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Phillip Nappi, President & Co-Founder at VaVia
We founded VaVia because we saw an exciting opportunity toserve an unfulfilled need in the waste disposal business. About eight yearsago, Phillip and his wife, Dana, founded the premium fashion brand, PeterNappi. While enjoying and succeeding in the business, Phillip remainedconnected and ultimately returned “home” to the disposal and recycling industry– an industry in which he previously spent two decades.
With his new perspective, Phillip was able to spot the need for smaller trucksand containers in the roll-off business. Contractors needed more trucks thatcould navigate tight spaces and containers that could address new jobsiterequirements. They also desired a higher level of service – an increased valuethat Phillip was accustomed to delivering to them in the past. In all of this,he also saw the opportunity to use technology for a smart, easy and polishedsolution for small contractors and residential customers.
Around this same time, John Crawford had moved to Alabama from Florida where heand a business partner had grown a small single-state business into a nationalenterprise. Once arriving at his new Birmingham home, he ended up with a garagefull of items to dispose of. New to the area, he didn’t know where to start.Were there any small containers available? What about a local waste orrecycling facility? He ended up loading everything in his Tahoe (not thevehicle for the job!) and drove thirty minutes one way, six different times to getrid of all of his unwanted items. There had to be a better way. If therewasn’t, there should be.
Phillip and John happened to meet and started talking. They agreed: the wastedisposal business needed a new solution.
Given their business savvy, they knew that brand integrity, transparency, andconvenience were vital. People needed to know who to call when they hadmaterials to get rid of, and the call—or click—had to be quick and easy.
The company’s response had to be fast, cheerful, and reliable. To deliver thisservice, the rough edges had to be polished off the traditional waste disposalindustry, especially for the customers they envisioned serving: homeowners,small businesses, and contractors running small projects.
Along the way, Phillip had reached out to his previous business partner, MikeAmpe. Together they had grown their business to become the largest independenthauler and recycler in the southeast. Prior to this, Mike had successfullybuilt franchise businesses in a technology market. It wasn’t long before all ofthe pieces fit into place and VaVia was born, providing short term rental of10- and 15-yard waste containers with the click of a button.
Our goal is to be a household name and a nationwide leader in the small-hauldisposal business. We imagine a trusted community of franchises that worktogether and exchange ideas, but are locally owned, with teams that areinvolved and committed members of their own community.
Connect with Phillip on LinkedIn.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio. Brought to you by Seo Samba comprehensive high performing marketing solutions for mature and emerging franchise brands. To supercharge your franchise marketing, go to SEO Samba CYBERCOM. That’s SeoSamba.vom.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:32] Lee Kantor here another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio and this is going to be a fun one. Today on the show we have Phillip Nappi with VaVia. Welcome, Philip.
Phillip Nappi: [00:00:40] Well, thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:42] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to tell us about VA. Va? How are you serving folks?
Phillip Nappi: [00:00:47] We are serving folks from the consumer side by delivering and hauling away small roll off containers that are very nimble that can get into tight spaces. And the smaller containers are really easy to address new job site requirements. So that’s how we handle people on the consumer side. But then on the dev side or franchise development side, we award and support our franchisees to the highest level to make sure that they are super successful in what they’re doing. And the track record speaks for itself.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:17] So what was the genesis of the idea that it always start out as a franchise?
Phillip Nappi: [00:01:23] It did. It did. I’ve got 23 years in the roll off dumpster business. That’s what they call this, because the dumpsters kind of roll off the back of the truck. And then my partner and CEO has got about 30 plus years in the business as well. He and we come from two different backgrounds experiences. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I started a company in 1999 that ended up being the largest in Southeast Independent company in the Southeast and hold and recycle construction, demolition, debris. And my partner, Tim Wells, he was a vice president for waste management for over 20 years, managing about $600 in revenue reporting to the CEO. So yeah, it’s two different two different backgrounds that we run the business on. But I always knew that this model worked because there is a floor to which you can charge for roll off container. So I knew the economics of it were really powerful and really made sense. But then when you layer on top of this where you’ve got lower capital expenditures because the containers and the trucks are smaller, lower operating costs, non CDL drivers. So if you can take all of that and put it together, then layer on top of it exceptional branding, digital technology, software programs that we have processes, the experiences and the relationships we’ve got in the industry or our franchisees or off and running and being very successful.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:41] Now, who is that ideal franchisee? Is it somebody who’s in this kind of business, construction business or driving business, or is it could it be anybody? And they’re just hiring folks to do the driving drop off and things like that.
