Junk Rescue, Heroes of Junk Removal Franchise Growth

  • December 15, 2021
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In a little over five years, Junk Rescue has grown from a fledgling startup to one of the largest junk removal companies in New Jersey.

In 2021, their revenue is already breaking through the $3M a year mark and still accelerating. Since 2018, they’ve more than doubled their revenue, while also boosting profits.

Jake Still, Co-founder of Junk Rescue, is the visionary behind the fast-expanding franchise brand. As luck would have it, he’s also an excellent storyteller and willing to be an open book about the challenges and successes of the company.

Keep reading to hear about their rapid expansion, their vision of serving every metropolitan area in North America, and to hear the one about the mysterious missing dumpster that no one knew was lost.


A Med Tech Salesman and a Civil Engineer Went to a Ballgame

Junk Rescue, a company with superhero branding, has an origin story worthy of the pages of a comic book. It starts with two buddies on their way to a baseball game, when one of them poses one of those potentially life-altering questions.

“In the summer of 2015, Nunzio (Merla, Still’s Junk Rescue Co-founder) and I were on our way to a Yankees game in New York City,” reminisces Still. “At the time, I was selling Medical Lasers to plastic surgeons and Nunz was a Civil Engineer. During the two-hour car ride, Nunz asked if I was happy. Truth be told, I wasn’t.”

When Merla challenged Still about his ambitions, he shared the idea that would change both of their lives. “He asked me what I wanted to really do,” recalls Still. “I explained I had worked for a junk removal company in college, how I thought I could do it better, and how I loved the idea of building a white-collar business in a blue-collar space.”

“He asked what was stopping me. At the time my answer was typical. Not enough startup money, didn’t know where to start, didn’t know how to start, yadda yadda. But in reality, what was stopping me was the fear of failure.”

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A Surprise Partnership and a Twist of Fate

Two weeks later, Merla surprised Still by creating the LLP South Jersey Junk Removal. “Congrats we’re business partners!” said Merla, adding that it takes a year to get a license to haul trash in New Jersey, so the twosome had some time to formulate a plan. Still had only one condition. “I wasn’t in love with the name. But obviously, we changed it.”

Fast forward to May 2016 and the license had been approved. Then, a fateful occurrence. Still’s employer dissolved his division, leaving him with a choice. “I had to make a decision to stay in the medical field or become a trash man,” says Still. “Obviously, I did the sensible thing…. and became a trash man! Nunz and I had to agree to put any and all differences aside and commit everything we had. We were ALL IN.”


Struggles on the Path to Success

When reading a profile like this one, it’s easy to focus on the impressive statistics and the “wins” the company experiences, when trying to answer the question of how they did it. For Still, however, he says the company’s biggest turning points have always come from the biggest moments of chaos. “Scarcity is one of the best sources of innovation,” he says. “We lost a few critical employees over the years and had to wear all the hats again and again and practically start over each time. The poorer we were the more dedicated and focused we became.”

Staffing wasn’t the only challenge they would have to overcome. Operationally, they were making costly mistakes and needed a better way to track their assets. Still is extremely candid about those challenges, too.

“We often would have a client call us and say ‘It’s been a month when are you coming?’ and we would secretly be relieved because we had no idea where the dumpster was. We once left a dumpster at a foreclosure property and had no idea where it was, for a year and a half, when the real estate agent finally called us.”


Solving Their Operational Problems with Purpose-built Software Tools

“Those moments don’t happen anymore,” says Still of the misplaced bins and costly staffing quagmires. “And they don’t happen anymore because they forced us to really think about our employees and business on a deeper level.”

Thinking about the business on a deeper level is paying off in a big way. In 2018, Junk Rescue switched to using Vonigo to manage their business operations, from booking through to billing. In 2019, they landed a contract with Amazon and in the fall of 2021 hired a new CMO to help them continue their expansion.


Making the Switch to Vonigo’s Franchise Management Platform

In switching to Vonigo, they were looking to solve a number of issues at once. They had a desire to access historical data, reporting, and automation. They also placed a high value on scalability, to support their rapid expansion. Using cheap and free tools was beginning to have its own high costs and they needed a better way.

“When we were on Google Calendar, when we first started, we had an employee delete the jobs and steal the money,” says Still, adding that now, the company has “standardization, the ability to manage and see our business from anywhere, and asset management that limits what employees have access to.”

“Vonigo is a great tool for home services small and large,” says Still. “Its ability to scale into a franchise model is a big reason we chose it. Also, its versatility of offering multiple service lines (junk and dumpster for us). The customization of reporting really allows you to see a lot of different analytics. The biggest time savings is from having more accurate data and reporting compared to not having CRM at all before. I would say a 50% increase in time saved. With clearer data and an understanding of our business, it gives us the ability to be more decisive.”


A Focus on People Before Profits

The numbers they are seeing, meanwhile, all seem to be trending to the good. “In 2018 we did $1.5 Million in revenue. In 2021 we are projecting 3.2 million, says Still.” As they grow, they continue to invest back into the business and say their software and automation have also helped their profit margins. “I would say a 10% increase in net profits.”

Junk Rescue has plans to expand its junk removal and dumpster rental divisions across the continent and Still has a specific vision that will guide that growth. “We want to become best known for our ability to develop people,” says Still, adding that they place a premium on “genuine care for our clients via the employee’s actions, and our emphasis on communication.”
Their expanding customer base certainly seems to approve — and Junk Rescue has over 2000 positive online reviews to prove it.

Learn More about Vonigo’s Franchise Management Software

If you’d like to take a closer look at the tools Junk Rescue uses to manage their booking, scheduling, customer communications, invoicing, payments, and business metrics, book a free, private demo of Vonigo.