Create Your Own MBA: A Conversation with Brian Scudamore

“I created what I called my own “MBA,” “mentor board of advisers,” people I can reach out to and connect with and get ideas, ways to figure out how to grow my business, solve my problems.”

Brian Scudamore is a serial entrepreneur, CEO, and author known for his work in the junk hauling industry. He founded three home services now under the banner of O2E Brands: 1-800-GOT-JUNK, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, and Shack Shine.

“For me, success is not about the money. What drives me and makes me happy is watching entrepreneurs grow. For me, it’s always been, ‘let’s build something bigger and better together.’”

Brian’s business journey started one day in what seems to be an unlikely place: a McDonald’s drive thru. Listen to the rest of his story, his failures in business, learning from his mistakes, and his insights about

– finding your mentors

– looking for the right people for you team

– the franchise model

– his motivation in business and what success means to him

Connect with Brian online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/scudamore/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brianscudamore

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bscudamore/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brianscudamore/

John: Thanks for listening to Local SEO Today. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this episode. Our guest for today is Brian Scudamore, a serial entrepreneur and author. Brian started 1-800-GOT-JUNK and when he was just at 19 years old he went on and to add to his brand banner creating WOW 1 DAY PAINTING and Shack Shine. Thanks for being on the show today, Brian.

Brian: Yeah, happy to be here, John. Thank you.

John: So I know a lot about you and your companies but maybe share with one of the audience members who don’t know who you are a little bit about your backstory, how you got started, what do you currently do and what’s in the picture moving forward so…

Brian: Well, 31 years ago I was in a Mcdonalds drive-thru trying to figure out a way to pay for college. I saw a beat up old pick-up truck in front of me. It had plywood side panels on the box. It said Mark’s Hauling on the side and I thought, “Oh, there’s a great way for me to pay for college.” So one course short of graduating from college, I had to talk my way into University and this business idea that I had was a way to fund my college education so a week after that Mcdonalds drive-thru I went out and bought a truck, I built up my own plywood sides so that I can haul a bunch of junk and off I went. I had a company called Rubbish Boys. It’s where we started. I had a vision for something bigger than myself that’s why The Rubbish Boys even though it was just me and off I went to build a business and eight years into the business we rebranded as 1-800-GOT-JUNK wanting to expand outside of Canada and the word rubbish was really a Canadian term so we had to come up with a search term that was gonna make more sense in the United States, 1-800-GOT-JUNK and today fast forwarding we’re a little over 400 million in revenue. We are in Canada, The United States and Australia and if I look at all our brands….We got three companies: WOW 1 DAY PAINTING which is a company that goes and paints people’s homes in or out in a day and we’re looking for franchise owners to build and grow that one in the same sort of fashion that we did the hypergrowth of 1-800-GOT-JUNK and then we’ve got SHACK SHINE, the newest baby in the company which is house detailing windows, gutters, powerwashing and even christmas lights so it’s been a fantastic journey. Thirty one years, I’ve got many, many, many more years in me, love the team that we’ve got, love what we’re building and in this time of a pandemic where people are spending more time at home, they’re spending more money on their homes, our businesses are all growing and it’s been an exciting time even though it’s been a challenging time for most people.

John: That’s amazing. At least you’re giving opportunity to all those partners, right? Who joined your franchise. I wanted to ask you so where was your upbringing like you grew up in Canada? Which part?

Brian: Yeah, I was born in San Francisco. I moved to Canada when I was 7 or 8 years old. My mother remarried, married a Canadian, moved to this country and it’s always been home since. So I’ve grown up in Vancouver, my business started in Vancouver and what I love is I’ve been able to reconnect with the United States by having a business there. So more of our business just given the population is in the US than it is in Canada and we’ve added Australia as well.

John: Amazing! So how did you go about from that single business to the franchise model like what went on in your mind like mindset and then scalability, right? Like how did you go about starting the Franchise and why?

