Erik Church Interview with DailyVista
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1-800-GOT-JUNK? adds COO who\’s making marketing a priority
New COO Erik Church speaks to DailyVista about new role with junk removal company
Nov 1, 2011
Hoping to double its revenues, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has expanded its executive leadership team by naming a chief operating officer.
Erik Church takes over as the junk removal services’ COO today. The hire is part of Founder and Chief Executive Officer Brian Scudamore’s plan for a “two-in-the-box” leadership approach.
Church comes to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? after 10 years with EF Education Canada, the largest privately held education company in the world. Church was the company’s president for the past four years.
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Church is excited about joining a company that has a glowing reputation for customer satisfaction and providing a service that is greatly appreciated.
“It is a fantastic and fun company,” Church said in an interview with DailyVista just days before his first official day on the job. “The culture is great. I think that’s what drew me to the company. The culture, the leadership team, the franchise partners, specifically Brian, the CEO, it was a big appeal to me. It’s not too dissimilar, frankly, to the company I just left, with the people, focus and culture.”
Church’s first role as COO is to work with leadership team to find out what its priorities are and to understand where they think opportunities lie. He’ll also be setting out across the U.S. and Canada over November meeting and working with individual franchisees.
“My priority is to get out there and understand the needs of a franchise partner, to understand the needs of a customer and work with the leadership to understand what their priorities are and where they see that opportunity,” Church said. “Hopefully after a month of absorbing that I’ll be able to better understand the company and what the priorities should be and patch that all together.”
Church might not have officially started until today, but that hasn’t stopped him from scouting out the territory and getting his hands dirty. He’s already been out in the field on the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? trucks hauling junk firsthand to get a taste of what the company does and what its customers need.
“It’s interesting,” Church said. “It sounds like a thankless job, but I’ve actually been out on the trucks and did some work because I really wanted to get a sense of what the company was like. I think when you actually go to people’s homes and you have a nice, clean truck and good uniforms, you have pride in what you do and you’re doing a good job for these folks, when you empty out their space and take their junk away, without exception, every single stop I made – and there were a variety of different folks we worked with – they were so thankful for giving them their space back, for helping them get things organized.”
On the operational side of the company, Church said 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is top notch. When he sat down with leadership before taking over as COO he discussed what areas he thought he could and could not help with. One area Church said he knows he can boost the company is in sales and marketing.
“From what I can tell, from all of my time there and working with folks, is they have excellent operational excellence,” Church said. “They have excellent Net Promoter Scores, they have great referrals, they are really top notch when it comes to that. I’m not going to be able to do too much more than what they got. We have operational excellence. What I think I bring to the table is sales and marketing. That’s what my background has been in since I’ve been in business. I think I’ll be able to help them re-evaluate their marketing strategies and grow them to where they’ve come from to the next level. I’ll be very involved in both of those levels.”
Church believes the company can do more on the local level. He praised what’s already being done which is guerilla marketing, like having the trucks acting as moving billboards by being put in prominent places and putting up lawn signs.
“We’ll continue to move toward more local advertising, whether it be on radio or TV,” Church said. “We’ll do some co-op work with some franchise partners and really understand what we can do on a local level while maintaining brand consistency. We’ll be pushing some other mediums they haven’t really mastered at this point. I think that’s local media, including TV, newspaper and radio.”
On the national level, Scudamore has already put 1-800-GOT-JUNK? on the map in some unique ways. He’s appeared on countless national shows, and most noticeably, the company’s blue and white trucks and army of upbeat employees have a major presence on the hit A&E TV show Hoarders.
Hoarders is a documentary series that profiles people with a hoarding condition. The hoarders often can’t throw anything away and let junk pile up in their homes. Specialists try to deal with the inflicted individual, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is called in to haul away loads of junk. The company’s trucks and employees are prominently displayed on TV during the course of the show. Despite horrific conditions and oftentimes facing stubborn resistance from the hoarding culprit, the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? employees maintain a high level of respect and professionalism, further emphasizing the company’s high reputation.
“Getting on Hoarders has really brought to light an affliction that over three million people have, and in many ways it helps people come to grips with their own challenges,” Church said. “Maybe they’re not as severe as the ones on TV, but everyone can realize, ‘I can get that space down, I can do with less. What can I do with the space I have that’s cluttered up?’ I think we’ve brought some awareness to people about it and cleaning out some of their own cobwebs and getting a fresh start. It can be a cathartic beginning for folks. It’s been hugely well received as far as our brand recognition, but it’s certainly not the lion’s share of our business.”
Not yet officially on the job, Church said couldn’t absolutely speak to what the company is open to as far as partnership availabilities, but in his experience he believes partnerships are important.
“Personally I’m a big believer in partnerships and working together with industry leaders, with people who have similar cultural outlooks on how to run an organization,” Church said. “To that end, I’m always open to those conversations. At this point I don’t know what it might look like as it relates to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.
Nielsen reported the company spent $670,000 on media in 2010, including $240,000 on local newspaper ads, $170,000 on outdoor ads and $130,000 on spot TV.
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Chief Operating Officer
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