Phillip Nappi: [00:02:55] You know, our most successful franchisees had no waste or construction experience whatsoever. Now, obviously, that that helps if you have or have some construction experience, this from a networking standpoint that you’re you’re able to use it. But really, the candidates need to align with our core values. And the most important one of those is you have to have a customer service centric approach. I mean, you have to be have a desire to give exceptional customer service because this industry is just filled with companies and players that really don’t provide great customer service. And if you can do that, then you can grow your business and you can charge a premium. And that’s the key to being successful, that you take very good care of your drivers, your team members that are on there. And that’s what we sometimes we on the consumer side, we get asked for pricing and they’re like, oh, you’re, you’re pretty more expensive than your competition. I said, Well, we run a different company. I mean, we, we, we buy the best trucks. We keep them maintain we have safety protocols that none of our competitors have. We pay our drivers top with full benefit package from retirement matching for one K to paid time off, paid holidays, health, dental, vision, insurance. And we’re able to go recruit the best drivers cost more money but it also comes out in the service that we that we deliver exceptional exceptional service on the consumer side.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:17] Now, when you were starting to roll this out, how did you begin that launch of an emerging franchise like this?
Phillip Nappi: [00:04:26] Oh, that was a challenge. You know, we’ve we’ve told people they want to look, we’re waste guys that got into franchising. There’s a competitor of ours. I won’t name their name. They’re the opposite. They’re franchising guys who got into the waste business. And we think that we have an advantage over the media because we have the experience in the industry. But it was a big it was a big challenge for us. Know there’s a it’s a very tight network industry, as you well know, from the broker consultants to the franchise sales organizations. And really trying to break in and break that code has been challenging for us. We did work with some broker networks and a franchise sales organization to kind of get us off the ground. But we’ve we’ve internalized that development beginning of this year, and we’ve got partners on board that have grown successful franchise systems through organic growth, using digital marketing, using public relations, using all of these other things, and, and really being in control of the sales process from the beginning to the end, because we’re trying to be a 500 unit franchise system and we want to our goal is to be at 100 by the end of 2026. We’ve got 14 under our belt now. We our goal is ten for 2022 and we’re well on the way to achieving that goal. First and foremost, we want to provide great service to our to our franchisees and give them great value for what they’re paying month in and month out. So it’s not we want to be powerful and not really that big, if that makes sense.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:54] And then did you land on that from the beginning, or is that something that having gone through the process a little bit, you were like, hey, you know.
Phillip Nappi: [00:06:02] What, beginning? So in the.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:04] Beginning, you always wanted to be kind of that kind of white glove, high end service, rather than there’s a million of us on every.
Phillip Nappi: [00:06:11] Corner. Exactly. Exactly. And that’s been our that’s been our focus from the very beginning. We’ve had we’ve had franchise sales organizations that approach us in the past couple of years to say, hey, we want to take you nationwide and we’re going to we’re going to have 100 out there in the first year. And quite frankly, they care more about the deal and not as much about the candidate and our opinion. And we really care about them. And we’ve told some candidates, look, it’s just not a good fit because this is a, you know, a ten, 20, 30 year relationship that we’re going to have with these with these individuals. We want to make sure that it’s a good fit for them and their family and and their skill sets. And so it’s just not about selling units and selling franchises. It’s about really finding business operators that you can partner with over the next ten, 20, 30 years.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:56] So now what’s a day in the life of a franchisee.
Phillip Nappi: [00:07:01] When you you always answer your phone? That’s one of the key things when we do our sales training is that when that phone rings, you answer it. So your phone may start ringing in the morning. You make sure that you get your drivers out doing their pre-trip inspection. That’s one of the other things that we offer. We have a fully robust safety system put in place, and so there’s a lot of things that we add to that that a lot of our competitors don’t do, because at the end of the day, we’re in the trucking business. You know, we’ve got vehicles running up and down the roads. And so there’s a lot of things that we have to be responsible for to make sure that our communities are safe. And then that kind of parlays down in that our team members are safe, are our equipment, is running properly, is being well maintained. All of that goes in together. But so making sure your drivers get off and get on their way and then it’s all about networking. It’s all about I tell people, dumpsters are the easiest thing in the world to sell. If you provide a great service, you can get business.