Brian: Well, I’ve always been a big fan of Mcdonalds not necessarily the food but their approach to building entrepreneurs Ray Kroc who’s founded the franchising concept with Mcdonalds. Took the Mcdonalds brother’s model and scaled it all over Canada, the US and the world. And what I love about what he did is he had people who had skin in the game. People that were really bought in to taking their business model and scaling it so I fell in love with the franchise idea. I went out and I looked for years for franchise consultants and people to help me franchise my business. I couldn’t quite find the right person or the person that believed in me to franchise this model and I read a book called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. The E-Myth revisited is a book that taught me how to build a business that could scale where I would take all the hats off that I’m wearing and just end up with what I’ve got today which is the visionary hat. What does the future look like? I don’t know how we’re going to get there but I’ve got a team of people that are smarter than me that help us figure out how we grow together.

John: Amazing so did you have influences along the way like your parents or mentors, coaches like how did you become an entrepreneur first off and then the visionary that you are today.

Brian: Well, I had my grandparents who had an army surplus store in San Francisco. I’d go work there every summer vacation, christmas holidays and I found that I learned so much from them and was inspired by this little shop they built that made me really appreciate the game of building a business and so I used to love running their little store with them and doing my little jobs and when I grew up I said, “You know, that’s what I want to do…Is I want to run my own business.” And sort of stumbled into it where I found that idea in the Mcdonald’s drive-thru but I’ve had many mentors and people that have influenced me over the years. I created what I called my own MBA mentor board of advisors because I couldn’t get an actual MBA in school. I was too ADD. I ended up creating this mentor board of just people I can reach out with and connect with and get ideas and ways to figure out how to grow my business, solve my problems and what I think I really have come to appreciate is that we have a franchise model which is an easier faster track for entrepreneurs. They can look at our business and say, “Wow, this is a proven recipe you figured out how to successfully scale and how to teach others to grow and scale their business.”So we look for people not to be painters, not to be window washers but to be CEO’s of their own business, their own future and they come into our company with us and we’re building something much bigger and better together versus what we, any of us would have chosen to do alone.

John: That’s amazing and I know in order to scale in your magnitude it’s all about systems and processes and making sure that if anyone who gets plugged into that system can do it right so I love that model because again Michael Gerber just that E-Myth book and so many other SaaS companies along the way teaches you.

Brian: For sure and you know, what I love that you just said John, that anyone can do it. If I think of a proven recipe baking a cake, you can take a book and if it’s properly set up step by step how to do it so you don’t fail, what ingredients, what temperatures you can bake that cake. We’ve done that to business where we’ve said, “Here is the system. If you follow it, if you stick to the process you will be successful.” And you know, some entrepreneurs maybe like you and I like to invent, like to start from scratch but most entrepreneurs I think want a shortcut. They want money, they want freedom and lifestyle, give them an easier way to get there, “Here’s the recipe.” And then over time they tweak and they make changes for the betterment of the whole system.

John: And that’s the whole point like you’re fitting a mode of type of people that resonates with your system, right? There’s a lot of people in that field that want something that doesn’t want to put in the time, effort to learn and might save you a lot more time just buying into a system, right? So again it’s the…And I looked at franchising before I started my own company as well. I was like…But I was still hungry. I was really into like that learning, cultivating, understanding the team environment, the system, the process of learning everything myself so I was always curious about that whole system and I know a lot of people that ran and bought into franchises and they were different people altogether so it has to mold the person and you have to find what what’s fitting for you as an individual, right?

Brian: Yeah, I know I think you’ve nailed it. That’s exactly right. You have to find what fits you and your personality so again back to recipe books as an analogy most people like to follow a recipe and that’s why how to books or recipe books do so well. I’m different, I like to invent. I like to see something in my mind and go mess it up and make mistakes so my style of cooking, I went to a cooking school in Italy about 10 years ago and I remember the chef Paola taught me. I was mixing the soup, I was making a scoop soup from scratch and said, “What do you think? How is it?” She goes, “I don’t know it’s your soup. What do you think?” And I tasted it and I go, “Might need a little more salt.” She goes, “We’re going to put in a little more salt.” And I said, “How much?” She goes, “I don’t know, it’s your soup.” So what that taught me is I like to invent things from scratch when I cook today. I don’t like to follow a recipe. I might look at a recipe for guidance for inspiration but then I’m just mixing stuff and tasting and adding and that’s what I love. So to your point it’s the personality of what do you prefer to do, how you prefer to do it.

