JDog Junk Removal’s CEO and Founder has started more than just a franchise, he’s started a movement to help more United States military veterans start their own business when they leave the service.
“We’re the only franchise ever to open a franchise model exclusively sold to the military community,” CEO Jerry Flanagan proudly declared during a recent phone interview from his headquarters in Berwyn, PA.
When given the choice, Flanagan said, he believes the average American consumer would choose a veteran-owned business and that was the impetus behind creating JDog Junk Removal.
In operation since March of 2011, it was meant to fill the space for vets who are leaving the service and aren’t sure where they should go after that. Often these former service people aren’t sure what they’ll do when they leave the service and Flanagan wanted to give them arelatively simple and cost effective option.
“We built the company to put military veteran families into small business ownership all throughout the country,” he said, “and we built it with the notion that we want them to hire veterans, too.”
Flanagan started franchising in 2012, but launched a national franchising campaign in Septemberof 2014. So far, he has 11 signed franchises with 12 more committed.
JDog’s main service is the removal of junk from either residential or commercial property that people aren’t sure what to do with. Things like old couches or hot tubs or any other item that a person isn’t sure how to dispose of are perfect for JDog to take away. From the place of pickup, they take the items to transfer stations to make sure they’re disposed of properly. If items are recyclable, they’ll take them to a recycling centre. If they’re donations, they go to a donation centre. They don’t go to dump sites.
To make sure the company stays true to its military inspired roots, the whole company has a military theme to it, with Hummers and trailers wrapped in camouflage.
Flanagan said he chose junk removal as a franchising model because the profitability is high and there is high demand for the service. During the recession of 2008 and 2009, junk removal did well as a business because other businesses were had to shut down and dispose of items. It was this survivability during slow economic times, plus the relatively low startup costs that made junk removal a sound franchising option.
An army and National Guard veteran, Flanagan left the service and spent 20 years in sales, marketing and operations in the retail sector. However, after the aforementioned recession, retail was so bad that he decided to leave that and restart his career in a business that wasn’t as susceptible to an economic downturn. Plus, he also wanted to work with and hire other veterans.
That led to the opening of the first JDog Junk Removal in his home town of Chesterbrook, PA and that’s when he realized that his idea really had legs, as he consistently saw the community rally around the idea that they could hire a veteran owned business for junk removal.
“The customers really felt comfortable that they could trust a person from the military to do the work,” he recalled.
Word of mouth spread fast and his sales climbed quickly. Instead of trying to build the business one place at a time, he decided to franchise instead to get veterans into the workforce faster.
Aside from having to be a veteran, JDog is looking for people who want to work in the community, who have good people skills, are trustworthy and can bring integrity to the brand. “Respect. Integrity. Trust” is the company motto and JDog wants people who can uphold that motto.
Military families, particularly husband and wife teams work well, Flanagan noted, adding that his wife Tracy is his business partner.
Interested franchisees can visit the business’ website at jdogjunkremoval.com where it has a form they can fill out.
Once a potential franchisee’s information is reviewed and they are deemed a good candidate, the interview process will take place over several phone calls to see if the business and the potential franchisee would be a good mutual fit for each other.
Support is provided via national marketing, a dedicated IT department, a director of operations who supports franchisees out in the field, an administrative arm that takes care of local marketing and branding and an investment group who is overseeing the growth of the company.
Franchisees also have at their disposal an advisory board that consists of retired military members who mentor veterans just setting up their own business for the first time. This board includes retired Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas O’Dell who lead clean-up efforts from the Hurricane Katrina disaster and Larry Liss, who is the highest decorated helicopter pilot in the history of the Vietnam War and and executive coach.
Training, meanwhile, is provided at JDog’s Philadelphia training center where franchisees have three full days of training covering all aspects of the business. JDog representatives then go out to the new franchisee’s location after six to eight weeks of getting all their equipment together and the JDog reps stay there for the grand opening and to make sure everything starts smoothly for the new franchisee. Currently, JDog has locations available across the country.
The company has received some good recognition since its inception, being named as one of the top 25 veteran-owned businesses of Philadelphia and Best Innovative Business by Mainline Media News.
And, if Flanagan’s plans pan out, JDog junk removal will be just the first in a line of brands that cater to giving franchise opportunities to military veteran families. Flanagan envisions JDog Security, JDog Plumbing, JDog Electric and more, with the JDog brand becoming an umbrella company synonymous with military veteran-owned businesses.
Judging from the good start he has gotten off to, he is well on his way to realizing that dream.