Overcoming Personal Tragedy To Achieve Business Triumph With Jeff Hill

Jeff Hill is a seasoned entrepreneur with an inspiring narrative of resilience and determination. He successfully established and grew a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise into one of the most prosperous ones in the system, boasting over two decades of business experience with the brand. Jeff’s early life was marked by challenges, including the loss of his father and personal struggles, yet his positive attitude remains intact, making him a tough and resilient figure. Currently semi-retired, he still plays a primary role in his company, always seeking new and sustainable ways to drive the business forward.

Jeff is also the President of RePurpose Center, where he leads a network of diversion partners committed to redistributing reusable, recyclables, and donatable items to and with community partners.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [01:05] How Jeff Hill turned a childhood chore into entrepreneurial ambition
  • [02:44] Insights into building a business model around exceptional customer service
  • [04:28] Key growth strategies from a traditional business to an eight-figure success
  • [05:54] The art of managing and motivating young employees for business excellence
  • [07:40] Tackling embezzlement: Creating internal controls to protect your business
  • [09:18] The impact of an economic downturn and how Jeff’s company adapted to survive
  • [11:20] Venturing back into corporate life while keeping business ownership
  • [15:35] Introducing a new startup venture for minimizing waste and maximizing value

In this episode…

In a world where setbacks often define our path, have you ever wondered what it takes to turn adversity into a launching pad for success? How can someone emerge from hardships not just unscathed but thriving, building a business empire from the ground up?

Jeff Hill, a semi-retired entrepreneur, turned his challenges into opportunities, resulting in a successful 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise. Imagine a young boy cutting firewood to help his family make ends meet, navigating through personal and business failures, and battling cancer, all while maintaining a positive outlook on life. Jeff’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit remained steadfast as he navigated challenges and found joy and purpose in creating a business that reflected his values and commitment to community service. Now Jeff delves into the mindset and strategies that propelled him from adversity to success, offering insights into the power of perseverance, positive thinking, and strategic business acumen.

Tune in to this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast as John Corcoran interviews Jeff Hill, Franchise Owner at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, about turning life’s challenges into business success. They discussed how he evolved his company to an eight-figure success by adeptly managing young employees, implementing controls against embezzlement, and navigating economic hurdles.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Quotable Moments:

  • “Don’t be afraid to just try something new and make something happen for yourself.” 
  • “People do stuff for you just because you ask, not because they have to. That’s how relationships work.”
  • “We rescue the unwanted, reignite creativity, and build a greener future together.”
  • “Good contracts make good friends.”

Sponsor: Rise25

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution. 

We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.

What do you need to start a podcast?

When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.

The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.

We make distribution easy

We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

Are you considering launching a podcast to acquire partnerships, clients, and referrals? Would you like to work with a podcast agency that wants you to win? 

Contact us now at [email protected] or book a call at rise25.com/bookcall.

Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

John Corcoran 0:00

Today we’re talking about how entrepreneurs can bounce back from significant adversity. My guest today is Jeff Hill who experienced just a series of tragic situations from a very young age. And he’s going to tell his story about how he bounced back from all of that and was able to build up his business to eight figures and beyond. I’ll tell you more about him in a second. So stay tuned.

Chad Franzen 0:24

Welcome to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we feature top entrepreneurs, business leaders and thought leaders and ask them how they built key relationships to get where they are today. Now, let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran 0:41