John: Totally, so along the way of building the three companies that you currently have, were there a lot of like peaks and valleys along the way and can you share some of those moments or some of those stories?

Brian: Ofcourse. Yeah, I think one of my biggest…So it’s funny I’ll you know, you might have…You might know but I wrote a book WTF, Willing to Fail and what’s interesting about that book is the title came after. We wrote the book so my co-author Roy Williams who’s the wizard of ads, he does all our radio creative. He helped me write the book and I kept focusing on title. He goes, “Brian, we write the story then the title jumps out.” And we looked and it was grow, fail, grow, fail, grow, fail and I’m like, “Wow, I failed a lot. 31 years of failure so the book became WTF, Willing to Fail so when you say what are some of your failures? I’m quite proud of the mistakes I’ve made. One of the biggest was in 1994 five years into my business. I fired my entire company. I had 11 employees. Nine bad apples one spoils the whole bunch. I fired all 11 people and started again and I just said you know, what I said to my team? “I’m sorry, I’ve let you down. I haven’t given you the love and support that you needed to be successful. I need to start again. I don’t know how to fix this and it was a big leadership failure. Me learning that a company is all about people, finding the right people and treating those people, right.

John: That’s amazing that you’re sharing this because at least admitting and being vulnerable is key to success, right? Without failure, without doing you’re never gonna be successful and a lot of people forget about that. In business a lot of entrepreneurs feel like they need to figure it out. They have to be perfect or they need to figure out how to do it their way. Well, there’s no real way in success. There’s gonna be a lot of failures along the way, there’s gonna be a lot of peaks and valleys just like in radio advertising. I lived at Yellow Pages. I was a sales rep there and I…My VP was there for 30 plus years so me and him we met hundreds of your type of clients that are competing with you so we get the mindset of a business owner, right? And for us we’re just always curious to figure out like what goes on in the mind of a business owner and what creates their journey, why is it different, how do they live their lifestyle, what triggers them, right? And what makes them happy and successful and what does success ultimately mean, right? So you gotta figure that out as a business owner.

Brian: Yeah, for me you know, success is very much…It’s not about the money now someone might go, “Oh well, Brian it’s easy to say because you’ve built a half a billion dollar business.” No, it’s never been about the money and I think because I’ve deprioritized earning money. Of course you need money as profit to generate a sustainable business but my focus hasn’t been on money in the sense that I want to go buy myself a Bentley and buy all these fancy things that’s not me. What drives me and makes me happy is watching entrepreneurs grow, watching myself, watching my co-workers, my partners, people grow and evolve and that’s exciting and so for me it’s always been. Let’s build something bigger and better together, let’s have fun, let’s grow the heck out of this and make this awesome and so money has come by us just doing great work that we’re passionate about. It hasn’t come because we focused on the bottom line and entrepreneurs need to understand what success is to them and I hate to say it but most entrepreneurs I’ve met who put money way high up on the runs, on the ladder. They don’t hit it. It’s you know, it forces them to make bad decisions, the greed of choosing a different path versus just going, “I’m gonna build this, I’m gonna be passionate about it, I’m gonna do it the right way and the money will come.”

John: And what, how or who taught you the values of what you know, because it sounds like your grandparents taught you work ethic. But in terms of like knowing what your purpose was, what your passionate was, right? Like I learned from actually working with thousands of business owners where I wanted to fit because I’m a giver. I want to help them, right? So I found a gap in the marketplace, transitioning people from print to online and helping them succeed, right? But for you it’s like it sounded like you knew going in what really, truly mattered.

Brian: Yeah, I mean I think it’s like you know, if you’ve ever peeled a hard-boiled egg and sometimes the shell breaks and you take off little pieces and then more and more and more before you’ve got that egg. I think that for me it’s been peeling back the shell slowly and uncovering what does it look like inside? You know, I think who I am has always been inside me and my values were taught, inspired by others. I saw different entrepreneurs that I saw were successful and what motivated them but they weren’t happy and it’s just an evolution over life where you start to I think get greater clarity as to who are you and what makes you tick? I have to say that I don’t know maybe five, ten years ago when I really honed in and understood what drives me and what my gift is to the world. Everyone has a gift that they bring to the world. When I understood mine that’s what lit me up and I was like, “Okay, I get this. It’s about entrepreneurship. It’s about helping others. If others are motivated by money and things and success and material wealth. “Hey, great! Let me help them achieve whatever their dreams might be with our platform.”