Phillip Nappi: [00:07:57] If you answer your phone, you can get business. And so spending your time between managing your drivers, looking over the routes, making sure that those are optimized and these are all things that we help with because driver efficiency can add a couple extra percentage points to your to your bottom line and it can it furthers your capital because if you can be more efficient with three trucks and then say if you’re not as efficient and you’ve got to add another truck, you’ve got to add a second truck, then all of a sudden you’ve got a lot more capital outlay. But if you can really optimize those assets, so asset utilization that comes with the containers, making sure they get turned over and the trucks are fully optimized, but that in growing your business and doing your pal, doing your financial stuff, reporting, those are the key day in and day out things that you do. It’s a pretty simple, non sexy blocking and tackling business, but we’ve added a lot of processes and branding and sophistication that we’ve brought to to the industry and we’re very proud about that and we’re always looking to improve.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:54] So you mentioned the kind of this steady growth that you see going forward. Has this been a good time to be, you know, getting in the franchise business is the, you know, coming out of a pandemic, you know, you have the great resignation. Is this a good time for folks to consider franchising as an option for them?
Phillip Nappi: [00:09:15] And I think that’s a that’s a several part answer to that one there in the pandemic, when it was going on, we were considered an essential business and where our business has actually exploded in 2020. On the consumer side, you know, you don’t have to have a brick and mortar. You cannot basically operate out of your truck. We have jobsite trailers that we have for our office for the national. We own the national franchise, but being considered essential, we knew that our business took off in 2020. So that’s if if this pandemic rears its ugly head again. And that’s one thing to keep in mind. But the other thing of why now is via is not like an expressly McDonald’s or Jimmy John’s or any of those things where you may come into a marketplace like Nashville and say, Hey, there’s going to be 15 locations there. You’re going to have one franchisee in Nashville. I would say there’s probably three markets Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, where you may have two or three franchisees because it’s so big. But really, you’re looking at one franchisee going in, one business operator, we like to call it. So these markets are filling up fast. We’re really focusing on the south, southeast, southwest, you know, from Phenix that you could go Denver in there, Texas, the Florida Panhandle up and up the East Coast. But, you know, Florida, it looks like it’s there’s several markets that are so many contiguous markets availability there, but it looks like Tampa maybe going down. And Orlando, maybe we’re not in Austin, Texas, yet. We are in Dallas and Houston and San Antonio. But I think we could get another franchisee in Dallas and Houston. So they’re so big. Phenix is someplace we really want to. We want to be. But the Carolinas are looking like they’re all sewn up. You know, Atlanta, we could probably put somebody else there, but that kind of gives you where we’re really focused in and then we’ll start looking at filling in some of the secondary markets.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:12] Now, do you have any advice for that emerging franchise or you mentioned some scar tissue of trying different things when you first started, but if you could kind of help somebody launch effectively, is there some do’s and don’ts?
Phillip Nappi: [00:11:28] I would be in control of the sales process as much as possible. That is so important to these broker networks that come to you. They can bring you leads and that’s great. That’s great. If they can bring you leads and then you’re at the end of the day, you’re selling your brand. But being in control of that. There’s a lot of people out there that have the greatest new gadget that can help you propel your franchise brand. Just be very careful, take it slow, talk to multiple people, get involved with the organizations and learn from the people that are doing it more the organic way. And I think that that it may grow slower, but slower is not always bad. It can be good. You don’t get out over your skis and you can manage the service and support you provide your franchisees.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:21] Now, can you maybe share that moment in the evolution of your brand where you’re like, Hey, you know what? This thing is going to work. I think we’re going to make it.
Phillip Nappi: [00:12:33] I mean, we always knew that it could work because we have experience in the industry. I mean, we’ve been successful in this industry and we knew that the model would work. The franchise piece of it, we layer that in. We looked at Nashville being our proof of concept. I mean, we have we really launched January of 2019 there. And the growth that we’ve seen here has been phenomenal. It’s just been absolutely incredible. And a lot of it is hinged on the disposal contract that you have with your in that specific market. And quite honestly, Nashville’s disposal market is a little expensive compared to some of them. So even though we’ve grown and we’ve got great margins here in Asheville at the corporate location, there’s other markets that have better disposal options. And they are their margins are even better than ours and they have no experience. But we guide them all along this process and always pushing price. Always pushing price and the efficiency with the trucks.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:35] Well, congratulations on all the success. If somebody wants to learn more about the consumer service and the franchise opportunity, can you share the websites?
Phillip Nappi: [00:13:44] Sure if you go the Viacom. So go, go and the va va va va go Viacom and va va. An Italian. It goes away.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:54] There you go. Well, Phillip, thank you again for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Phillip Nappi: [00:14:00] I thank you for the time.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:01] All right. This is Lee Kantor Lucille next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.