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Jun 18, 2012

People – Our Greatest Asset

It’s almost cliché to state that people are 123JUNK’s greatest asset. As far as I know, this is the case in just about every company. Unfortunately, we had to learn this the hard way, through a series of really bad and some downright awful hires.

In a labor intensive service like junk removal, it’s difficult to find that person who has the willingness to put their head down and bust their hump, while still maintaining the level of customer service that we demand at 123JUNK! Some of the hardest workers I’ve ever known aren’t necessarily the most polished when it comes to dealing with our clients. Likewise, some of the smoothest talking, most approachable employees (the ones that thrive at building report with our clients) can be worthless when it comes time to roll up their sleeves and haul junk!

The key is to find that happy medium; somebody with a positive attitude, somebody who’s teachable and somebody who takes pride in their work. At 123JUNK we have two formal interviews before putting our employees through what we call a “working Luis-on-elevatorinterview,” in which they spend 3 or 4 days on the trucks with an experienced crew, testing the waters to see if 123JUNK is a fit for them. Often times, the best interviewers don’t always impress during the working interview process and vice versa.

When I founded the company at 23 years old, I had zero experience in hiring, let alone being a manager. Up until that point, the only people who worked for me were family and close friends. Initially, every employee that I hired worked by my side at all times.  In my opinion, our first major milestone as a company was when we purchased our second truck. This meant that, even if I was out there doing the “dirty work” every day, I couldn’t be on two crews at once. Therefore, I had to hire my first fully functional, unsupervised crew.

Early Lessons

Initially, I was convinced that I would have to sacrifice a certain degree of quality in order to scale the business. Little did I know that I wasn’t hiring properly and the stress that resulted was giving me migraines (literally). There is Jay-fishnothing more stressful than putting out fires caused by your team when the client experience is your most important core value. Everything I disliked about being self-employed came down to one thing – I had too many rotten employees.

It took a few mentors to help me realize this and once I did, I became obsessive about hiring (and managing) better. I browsed the internet and bought every book I could find on the subject. I studied interviewing techniques and read articles on what makes a great leader. I attended conferences and workshops. I talked to my current employees to find out where I was falling short. And I got rid of the “bad apples” who were not supporting our mission and who were hurting our potential for growth.

The result: Much fewer fires to put out, many more satisfied customers and nearly 65% repeat and referral business! What I learned was, if you put the appropriate time and energy into recruiting and hiring, and then you take good care of your employees, ultimately, you end up taking care of your clients as well!

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123JUNK is a Minimum-Waste Junk Removal Services company serving the DMV.

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