John: Is that when things started you know, growing exponentially when you’re…You became more clear and intentful.

Brian: I think so I think it coincided with me finding our COO and president, Eric Church and so Eric is this you know, where this two-in-the-box model, kind of the yin and yang that work together. We’re both very different but we both bring great things to the business and together two heads are better than one and so I think a lot of the magic started nine years ago when Eric joined forces and there was just you know, something special about us working together and we took the company from 100 million to above 400 million together in a fairly short period of time.

John: And so can you walk us back to prior to nine years ago, was it just yourself or did you have a lot of other supportive people along the way.

Brian: Well, you know, nine years ago prior to Eric we would have been 100 million dollar business and we had peaks and valleys. The economic meltdown of 2007, 2008 caused us a lot of financial pain and stress. I had a COO who was an ex-starbucks president who came into my business. I recruited and felt super excited about but it was the wrong person for me, for my style and so that didn’t work that long term but it led me to Eric. I think that you know, we’ve made so many mistakes and so many ups and downs but it’s just a constant learning from those situations and I don’t know if there’s one thing that sort of lit up the model where everything just started to work. I mean I can say it was partially Eric it was partially the economy getting better. It was partially hiring happy people. It was partially bringing on two new brands you know, there’s so many things that go into making the recipe more effective and more exciting, more tasty whatever it might be. And it’s taken time but it again, 31 years and it just keeps getting better like how good is that?

John: It’s amazing. I mean that journey, right? The life that…You can control your destiny, right? And time. The big thing is you have choice now and a lot of people that you’re giving opportunity to as partners, they’re freeing up their time and they’re taking ownership, right? They’re becoming more accountable, they’re entrepreneurs themselves now living that dream that they’ve always wanted to live, right? And you’re supporting them with a system so it’s amazing.

Brian: Yeah, it’s our franchise owners. It’s what they do with that opportunity. You can present an idea to someone but they’re putting in the hard work you know, we’re giving them the love and support along the way but they’re making it their own and like you said that word ownership is so incredibly important.

John: So how do you cultivate people that are like-minded like I know you might be doing a lot of trade shows, a lot of advertising to get recruit these people, right? But what kind of skillset or people seem to be ultra successful like ultra motivated to be one of the top tier, you know, franchisors in your companies.

Brian: Yeah, well you know, actually we’re not doing trade shows, we’re not doing a lot of advertising. People are coming to us and I think it’s birds of a feather flock together. You get like-minded people who go, “Oh, I’ve heard about those guys.” You know, we’ll get on a podcast like Guy Ruz, How I Built This is one of the bigger business ones out there and people hear it and go, “Oh, I like Brian’s story. I want that to be my story.” And people reach out and connect and so I think it’s the spreading of stories that’s having things sort of grow for us and we know that the right people will find this opportunity if it resonates with them, “Let’s talk.” If it doesn’t they’ll move on and they’ll find what’s best for them and the same way you looked at franchises. You decided to go your own route and start on your own and that’s best for you. So people need to research if their dream is one of business ownership and living the dream of that you know, that some people need to go find a big idea, your big idea was going from Yellow Pages to the world shifting online and you’re doing SEO work and love what you do. Many people…The big idea is actually the model maybe franchising in itself is the big idea. Some people just get stuck and they go, “I’m not creative. I don’t know how to come up with the next greatest sliced bread.” Take someone else’s model.” And see if you can piggyback on it. That’s where franchising is an interesting play for many people.

John: Yeah, and I think you cultivated such a big brand as well as tribe or community of business owners, right? And they attract one another so let’s talk about…A little bit about that because do you harvest, like how do you keep everyone motivated? Like you must have already a system in place to have updates, financials as well as like team build kind of thing. What…Because as any business owner once you start building your own team you’ll understand the culture is the people and if you don’t have good people that you know, supports your vision it’s gonna crumble, right? So what kind of tips or what do you do along those lines?

