When Martin Pollack decided to become a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK franchisee in his late 20s, he told his wife his plan was to operate the Herndon, Virginia business remotely from their home in Wilmington while maintaining his regular job.
His wife said no.
“I have to give the credit to my wife as the smart one because she said she would only support my decision to become a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK franchisee if I moved to the D.C. area to run the business,” said Pollack.
So, Pollack, who grew up in the Washington D.C. area, moved into his parents’ basement while his wife stayed behind in Wilmington and the couple lived on his wife’s salary while getting the business up and running. Ultimately this advice paid off and four years later, Pollack now owns three TWO MEN AND A TRUCK locations in the greater D.C. metro area and he and his business partner, Adam Slack, are planning to expand to an additional three territories. But like most successful franchisees, investing heavily in the early stages of the business’ life cycle was key to creating a foundation from which to grow.
“Initially I had very little work-life balance. Back then, there were nights that I slept at the office,” remembered Pollack.
Pollack spent much of his time creating a solid infrastructure and investing in the people who would eventually handle the majority of the on-the-ground and day-to-day operations. Pollack leveraged relationships he had in place from growing up in D.C. His best friend from high school is his general manager. Two of his other five managers are brothers of friends from high school. While the built-in trust helped in starting a successful business in the first year, Pollack has cultivated a culture and business structure that rewards employees for hard work and dedication to success.
“I’ve built a lot of trust with my team over the years,” said Pollack. “As part of my management strategy, I’ve always tried to let each manager run their location as they see fit. I have expectations they need to meet, but I don’t want to micromanage. I provide them with feedback, but I let them run it as if it’s their own business. If you empower your staff to make decisions, it helps them feel like they are a valued part of the business. We’ve really started to extend that further down the chain where we are trying to empower our frontline staff to our movers and drivers beyond what they could expect at any of our competition. It helps them buy into the culture and the success of the business.”
Beyond wages that he noted are high compared to competition in the market, Pollack also empowers movers and drivers to take part in job fairs to help recruit new employees or handle quality control calls to get a sense of how customers respond to the services they’re providing the community. Pollack is even supporting one of his managers who is taking part in TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s Mary Ellen’s Moving People Forward® Scholarship (named after the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK founder) with a goal of becoming a franchisee himself.
The investment in people continues to pay off. Pollack said his locations have reached 97 percent customer satisfaction – up from the previous 94 percent – and the business has experienced more than 33 percent growth year-to-date since starting the empowerment programs. He said employees are happier and efficiency has improved since they are able to anticipate and avoid fires more often rather than having to scramble to put them out.
After establishing the business, per his wife’s initial request, Pollack has since moved back to Wilmington.
Today, Pollack spends most of his time there and schedules about 10 days per month to work at his franchise locations in D.C. He rarely works weekends anymore and his days are spent communicating with his managers, talking to corporate, and making sure the business is operating successfully – checking sales, financials and customer satisfaction levels each day and holding daily calls with his managers, in addition to weekly team meetings, to continue growing the business.
All of this has led to a healthy work—life balance that allows for Pollack to make time for his favorite pastime, fishing, as well as his main focus since the beginning: his family.
“When we started this, we didn’t have kids and weren’t sure if that was something that was on our radar for the future. Our daughter is now 23 months old and now that I have a child, I want to make sure I have as much time as possible to spend with her. Investing in TWO MEN AND A TRUCK and being a franchise business owner means that when I want to spend time with my family, I have the luxury to do that and I wouldn’t if I worked in corporate America. The phone never turns off, but I have the flexibility to make hours count with my family now.”