BiggerPockets Business Podcast

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 14: Entering a Crowded Service Market and Crushing the Competition with Nick Huber

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Want a blueprint for breaking into a competitive industry and taking down your bigger, more established competitors? Well, that’s the focus of today’s episode with Nick Huber

As a college student, Nick founded a storage business aimed at helping his classmates. But the story doesn’t stop there. Nick and his partner passed up corporate job offers, have since expanded Storage Squad into 11 states, and run a team of 350 part-time workers.

So, how did Nick go from transporting items in his Cadillac DeVille and cramming them into his apartment to signing on as the preferred storage provider for huge state universities? The answer involves “lean startup” principles, old school marketing tactics like sidewalk chalk, and a relentless focus on developing a competitive edge over bigger companies with less of a personal touch.

You’ll be blown away by Nick’s resourcefulness, his tip about letting customers “see the whites of your eyes,” and the way he was able to get executive help without giving away a huge chunk of the business. 

This show is for anyone who’s ever wanted to start a service business but has been hesitant to take on the big boys. Nick offers a ton of actionable advice to entrepreneurs of all stripes, so tune into this episode and subscribe on your favorite app so you won’t miss the next!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J: Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast show number 14.

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Nick: Nontargeted marketing was kind of silly when we knew exactly where our customers lived, we knew where they walked, we knew where they went to classes. So we just had to get out and touch our customers. We had to get out in front of them and they had to see the whites of our eyes. And so we didn’t spend a dollar on marketing. I mean we did it ourselves.

J: Welcome to a real-world MBA from the school of hard knocks where entrepreneurs reveal what it really takes to make it. Whether you’re already in business or you’re already there, this show is for you. This is BiggerPockets Business.

J: Hey, there everybody, I am J. Scott, I am your co-host for the BiggerPockets Business Podcast. Here today as usual with my beautiful co-host Mrs. Carol Scott. How you doing today Carol Scott?

Carol: I have a very, very full belly. How’s your belly feeling?

J: I am not sure where you’re going with this, but I have a very full belly also. Full of ice cream.

Carol: Yeah, because we went to the very best ice cream shop in the whole entire universe. What could possibly make it the very very best ice cream shop you might be wondering? Well, here’s the deal. Their ice cream is good, actually, it’s great. Can’t lie, but here’s the thing, we live in this place that has an ice cream shop on every single corner but there is exactly one that we will go to. And why is that? Because they hands down have the very best best best customer service ever.

Carol: I’m going to tell you the one little thing that they do that as far as I’m concerned makes them the best. You know how when you’re eating ice cream and you get so, so, so thirsty? Well, get this, it’s either the manager or the owner, I’m not sure who it is. He just walks around with a pitcher of water and little cups. And he just goes around from customer and customer and he just pours you water. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to buy water, you don’t have to get up and go out to your car to get there bottle of water that you have sitting out there. He just offers you free water.

Carol: Such a simple gesture that makes that ice cream shop number one in terms of service and creates such a loyal customer and fan base.

J: I think I’ve now figured out where you’re going with this.

Carol: Yay, I knew it would come full circle, it always does.

J: That is a great lead-in for today’s show where we are going to be talking about starting and growing a service business. Now if you’ve ever started, or you’ve ever thought about starting a service business, and I know I have. I’ve thought about starting a painting business, I’ve thought about starting a landscaping business, moving business. I’ve thought about starting lots of service businesses. And here’s the thing, every time I think about it, the first thing that comes to mind is; How am I going to compete with all the competition out there? All these businesses are very low barrier to entry businesses. And so there’s a lot of competition, there’s often a lot of big players in the market. And I think to myself; how am I going to compete? Well, guess what, there is always a way to grow a successful business if you can set yourself apart from the competition. And that’s exactly what our guest today has done.

J: We have a guy here name Nick Huber. Nick, along with one of his buddies from college started their business literally in their college dorm room. They started a company called Storage Squad. It’s a company focused on picking up, delivering, and storing students stuff over the summer when they’re out of college.

J: Now they essentially started this business with no money and no plan. But they’ve been incredibly resourceful the entire way. And the cool thing is they’ve competed against some of the very biggest players in the industry and they’ve won at every single turn. Nick’s going to tell us how they’ve done it.

J: Now, Nick is also going to talk about the struggles of managing a business that requires year-round effort, but literally, you only get paid by your customers once or twice a year. Great story, you’re going to love this episode, especially if you’ve ever thought about starting a service business.

Carol: He also tells this really great story near the end. How hilarious was this? How at the ripe old age of 13, he accidentally invented a new type of landscaping mulch. It wasn’t really a good one, but he learned every lesson to know right then and there.

J: Yeah, landscape mulch. That’s I guess one word for it. That was a good story. So if you want more information about Nick, about his business, or about the things we’ve discussed in the show today. Check out our show notes at BiggerPockets.com/bizshow14. Again that’s BiggerPockets.com/bizshow14.

J: Now, before we jump into our episode, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor.

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J: Thank you very much to our sponsor. Okay. Now without any further ado, let’s bring in Nick Huber from Storage Squad.

J: So let’s welcome to the show, Nick Huber. How you doing there Nick?

Nick: I’m doing well, thank you all so much for having me. I’m honored to be… I’m a little nervous to honestly. They say if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’re not doing it right. So I’m having fun. Thank you all.

Carol: Thanks for being here with us. We’re really looking forward to talking to you. And I’m so personally intrigued by this whole idea of Storage Squad and can’t wait to dig more into it. Before we get into how you conceived the business though, I think if I remember correctly, you said you started Storage Squad while you were still in college, is that accurate?

Nick: Yeah, between Junior and Senior year of college, undergrad. Yeah.

Carol: No kidding? So how did… Where did your business education come from? Did you go to school to be a business education major?

Nick: No, not really. So I studied labor relations in college. Which is a mix between HR and business, ran track, I was along the same path as everyone else just trying to figure out how I could do the best for myself and get the best job possible when it kind of fell into my lap of a few opportunities that we ended up chasing down.

Carol: Exciting. So that’s the path that you took when you were in college. So can you take us through a little bit of your back story? Where this whole idea started, where you decided that Storage Squad would be a good business to start. How did you get up to that point?

Nick: Yeah, yeah. So I was in the same predicament that a lot of college students are in when I leased my apartment on Craigslist over the summer because I wasn’t going to be in town. And so did everybody else in my college town. So obviously I was going to have a really hard time finding somebody to help me pay the rent when I wasn’t in town. So after a couple weeks of it sitting on Craigslist, nobody reaching out I eventually had someone give me a call and said hey Nick, I don’t want to rent your apartment over the summer, but my son goes to Cornell and he is looking for a place to put his stuff. The tricky thing is that he doesn’t have a car. So can you go get his stuff and put it in your apartment for the summer?