Welcome, everyone, John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. You know, every week I get to talk to smart CEOs and founders of all kinds of companies. And you can check out our archives for episodes with the co-founders or CEOs of Netflix and Kinkos GrubHub Redfin, Quicken, you name it lending tree, go check them out, and get lots of great episodes there. And of course, this episode brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships. We’ve done a few podcasts and content marketing. And if you go to our website at Rise25.com, you can learn all about what we do there. All right, Jeff, I’m excited to have you here today. You have just an incredible story of experiencing adversity. As I said, From a young age, today, you are a semi-retired entrepreneur. But your story’s really incredible. So first, you lose a father to cancer. In your teenage years, you even you know, didn’t have a lot of money growing up, you know, as a kid, you’re going out with your father to cut firewood and sell it later, in your 20s your marriage and business fails in your 30s you battle cancer and walk away from a dream home. And in spite of this, you’re a really positive guy. And I love that enthusiasm about you. You built up a 100 got junk franchise, one of the most successful ones in the system, and you have been in business 20 years with that particular franchise. So I’m so excited to hear this story. But you know, I often start people with their childhood and any entrepreneurial side hustles that they got involved in. And when you and I were talking beforehand, you said my dad would go and cut firewood and then sell it to make Ed’s ends meet. So bring us back to that period in your life. What that was like with your father going out and cutting wood. You know, I imagined at the time, like most kids, you’re like, I don’t want to do this. But now you probably think back fondly to it. Yeah.

Jeff Hill 2:36

Well, first of all, John, Thanks for having me. I’m excited to join your podcasts. I’ve listened to several and I think you do, you’re doing great work. And I love that we swim in similar circles. So some of the folks I know or I’ve heard their stories, and so I’m happy to be a part of it. So yeah, you know, growing up, cutting firewood on the weekends was a regular event. You know, it wasn’t all bad stuff, you know, and then I gotta go to the woods and go camping and that meant that I gotta go fishing, we weren’t when we were done, or riding motorcycles or whatever. So, as a young teenager, I never never looked at it as much of a burden, it was more of a cool time with my dad. And, you know, now having lost him, you know, in my, in my late teens, you know, I look back and I would have done anything to spend my weekends doing that I now and in fact, it’s probably shaped who I am as a parent, making sure that I get out and do that type of thing with with my kiddos, you know. 

John Corcoran 3:34

Yeah, It’s such a precious time with our kids, you know, when they’re young to do that. So, that was a bit of a bit of your upbringing. Did you have kind of beyond the firewood? You know, were you in your, you know, in high school and college? Were you like starting little businesses like some entrepreneurs do or? 

Jeff Hill 3:56

Yeah, I mean, we did the typical, you know, neighborhood, lemonade stands and whatever. But um, you know, I think I started kind of coming into myself and my entrepreneurial interests and whatnot, probably around maybe sixth grade, you know, I had an amazing sixth grade teacher who, who taught up public speaking and kind of debate class for sixth grade and it kind of introduced me to the idea of of going first being the first to jump putting yourself out there and getting getting rewarded. You know, I discovered in sixth grade that if you volunteer to go first the teacher grades you a little bit easier and you know, I wasn’t the brightest kid so you know, I needed every advantage I could get and and you know, now my wife refers to that as the first to jump syndrome and in she it drives her crazy because I’m always the first one to either make a decision or, or you know, jump off that, that big rock or whatever.

John Corcoran 4:55

But it sounds like a book title for you.

Jeff Hill 4:59

Exactly. So, you know, I think some of that and then, you know, in high school I was editor, my annual and I got involved in student leadership and in college, you know, big part of college and in fact, a big part of now my, my friendship group and my tribe is, you know, we went to a small state college, Eastern Washington University, and there wasn’t much of a Greek system there, there was, at the time, there were two fraternities, and neither of them kind of foot fit our fancy. And so me and somebody’s, we started, we bought a chapter of Phi Delta Theta, to Eastern and, you know, that really became a kind of a defining time for me, you know, with these young men, and then, of course, my dad passing a year and a half into college, you know, they were, they were my support system, and they were the people that I look to for mentorship or guidance or whatever, when, you know, when when I didn’t have a parent to do that with so. And then now, you know, still I just got back from a 10 day motorcycle ride, and five of the nine participants were old college buddies. So clearly those relationships stuck with me, but definitely, but yeah, I’ve always I’ve always had a little bit of a little bit of a, don’t be afraid to just try something new and make something happen for yourself type up.

John Corcoran 6:24

Yeah. So you, you actually kind of went to a corporate route, you actually worked in the call center world, which was actually brought you to 1-800-GOT-JUNK, because you actually came, you heard about this upstart company, and you interview for a job as a call center director, you don’t get the job, but they sell you on buying a franchise, which I love. So they must have been pretty compelling. Tell us about that. How did that go? 

