Mike Doherty is the proud owner of a Junkluggers franchise that spans seven territories. His entrepreneurial journey is nothing short of an inspirational story, which is why FranNet of Michigan chose to feature him in our testimonial series of client success stories. Assisted by FranNet Consultant Mark Cory, Doherty was able to turn his entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. Below, in his own words, Mike Doherty shares the details of his own personal journey – from automotive engineer to ownership of his Junkluggers of Mid-Michigan franchise…
“I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University, then later got my MBA from Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. After completing my education, I continued my automotive engineering career at Means Industries that would span a total of 24 years. My specialty was in the design and manufacturing of transmission-related products, and over the years I served in multiple capacities – up to and including executive level positions. I’ve been married for 26 years, and we have two grown children, ages 20 and 22.”
On Becoming an Entrepreneur
“I’ve always been interested in an entrepreneurial future and the possibility of owning my own business someday. And then one day, that opportunity presented itself. In 2021, my company merged with another company and, unfortunately, my role was eliminated in the new organization. It was pretty disappointing at the time, but in a larger sense it actually ended up giving me the freedom to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. Through the outplacement services I received, I ended up crossing paths with Mark Cory at FranNet of Michigan. Admittedly, I didn’t know very much about the franchising industry when we first met. Like a lot of people, I just thought franchising meant McDonald’s and such. But I came to find out just how many different franchise concepts there are out there. The more I learned, the more I realized that franchising could be the right opportunity for me personally.”
“Before I decided on franchising, I had considered starting my own business from scratch and maybe even buying an existing business. At the same time, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of time and effort to create business processes and systems on my own. I was more attracted to the franchising model because it’s essentially a business in a box, so to speak. With franchising, you get a blueprint and a roadmap. It seemed like the best way to get up to a significant scale within five years or so – which was my plan. It seemed to be a better choice than doing everything on my own and risking mistakes along the way.”
Your Experience Getting Started
“Mark Cory and I began working together and he presented me with three or four franchise concepts that were a match for my experience and preferences. I took an academic approach to the exercise, looking at these opportunities from a standpoint that took into consideration the brand’s ownership, management, value proposition, required investment, and the potential ROI. But I was also looking for something that I personally believed in – a brand that had excellent management and a well-defined mission statement. Having something I could scale was important to me, and I also needed to stay within a certain window on my upfront costs. I narrowed my search to Junkluggers because it’s a concept that, quite simply, checked all the boxes. And I really liked their corporate team because it was clear they were all vested in growing this brand.”
Where Do You Stand?
“I signed my franchise agreement in April of 2021 and ended up opening for business in October. I bought four Junkluggers territories to start off and have added another three since for a total of seven in all – but it’s all run from one central location. In my first year, I was most interested in validating the business model. I wanted to see if people truly cared about the services Junkluggers provides and whether or not they’d use it. I had a specific sales target in mind when I started, and I hit it within the first nine months of operations. My goal for the second year was simple – double my revenue. There’s still a lot of 2023 to go, but I’m already up 109% year over year. To date, I’ve grown the business to include a total of three trucks and 11 employees.”
How Did FranNet Support Your Journey?
“After I met Mark and we got started, what I needed was an education on franchising – and that’s just what I got. Mark did a great job giving me a high-level rundown of how franchising worked and what he could do for us. My wife and I participated in the assessment, which was a fun exercise. Throughout the process, Mark was patient and understanding – he walked us through each step efficiently. At the same time, he was never pushy and was always very supportive. We never felt pressured in any way. Mark kept the process moving along and, next thing you know, here I am.”
How Things are Going
“Junkluggers has some really exciting initiatives that they’re getting ready to roll out. I’m pretty excited about their new ‘Remix’ market plan. Our vision is to get to a point where we are keeping 100% of reusable items out of landfills. This currently is not practical, given today’s limitations on what items can be donated and recycled. Remix provides a whole new and efficient channel for reusing items that might otherwise be taken to the landfill thus moving us one more step toward our goal. With Remix proceeds being donated to our charity partners, this is a win for our community, a win for the environment and a win for Junkluggers too. As for my future plans, I intend to keep my business sustainably and profitably growing revenue. It’s possible that I’ll look into adding a couple more territories down the road, and I wouldn’t mind looking at other business ownership opportunities to establish a bigger entrepreneurial portfolio.”
For more information, please visit Mike Doherty’s Junkluggers of Mid-Michigan site on the web.