Nick: I was like ah I don’t know about this. I’d really like to rent it all summer long. I was paying like $400 a month in rent and eventually, I said, yeah okay. For about $150 I’ll go get it all, put it in my apartment. So I went and got it, turned out to be a lot more stuff. Luckily I had a 1999 Cadillac DeVille, a very big car that I bought from my grandmother. With a huge trunk.

Nick: So I fit all of his stuff in. It took me an hour or so of lugging up and down these stairs. It was really hot. I remember it being pretty miserable. But I put it all in my dorm, I collected the $150 and I was like okay what now. I can’t rent this apartment. There is nothing else that I can do. So the first thing that I did was tell all my friends, everybody in my network that I was going to now do pick up and delivery storage from my apartment when they were going home. So I sent out emails to the track team, I went to… I had some friends in sororities and fraternities. I pitched what I was doing and how I was going to save them money over the big company in town. And before I knew it I was running around like crazy picking stuff up and storing it in my apartment.

Nick: And before I knew it my whole room was full. I was out of space, but people kept calling. So I ran to my friend’s house in Collage Town it’s actually where I was moving the next year. His name is Dan, he’s still my partner, best man at my wedding to this day. We were both on the track team together. Good friends. I went up to him and I knew that his house that he lived had a basement. So I went to him and said Dan, Dan. This is what I’m doing and he loved it. He got so excited, he pumped me up. He said Nick I want to be a part of this. And he had the second biggest vehicle in campus. He has a 1997 Buick Lesabre That was even bigger than mine.

Carol: Those are two big cars. Whoa, you’re not messing around there.

Nick: So it was a match made in heaven. Yeah, so before we knew it we were running around like crazy putting up flyers, advertising for pickup and delivery storage. We filled his room, we filled my room, we filled the basement of the house that we were moving. We actually rented two more rooms from two other guys who weren’t going to be in town over the summer. We locked everything up. We ended up with about 50 customers. We broke even about on rent on our rooms and maybe even made a little money. We were just running around like crazy during finals week picking up stuff.

Carol: Awesome.

J: So just to summarize this for our listeners. Basically, Storage Squad evolved into a company that does pick up, delivery, storage, and it started because you were trying to rent your apartment and some guy called you and asked you if you could store his son’s stuff there over the summer. So you just went, you picked it up, and that one thing led to you doing it again, and again, and again and that’s where the business came from?

Nick: Yeah. I got to find the person who called me and send them a thank you note. Because yes, my entire life changed that day that that call happened.

J: Wow. Okay. And so just for our listeners. Where were you going to school? What were you studying?

Nick: I was at Cornell University in Upstate New York, Ithaca. And to this day my entire social network back in high school thinks I went to school in New York City because they don’t understand New York geography. But yeah, so I was studying labor relations. I was studying a mix between business and human resource management. And I was running track and actually it’s funny because that was right during the peak of track season that all that happened. So me and Danny, we have very vivid memories of at the Ivy League Championships, which is during finals week. We were about to get on the blocks to run the hurdles and we were answering customer service calls. Telling people that we’d be back in three days ready to pick up their stuff basically.

J: So literally you’re a year from finishing college and a phone call set you in a direction that you then go for… What we’ll talk about this, but for many, many years to come.

Nick: Absolutely. And when it was all done, Danny and I sat down, we take a breath. We had just had a good time and really kind of worked hard at this and we had big dreams about it. So we sat down and looked at each other and said okay so we have one more year at an Ivy League school. If we’re going to try and make a go at this. We have to get out of our comfort zone. We have to really push it. Because if we just sit back and try to do a little bit more and maybe pick up a couple more students the next year, we’re going to end up the opportunity cost of what we could earn and kind of get on with our life is going to be too high. So we’re not going to be able to start this business. So we sat down, made a pact together. We’re going to be 50/50 partners. Let’s get after it and try to make this business as big as we possibly can as fast as we possibly can. And see what happens.

J: So what were the next steps? Did you write a business plan or did you say let’s just start finding customers and figure out what to do with their stuff?

Nick: Yeah, so the thing is we weren’t the only company doing this. There were several companies. There were several companies in our town. There was a big company that got about 1500 customers every year, right in Ithaca. They were a nationwide company that had just been bought by U-haul to do this.

Nick: So the first thing that we did is we dove in and studied all those companies. We called them playing customers, we looked at their websites, we figured out exactly how they all worked, every city. And we said okay, what can we do a little bit better? And it turns out luckily, it was really the first year that everybody had an iPhone in their pocket. It was the first year that we could communicate faster. All of our competitors were running around with clipboards and we’re like okay. We think we can make this business a little bit better. So we started to put in some systems to try to build a better business. We took bits and pieces from all these different companies that we liked. And found the Storage Squad domain and tried to make a plan of how many schools we were going to go to and how we were going to do it.

Carol: What did that initial plan look like? Do you remember as far as how many schools, how many states? What were your numbers in your whole dreaming phase? Back in the very beginning when you were envisioning?

Nick: So we knew we had to set goals and if we didn’t hit a goal then it was going to be unfair for us to ask each other to not get jobs and go on and move with our lives. So we sat a 250 customer goal the next year. So this year in our dorm we got about 50 customers stored in our basement. The next year we really wanted to get 250 to make it worth it. So my friend Danny had a first cousin at University of Illinois. He had a best friend at University of Iowa and I had a good friend at Indiana University. All Big 10 schools. So we said, okay these are the schools we’re going to launch at. We took out a little bit of student loan money. We bought four cargo vans on Craigslist for very cheap. Like $1,500 apiece. And we just set up our systems. Put these cargo vans in these cities. We convinced our friends that it would work financially for them to do it. And then we just basically tried to figure it out as we went.

Carol: So, okay. I’m trying to get my head around this. This is amazing. You’re still in your junior year at college. You decide it’s time to start this business, but you’re going to do it while you’re in your senior year at college. And rather than just focusing on your location, you’re like right out of the gates you’re going to expand and you start in different cities and you call your buddies in these different states. You buy cargo vans and you’re going to get these 250 customers. Where at this point, where are you thinking you’re going to store their stuff? I mean were you going into your other friend’s dorm rooms or what was the plan from there? This is fascinating.

Nick: We got creative. We hit the ground and just tried to find places to store the stuff. I mean, in one place we stored it in a small retail place that was vacant. In another place, we stored it a farmer had a nice pole barn that he would rent out a piece of it for us. So we just got really creative on and really resourceful because we didn’t have any money. We didn’t want to bring on financial backing. We just wanted to try to get as many customers as possible. If we didn’t get enough we were going to go get jobs. Danny had just done an internship in Washington, D.C. I had an offer to go work for Coca-Cola in California. So we knew that we had to just try to get as many customers as possible and figure everything else out as we went.

