Franchise Business Review’s Nicole Dudley recently spoke with Justin Langston, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® owner, to gain insight on what it’s like to be a franchise owner. Excerpts from the following interview are also featured in FBR’s 2021 Fall Guide issue.
Name: Justin Langston
Location: TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Tulsa, OK and Melbourne, FL
Franchise Owner Since: January 2021
FBR: Hello. Today I’m talking with Justin Langston, a franchisee with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® about his experience in franchising. Thank you, Justin, for chatting today.
Justin: Thanks for having me.
FBR: So, to kick it off I’d like to learn a little bit about your personal life. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work and achievements that you’re most proud of?
Justin: Sure. I love to travel and I’m a huge sports fan. I’m on a mission to visit every major league baseball stadium right now. I’m about halfway there. So, I need more vacations centered around MLB stadiums and we’ll be good to go. But that’s what I enjoy doing outside of work.
FBR: Sports are always a lot better in person than it is on TV.
Justin: My wife and I were on a roll until we had our son. And kind of had to put a pause on that. It’s hard to take a 1, 2 or 3 year-old to baseball. And then there’s COVID. So, we’ll get back on it.
FBR: Before you chose franchising, what were you doing? What was the career path that you were on?
Justin: Before I came to work at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK I worked in marketing and communications in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Corporate communications in the energy sector is primarily what I was focused on. I made the jump to leave the corporate world and to come to the small business world and work for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK. I started in marketing here, worked my way up to working for several different franchise units, took the GM position in Tulsa, and now here we are. I’m a franchisee here in Tulsa and in Melbourne, Florida.
FBR: You were on the corporate side before you were working for the franchise owner. Is that why you chose to invest in that franchise?
Justin: Yes, it’s easier when you know the inner workings of it to jump into the ownership side of things rather than have no idea what TWO MINUTE AND A TRUCK is and to jump in out of the blue. I think (it helped having) worked here for so long. I knew how it worked and knew the people and knew the system.
FBR: Was it hard to transition from being an employee to being the owner?
Justin: I don’t think it was in my case because I had worked with my team so long as the GM, so it was a natural transition. Probably the harder part of transitioning to an owner was when I purchased the Melbourne, Florida location. It’s a new team; people I didn’t know. They didn’t know me, so there was no working history or prior relationship there. It was all new and that was much more different than when I came in on the Tulsa side.
FBR: What would you say is kind of the best thing about franchise ownership.
Justin: I think there’s a certain freedom that comes with being a business owner. It doesn’t mean that you never show up to work, but you know there is a freedom to being able to come in a couple minutes late and not being stressed or worried about it. And I think that’s kind of fun and I say that jokingly. But I think there’s just a certain freedom that comes with it. That maybe takes a little bit of stress off by having to worry about a career injury, not getting along with this employee or (worrying about) what I want to do with my life when I get older. A lot of those stressors that you have, especially as a young professional like I am kind of went out the window when I became a business owner. For me, my singular focus is running my businesses and helping (my employees) grow and be as successful as they can. I don’t have to worry about the LinkedIn profile and who’s going to hire me and who sees my resume.
FBR: What would you say is a typical workday for you?
Justin: My typical workday includes maybe two or three hours of some normal daily check on the business type things. But a lot of my focus is checking in with my leadership team; those who are running the different departments here, and just making sure that they have the resources that they need to be successful and to make sure that there’s no questions that they have for me. A lot of my day is people focused and making sure my team has what it needs to be successful.
FBR: What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome that?
Justin: That’s an interesting question because I came in under a different pretext than I think most franchise owners do. I think for me it’s hard sometimes being a successful young professional. And there are a whole host of challenges that come along with that. Maybe the biggest challenge I would say is just being secure in what you bring to the table, and what your skill sets are and being able to advocate for yourself in a way that puts you on an equal footing with people who have maybe done this for a longer time — or are much older than I am, or feel like they bring something different to the table than I do. So much of being a young professional is that fight to be seen as an equal. That has been a challenge in some realms, but again you know you just got to be secure in what it is you bring to the table and constantly advocate for yourself.
FBR: What’s the best thing about being a part of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK?
