Brian Scudamore is believer in work-life balance.

He did what any sensible entrepreneur would do before launching a new venture: Consult the experts. After carefully considering their advice, he ignored it.

Brian Scudamore’s big idea – to launch a one-day home painting service – prompted an outcry from veterans in the industry. “Are you kidding me? Are you freaking nuts?” gasped one insider, who said the home painting industry is too fragmented, too tough to scale as a franchised business. Another expert agreed. And besides, both paint pros said it can’t be done; you cannot paint an entire house in a day’s time.

Scudamore, founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, believed he could deliver on that ambitious one-day promise if a proper team of painters were organized and dispatched to a worksite. And, with a few niceties thrown in such as fresh cut flowers and a thank-you note signed by the crew upon a job’s completion, consumers would be wowed by an experience other painting outfits didn’t offer.

“Often, as an entrepreneur, you have to trust your own gut,” he told CO—, and WOW 1 DAY PAINTING was born, the second home services franchise in Scudamore’s O2E Brands portfolio. Vancouver, B.C.-based O2E Brands is so named to convey the mission to transform “ordinary” tasks, such as painting and cleaning, to “extraordinary” services delivered by professionals.

It was a calculated leap to go against the advice of experts, but Scudamore knew that painters who were punctual, garbed in clean uniforms, well-trained — the formula that works so well for his junk removal business — was something nobody offered. It was an unmet need. A franchised business model with standardized operating protocol would ensure consistent quality at scale, something consumers have come to expect at any Starbucks in the country, he reasoned.

It worked the first time, not the second

The WOW 1 DAY PAINTING franchise business took off. To keep momentum going, Scudamore eyed launching a third business — a local moving service. His approach was to offer top-performing 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchisees a chance to get in on the ground floor of his new local moving service called You Move Me. Again, he went to the experts; again he was advised against encouraging franchisees already operating one home service brand (junk removal) to expand to a second business (moving).

Franchising expert Dina Dwyer-Owens, then-CEO of The Dwyer Group (now known as Neighborly), told Scudamore his strategy has been tried — and will not work. Putting franchisees into multiple businesses dilutes focus and harms execution, she said. Business suffers. Don’t do it, Dwyer advised.

He did it anyway.

It’s here, Scudamore told CO—. “Ego got ahead of us. We, as entrepreneurs, fail when we put ego in front of anything.” Dwyer was right, he acknowledged. “It taught us the lesson: We do not put people into different brands.”

It’s was a failure, Scudamore freely admits. There was an exodus of overextended franchisees, struggling to manage both their junk removal and moving businesses. It was a lesson he needed to learn firsthand and no doubt sparked inspiration for his new book, “WTF?! (Willing To Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success,” released late last year and cited by Inc. magazine as a top business book for 2019.

We, as entrepreneurs, fail when we put ego in front of anything.

Brian Scudamore, Founder 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

The Willing to Fail culture Scudamore advocates is not a new approach at O2E Brands. Giving people space to stretch, and fail occasionally, fuels innovation and team building, he said. “As entrepreneurs, we like to have control. We think we can do things better because it’s our company,” he told CO—.

“Letting go can help you grow,” he continued. “The more we let go, the more we free up time and energy for the gifts we have.”

Scudamore pointed to Tyler Wright, his first public relations hire at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? who today operates his own firm, Megawatt PR. Wright, who had no publicity experience at the time, was tasked with booking a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? placement on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” one of Scudamore’s bucket list goals.

“He had all the enthusiasm in the world,” Scudamore said of Wright. “By giving up control – giving someone else control to be persistent in their own way – got the attention of Oprah Winfrey,” resulting in a 2003 TV appearance that rocketed the company’s stature. “If I controlled that, I would not have gotten those results.”

Today, O2E Brands has grown to include four home services businesses with more than 250 franchisees in North America and Australia and 2018 revenues in excess of $300 million. The newest home services franchise, Shack Shine, launched in 2015 to provide window washing, power washing, gutter cleaning and other home detailing services. There have been rumblings of a fifth brand to be launched, but that is not imminent.

“We have our hands full with four brands right now,” Scudamore told CO—. “I can honestly say we don’t have a fifth brand in the works but there definitely will be one in the future.” O2E Brands seeks to double the number of franchisees and reach $500 million in revenue by the end of 2025, the company confirmed.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published February 25, 2019