Trash turns to treasure

A LOCAL junk removalist has capitalised on the economic downturn as real estate agents attempt to deal with the rubbish left over by evicted residential tenants.

Peter Makin started the Gold Coast franchise of 1800-GOT-JUNK? in late 2007 and was ‘doing it tough’ before the downturn created the opportunity for the misfortunes of local real estate to work to his advantage.

Makin says initially business was slow as residents began disposing of rubbish themselves in order to save money. But as more tenants were evicted or abandoned from rental premises, the calls from real estate agencies began pouring in.

“We originally were working 70 per cent residential and 30 per cent commercial jobs but when the economic downturn really hit, the business back-flipped to now focus 80 per cent of our time on commercial junk removal for real estate and other industries,” he says.

“Most of our business is removing old couches, beds and general household items left by tenants who have taken off and left their junk behind.”

Makin attributes much of his success to the networking benefits of opening a globally recognised franchise. He says the US and Canadian franchises have received an influx of requests from realtors when the economy crashed. Makin predicted the same trend would occur when the downturn hit Australian shores.

“The regular conference calls I have with overseas franchisees are important in assessing the market trends in Canada and the US, all of which do eventually come here,” he says.

The Gold Coast franchise has grown considerably in the last two years and has added a second truck and two casual staff members to the business. The company is forecasting double growth in the next FY.

Makin says aggressive marketing techniques and promoting an environmentally-friendly business are important factors in establishing a regular client base.

“Commercial clients in particular are always asking about where the junk ends up as it’s important to their businesses to remain environmentally friendly,” he says.

“We recycle around 60 per cent of the items we remove and are always pushing the message that we donate anything we can to the Salvation Army and similar organisations.”

Despite his successful break during the downturn, Makin is adamant his business can continue to grow further with economic recovery.

“I am expecting the residential side of the business to pick up significantly and whilst the commercial side may drop slightly, a solid client base has now been established which will continue to bring business in,” he says.

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