J: So what was that first… When was the first time that you decided okay we can’t keep storing stuff in our dorm room or in our basement? We can’t keep driving things around in my old Cadillac or his old car. When did you finally decide we have to start formalizing this and actually doing things more business-like?

Nick: Yeah, I think Danny and I were smart enough to do a lot of things right early on. First of all, we were very open and communicated our goals with each other and what we wanted to make of the business and what we wanted to do with it. And how we formalized our relationship and what we were going to focus on and what we were going to bring to the table. And yeah, we knew from the beginning that it wasn’t scalable to store stuff in dorm rooms and drive around in our vehicles. So we started to plan. We built a website, we built a system for tracking orders, we built a way for customers to sign up and pick appointments. And then a way for us on the ground or our employees on the ground to manage their schedules.

Nick: It’s logistically a nightmare of a business. You have students in all different dorms, all over campus. They all have different things to store. We had to figure out how much we were going to charge. How we were going to make the invoices, how they were going to pay, how they were going to schedule. How we were going to organize the stuff in the warehouses. And then after then end of the summer, you’ve got to figure out how to get all that stuff organized and back to all those students.

Nick: People ask us all the time what do we do in the offseason, and you guys only work two weeks a year. Well, yeah, we’re preparing for the Superbowl, right? It’s like we have so many part-time employees. So we joke around all the time that we make our money in December when nothing’s going on because that’s when we plan and try to make our business better. So from the beginning, we took it pretty seriously.

J: So where was that first offsite storage place and where did you get that first truck and when did you hire that first employee? How did it go from… because that’s a big step, going from a dorm room to actually renting space and going from your own car to somebody else’s car, and then hiring that first person. It just feels like it’s a step function. Business is often a step function. But it feels like that’s a huge first step.

Nick: Yeah. Like I said, we got resourceful. It was just running around town grinding trying to figure out a place to go. Craigslist was a big bonus for us. We found our vehicles on Craigslist. We found our space for lease on Craigslist. A couple local realtors felt bad for us when we knocked on their door and said I might try to help these guys out and find them a space. Because landlords didn’t want us because we were only there for the summer. So it’s was mostly us trying to sell them on let us pay some of your property taxes and store for the summer.

Carol: Okay great. So you have this plan in place. You’re with Danny, the two of you have decided you’re going to get resourceful. You’re going to figure out all these places for temporary storage solutions. So on and so forth. How many customers did you end up with that first year?

Nick: 252.

Carol: So you had the goal of 250?

Nick: Yeah.

Carol: And you went over it by two so it was game on, it is really time to grow, time to expand?

Nick: So we did not apply for jobs, we did not update our resumes. We went after Storage Squad full-time. So then we graduated, that’s when I had met my wife, we finished up school. We passed all of our classes. We finished our track and field careers. Then we got full-time serious about Storage Squad and basically lived on Ramen Noodles for two years. I don’t know how my wife stayed with me. But I’m so grateful. I mean we couldn’t spend a dollar, we had no money. We were putting every dollar we had back into more cargo vans and more boxes and more warehouses to go to more places.

Nick: So from there, it was just try to go to two or three new schools every year. The big game-changer for us, Danny and I moved to Chicago. His great uncle had passed away and left an estate, a house that needed cleaned up. So we lived in that house rent-free for nine months. We painted it, we did a lot of stuff for the family while we grew the business during the day and lived on a super tight budget. And that’s when we made the plan that we’re going to Boston. Because Boston is where the students are.

Nick: So my wife had just got an internship in Boston. She lived there, I was visiting a lot and it just made the obvious sense. Boston is a beast of a city. We don’t know how we’re going to find warehouse space, but there is 200,000 students in Boston. Right? So we’re going there and we’re going to figure it out. So me and Danny get on Craigslist, we get a box truck that’s for sale on the south side of Chicago for $2,000. We drive down there, we test drive the truck, we buy it. Two days later we load it with equipment and I drive it across the country from Chicago to Boston. And I sleep on my wife’s couch. Like I crashed in with her roommates to live with them for six months while I launched our Boston branch.

Nick: So that’s kind of the big shift to growing the business was we knew we had to get to some of these big cities. But it was intimidating, a little bit stressful. But we knew we had to do it.

Carol: Excellent. Boston is an amazing… obviously like you said, the numbers are there, right? This is a tiny bit of a tangent but I’m just curious because I think this is a interesting side point for our listeners. So Boston is awesome because of the numbers. However, Boston is just an expensive place in general, right? So I’m curious did that weigh into your decision making at all? Just kind of like the overall cost of living and the overall expenses that would come in going to a city like Boston?

Nick: Absolutely. So we knew we had to get super resourceful to find space to store the stuff. And labor, finding people to help us work was also going to be very difficult. So we basically looked all over Craigslist. We were looking at Google Maps, looking at warehouse space that looked broken down basically. And trying to find on the tax deeds who owned it and if we could possibly rent it from them. We had to get really creative with finding warehouse space in Boston. But Tufts is there, Harvard is there, MIT is there, Northeastern, BU, Brandeis. That was the place to go.

Nick: Ended up tying down a warehouse with some goals and I went there I think February 1st and from February 1st to April 1st it was all marketing. I was out, I was handing out flyers, I was writing sidewalk chalk on the ground. I was just out all day every day trying to figure out how can we get as many customers as possible to make this worth it.

Carol: So this is just as grassroots as it gets, right? I mean you’re just in the very, very beginning you are talking to all your buddies in all these different cities. When you realize it’s going to work you bring it back with Danny. You move to Chicago and after that, you go full speed ahead in Boston. And you’re physically on the ground, Sidewalk chalk, handing out flyers. Did you have other types of marketing as well or, where you in the beginning just full on the two of you grassroots just doing it by word of mouth?

Nick: Exactly right. I was in Boston, but Danny was in Syracuse. And State College, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia. We were all over the place. And we didn’t have any money, and we knew that paying for Google AdWords and spending this money on non targeted marketing was kind of silly when we knew exactly where our customers lived, we knew where they walked, we knew where they went to classes. So we just had to get out and touch our customers. We had to get out in front of them and they had to see the whites of our eyes. And so we didn’t spend a dollar on marketing. We did it ourselves. People laugh about the sidewalk chalk now, but I think that’s what catapulted my business, I think, really.

Carol: I believe it.

J: That’s really cool. So let me ask you a question. You now have multiple schools that you’re doing this at. But this isn’t the type of business where you get a customer today, you get a customer that needs to be moved tomorrow, next week, the following month. Basically, all of your customers are going to be looking for you to pick up their stuff right around the same time. And then all of your customers are going to be looking for you to return their stuff around the same time. So you’re managing businesses in multiple cities that are very time-sensitive. So how are you organizing and coordinating basically the end of the school year, the beginning of the school year in all of these different cities, in all these different schools when there is only two of you?

