Technology as a Key Differentiator – An Intel® Small Business Profile

Intel_Small_Biz_Header_2.pngThis is the second profile in a new Intel Small Business Series focusing on Small Business owners and how they are reacting to the demands and opportunities presented by emergent technology.

1-800-GOT-JUNK is the world’s largest junk removal service, expected to complete the year with over $150 million in revenue. Ben Hoskins owns and operates three 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchises on the west coast, including branches in San Diego, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. He recently expanded his holdings to include a You Move Me franchise, specializing in residential moving services. Between them, Hoskins’ businesses employ about forty-five people.

Both companies include an IT department, and Hoskins says their similarities have allowed them to leverage much of the same infrastructure. When he bought his first franchise eleven years ago, many of its operations were handled by an internal application known as “junknet,” and though the applications currently in use are similar in function, they are entirely cloud-based. Hoskins has taken advantage of this shift to move the businesses to a paperless model.

Employees in the field are equipped with tablets and smartphones that allow them to login to proprietary software, centralizing records and eliminating disparities between locations. Mobile technology has led to an increase in efficiency, as capacity tracking, job shuffling, and route optimization happen in the moment. Schedules are now posted and adjusted online with the tool Movenet, and customer queries can be answered with greater speed, as more employees are able to access their information simultaneously.

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Movenet – Tablet-based scheduling and estimating tool

Advances in communication technology have also allowed the franchises’ disparate locations to stay connected, avoiding what Hoskins refers to as “information silo.” New hires in three different states can train together, and the organization builds camaraderie via monthly web-based teleconferencing.

Individually, Hoskins says he prefers to allow employees to utilize the device and operating system most familiar to them, providing a stipend to those who choose to BYOD. Tech agnosticism is crucial. Internal applications are designed to work cross-platform, making them more flexible and enabling the business to scale in response to demand.

Hoskins believes technology has been a key differentiator between his companies and others like them. He advises businesses looking to integrate with the latest technology to find the ways in which tech makes operations “more customer experience centric.” Updated hardware and a more integrated approach to communication can benefit both clients and employees in a number of ways. To see how other Small Business owners are approaching the issue, find more of our profiles here or consult the Intel IT Advisors to learn how you can use technology to advance your business.

To continue the conversation and stay up to date on the latest Intel Small Business profile, follow us at @EmpowerSmallbiz or use #IntelSmallBiz.

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Ben Hoskins is a Portland-area entrepreneur who owns junk removal and moving businesses in California, Oregon and Washington.  He lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife Shannon and their children, 5 year-old Gwen and 2 year-old Emmett. You can follow Ben and his team on Twitter at @YouMoveMeCo and on Google+ at You Move Me Portland.