Success Story

Meet Tressa Wood, Men In Kilts

Tressa’s priorities have always been her family. “From very early on, I knew I would end up running my own business,” she explains. “I wanted the flexibility to spend time with my family and the ability to take charge of my future.”

As part of the early day leadership team at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Tressa helped the company grow from $10m in system wide revenue to over $100 mil in 5 years. After leaving in 2008 to start a family, she started to look for an opportunity that would allow her to continue building her career, but enable her to be home with her children.

Seeing Potential

One day, while sitting in traffic, Tressa spotted a Men In Kilts truck and smiled thinking what a clever brand that it was. From her days at 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Tressa recognized the reaction of customers to services with fun branding, so she contacted them to find out more. Speaking to the founder, Nicholas Brand, she listened to his aspirations to franchise the business, so she jumped in with both feet.

While building out the brand, Tressa had two distinct things at the top of her mind: customer service and making people smile. So, she built the window and exterior cleaning franchise on their ‘Clean Guarantee’, timeliness and of course their team’s legs!

Thinking Ahead

When Tressa arrived at Men In Kilts in 2009 to help them franchise, she spent the entire first year “getting their ducks in a row,” as she puts it. Tressa made sure that the business would survive outside of Canada, and all the way to the East Coast. Their first step was to split their original Vancouver location into two for a trial period and make sure it all went as planned. And, It worked.

Over the last four years, Tressa has grown the company from its sole Vancouver operation to 11 locations across Canada and the US, including Seattle, Boston, Raleigh, New Jersey and Toronto. They are on track for system-wide sales of close to $7 million this year, something she is proud to achieve. “It’s a great feeling to create jobs and watch our team develop in their careers,” she explains. “Building the company to a point that we’re now profitable and sustainable, as well as finally achieving the flexibility and freedom I was aiming for when we started five years ago.”

Bootstrapping

When asked about her biggest lesson in business, Tressa says, “To be patient and persistent. It takes time and hard work to build a business. It doesn’t happen overnight.” Tressa’s inspiration for that persistence is, like all the other entrepreneurs before her, who have done it on their own, without funding. “I think it’s really difficult to start a business on a tiny budget and bootstrap it. When I hear stories of people who have done this and made it through the rough first years, it really resonated with me and motivates me in the low periods.”

Five years after starting the franchise, they are still working on that bootstrap budget, but this year will be the first that they are profitable. Their achievement has been organic and much of it has been down to the smart business strategy and smart hires of freelancers and contractors. It has also been down to the great marketing and brand strategy, which has meant that word of mouth and social media has replaced their paid advertising.

Looking to Grow

So, what are her goals for the future? To spend more time with her two daughters, and to grow the business into a recognizable brand across US and Canada, setting the standard for delivering customer service that, like the fun brand strategy, amazes people.