Nick: Yeah, so we did a really good job communicating our mission and motivating some key employees to help us along the way. But what ended up happening in a lot of our cities and this is the year where we tripled in size that year. In Boston, we were hoping for 800 customers and we got like 1200. Our warehouse was too small, everything was crazy. So Danny ended up flying in, we ended up having Danny’s brother flew in. We were just really in trouble because all these customers like you said, they needed it at the same time. We could only be in so many places at once.

Nick: So normally we have two or three guys on a crew driving around town picking up stuff. Well it was me on a crew all day by myself. And it was my wife answering customer service calls after she got home from work. And it was when we got back to the warehouse all of our crew was so exhausted from the days work that we had to send them home because we couldn’t risk them not showing up the next day. So we would sit at the warehouse at 7:00 PM with seven full trucks outside that needed to be emptied by the morning. And me and Danny would just unload these trucks by ourselves until about 3 AM.

Nick: And then we would walk across the street to McDonald’s with some baby wipes and clean up a little bit so that we didn’t smell in elevators the next day. And we would try to get like half an hours sleep on an air mattress in these grody warehouses and these broken down warehouses in not great parts of Boston. We look back at it now and we love it. Like we love those days, but it definitely was a grind.

Carol: Of course, absolutely. So after that, that first summer 800 was your goal and you ended up with 1200? Did I hear that correctly that very first summer?

Nick: That was just in Boston. That was just in Boston I think that was 2012. So we maybe skipped one season. But yeah, we just grew really fast and it was really stressful every year. But it was what we had to do because we only got paid once a year. Right? So if it’s comfortable and you get enough customers and you look back and it wasn’t like scary, oh my gosh how can we get this done, then we hadn’t quite done enough to do the things that we wanted to do the next year.

J: Cool. And so that was Boston. So now you’re in New York, you’re in Boston, did you mention Chicago?

Nick: Yeah, a couple Big Ten schools that we had picked up and we were just… anywhere where we thought we could hire somebody we would open a branch at that point.

J: And as you’re scaling are you consciously thinking about how you’re going to scale? Did you ever think huh, maybe we should franchise this, or maybe we should license the name and let other people handle it? Or from day one you were like no we’re going to keep doing this ourselves we’re going to go to more schools in more states and we’re just going to manage this ourselves and keep everything house?

Nick: Yeah, so our competitors, our main competitors out there were just middlemen. Contracting with moving companies. Like they made a deal with the moving company that did all their labor. And they were just a website for people to sign up. And we really took pride in the fact that we were the same people that you called on the phone were going to be the people showing up to pick up your stuff. So we could provide so much better service.

Nick: A customer could call us and 20 minutes later they could be on one of our schedules because instead of running around with a clipboard, we were running around with a tablet that we could update schedules on and do things a lot faster and more efficient. And also we just go way more volume. Our prices are really low, they’ve always been really low. And we just got a ton of volume. So when our competitors were showing up at a dorm and picking up one box, and then driving to another dorm and picking up another student. We would show up at one dorm and there would be 30 students on the sidewalk waiting for us to show up. We could load a truck in two hours. Whereas, what took our competitors eight to fill. So we just found a way to charge a lower price, be ultra-efficient, and utilize the technology that was just in 2012 just becoming in everybody’s pocket. That was a huge advantage for us.

Nick: And another just big blessing for us was that the customer base was expanding massively. So between 2011 when we launched and today, there are double the international student at some of these Ivy League schools and in Boston. Because the colleges started needing more tuition. They started wanting to increase their endowments. And starting having a ton of international students come into these colleges. And an international student was our target customer. Right? They didn’t have a vehicle, they didn’t have a way to get their stuff to storage, and also students started traveling more to go to school. California students would go to school in Boston. So the out of state and international students just skyrocketed.

Nick: So we didn’t take a single customer from our competitors. It was just a growing market. And it was just such a blessing that we got in at that time.

J: And so that was a few different states. Where are you today? How has that scaling gone since 2012/13?

Nick: So the next year we got 5,000 total customers. The year after that we got 7,500. And I think it was last year we had 10,000 customers.

J: Wow.

Nick: So we were at, we’re in 11 states. We’re the contracted storage provider at George Washington, at Penn State, at Brandeis at Emory. That means we have a relationship with the school and they promote us and we can go in the dorms to do early deliveries. Make it really convenient for our students. And as we’ve went we’ve also hired some executive help on our management team that are phenomenal at helping me and Danny live normal lives now. Especially since I have two kids and so on.

J: That’s awesome. Okay, I want to talk about a couple different things that you just mentioned. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off there Carol.

Nick: No, that’s great I’m ready to go.

J: So first you talked about getting exclusive contracts with a couple of these schools. How did you do that? How does that come about?

Nick: Yeah, that was about sales. I mean we bugged them, and bugged them, and bugged them, and then we got in front of them, shook their hands, put a PowerPoint up about how amazing our company was and said hey look, these other companies are using clipboards and our customers get a text message when we’re on the way with a link to track where our truck is. And then they finally say okay, well, you must charge double what the competitors charge. And we’d say no, actually we’re more affordable, we’re more affordable.

Nick: So once they were open to switching providers or signing on a new company it was a pretty easy sell. But it was me and Danny getting in front of these people and going to see the executives and cutting through the bureaucracy sometimes of we don’t know who’s going to make this decision and we’re not sure. It was definitely frustrating. I remember we’d go in pitch a school and me and Danny would sit back. It would be a month before they made a decision and finally that email would come through. It would say like you have been selected to be the storage provider and we would just have a big celebration. It was amazing.

J: That’s awesome. And I imagine once that happens you’re marketing costs and your penetration in that market just has to skyrocket because suddenly you’re being endorsed by the school and you don’t need to go and convince anybody that you’re reputable. You don’t need to convince people that you can get it done. You don’t need to convince people that your prices are good. Basically, the school is already doing all of that reputation stuff for you.

Nick: Absolutely. That’s what kind of pours rocket fuel on a branch is when you can get a school to put their name behind you and you can go from 600 customers to 1,200 customers in a year. And that’s what really allowed up to breakthrough from always be pinching pennies to actually build a profitable scalable business that is healthy and we can hire good management and we can put systems in place that make the customer experience even better. And build some of our own software. So yeah, getting those school contracts was absolutely huge for our brand and building the business.

Carol: Very cool.

J: Yeah, really cool.

