Top Players in Franchise Development: Noelle Burak
Top Players in Franchise Development: Noelle Burak

As the Franchise Development Manager for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, Noelle Burak has seen the brand add nearly 100 new franchise locations since joining the team in late 2012.

Noelle Burak landed at the Lansing, Michigan-based franchise moving company in late 2012, and since her arrival, the brand has added nearly 100 new franchise locations. Burak currently serves as franchise development manager, helping lead TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® as the company grows at its fastest pace since opening their first franchise in 1989.

Burak, a graduate of Western Michigan University, spent time working as a sales representative at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and as an account manager at Great Lakes Caring, before joining TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.

1851 took time to learn her recipe for success, and to touch on her plans to keep TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® moving into even more exciting new markets, including an impressive recent deal to cover all of New York City, Long Island and Staten Island—a deal Burak says industry experts told her and the brand they would never achieve.

What aspects of your approach to franchise development have led to the huge success at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?

Our development approach and process has evolved and improved over time. Two years ago we were responding to inquiries about the franchise opportunity manually—but adopted an automated process for quickly sharing additional information with prospects, through email. Utilizing technology and new tools to engage with would-be franchisees has made the process more efficient and engaging overall. Having improved this timeline frees up our team to spend time on creative ways to engage with and recruit ideal candidates, spending more time on educating and preparing them for the opportunity, and then having the ability to do a good job of educating them instead of just selling.

When I first started, we didn’t have proactive tactics like email messages with additional information and education or links to the website. So, just to have that ability to start the process immediately, to know that each application is being responded to with important initial information and then directions on how to contact us—that is great to have. It may not seem like a big deal today since so many companies have automated this process, but four years ago it wasn’t that common. Also, utilizing marketing and social media has led to significant improvement in our recruitment efforts.

What is one of the major accomplishments or milestones you’ve achieved in your time with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?

When I first started, we focused more on how we launch successful single units, and we eliminated a lot of franchisees’ ability to grow by just offering that single unit deal. Now our focus is on putting new franchisees in a position in which they can expand quickly, and have the tools to do so successfully. That was something we didn’t do a lot of previously, and we’ve gotten really good in the last few years of getting strong, qualified franchisees transitioned and up-and-running so they can go from one unit to two at a faster pace.

What are you most proud of?

I think it was huge that we hit 30 franchise signings in a year—the most we’ve ever done. If you go back in the company’s history, we signed 18 deals one year and the year before, we did seven. We’re incredibly excited to see the growth that’s come from honing in on our process.

More recently, we signed a five-year area development agreement that will encompass New York City, Long Island and Staten Island. For so long, people have told us that selling that entire area would be impossible—so it feels good to accomplish something others said could not be done.

How do you find the right franchisees and what do you do to set them up for success?

Internally, we make sure our franchisees go through a process before expanding to ensure we’re protecting the brand. When they come to us externally, we qualify them and look into whether they have the business expertise, experience, and resources needed to run and grow larger businesses.

We help them with our business intelligence tools to evaluate what is and isn’t working. We offer marketing, HR, and operations playbooks, and we train them to work with their budgets and find areas to improve. We have a proven blueprint and we support franchises in implementing locally.

What are your goals for your brand in the next few years and how do you plan to grow the brand?

Our biggest upcoming goal is to hit 400 locations. To achieve that number in 2017, it would mean keeping at the pace of adding 30 locations per year. Specifically, we have our sights set on significant growth in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Northern Virginia; Frederick, Maryland; Providence, Rhode Island; and Tucson, Arizona. All of these are booming areas with a well-educated population and a variety of thriving industries—perfect for the right qualified entrepreneur to bring the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® model to town.

Another extremely exciting new initiative is our launch in mini-markets. There is tremendous opportunity with this new model to grow in smaller cities and towns and gives us another avenue to continue our growth. For years we fielded calls from people about using our services where the distance from a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location was an issue. Our concept works best when it comes to the main street move. We offer many other ways to diversify if you are looking at different revenue streams, but 85 percent of our business comes from the local move. No matter if you are in Los Angeles or in Northern Michigan, people are moving on average every eight years and it is usually within a 15 mile radius. Therefore, areas like Montana, Colorado and Idaho have larger cities but not many that would meet the requirements to meet a full market (420,000) under our standard franchise agreement. So, we came up with a model that has less population, lower cost of entry, and requirements that utilize resources of a more owner/operator model. This is going to allow those with a military background, Millennials, and new blood to grow with the system. They can learn the ins-and-outs of the business before growing to the next opportunity.