A woman, two men and a truck
Two Men and a Truck brings to mind . . . well, men and trucks. Yet the professional moving company was founded by a woman and is run by a woman. Mary Ellen Sheets started the business with her two sons and her daughter Melanie Bergeron is chair of the board. And there are also female franchisees.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry isn’t the biggest challenge for franchisee Kari Campbell, who runs the Oshawa franchise and last November opened a satellite office in Peterborough.
A greater challenge has been overcoming the public’s perception of moving companies — everyone has heard “horror stories” of moves gone terribly wrong, of people being scammed or precious items being damaged or vanishing into thin air.
Moving, after all, is much more than the physical transport of goods from one location to another — it’s about handling people’s memories.
In that sense, being a woman has been an asset in a business often associated with tough, burly men. “I’m going to understand that china cabinet is 100 years old and belonged to her grandmother,” said Campbell. Campbell started working with Two Men and a Truck as a customer-service rep when a friend opened the Oshawa franchise. Two years later, in 2009, she was offered the chance to become a partner. Already familiar with the brand and its core values, she was impressed with the help she received from head office.
But Campbell knew that owning a franchise wasn’t a guarantor of success. “I don’t think it’s just a given,” she says. “You have to prove yourself as an individual franchise.”
She’s done this by getting involved with the local Chamber of Commerce, attending events and home shows, meeting with real estate agents and even doing charity work. It has also meant getting out to as many jobs as possible to meet customers — though she can’t do that every single time.
Campbell knows the job so well because she’s gone out with her movers to “see what my guys are going through.” Two Men and a Truck has only been in Canada for just over 10 years, and is now expanding to Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Saint John and Moncton.
“We were the fifth to open (in Canada),” says Campbell. “Nobody out this way knew or really had heard of Two Men and a Truck.” In her case, she wasn’t able to leverage the “brand,” so she had to get out into the community to build that brand recognition. “Being in a smaller part of the GTA, everybody looks for that community-based moving company — they want to know you’ve been here a while,” she said.
The company has a 96-per-cent referral rating overall and a “bill of rights” that includes a free quote, guaranteed within 10 per cent. And all movers are insured and bonded.
Campbell also attributes her high referral rate to those small details that mean a lot to customers, such as checking in on a move or calling halfway through to see how it’s going. And if the customer isn’t happy, she can address it right then and there.
Running a franchise has meant working long hours, often 12 to 13 hours a day. She takes Sundays off, but never gets a summer vacation — the busiest time of year for movers. Still, Campbell is up for the challenge. “I’m a people person so I love being around the employees all the time, going out and meeting new people, hiring new people and getting to know them and training them,” she says. “That’s what I enjoy most about the job.”