Carol: You talked a little bit a couple of minutes ago about you brought in marketing help on your executive team. Can you take us through a little bit more what your overall organizational structure looks like? Because you’re big enough now that it’s clearly not just you and Danny I would suspect. So kind of what does that whole management team look like and then how does that flesh out in each of your individual locations?

Nick: Yeah, so we found somebody who had started work, it was actually a friend of Danny’s brother who we flew in to save our but one year when things got crazy. His name is Chris. He looked at our systems and he was like guys I can help you guys make this a lot better. So he jumped in instantly, and we’re like okay, show us what you can do. Show us what you can do. We don’t really have any money yet but show us what you can do. And he started bringing a ton of great ideas to the table and we were like wow this guy is good. So very soon we started compensating him well and putting him in charge of a lot of awesome stuff. And he has really helped us set up the systems.

Nick: He’s a hiring HR guy. And our problem is always finding the employees. The customers are coming, but having reliable employees that can drive these trucks and know how to do things is a key. And Chris has been a phenomenal asset as far as helping us set systems in place.

Nick: So our system right now is, me and Danny are still owning the business. Chris is a management hire that we have and we have another full-time employee. We have two full-time employees that do customer service and admin stuff and helping us all over the place. And then aside from the six of us, it’s 350 part-time employees when the busy season comes still. So it’s still a challenging business.

J: Wow, and is your customer support, your customer signup, your customer service is that all centralized? So if I were to go to a school today and see oh Storage Squad, I need to call them to help with my kids. Would I be calling the same number as somebody whose kids go to a different school? Or is varied?

Nick: Yeah. I’d say the key for us, and we struggled for a really long time with our systems on the ground. It was always we can’t find good people, we can’t find good people. And I think that this is just a lesson that any business can take on. And some that took us so long to learn is that as soon as we started simplifying the job for certain employees; The training got better, the turnover didn’t cripple us as much.

Nick: At first, we were running around on the ground and we had a tablet with a checklist on the back of it with 23 things to do when you needed to service a customer. So all of our employees were confused. They weren’t set up to succeed. Our customers were having a poor experience because everybody was doing a bit of everything. Like she said, our customer service was getting done by the guy on the ground. He was making the schedule changes, he was communicating with the customers, he was writing the invoices. This was part of Chris too.

Nick: As soon as we simplified the job and made it say okay, that driver needs to do five things really well. If he can do those five things, we can scale this business. And so we took customer service off his plate. We took scheduling and made one person in the whole company do all of our scheduling. And a customer service team do all of the customer service for the whole company. And the billing was done by one person. Instead of drawing up the invoice on the tablet, he would just take photos of the orders so that somebody else who was really good at making invoices could do that.

Nick: So we found things that we could specialize people in, and make them really good at what they do best. And then things got really a lot easier for us to grow the company and manage it remotely and deal with these logistical challenges that we deal with every day.

Carol: All right and you’re talking about managing it remotely. And having all of these different service people in all of these different locations that do like the five things for example really well. Is there, do have like one overall person in each city or how is that setup? There’s all of you at headquarters and then how does it go from there?

Nick: Absolutely. We have a student manager that’s committed to us in each site but he’s part-time.

Carol: So at each campus, you have one person?

Nick: Yep.

Carol: Who’s part-time?

Nick: Yep.

Carol: That’s cool. Okay, and it’s a student as well. So that’s a great opportunity. A great resume builder a great internship that type of thing.

Nick: We hired several. All of the people in our management team are ex-students. One of our full-time guys we hired because he was our operations manager at Penn State and he did a really good job for us. But yeah, they actually get real-world experience on their resume instead of just oh I went in and did a big corporate internship and pushed paper around. These kids are hiring people, they’re figuring out problems, they’re making schedules and telling their friends when they have to get out of bed to get on the truck. And dealing with people not showing up to work. So we give them the tools to succeed but we’re also throwing them to fire and they’re learning a ton while they go.

Carol: This is cool. So what a great way to scale. So I’m fascinated by this. So you’ve got your management team, and then you’ve got your operations manager who is a student at each school. Is that student often hiring other students to be the movers to be the drivers?

Nick: Yep.

Carol: So you’ve got an army of students running this thing on the ground in each one and they’re great advocates. They’re marketing for each other. It’s grassroots growing your business. They are telling their friends this is cool. This is very cool.

Nick: It’s a great setup because the students are… they’re all going to go make 50, 60 grand a year the next year and they’re working for us for $15.00 a hour and doing work that they enjoy, being around their friends, and they’re clean-cut, they’re providing good customer service, they’re excellent ambassadors of our brand. So while our competitors are hiring movers and all the norms that go along with movers and trying to find movers, we’re hiring students who already know their way around campus, they already know how to communicate with the parents and the students. And it just makes the service so much more enjoyable for everybody who interacts with our business.

Carol: And it’s a self-perpetuating system right? Because you’re never running out of students. There’s always going to be fresh students coming in.

Nick: Yep.

Carol: So when the ones who don’t want to stay on forever, you’ve always got new ones who are willing to do it. So it’s kind of infinitely scalable I think, right?

Nick: Yeah, the Cornell football captain was our operations manager and he graduated and went and got an awesome job. I remember being his reference on the phone saying how awesome he was. Then he passed us on to a sophomore football player who is just as eager to get involved.

Carol: Great.

J: So presumably you need to make some decisions about when you expand and you scale, you need to decide which schools and states you’re going to go to, which ones you’re going to stay away from because you can’t be everything to everybody all the time. How do you decide what’s next, where you’re going to go, what schools you’re going to focus on, what schools you’re going to avoid? Do you have metrics or heuristics that you use to figure out how to scale and expand the business?

Nick: Yeah, exactly right. It’s a math problem of how many international students are there, we know that female students are more likely to use our service than male students, and students from California are more likely to use our service than instate students. So we can look up the analytics of each school and figure out where we want to target but we’ve been burned. We had a couple schools that just didn’t work out. We just didn’t get the customers. They had a strong competitor. It’s a tough business as well. So it’s definitely… We’re starting to take pride in our ability to say no to opportunities now. Everybody’s like why don’t you just keep growing, keep growing, keep growing? Well, we have a really healthy business right now that is building a great brand and we have our markets that we really thrive in. So now it’s on I think to getting more school contracts, growing our presence at certain schools, fine-tuning our systems, fine-tuning our service and then expanding to other related services like moving and stuff like that.

J: Oh, so that’s really interesting. Okay, so I was going to ask. Have you figured out some related services or some side businesses that you can go into that you can continue to grow and capture more revenue from the same customers? It sounds like moving is going to be one of your next businesses?

Nick: Yeah. So we’ve launched recently a moving company in Boston where we’re utilizing our vehicle that we already have, our crew that we already have, our employees that we already have, our brand that we already have, and focusing on local moves in Boston. But that’s a whole other business.

