bread and butter. That’s why Davis says the company puts such an emphasis on customer service. “If we take care of our customers and we take care of our franchise partners, the growth of our company will take care of itself.”
Last year the company grew by 14%—in spite of Covid—and is looking for even more growth in 2021.
Davis says that despite the adjustments and safety restrictions resulting from the Covid pandemic, the company grew by 14%. This year’s goal is even bigger, he says. “I expect to grow by over 40%.”
Bring on the junk!
What is your role as CEO? To find ways to create breakthrough ideas that get results and continue to build our brand value. I’m constantly curious about all aspects of our business and focus heavily on the overall development of our company. I help make sure that people are put in the right seats to ensure that the operational details are executed at our best-in-the-business standards, including hospitality, service, and overall value.
How has Covid-19 affected the way you have led your brand? It hasn’t changed how I lead the team. Covid was just another hurdle for us to get through. It was a big hurdle to be sure, but we treat it just like any other obstacle placed in our path. We quickly assessed what was needed to keep our business moving forward and then we pivoted, adapted, and made the changes required to lose as little momentum as possible. As always, we expected to win, together.
Describe your leadership style. Half company visionary, half servant. I think for a company to succeed, it’s important to have both. You need to be able to see the big picture and develop grand plans to help lead your team forward, and you also need to listen, help, and be aware of what is going on at the day-to-day level.
What has inspired your leadership style? I love seeing our team members and our customers happy. It’s as simple as that.
What is your biggest leadership challenge? I have always struggled with patience, especially as it relates to change management. If I see something that I think can improve the business for our customers or our team members, I want to start putting the actions in place 60 seconds ago.
How do you transmit your culture from your office to front-line employees? Our management team leads by example. We rely heavily on our Core Values to guide our decisions. Years ago, we put our Core Values on the walls in every meeting space we have. Now it’s second nature to refer to them with every decision. We also meet with our front-line team members on a daily basis.
How can a CEO help their CMO develop and grow? We don’t have a CMO yet. We have another stage of growth before we begin to hire for that role. That job is currently shared by several people in the company. When it comes to marketing, leadership has to give whoever is doing the marketing the okay to fail. You obviously can’t fail all the time, but if you’re so careful to ensure that you never fail, you’ll never find new ideas that work.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: an MBA school or OTJ? In my opinion, experience in the military or being a part of a sports team is more valuable than either of those options. Both of those scenarios offer countless opportunities for someone to develop the skills necessary to be an effective leader.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person? How do you make tough decisions? Regardless of their industry or profession, everyone has tough decisions they need to make every day. I make mine quickly; analysis-paralysis is not something that I have ever been accused of.
Do you want to be liked or respected? When possible, I strive to be both. But if I had to choose one, I would choose to be respected, as long as it was because I had done things to earn someone’s respect.
Advice to CEO wannabes: First of all, don’t think of yourself as a wannabe. Second, put your team and your customers first, always. And finally, know your numbers and what factors affect them. Numbers are key and you can’t succeed without fully understanding them and what they mean for your business.
Describe your management style: See my response to leadership style.
Favorite management gurus: Do you read management books? My favorite management gurus are Tilman Fertitta, Grant Cardone, and Michael Gerber.
What makes you say, “Yes, now that’s why I do what I do!”? Happy people over everything. Happy customers. Happy team members. It’s the most important thing.
What time do you like to be at your desk? I’m an early bird. I like to be at my desk and starting to tackle the day by 6 a.m.
Exercise in the morning? Wine with lunch? No and no.
Do you socialize with your team after work/outside the office? Absolutely!
Last two books read: I recently read Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras and re-read Shut Up and Listen by Tilman Fertitta.
What technology do you take on the road? I leave no technology behind while traveling.
How do you relax/balance life and work? Integration is key.
Favorite vacation destination: I’m still searching for my favorite destination since I have enjoyed every vacation I’ve ever been on.
Favorite occasions to send employees notes: I believe that today is as good an occasion as any to send a note to a team member and show them that you value them.
Favorite company product/service: Our Medium dumpster.
What are your long-term goals for the company? I want 1-800-JunkPro to be a household name in every state.
How has the economy changed your goals for your company? It hasn’t. We won’t move the target and we won’t accept a participation trophy. We had to pivot and change a lot as a company last year, but we still grew by 14%. This year, I expect to grow by over 40%. That being said, we’re fortunate to have been an essential business. I feel terrible for the companies who have been struggling to get by with their hands tied behind their back.
How do you measure success? For me, it’s all about customer and team member happiness. If you get that right, everything else falls into place.
What has been your greatest success? I make it a point to surround myself with great people. I think I have been able to find the right people to work with, and that is a huge reason our business has been able to grow and thrive as much as it has.
Any regrets? No.
What can we expect from your company in the next 12 to 18 months? To put it simply, you can expect more. More happy customers being served by more happy team members at more 1-800-JunkPro locations in more states. The sky is the limit.
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