Justin: There are so many franchises across the country and the world and there’s no one perfect way to run a successful franchise. With TWO MEN And A TRUCK, I think every market is different. So, what’s cool is that you can bounce so many things off other franchise owners or their staff and (find out) what’s working for them. What works in Tulsa or in Melbourne, Florida might not work in Cincinnati or Seattle. I do think there’s a core of what our normal day is in terms of the services we provide. But then there’s more that you can bounce off each other and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
FBR: Yeah, that’s one of those core pieces that we look at in our surveys, how supportive franchisees are to each other and being able to share those best practices, even if they’re in close markets.
Justin: There’s tons of opportunities to do that (with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK). And as much as I don’t love Zoom and the virtual meeting world, I think COVID has opened the doors for more of that (collaboration). I think it’s easier now to communicate and connect with other franchises than maybe it was before.
FBR: Certainly. What other things do you find valuable like in the training and support?
Justin: TWO MEN AND A TRUCK offers a lot of stuff revolving around accounting and financing, and just knowing your numbers which I think is really, crucial. … As a business owner, knowing your finances and your profit and how to work through that and what to budget is helpful. They’ve got some good classes on that that I think are fantastic. I think other franchise companies outside of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK would probably benefit from having something like that.
FBR: Yeah, your franchise brand has been very successful in growing and bringing in the right owners and keeping everything running smoothly. But not every franchise and every franchisee are performing at that top level. Do you have any advice on how (other franchises) might be able to get back on track?
Justin: I think that it just goes back to the basics, and I would say perhaps they just have forgotten the basics at the surface level. Your employees are your No. 1 customer, and your customers are your No. 1 source of free marketing, anything that’s surface level basics. Take care of your people and take care of the people who are paying you and your name is going to multiply out there. (If) people want to work for you people will be talking about you. And I think that’s the easiest way to grow your business without having to spend a lot of money.
FBR: For someone who’s looking at franchising and considering coming in at any level, what advice would you give them?
Justin: Know how to budget and know your numbers. I think the reason you own a business is because you want to make money, and so you’ve really got to know your numbers and you’ve got to know how to budget, and you’ve got to be good with finances. It’s not a bank. The money just is not revolving. It’s not plentiful. You’ve got to budget. You’ve got to spend wisely. You’ve got to know your numbers, and you’ve got to stick to it. Because, otherwise, you’re showing up for a day job, trying to figure out how am I going to pay the bills, and nobody buys a business to want to do that every single day.
FBR: Appreciate all the information that you’re sharing. Was there anything that you feel we missed? Anything else that someone would want to know about you, your business or organization?
Justin: You’ve got to be good at communicating, and if you’re not you’ve got to find a way to get good at it. You’ve got to make tough decisions, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. Surround yourself with good people, communicate what you need and give them the resources they need to be successful. It’s a little bit of a control thing. You’ve got to give it up a little bit to have that team around you. (You need to) trust yourself to put people in the right spot at the right place and the right time. And if you do that and communicate your vision effectively, you’re going to be fine, and the rest will take care of itself.
FBR: Awesome. Thanks for that. What’s next for you? You’ve already got two locations, so what’s next on your goal for the business?
Justin: I’d love to add a couple more franchises. That would be a blast. One of the things I love about this is when you open a new franchise you get to train people; train them to provide them the skills and then put them in a position to where they can go and run that franchise for you. It’s really helpful for me to have somebody across the country that I trust who knows me and understands me and my system and our system and how it works. … But also set them up to be able to maybe one day be a business owner themselves. That’s what I want to do. I want to do more of that for the people who helped make my day easy every day. Just onwards and upwards.
FBR: One of the questions that’s on our survey is would you do this all over again? I think I know your answer, but I’ll ask anyway.
Justin: I would, absolutely. Like I said there’s a certain freedom that comes with being a business owner. Not only from a time perspective and choosing your schedule and being able to do what you want, but I think financially too there’s a freedom that comes from it. I think if you have a family and the goal is generational wealth — to set your children up for a future better than you had, and to maybe make their life just a little bit better. That’s why I did it. I got into (franchising) for my son and for my family. I absolutely would do it all over again.
FBR: Wow, that’s a great story. I really appreciate you taking the time today and sharing that with us. Thank you and good luck with everything.
Justin: Thank you. I appreciate it.