J: Yeah.

Nick: So it’s a difficult balance as an owner of where are you going to put your resources and are you going to risk the main business for a new business.

Carol: Sure.

Nick: So I would say we’re still pretty focused on student storage, but moving is definitely a future avenue and we’re exploring that right now. And self-storage as well. We opened, we developed and built a self-storage facility in one of our markets as well. To diversify into real estate and think about the future and where we want to go with our brand.

J: That’s awesome. Are you using that storage facility for the storage of the stuff that you’re contracted to hold?

Nick: No, so it’s just a plain self-storage facility that we went in with a different model of looking at the inefficiencies of the self-storage business. And one of those inefficiencies that we saw was that they had a full-time manager sitting there all the time. So we thought with our logistical systems that we have in place we thought managing a self-storage facility couldn’t possibly be that hard. So we built a facility that we manage without a manager. And cut out a lot of overhead and even better service to our customers with some technology. But no, we don’t store our students’ stuff in those self-storage facilities. They’re side-by-side businesses. I myself have actually stepped away from the student storage business and Chris and Danny are running that and I am focusing on developing and managing self-storage facilities.

J: Wow. Okay. We could probably have an entire…

Carol: Now that’s another whole episode. We will do another whole episode on that.

J: Yeah, we’ll send you over with Brandon and David to talk about that on the real estate show. Before we move on to the next part of our show. Let’s hear from one of our shows sponsors.

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J: So what is next for Storage Squad? So is it going to be building out related businesses? Is it going to be continuing to grow into new markets? How big do you want to get? Have you thought about this or are you just taking things as they come?

Nick: Yeah, so we built up something really awesome now. Our business is really healthy. Me, Danny, and Chris we sit down a lot and we think we got to set some goals and some plans and what does everybody want out of this? And it’s a good problem to have because we have opportunities thrown at us all the time. Should we do pick up and delivery container storage, you know like the Pods, or should we do more moving branches, or should we just continue to nurture our healthy business? Which is definitely the plan. So we’re going to go to a couple new schools a year I think. And try to get more contracts and just to keep healthy growth and try to not mess up what we’ve worked so hard to build.

J: That’s very cool. So can I ask you a couple of questions about the financials?

Nick: Yeah, sure.

J: And I’m obviously not going to ask you how much money you guys make or anything like that. Just to give our listeners an idea. We talked to some other businesses about margins. Meaning for every dollar that you charge your customers that you bring in revenue, how much do you actually end up keeping after you pay for storage, and employees, and vehicles, and all of that stuff? Do you have a good idea of what your margins look like? Are you keeping $.20 out of every dollar are you keeping $.80 out of every dollar?

Nick: Yeah, so we take pride in our ability to run a very lean business. We don’t have any offices, we buy all of our vehicles used and affordable. We’re very good purchasers as far as warehouses go. Around 20% is a margin that we shoot for as far as a healthy range that we’re happy with.

J: And any idea how that compares to your competitors?

Nick: I think it’s probably a little better, but it’s a tough business. There’s a lot of new competitors coming on to the scene. We have new competitors launching in every city. So if you’re listening to this and you’re a competitor our margins are very slim, very slim.

Carol: Don’t even bother, totally not worth it.

J: It’s a really good reminder to all of our listeners who… It’s too often I think people that are new to business or new to entrepreneurship they often forget that yeah, just because you might be making $10,000 or $100,000 or 1 million or 100 million dollars it doesn’t mean you’re actually taking that much money home. So for every $100,000 you guys make you’re actually walking away with $20,000.

Nick: Yeah. So I’m still living an extremely frugal life. I’m lucky enough that I have time now to do the things I want to do. Which that’s why I’m so excited about what this business has done for me. Because I can spend time with my family, I can chase other avenues, I have a freedom of never having to really… Well, I wouldn’t say never, but I don’t have to go get a job and trade my time for money. So it’s been a beautiful experience for me but I’m not hundred millionaire and I don’t think I ever will be.

J: Okay. Well, with that in mind, what could you have done differently do you think from the beginning to have made this business even more successful? If you had to start over today, let’s go back to 2011, you’re starting this business over again. Is there anything that you would have done differently that here we are eight years later where you would have said okay, we are twice as successful, or five times more successful. Or are you pretty convinced that the way you’ve grown and the way you’ve done everything is pretty optimal?

Nick: So I think we could have done it a lot faster. We learned through trial and error. We made a lot of mistakes and then we would go back to the drawing board and try again and go back to the drawing board and try again. I think if I were to start the business now, knowing what I know now we could have built the business so much faster. But I don’t think I have very many regrets because it was a really fun journey and you know I think it was a lot less risky doing it the way we did it as well. Really bootstrapping it and not trying to grow too fast. So yeah, I think I’d have to ask Danny that question. That’s a really good question.

J: Yeah.

Carol: Well, and it sounds like the way you did it was also a lot of fun, right? I mean, I’m loving your story about it. And you’ll always have those war stories to tell about when you were… the two of you unpacking boxes until three in the morning and then wiping off with wet wipes. You know to get started after a couple of hours of sleep. Do you have any other really good struggle stories? Because it does sound like you’ve got this awesome, healthy, wonderful business going on now, but we haven’t talked a lot about any of the those big struggles along the way. Is there anything? A struggle you can share so other people can avoid that stuff later?

Nick: Yeah, it’s the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. I mean there are times where we’re so elated and so excited and our phones ding and every five seconds with a new customer sign up and we’re just like oh my gosh this is going amazing. I’m so glad we’re doing this. And then I vividly remember one morning in Boston, it was in the middle of pulling those all-nighters and trying to figure things out and a customer called me in the middle of the night.

Nick: Because we were doing customer service at like 3 AM because that was the only time that we could catch up on our customer service. And they were like I have a flight that leaves for the Boston Logan airport for China in three hours and my passport is in that box. And I was like oh my gosh. So me and Danny go to the box, we dig out the box, we get the passport and the passport files and I hop in my car and drive to the airport and meet her at the gate. I’m like handing her, her passport so that she can get her ticket and get on the plane. That was a pretty fun moment. But that’s-

J: And the cool thing is that your competitors, your big competitors who probably charge a lot more money than you do, never would have done that.

Carol: Not in a million years.

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Carol: I mean talk about setting yourselves apart in terms of service, right? When you think about it, it all boils down to you’re doing a service industry. You said something to me, what was the quote you said to me before we got on the call Nick? It was something about doing things really well or something in the service industry? What was that?

