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An Unexpected and Life-Changing Entrepreneurial Journey

An Unexpected and Life-Changing Entrepreneurial Journey

So why did I begin this exciting little project? And how?

What is a removal service?

Why are they so massively important anyway?

Glad you asked!

I’ll break this down into five sections. Not as interested in learning about me? Feel free to skip around. I won’t hold it against you. 🙂

  1. A Little About Me
  2. What Is a Removal Service?
  3. How Connect and Haul Began
  4. What Makes Connect and Haul Fantastically Awesome?
  5. Join Me on the Journey

First, it helps if you know a little about me.

A Little About Me

If someone asked me, What do you do?, I would have a hard time answering that question.

I do many things.

However, my primary source of income is from working with my family’s 130 year old scrap-processing & recycling company, Friedland Industries, Inc. (pronounced Freedland). I’m part of the fourth generation.

We process for recycling all ferrous & non-ferrous metals, all types of paper, various plastics, and we’re a mass collector for electronic scrap material.

So, what does that mean?

Essentially, we perform the process that happens to commodities like steel and aluminum before they can be re-melted (or re-pulped, in the case of paper) and turned into new products.

We do this by purchasing obsolete scrap material, sorting it, cleaning it, and preparing it (usually in the form of bales). We then sell those prepared commodities to mills, foundries, and refineries, which re-melt them into new blocks or sheets. Manufacturers can then buy those new blocks or sheets to make new products, like cars, appliances, and books.

In other words, we make recycling actually happen!

If commodities were Rocky, we’d be the trainer, Mickey, getting them ready for their future purpose in life.

Here’s our nifty logo!

We even have a cute little mascot named Scrappy! :)

Much of scrap-processing (or recycling) is about economics, and we spend a great deal of time educating the public on how recycling must be done cost-effectively in order to work correctly.

I’ll go into more detail on this in future posts, but we’ve got other captivating things to talk about!

In the meantime, listen to Scraponomics™: Understanding the Fundamental Economics of Recycling (a two-minute radio segment we write for 1320 WILS radio here in Lansing, MI.) for some educational and entertaining scrappy goodness.

Ok, pay attention. This is where the relevancy comes in.

What Is a Removal Service?

A removal service is different from a moving service like TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®. It’s not about moving your stuff from one house or apartment to another.

Rather, when people need a pesky old washer and dryer hauled out of their basement, or a painstaking clean-out of a huge house, they use a removal service.

You may have been here before (warning: the following image contains graphic content):

Whoa! Appliance zombies! It’s the appliancocalypse!
Time to get a new washer and dryer, STAT!

A lot of the time, when people need a removal service, they first call us at Friedland, simply because they don’t know who else to call. While we don’t directly do pick-ups for things like this, it’s in these situations that we’ll refer people to customers of ours who haul scrap material and trash for a living (i.e. removal services, or more commonly, junk removal services).

I use the term Removal Service.

Granted, removal services do haul junk along with scrap and reusables, so it somewhat fits to call them junk removal services. Still, I feel this cringeworthy title does them a disservice.

These companies do everything they can to resell usable material, scrap what can be recycled, and only send non-recyclable material to a landfill as a last resort. Hence…

Removal Service. Plain and simple.

That sounds much better, don’t you think?

Glad we’re coming together on that. 🙂

Anyway, at Friedland, we only refer people to removal services that have a proven positive record based on feedback we receive from their previous jobs and online reviews.

I mean, come on, we’re talking about people who are entering your house, right?
You want to know they’ve got a great reputation.

Perfect example. Todd Powell from Scrap King is amazing and does a great job. People love him.

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Todd Powell from Scrap King. Great guy.
Just look at that punim. :)

Now, removal jobs often involve hauling away scrap, trash, and even reusable material.

Removal services will charge for the labor involved and for disposing trash, but will still factor in the estimated value of any scrap or reusable material when quoting customers to help keep the cost down as much as possible.

How about them apples for being both affordable and environmentally green!

Again, removal services resell what they can, scrap-recycle what they can, and only send rubbish to a landfill as a last resort.

How Connect and Haul Began

As I mentioned earlier, Friedland refers home and business owners to reputable removal services all the time. We’ve done it for years with plenty of positive feedback.

Unexpectedly, I thought, I can probably streamline this referral system, make it faster, and give people more options for removal services. Not only that, I can probably scale it.

