Two Men and a Truck: The Maturation of a Franchisor
by Ed Teixeira
Two Men and a Truck a growing franchise system was receiving kudos as an
example of the small family owned business that evolved into a successful
franchise. Then it encountered problems. Learn how the Two Men and a Truck
franchise program got back on the road to success.
When Two Men and a Truck started franchising in 1989 they followed the same
path as many other start-up franchises. Namely, going from a small family
operated business to launching and operating a franchise program. One of the
more unique aspects of the Two Men and a Truck franchise was that they were in
the moving business, which is not a traditional franchise business. Apart from a
brief foray by one of the large van lines into franchising, the moving industry
was devoid of franchise companies. Enter Two Men and a Truck, but as the
franchise system continued to grow the franchisor was heading for a bumpy ride.
Founded by Mary Ellen Sheets in 1985 the company began as a local moving company
in Lansing Michigan. In the beginning there was one pickup truck used by Mary’s
sons Brig and Jon Sorber to move people in Lansing. From this simple
beginning, Two Men has grown to over 220 locations with operations in four
countries. However, not unlike many new franchisors they reached a point when
the addition of more franchisees started to put a strain on the franchisors’
resources. According to the soon to be named President, Randy Shacka: “ In early
2000 the franchise was doing well experiencing double digit growth, at the same
time we were transitioning from a family owned business to a large franchise
operation. New challenges were slowly starting to emerge but it was easy to be
complacent. Things really began to change around 2007. Add the problems brought
on by the Great Recession and Two Men was suddenly facing serious issues. Faced
with the need to focus more on managing the system rather than simply adding new
franchises, Two Men implemented some key changes”.
Shacka who was V.P. of Operations during this time said, Two Men shifted its
employee mix by reducing corporate staff in 2007 and replacing some existing
staff with more specialized skill-sets; individuals with an operational background
as well as individuals with true business experience.
This was part of a new three part strategy of people, process and technology.
Simply stated, Two Men wanted staff that could better support and meet the needs
of their franchisees and build a strategy of growth for the future. In addition, new processes such as standardized training
and other operational programs could add efficiency to the entire franchise
operation. Lastly, the greater use of technology would lead to a more
centralized franchise support model. For example, an on-line learning center
with 24 hour access for its franchisees. The objective of this three-part
strategy continues to shift Two Men from a franchise that had been primarily
growth orientated to one with operational balance. This strategy is working
and the company recently celebrated its 30th consecutive month of growth with 13
straight double digit growth months.
Randy Shacka is well equipped to lead Two Men into this new era. A graduate of
Michigan State with a degree in engineering, Shacka started out as an intern for
the franchisor eleven years ago. After graduating from MSU he moved to Florida
where he served as Operations Manager for a Two Men Seminole County, Florida
start-up franchisee. Randy told me, this experience provided him with a keen
understanding of how a franchise operates and the challenges franchisees face.
He was able to draw upon this knowledge after he returned to Michigan to work in
has literally worked his way up the corporate
ladder, moving from Franchise Development
Coordinator to V.P. Operations to Chief
Operating Officer. In August he’ll assume the
role of President of Two Men and a Truck.
Randy believes that having worked in a franchise operation provides him the
knowledge and experience that enables him to better relate to their franchisees
and what they need to be successful. From a franchisee standpoint his resume
should provide him with added credibility. Randy expects Two Men to add 20-25
new franchisees each year with the operational staff, processes and technology
in place to support this increased growth.
From a franchisee perspective there is an air of optimism regarding Randy’s
Rob Felcher has been a franchisee in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the past 4
years. Rob has been with the company for 18 years in various capacities.
Starting out as an employee and then working for a franchisee. He has 11 vans
and reports that things are going well. Rob told me that the franchisor went
through some growing pains but things are looking up. In fact, Rob would like to
acquire another franchise at some point in the future.
Ashley Anderson has been a franchisee since 1994 in Bay City, Michigan. She
owns 9 vans and feels things are much better. She recalls a time when
franchisees weren’t being heard. Ashley believes it’s important for franchisor
leadership to have worked in the trenches and Randy’s experience should be a
In terms of franchisee participation each region has a Team that includes
franchisee representatives. The Team meets on a quarterly basis and during the
national convention. Ashley believes it’s important for franchisee
representatives to represent their fellow franchisees and avoid using their
position for their own benefit or to serve as a messenger for the franchisor.
After speaking with Randy Shacka and some franchisees I came away with the
understanding that the Two Men and a Truck franchise operation can successfully
administer continued system growth without experiencing past problems.
© 2011 FranchiseKnowHow, LLC
Ed Teixeira is the President of FranchiseKnowHow, LLC. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org