Nick: We know that we’re not reinventing the wheel. We were there with 1,000s of other competitors doing exactly… not 1,000s but there were a lot of other companies doing exactly what we were doing. I just think that entrepreneurship we kind of idolized the Shark Tank, and the Elon Musk, and the Steve Jobs. And we kind of think that you got to have a new world-changing idea. And I just totally disagree with that. Because you can do common things uncommonly well. That’s the quote, I think it’s a Rockefeller quote. You can just do common things uncommonly well and you can start a business doing exactly what your competitors are doing. Just do it a little bit better. Just find a way to carve out a little piece of the pie.

Nick: I think if there is one message that I could send with entrepreneurs it’s just that don’t fall into the trap that is the entrepreneurship culture where you’re trying to raise a bunch of venture capital and you’re trying to do something totally different. Just start small, start local, and just do something that somebody else is already doing and find a way to carve out a little piece of your pie with just a short term goal of not having a 9-5 job anymore. And getting your time back. That’s what Danny and I did and it was so fun to do that. It was hard. I could tell a couple more war stories if you guys want, but it was-

J: Absolutely.

Nick: Well, the emotional rollercoaster of this entrepreneurship is crazy. I think it was two nights after we delivered the passport, I was sitting in the warehouse, almost having a mental breakdown because two of my trucks were way behind schedule. Two movers didn’t show up. A guy had just put diesel fuel into a gasoline engine on one of our trucks and it was broken down in the middle of Boston. And it was full. We didn’t know how to get it back because it was full and broken down. And I just remember having an emotional break down on the street and crying and calling my wife. I just wanted to call my mom. I was like why am I in Boston doing this and taking all these chances and doing all this and being so uncomfortable. But then three days later you just realize that it was all worth it.

Nick: You know Tim Ferriss talks about something that’s pretty cool. It’s called Fear Setting. What is the worst thing that can happen? What is the worst thing? And if you can come to terms with that and you can realize that you’re going to be fine, your family is going to eat, you’re in America, you have those fallbacks. And so when we would have things like a perfect storm of everything going wrong. I guess no one was ever injured. So we were so blessed that that didn’t happen. But it just puts it all into perspective of the little things in life that people get really, really stressed and worked up about and how at the end of the day we’re all in America and just sitting back with all that.

J: Yep, I love-

Carol: That’s some great big-picture thinking.

J: Yeah, yeah, no I love the whole figure out… And we do this with our kids a lot which is when they’re scared of something or when they’re apprehensive, just thinking about what is the worst thing that can happen. It often puts you in the frame of mind that, oh, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be trying things because the worst-case outcome really isn’t that bad. Unless of course, you’re my nine-year-old who will generally say well, you could fall into a volcano.

Carol: And be covered with lava. And that is a pretty bad thing. I can’t really argue [crosstalk 00:51:57].

J: Other than having that conversation with nine-year-olds, it’s a great way of really putting things in perspective and realizing that we should be taking more chances in our lives and our businesses because oftentimes the worst-case outcome isn’t nearly as bad when we work through it logically.

Nick: Yeah, and if you think about entrepreneurship in a small way, as bits and pieces of a small plan, you realize that entrepreneurship is not a zero or a one. Entrepreneurship you don’t have to just quit your job and go all-in on a business. It can be, all right this is something I work 40 hours a week, what am I going to do with the other 100 hours in a week? I can start really small, start local, get something going where I’m an entrepreneur, I’m starting something, I’m trying something, but I’m not risking it all.

J: I love that. I love that quote.

Carol: It’s really good.

J: Entrepreneurship isn’t a zero or a one. I love that quote.

Nick: Yeah.

Carol: All right. Well, with that Nick, this has been great, and I love all your tactical advice, and you just overall big-picture advice that you’re giving to entrepreneurs. So thank you for all of that. I think we want to start wrapping it up with another little segment of the show that we call Four More. Okay. So you’re going to reveal a little bit more about yourself rapid-fire style. We’re going to ask you four questions and you’re just going to tell us the first story that comes to mind. And then the more part of it is where we can find out more about you. Okay?

Nick: Okay.

Carol: J do you want to take the first one?

J: Sure. Nick, can you tell us about what your first or your worst job was, and what led lessons did you take from it?

Nick: Oh man if you have time for about a five-minute story I’d love to tell you how I got my feet wet in entrepreneurship.

J: Yeah.

Carol: Please do.

Nick: So my father worked for a guy in our small town who owned five or six commercial properties. They had a lawn guy who mowed all the lawns and one day he had a heart attack, he was okay but his doctor basically said you got to stop mowing these lawns. So my dad goes into work one day and they say we got to find a new lawn care guy. What are we going to do, what are we going to do? And he did what any rational person would do and he volunteered his 7th grade son to take over about 10 hours a week of commercial lawn care. So yeah. He put

Carol: Whoa, whoa.

Nick: He basically, we had a truck, we had a trailer, we had a mower. So he had me hire my mom for $10.00 an hour. He had me put on a lease schedule. He sat me down at the kitchen table and basically gave me entrepreneurship 101. This is how much you’re going to spend, this is how much you’re going to make. Let’s keep a spreadsheet and then go mow. So 95 degrees and sunny, I think I’m 13, it’s between 7th and 8th grade year.

Nick: I’m used to mowing my families lawn where I just get out on the mower and I’m mowing. Well, a commercial property you’ve got to pick up trash first. And I just mow this whole property and the 60 pieces of trash that were in that lawn turned into about 6,000 pieces of trash. And my father was curious about how his son was doing, he drives by to look and see how his son is doing at this job. He’s probably pretty anxious. And he sees, just a pile, it literally looked like it snowed in the lawn. There is trash everywhere. And he pulls over and he’s like Nick, what are you doing? Nick, what are you doing? You got to pick up the trash first. And I remember he was nice to me, but I just had a breakdown. It was hot, I was sweaty, I was crying. I was young.

Carol: You’re a baby. You’re a little 7th grader.

Nick: And I said Dad, I quit. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing this job anymore. I’m not doing it. And he goes, well, yes, you are doing it. He took me in the truck, he turned on the air conditioner, put a towel with some water on it on my neck and he said Nick, this is not going to be easy, but you got to get out and do it. He gave me many of these pep talks that set me up for success in life. And I’m so glad that he made me finish it because I ended up running the business and I ended up firing my mom because she wasn’t on the weed eater and hiring a kid in high school to drive me. And just learning a little bit about entrepreneurship. That was my first job, it was very hard, it was the worst job I’ve ever had, but I learned a lot from it.

J: You learned a ton. That’s a great story. Love it. Okay, so what’s an opportunity along the way that you’ve said no to, and do you think in retrospect it was the right decision?