Brian: Yeah, so we’re very, very, very careful in finding the right people. I had a mentor years ago, Greg Brophy who’s sadly passed on but he had a company called Shred-it, a billion dollar plus shredding company that is quite well known and I asked him once for advice and he said, “Brian, the number one thing is never ever, ever, ever compromise on the quality of people you bring into your organization so when you say how do we motivate people? We find motivated people. We need self-starters. I don’t want someone that I gotta crack a whip or ra ra cheer, let’s go. I want people that just get fired up every day about what they’re doing when they get out of bed and so we find the right people. We treat them right. I think one of the biggest things we’ve done is simplifying hiring and simplifying finding those people we call it, the beer and barbecue test. I ask myself or anyone else who’s interviewing someone in our company, “Would you have a beer with the person, would you have a chai tea? Whatever it might be. Would you sit down with that person? You find them interesting, interested they’ve got a passion for life. They’ve got something they’re passionate about that they can contribute to your business. It’s the same way we recruit friends. I mean you don’t sit there and go through a checklist of people go, “Yeah, John, you seem you know, really good looking and smart and friendly.” You know, it’s like you just trust your gut. You have a beer with them, do they pass the beer test? The barbecue test is how would they fit at a company barbecue, a company picnic? We’re not looking for everyone to be the same. We’ve got great diversity, great diversity of opinions and values or sorry of opinions and knowledge. People fit the same values and do they just fit our sense of the O2E brand’s way of taking that ordinary world and making it exceptional through the work, the focus, the energy of our people, do they fit, do they have fun? We’ve got introverts, we’ve got extroverts, we’ve got a whole ton of different people but somehow the magic comes together and that’s how we say, “Okay, do they pass the beer test, the barbecue test?” We take a long time interviewing people before we make the decision to bring them into the O2E brands family.

John: That’s amazing so a couple last questions I want to ask you so what motivates you today because it seems like you’ve lived such a fruitful life, joyous in terms of like business success. What else is there and what are some of the pillars that really resonates with you?

Brian: Yeah. No, I mean I’ve lived a fruitful life and I’m just getting started. I mean I love what I do. I love life, we are in a pandemic it’s hard but there’s still gifts. I’m seeing that owners are…. People are coming to us saying, “I want business ownership.” I’m switching from a life of working for the man, Corporate America. Time for a life change, a city change. Covid has sort of prompted a lot of people to be introspective and see you know, what’s next so tragedies aside and in all the horribleness that’s going on in the world. There are gifts. There’s people going, “2020 will be a inflection point for me. A big year launching into 2021.” This is your year type model so I get excited that people are able to see an opportunity that’s shared with us. That they might get excited around and take that opportunity and grow so that keeps me going that motivates me. I’m not again. I’m not motivated by money. I don’t know what I’d do with it short of philanthropy and one day I’ll get there in a big way but for me it’s just having fun with people who want to build something together.

John: That’s amazing and then I know…Are you currently living in Vancouver right now or…

Brian: I am…I’m working out of my basement suite in Vancouver. I’ve taken over my wife’s office in the home and yeah…

John: Amazing, I love Vancouver by the way. I go there a couple times a year and I’ve been on Alaskan cruises and I love the west coast but in terms of like next five, ten years business has always continued striving, succeeding and growing and impacting other entrepreneurs to join your system is that…

Brian: That’s it. That’s what life’s about for me. I mean other than my family I’ve got my business family of having fun and building greatness together.

John: Amazing, I love that. Well, thanks a lot Brian. It’s been my pleasure how can some of the listeners either reach you, check you out or visit your website or look for opportunities I guess?

Brian: Sure, I mean if you go to google and you type my name Brian Scudamore you’ll get all our social handles it’s @brianscudamore. I’m on linkedin, instagram you name it. If anyone ever wants to get in touch send me a note I’ll do my best and love watching entrepreneurs grow and contributing in any way I can, so if there’s someone out there that feels a connection, reach out and say hello.

John: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot again for joining me on the show. Thank you, Brian.

Brian: Awesome, thanks John.