Jeff Hill 6:50

Yeah, that’s actually, it’s a neat story. I, you know, I was with a company called Western Wireless, which then became a company called VoiceStream Wireless, which then became T-Mobile. So I was an early adopter in the T-Mobile brand. And at the time, when it was Western wireless, they hired me to be a I was in the financial services sector. And I was the first manager they hired to start the Financial Services Group for what they then branded as VoiceStream, wireless. And so I took, I took about 14 people with me, and we started this team, and we built it up. And so I had a kind of a very quick and dirty startup experience, early in my career, and it was great. And then it grew, we grew from that 14 to when I left that company, and that was six years later, my department was over 2000 people and so it was a lot and it wasn’t as fun anymore. I liked it. 

You know, I’m an entrepreneur, I like being the janitor and the CEO. And so when I was starting that team, and we were doing everything, and we were writing policies and creating quality programs, and doing everything you do in the corporate world to help growing business, that was awesome. But then when it got so big, and it was hard to make things happen, and move, you know, I was ready to go. And unfortunately, at the time, I had a fortunately, or unfortunately, I guess for her, but you know, I had a senior manager who was getting a severance package, because there was some overlap with my department and another department. And that package looked pretty good. And so I went, you know, then they came to me a couple weeks later, and were talking to me about doing something different within the organization. I just said, you know, that seems like a material difference in what I’m doing now. 

And I think I’d love to just have one of those packages you put together for my senior manager, manager, and we’ll just call it a day. And so, I left. I left T-Mobile the first time because I actually went back later but came back. Yeah, yeah. So I left on really good terms. But it was time for me to try something new and then with that severance package I was shopping. And and I the story about how it came across when I got junk is one of those stories that for me, I have about maybe five of them that have happened in my life, but there was, you know, I was reading this job description and the way that it was written, it just resonated with me it was I could tell it was written by someone that was the thought like I thought that was future focus that was entrepreneurial, but also very positive.

And, and that was Brian Scudamore that wrote that job that job description and that was to run his his call center and so I did some research and that call center had just one call center the year you know, and I come from I was coming from the call center business one of the big telecoms right So, you know, it beat out folks like American Express and Discover and all the people that you would think of when you think of call centers. And so I’m like, How is this little junk company? Winning call center of the year, so something special there. So. So yeah, I went up and went to an interview to run that call center for them and really got caught up in the whole, the vibe and the people and the energy and everything there. 

John Corcoran 10:28

And they had like a panel format where Yeah, applicants?

Jeff Hill 10:32

Yeah, so they were, you know, at the time, this stuff was really cutting edge. You know, people didn’t do a lot of these types of things. But it was really fun. And I love that type of thing. And so, yeah, we did this. I think it was called the reverse panel interview or something that we’re interviewing. And, you know, one of the questions I remember was, you know, if we didn’t hire you for this position, who in this classroom should we hire? And I thought that was funny, but everybody was saying they should hire me. And well, that’s, which was nice. Yeah, it was very complimentary, but, but somebody didn’t. They did. 

In fact, in fact, I think, you know, Cameron Herald that interview, so let’s Yeah, so he’s, so he basically Losi on the panel was he entered? Yeah, he was one of the people on the panel. And so it was Brian Scudamore. And they both kind of looked at each other and said, you know, they thought I’d be bored running a 30 person call center. And And the truth was, I, you know, I was interested in it, but I was more interested in the company and, and I did have a severance package in my back pocket that I was was trying to figure out how I was going to spend and invest and, and so yeah, so they basically said, you know, we’re not going to hire you for this. 

But, you know, we had just bought back the eastside of Seattle, the Bellevue, Kirkland Redmond area from the previous franchise partner, because he was Canadian, and he couldn’t get financing for the trucks. And so he couldn’t expand as fast as he needed to. And so So, you know, I walked into, I mean, really a franchise that’s in Bill Gates’s territory, I was like, this seems like a no brainer. And so, so I took my severance and, and invested in a couple trucks and driving around.