A Woman, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®
Through rain, sleet or snow: Heidi Walsh’s first year
has her moving toward even greater franchising success
By Gina Makkar
The first year of a franchise is like starting a relationship.
It offers possibilities, goes through stages, and changes with the
confidence, ability, and belief in its success. It often
determines your standards, your reputation, and can forecast where
your company is headed.
So what are the day-to-day realities of the first year in business? Heidi Welsh, a London, Ontario franchisee of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® , has some insights and terrific advice to help you through your first year and place you on the road to success.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® bills itself as the first and largest moving franchise system in North America. They provide local and regional moving services to residential, industrial, and commercial customers and other services including packing, unpacking, and providing moving supplies such as boxes and packing materials.
The concept was originally founded in 1985 in Lansing, Michigan
by Mary Ellen Sheets. It started as a way for her sons Jon and Brig
Sorber to earn money while going to school. From there, Sheets
developed a system and began franchising in 1989. She even created
the original stick-men logo that still adorns the fleet of trucks.
Almost 20 years later, the company has more than 200 franchise
locations in the United States and Canada.
When Welsh decided to start her own business with her husband
Brent, the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise
was a natural choice. As the Office Manager for one of the
franchise locations in Akron Ohio, she was already familiar with
the business model and its success rate in the United States.
Welsh says “I’m a Canadian and wanted to move back so when we found
out that the franchise was coming to Canada, it seemed like a
With husband Brent’s finance experience as a stock trader and
her knowledge of the business, Welsh says they strike a nice
She says that while franchisees don’t need experience in moving
or trucking to invest in the franchise, they do need excellent
customer service and organization skills. She also says the system
is based on solid customer relations, the management of people and
schedules, and the ability to follow common-sense business
practices. “The entire business rotates around satisfying your
customer. It’s our job to understand the stress level of the people
who are relocating and to educate the customer on what to expect on
New franchisees attend a two week training session at
STICK MEN UNIVERSITY® in Lansing, Michigan
where they’re trained on everything from financing the start up to
running daily operations. That training is then followed up with a
one week training period in the franchisee’s new office
Welsh says that staying ahead of the competition starts with the
frontline employees and the level of service they provide.
They also hold regular meetings with a Franchise Business
Consultant provided by the franchisor to discuss trends, growth,
pricing, and issues and concerns. Ongoing training is provided to
keep franchisees aware of changing trends, rules and regulations,
new products, and taking the franchise to the next level.
Though the first year had its obstacles, Welsh took the
opportunity to grow and develop the company when faced with
challenges. For one, she says it was hard to retain quality
employees who wanted to help grow the company. She tackled the
problem by posting available positions on a government website,
instead of running ads in the local paper, to uncover better
She also says they succeed in shining among the other movers in
town by developing grassroots marketing initiatives and delivering
on their promise for good service. “In the industry, referrals are
a huge part of your business. That’s why it’s so important to have
quality employees and deliver a constant level of service.”
Welsh says that emotionally, it’s hard to prepare for twists and
turns like revenues and employee turnover. “You just have to
believe that things will work if you continue to do the marketing,
provide good service and grow your customer base.”
Their diverse client base ranges from students to interior design companies and, so far, they’ve enjoyed steady growth since they opened their doors. Welsh attributes their success to good service at a fair price. “Our customers appreciate the value and are willing to refer us to family, friends and coworkers.”
They also offer free onsite estimates and utilize a proprietary
software program on a laptop to help ensure an accurate quote.
Welsh also says it helps to meet prospective customers to answer
questions they may have and allow them to get a feel for who they
are and what they do.
Though they’re sales are still growing, Welsh says with the
recent economic uncertainty, they’ve postponed moving to a larger
facility and are mindful of acquiring any additional expenses. She
says fellow franchisees are very supportive and their experience
with the Head Office exceeded their expectations. With vendors and
suppliers already in place to purchase trucks or set up a computer
operating systems, they were able to focus on the important tasks
of hiring, training and launching the business. “Someone always
seems to be there when you need help on an issue or just want to
talk about similar experiences and how each franchise handles them.
They’ve become part of our extended family.”
She cites the branding factor as another benefit. “People love
the logo and name of our company. It has great appeal to the
customers and they remember it. The branding sets us apart from the
large van lines and has a hometown feel.”
Owning a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise
allowed Welsh and her husband to achieve their goals of working for
themselves and running a successful company. This, she says, has
given them a great sense of accomplishment. “We have retained key
employees that understand the direction we are heading and are
working to grow our operation with the same core values.” But their
achievements don’t end there. Their future goals include gaining
market share and maintaining a solid growth rate year after year.
As a long-term goal, they’d also like to branch out and offer
storage to their customers. This goal, she says, will have to wait
since it requires relocating the business to a new
For others considering the franchise, Welsh says the business
model is proven and it works. She advises that if you follow the
training and core values, you’ll see the benefits in the
Welsh says she also found it challenging not to let herself get
too excited or too discouraged with any one specific development in
the early stages. For instance, “you don’t need to spend huge sums
of money on advertising especially not one time things or events.
You need to spend regular amounts on the right things.” She advises
to track what is working for you and keep it up.
As for women considering a franchise in a male-dominated
industry, Welsh says the environment is actually well suited for
women. Though the moving industry is based on customer services,
she recognizes that it’s also a stressful time in people’s lives,
and often, a softer touch is needed to put the customers mind at
ease. “Sometimes, woman have the patience and understanding to help
the customer relax.”