Trash and Stash the Teen Years. Holiday Special.
Happy Holidays! A Holiday Greeting & Year- End Wrap Up.
Thank you and happy holidays. Sincerely. Thanks.
I don’t do corporate holiday cards, so don’t take it personally that you didn’t get one from me.
The reason I don’t send out generic cards is because it feels like it minimizes how truly grateful I am. The gratitude I feel can’t be summed up with a glittery card and a canned holiday tiding. More to the point, a card sent out of obligation rather than sentiment creates clutter. And clutter is the enemy I’ve vowed to fight.
So…with that and from my heart… Thank you. Happy holidays. Happy new year!
I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I do have a little gift for you at the end!
Put a Bow on It
This year has been the greatest professional challenge of my career. Running a small business is hard. It’s also rewarding. And frustrating. And scary. And exciting.
Everything we’re encountering is new. We’re beyond the cute little startup stage.
We’re now in the grind it out, grow and get better phase. It’s mucky.
Trash and Stash has become an awkward teenager. We’re doing a lot of self reflecting and trying to understand who we’re going to be when we grow up.
It means we’re being forced to balance responsible growth with necessary contraction. We’re also moving beyond the idealism of youth and accepting the reality of maturity. Our core beliefs, ethics and drive are unchanged. The way we go about things or how decisions get made is different.
Operational expenses mushroomed over the last year as we added trucks, crew, trailers, equipment, technology and more. So now, we’re relooking at our operations and making decisions on what are necessary expenses. What improves the customer experience and what allows us to provide the best service possible at fair prices to our customers.
We’re also building a company culture, reestablishing team dynamics and implementing employee structure. This is really difficult. We don’t have a huge team, but we are transitioning from 2 guys on a truck just figuring out how to get it done, to a full roster of employees. Each with different skills, backgrounds and expectations for their role in the company. It means the guys coming on board now only care about where we’re going, not where we’ve been. That’s good. But it definitely challenges the “old timers” to think differently, accept new ideas, adjust and adapt. It’s also forcing me to change.
I’m inclined to say it means I need to relinquish some control, but it really means the opposite. The first year+ of Trash and Stash was mostly about finding really great people and pointing them in the right direction. We were prepared to take on the world and blow people’s minds with exceptional effort and extreme ownership. That takes a lot of stamina though and isn’t fair to expect of the team forever. So now, I need to be more decisive. More explicit and more disciplined. To set extremely clear expectations about roles, responsibilities, service expectations and behaviors. I need to mark the path forward.
I'll be Home For Christmas
Moving forward means once last chance to look back. To reflect on where we came from to know where we’re going.
At the Beginning
Trash and Stash was born in April, 2021. At the beginning my sales goals were: 30 jobs/ month with an average gross sale of $300/ transaction. These numbers came from market research and some simple math on what I thought we needed to keep the lights on.
30 jobs per month. $300 per job.
1 Year Ago
At the end of 2021 (30 weeks after we got our start) we measured our results. They were positive but mixed. It was a great start and we learned a lot.
53 jobs per month. $272.76 per job.
Also, 188 reviews (47% response rate) & $1865.50 donated to ISF
Based on these results, we came up with new goals for 2022. It felt like a stretch, but definitely within reach.
20 jobs per week (80 jobs/ mo). $300 per job.
Also, 576 reviews (60% response rate) & $6,000 donated to ISF.
Where We Are Today
There’s a lot to be proud of here. We hit our sales goals. Fell a little bit short on our giving goal and though we continue to get great reviews, the rate at which we’re getting reviews has slowed.
22 jobs per week (88 job/ mo). $342.55 per job.
Also, 498 reviews (29% response rate) & $4,095 donated to ISF.
During this time we added a second truck and acquired 3 trailers. We also navigated some key employee turnover. It’s been a lot, but we’ve kept the trend line moving in the right direction on the sales front.
32 jobs per week (128 jobs/ mo). $400 per job.
Also, 1000 reviews (35% response rate) & $6,000 donated to ISF.
The goals for 2023 are a little different than they were in 2022. This year is not about straight growth. It’s about efficiency. It’s about maximizing our sales potential with the team and gear we have while also getting back to exceptional customer service and an even greater commitment to environmental responsibility. It also means focusing on what we do really well, and scaling back on the service offerings that stretched us away from where we should be. These goals will not be easily achieved, but I’m confident we can get there.
The Thoughts Behind The Goals
I am not looking to add any more trucks or trailers. I think we can reach these numbers as we’re currently set up.
I would like to grow our team. We need a deeper roster to be sure trucks consistently stay on the road, that we have a growth plan and a continuity plan for when key team members move on.
We’d like to give more. The Give & Save promo has been really successful in raising money for ISF. We’ll continue to offer it, while also recommitting to the 2nd Life Program.
We’ve scaled back our microstorage operation. We’ll have very, very limited storage capacity offered on a case by case basis. The infrastructure required to meet storage demands at scale is not economically viable.
Similarly, we’ve scaled back our moving help services and have become very explicit on the associated limitations. We are not movers. We offer moving help as a courtesy to fill a gap in the market. That gap exists because of the risk/ reward equation. We’re willing to fill it, but can’t be in a position to absorb the risk. We work hard to provide truly professional moving experiences, but the limitations and areas of exposure are better understood.
An early goal was to obtain B Corp Status. That is still high on the priority list. It’s not easy to obtain and realistically, we weren’t previously in a place to get it. As we continue to mature, I think we can more realistically go after it.
Moving into the spring, we’ll be game- planning to offer regular Saturday service.
Make Trash and Stash a better place to work. Continue to foster an environment where people are challenged, respected, well compensated, fulfilled and able to experience true work/ life balance (myself included!).
Continue to focus on fiscal responsibility. To evaluate our spending choices to be sure our customers continue to enjoy fair prices and our employees get fair wages.
A Mild Red Flag
A red flag that jumped out to me is that our review rate fell from roughly 47% to 29%. There may be a few reasons for this, but I don’t want to dismiss it. It’s reasonable to assume that the major reason our review rate fell is because our service isn’t as good as it was. This can be explained as a growth challenge or a turnover issue, but there isn’t an excuse for it. Our goal is to redefine the customer service experience. To exceed expectations, no matter how high those expectations are. Part of growth is establishing boundaries and price consistency. But it also means communicating clearly and treating people as a priority. Our customers chose us to solve their junk problems. We work for them. They deserve our complete and undivided attention, every time.
Most of the time, when I share sales updates it’s neither positive nor negative. It just is. But I always find it interesting that there are comments like “congratulations- awesome” and “hang in there” on the same post. As we wrap 2022, I’m not ambiguous on this. I am happy about our progress. I am excited about our future and am as optimistic as ever about what we can accomplish.
Thank you for being a part of it.