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Hauling truckloads of other people's junk may not seem easy, but for Ralph Sampson, a disabled veteran, starting his junk-removal company seemed like a simple decision, especially after struggling to transition from a military career to a civilian job.
“Junk removal service was essentially an easy company to start up. It comes with a low startup cost and very low overhead," he says, of the business he began in Laurel, Maryland. “Not to mention, this type of business is typically recession proof. Everyone will always have junk pile up."
By pricing his services below competitors, and recycling the majority of the hauls, Junk Unlimited, LLC, broke even the first year, and stands to turn a profit in just the second year in business.
1. How has your business grown since you started it?
The company launched in January of 2017. The first year was a learning phase, and we were able to break even.
—Ralph Sampson, founder, Junk Unlimited
Since January 2018, a year later, Junk Unlimited destroyed the prior year's numbers. Taking everything we learned, we were able to implement new strategies and marketing to surpass our numbers. We are continuing this upward growth.
Some of the factors that played into this growth was revamping our organic marketing strategy—handing out flyers, making cold calls, establishing web dominance and continuing education in business. Being a business owner takes a lot of dedication, but it is all worth it when you see your company continue to grow.
2. What hurdles have you overcome in running your business?
In the beginning, it was hard to manage the company while also working for the company. Trying to answer phone calls from potential clients while also hauling heavy furniture around was a daunting task and could lead to missed opportunities from future clients.
I had to come up with new ways to close deals over the phone while also working on the job. To fix this issue, I hired my first employee to handle the heavy lifting, which freed me up to close more deals with clients and schedule them accordingly.
3. What is the most difficult aspect of hauling junk?
The most difficult aspect of junk hauling is not hauling the junk itself. It is the initial engagement with our potential customers. Not every customer is the same and not every project is the same. Some customers may be open to the quote presented, while some others will look for deals any way they can. Some customers will point at a pile of junk and not mention that there are tons of other materials hidden away under the pile. Some customers will even add more items to their project without telling us. We have to be able to adapt and overcome these situations to get the job done.
4. What has been your most memorable moment as a business owner?
My most memorable moment as a business owner was receiving a junk removal service request just a few hours after our website launched back in February 2017. It was very exciting and I was nervous. I thought I had it all figured out. Go to the location and grab the junk and leave. However, it was not that simple. The client stated they only had a few bedroom items. When I arrived at her location, it was almost three bedrooms worth of junk. Nevertheless, we got the job done. Receiving the first payment to my company was the most memorable moment for me.
5. How do you recycle your hauled materials?
We sort through all the piles of junk for any recyclable or donate-able items before we properly dispose of them. The process is simple actually; we place colored stickers on items. Green for recycle, pink for donate, and blue for junk.
We came up with this process to save time and money. If we just disposed of every single item into the landfill, that's not environmentally friendly, and the weight of our haul will have an effect on the dump fees.
There is also the fulfillment when you recycle and donate items. Knowing you are keeping the Earth green and helping those in need is what keeps our process going.