Nick: Yeah, I think not going to get a job was something that was so hard for me to say no to. Especially when I sat down with my parents and I did some goal setting and I’m like dad, I think I’m going to try this storage business and try to make it something. And he goes Nick, your friends are getting jobs. Chris just got a job in New York City for $100,000 a year and you’re going to buy a $1,500 cargo van on Craigslist and start moving boxes around? I mean that’s not why I sent you to college. No, but he was so supportive. I say that as a joke. But it was just such a hard decision to not do what everybody else was doing and take a chance like that.

J: That’s awesome. Love that. Okay. So I’m going to take the next question. What is the worst business advice you’ve ever been given?

Nick: Oh. I think it’s probably start something, or do a business, or start a business that you are passionate about. I think passion if you’re going to go after a passion project I think it’s going to be more competitive, I think you’re going to be more likely to make emotional decisions that are not necessarily logical or not based on facts. You are more likely to filter information based on what you want to hear. And you’re more like to chase a dream that just doesn’t quite make sense. So I’m all about finding a need, being passionate about entrepreneurship. Looking at the market from an unbiased, unemotional viewpoint, finding opportunities, and then clear up time to do what you’re passionate about on the side so that it’s not a stress of bringing in money, it’s not a stress of feeding your family. It’s just so hard when you’re trying to turn your passion into a business and not only it doesn’t work out financially, but it also tears you apart emotionally and brings you down.

Carol: That’s a great one. Okay, here’s your fourth question Nick. What’s something you’ve splurged on that’s been totally worth it?

Nick: Can I flip this around and tell you about something that I did not end up buying that I was about to?

Carol: Go for it, totally yes.

Nick: We ran this business for five years in Boston, my wife was there and we had our first son. About three or four weeks after we had our first son I realized that living in these cheap apartments that are not very nice in Boston was just not something that was scalable. So I had to buy my family a house. So we started looking, met with realtors, started going to see some houses in Boston. We realized that it was going to cost about 750,000 or a million dollars to live there. To buy a house, it was with no garage, it was a 1950s house. It was maybe 20 minutes from anything. It was going to cost about 5 grand a month just to have this house.

Nick: I got some financial advice and they’re like Nick, you can do it, you can pull the trigger and my wife, we were like should we do it? I don’t know. And we decided not to splurge on the house and instead we said okay, where do we want to live? Because it’s not going to be Boston that we’re going to raise a family, so my wife’s from a small town, I’m from a small town, neither of those two things made sense.

Nick: We decided to take the whole company remote. All of us left Boston. Danny went to Chicago, and my wife and I went south for winter and basically toured different towns. We made a spreadsheet of 20% of the stuff that we do brings 80% of our joy. And where can we find that not having to get ourselves in a tight financial spot? So we made a list. It as live music, it was cycling, it was being outdoors, it was having a college environment, it was having a low cost of living and where can we find that within an hour and half of an airport and still be in an awesome city to raise a family?

Nick: So we ended up buying a $300,000 house that was way, way bigger and nicer than the house in Boston in a town called Athens, Georgia. We moved here a year ago and I’m so thankful that we did it.

Carol: That’s an awesome reverse splurge. I love, love, love that story.

J: I think Carol and I can both say we’re fans of Athens, Georgia. We actually almost did some investing there a few years back.

Nick: Awesome, well, if you’re in town let me know.

J: Absolutely.

Carol: Definitely will.

J: Okay, so that was the four questions. So now let’s jump into the more part. Where can our listeners find out more about you and find out more about your business?

Nick: Yeah, so storagesquad.com that’s my student storage business, but I actually have a little side project where my little brother is starting a business right now. He’s doing a lawn care company. I was mentoring him and I said you know what I wish I had some information like this when I was young. So I started a little blog and a podcast called the Sweaty Startup where I talk about service-based entrepreneurship doing common things uncommonly well. And I’ve been writing and recording podcasts and interviewing people that are just doing businesses that aren’t necessarily flashy but are low risk and can get you out of that 9 to 5. It’s called the Sweaty Startup, you can also email me if you want to get involved in any way. If you want to talk to me, you want to ask me some questions, work for Storage Squad, email me. [email protected] I’d love to help you with anything that you’re working on and give you a little piece of advice if it might help.

J: And it’s the Sweaty Startup podcast?

Nick: Yeah, that’s right.

J: Awesome. Yeah. Thank you so much for being with us. Love your story, Love Storage Squad, and congratulations on all your success and best of luck moving forward.

Nick: Hey guys, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me on and for all the awesome work you do. It’s resources like what you all are putting out there that is really helping and making a big difference for people. So thanks so much. I’m really a fan.

J: Thank you so much.

Carol: Thank you, Nick. It’s been great chatting with you.

Nick: All right, bye-bye.

J: Talk soon.

J: Wow, that was an awesome episode. I really enjoyed that. I’ve always wanted to start a service business and literally the things that have stopped me from doing it are the same things that he didn’t even think about and then was able to overcome with great marketing and great service.

Carol: Yeah, I loved how they had really in the beginning, just an idea. No real plan, no money. They just went out, they hit the ground running, were super resourceful, and they just did it. And I totally love that gem about how he said entrepreneurship is not a zero or a one.

J: Yeah, too many people think okay I have to go all-in if I’m going to start a business. You don’t have to go all-in, you can start something on the side, driving your old, what was he driving? A Cadillac and storing stuff-

Carol: Or the Buick or whatever.

J: A Buick, whatever. And storing stuff in your dorm room and that’s what led to what is now a seven or eight-figure business. I guess we never really talked about how big his business is, but I know it’s pretty big. Anyway, great episode. I enjoyed that. Anything else to add Mrs. Scott?

Carol: Let’s wrap this up.

J: Okay, she is Carol, I am J.

Carol: No, go do something common, uncommonly well today. Yay, I said it correctly.

J: Nice.

Carol: Ha, whoever would have thought. Thanks, everybody.

J: Have a great day.

Carol: See you soon.

Watch the Podcast Here

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Starting his business while still in college
  • The value in finding a great partner
  • Starting with no money and no plan
  • How they were able to grow their numbers
  • Memorable stories of how they hustle and started
  • Building systems that make their service very affordable and efficient
  • How they expand to different key cities
  • Seeing executives and getting more and more schools
  • Their overall organizational structure
  • Hiring students that became their ace players
  • How they run a very lean business
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “The key is hiring the right employees.” (Tweet This!)
  • “We take pride in our ability to run a very lean business.” (Tweet This!)
  • “You can do common things uncommonly well.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Nick

What does it take to start, scale, and sell your own business? Every Tuesday, J and Carol Scott ask this question to entrepreneurs of all stripes and delve into stories that go beyond the launch. From hiring and firing to marketing and raising capital, this podcast takes an honest look at the triumphs and stumbles of entrepreneurship. Whether you’re looking to sustain a startup or bring an idea to life, you’ll come away inspired. Tune in—and learn how to treat your business like a business.