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She Owns It! Laura Chavez – The Junkluggers of Austin

Junkluggers is a hauling, moving, delivery and up-cycling company all rolled into one business. At Junkluggers, it is our mission to save the Earth, one piece of junk at a time. By 2025 we aim to donate, recycle or up-cycle 100% of all items we remove, setting the standard in the United States for Eco-friendly disposal practices.

What is up-cycling? That’s our Second Chance operation! We rescue and sometimes refinish furniture and other household goods as part of a greater commitment to giving back to our local charities and the environment. Previously loved items are sold at affordable prices with proceeds benefiting local charities. This allows Junkluggers customers to receive a tax-deductible receipt and feel good about what happens to their stuff, and for our Second Chance customers to give new life to unique estate treasures at prices you won’t find anywhere else. And Second Chance is included in every Junkluggers franchise.

Meet Laura Chavez – the owner of the Austin territory.  She doesn’t sugar coat it and gives a realistic picture of common first year struggles.

 

 

    Tell us about your background:

I spent most of my career as a nutritionist, but I have been around business for many years as my husband and father are both businessmen.

    What was happening in your life that you wanted to own your own business?

My family was looking for long term stability and not be dependent on large corporations for our financial well-being. As an empty nester I wanted something valuable to give to the community while being in charge of my own financial freedom and hopefully be able to bring my children into the business someday. With my husband maintaining his job, we have an opportunity to invest in a business of our own and at some point, we are looking forward to being able to work together.

    Why a franchise? 

Most small businesses fail because they lack any structure and being a part of a franchise lets us develop a proven model using systems and tools with proven success.

   Why Junkluggers?  Did you look at other options?

We looked at many other options. We worked with a franchise broker that took the time to understand our strengths and weaknesses. We looked at different options from dry cleaners to financial institutions. Junkluggers was a good fit for us because we wanted to be able to give back to the community while developing a for purpose/profit business. We wanted to feel good about what we were going to put our heart and soul into. Further, with changes in the waste management world we felt that we were investing in a market that would continue to grow.

    What was your biggest surprise when you got into business?

We had no idea the competition was so intense with new franchises and local companies just like ours moving into the area every month. We did not anticipate the struggles of staffing, coaching, and maintaining employees. I have had to increase my budget for staffing as I have to pay 30% above what I had thought based on available data when I started the company. The area I am in drives a much higher hourly wage than many of my partner franchisees’ and the headquarters operation. Many owners are owner operators, I have to work through others. There is not a lot of loyalty from employees.  I have had to pivot and look at how to grow my business to achieve the revenue I need to turn this into a successful company.

    What would you have done differently (if you knew what you know now)?

I should have evaluated my competition better. My competitors are not only big companies but very small competitors without the same overhead as myself. I would have researched pricing differently. It makes sense to be a customer of the industry to see how it works and who are the competitors before diving in. I thought I had done enough research, but I should have done more.

   What do you like best about owning your own company?

I get to set my own schedule. I get to create an opportunity for my own financial freedom. I also love that I get to help small local non-profits and really make a difference for people right here in Austin that really need help. It’s a part of my job that feels really good and delights me. I love that this model lets me give back every day in some way.

     What’s next for you and your business?

I will continue to build out the brand in our community and make The Junkluggers the most sustainable and successful junk removal company in Austin. I would like to have a truck donated to 100% working with nonprofits and the community. We would like to expand the humanitarian part of the business. I am working on expanding my growth as a leader by stretching and challenging myself to do new things to be a better change maker. I am committed to making Austin, Texas a better place and have people know that The Junkluggers of Austin is more than a junk hauling company, we have a 100% commitment to enhancing the community of Austin through donations first, then recycling and with community service to ensure that Austin remains the best city to live in the United States of America!

 

 

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