Members of the key team responsible for the success of Two Men and a Truck as both a business model and a franchise opportunity said the company had humble beginnings.
“It all started in Lansing, (Mich.,) with a pick-up truck,” CEO Brig Sorber said at Toronto’s Rogers Centre recently. The company grew from two brothers’ after-school business to one of North America’s largest locally franchised moving companies.
“The company set a mission statement to exceed customer expectations. Our core values include moving people forward – our customers in their lives and our employees in their careers.”
The company now includes 300 locations spread throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland and the U.K. Revenues have doubled in the past four years to $340 million in 2013 and the company has set a revenue goal of $1 billion for 2020.
The company’s proven business model – multiple income streams through the company’s combination of moving, delivery, storage and supplies – is supported by the perfect storm of a growing population of baby boomers who may not be up to the task of a self-move; increasing populations; a highly transient workforce; and a constantly renewing resource of people relocating.
Heron Capital Corporation bought the master franchise for Canada in 2005 with a mandate to roll it out across the country.
“Two men was a perfect fit for the Heron Group,” Heron Group of Companies’ president Hugh Heron said. “Moving is an important part of the real estate industry. The fact they have trademarked ‘Movers Who Care,’ along with their drive and commitment, impressed us.”
Sorber is pleased because the Heron Group dovetails on Two Men’s values.
The first Canadian franchise opened in Hamilton in 2005. On the day of the Toronto presentation, Heron said Two Men had just launched a location in St. Catharines/ Niagara and would next look to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
Heron Capital Corporation president and CEO John Prittie says there are currently 21 franchises in operation with about 20-25 remaining to be awarded. “We hope to have between 40 and 45 locations across Canada when we’re done. We’re looking to expand to the West next, then into Atlantic Canada.”
He says part of the success in Canada comes from working to build a “community of fans” who will continue to grow the company’s already-high referral rating, something he calls an economically sustainable customer advantage. “We want to lead the industry in customer satisfaction and even with numbers as high as they are, we want to go higher.”
A key component of that equation is the Consumer Bill of Rights, introduced by the company in 2012. The bill ensures clients understand what they are buying and what they can expect of the experience, including a guaranteed estimate, bonded and trained movers and insurance for the protection of home owners.
Selective partnering and superior support
As part of the franchise model, exclusive territories are awarded to candidates who are business professionals active in sales and networking holding the same values that have supported the company’s growth. Each territory will have a population of 400,000 and combine both residential and commercial properties with a mobility rate of 15 per cent.
Sorber says Two Men employs “a slow process of choosing franchisees and pick our partners carefully.”
As part of its overall growth plan, the company is adding 19,000 square feet to its U.S. corporate office, bringing its total space to 53,000 sq. ft. “We hope to move from our current staff of 112 to 185 full-time staff by 2020 so this will help us meet that goal,” says Sorber.
Staff at the corporate office provides franchise and training support among other things. At the company’s Stick Men University, franchisees learn everything from the company’s state of the art computer systems to hiring and managing staff.
This training and investment in technology represents a unique approach to business. “During the recession, when everyone was buckling down, we decided to invest in automation and training and our website. We’ve seen 20 per cent growth over the past five years and that has something to do with it.”
“We have a two-storey, 1,200-sq.-ft. house built inside the corporate office for controlled real- life training,” Sorber said. “We teach people to handle everything from grandfather clocks to hand guns and a lot of other things, because that’s what they’ll have to deal with.”
Two Men is a member of the American Moving and Storing Association and of the International Franchise Association. The company has been recognized with many awards from the Canadian Franchise Assocation, including the Gold CFA Award of Excellence in Franchising, 2013 and the Corporate Citizenship Award, 2012.
The Heron Group
The Heron Group of Companies includes Heron Development Group and Heron Capital. The company’s website says the group’s roots are in real estate and includes a “portfolio of real estate companies each focused on a different segment of the market.”
These include Heron Homes, Heathwood Realty Group, Heron Interior Design, the Equity Development Group Inc., and Simerra Property Management Inc.
Heron Capital incorporates RediShred Security, Herity and Heron Student Housing Ventures.