As luck would have it, I stumbled across Noah Kagan from AppSumo‘s monthly1k business course. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, I strongly suggest you check it out. It has been absolutely transformational. I think about business in a completely different way now.

Noah expresses validating your idea before spending time and money making a website, manufacturing a product, writing a book, etc., so you can know if there’s truly a demand for it.

I’ve made this mistake maaaany times; spending a ton of time and money in the past developing products and websites because I just knew there was a demand for them, without bothering to test that demand ahead of time.

They failed, of course.

Good thing I view failure as a best friend, though. Like a guiding light, it constantly tells me how to improve.

So for this idea, I called local removal services here in Lansing that are Friedland’s customers and have proven themselves as top-notch companies. I asked them if they’ve ever used other lead-generating services, and if so, how was their experience?

Most of them had, and they expressed a lot of dissatisfaction. They are either charged per bid (whether they get the bid or not) or the service wants to take a percentage of each job.

So I asked them how they’d feel if I created a service that…

  1. is specifically for removal services.
  2. charges an annual fee, rather than per job or bid.
  3. is affordable; it can pay for itself in one or two jobs.
  4. gets out of the way; I just make the connection and let them build a direct relationship with the customer. If they get a repeat customer out of it, great!

Would that be beneficial?

You bet!

All of them enthusiastically agreed and paid me right away so I could begin building the website!

Connect and Haul was born.

What Makes Connect and Haul Fantastically Awesome?

So, do you want to know what makes Connect and Haul fantastically awesome and different?

You do?

Sweet! I’ll explain.

In this case, I have two customers; the removal services and the public.

The public can use the site for free — post a job, perform searches, review removal services they’ve used, etc.

I charge the removal services an affordable yearly fee to be a member on Connect and Haul. The fee can pay for itself in one or two jobs.

I only pursue companies that have a proven positive record, and I perform background checks on all members when they join. This way, whether you’re in Lansing or Los Angeles, you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re choosing from the best of the best.

For me, the key thing that makes Connect and Haul different from other lead-generating services is that I understand the industry.

My schooling is in tech, but I’m not some random programmer; I grew up in the scrap industry. I understand what removal services need for this to be truly beneficial for them, and I take the time to ask them what’s working and what can be better.

I also understand what the public wants in a removal service; affordability, reliability, trust, and timeliness.

So far, member removal services have loved it because they get quality jobs, and the membership has paid for itself in a couple of months for most of them. And best of all, after making the connection, I get out of the way.

Home and business owners love it because of how quickly they receive multiple quotes, how affordable it’s been, and the quality of work the removal services have provided for them.

The First Home Owner to Try It

The first guy to use Connect and Haul is actually a buddy of mine from high school, Paul. Unfortunately, his father passed away recently, and Paul had to go through the heartbreaking and emotional task of cleaning out his father’s house. He was quoted some crazy number to do the job (around $50,000!) from a company across the state, and didn’t get a good vibe from them.

He then went through Connect and Haul, got paired with a great local removal service (Office Scrappers), and was quoted around $3,400 for the same job.

On top of that, Office Scrappers took the time to help Paul separate material that can be resold from any scrap and trash, and double checked to make sure they didn’t take anything Paul wanted to keep.

Connect and Haul saved Paul over $45,000, and found him a great local company he paired well with!

Here’s Paul’s heartwarming review of C&H on Facebook:

paulk

That’s not Paul’s real hair.
He’s dressed like Doc for Back to the Future Day!

Now, not every situation is that nutty. I was actually taken aback when Paul told me what he was originally quoted from the company across the state. But the fact that C&H could help him during such an emotional time told me this is needed. How many people out there are being taken advantage because they don’t know where the great removal services are?

It’s then that I knew this could really become something cool and helpful.

It’s hard to contain my excitement to grow this!

Join Me on the Journey

This blog is about more than removal services.

It’s about the little wins and speed bumps that happen while growing a business.

Am I an expert? Of course not! I don’t even know what that means. That’s the best part!

I’ll show you the ups and downs as I move along, so you can apply my experiences to your own.

You’ll get featured guest bloggers who will share great tips and content for you, whether it be about removal services, entrepreneurship, or decluttering your kitchen.

So if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or simply want life hacks and tips on organizing your life, this email list is a great fit for you.

Join my email list, and together we’ll see how far the rabbit hole goes on the journey of building a business!

Stay awesome,

Mike

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