This is a follow up story for The Mobile Locker Co. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi there - Molly O’Connor here, founder and CEO of The Mobile Locker Co, the national leader in event storage solution. Our mobile locker trucks provide secure, convenient storage solutions for attendees and participants of large-scale events, as well as short-term rentals for film production, construction sites, warehouses, and fulfillment centers.
We have tripled our fleet and opened in five new regions, so we are now able to cover anywhere in the US or Canada, and formed partnerships with NFL, NBA, MLB, and MLS organizations, multiple PGA Tour events, collegiate football, and major concert and event venues from coast to coast.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Pre-COVID, we were heading into toward a banner year, expecting at least a 50% revenue growth over last year, introducing a revamped truck design, and looking forward to growing our fleet and opening in new regions. That’s all still on the table, we believe, once we’re on the other end of this crisis.
Focus your efforts on the sales and marketing channels that make the most sense for your business.
To increase sales, our strategy has been two-fold: increase inbound leads through SEO and leverage our current partnerships to gain new event clients. We also brought on an extremely talented sales rep who is laser-focused on the professional sports market. Keeping our efforts narrowed in these two areas as served us well, and we will continue this strategy as we prepare to hopefully pull out of the COVID crisis soon and continue our growth.
We actually also concentrated our social media presence to just Instagram and LinkedIn. Spreading ourselves thin across additional platforms like Facebook and Twitter, was more work than it was the reward. With just Instagram and LinkedIn, we’re able to produce better content for each distinct audience. On Instagram, we aim to connect with our end-user - those who are actually renting lockers, while on LinkedIn, our goal is to connect with the event organizers, stadium operators, and security teams who will be the decision-makers in bringing our service to their event or location.
To manage growth, we have increased our team beyond our new sales rep to include an operations manager and an office admin. We keep our core team small and work with our onsite teams for event execution.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
In the last year (again, pre-COVID), we saw huge growth as we partnered with new MLB, MLS, and NFL venues. To manage that growth, we brought on our operations manager, office admin, and sales rep. There was a bit of learning on the fly with our jam-packed calendar. Prior to this, I was a one-woman show for the most part on the HQ side of things, so transitioning to handing over responsibility and translating so much of what is in my head to others was a challenge for me. If I could rewind 18 months, I would have challenged myself to do some painstakingly detailed procedural documentation. Being a small team, we worked it out, but if I could have provided reference to my team for any question that arises, it could have been a smoother onboarding and transition.
Making the decision to invest in my team was the best move for me, both professionally and personally. I needed to delegate responsibility to not only run a better business and utilize additional talents but also so I can grow into a true CEO and not a Chief Everything Officer. I’ll always be the type of person to help out wherever needed, but my focus needs to be on business development and growth, rather than setting up events and not bogged down in the operational tasks. Also, while there is pressure once you have full-time staff - keeping them happy, rewarded, and motivated, as well as paid! - taking responsibilities off of my plate was important for my mental health.
As much as COVID has thrown a huge, complicated wrench in our plans, we’re working on both a few ways to pivot while we wait for events to be back on and ensure our service is ready to go once we have the green light. That means not only continuing to improve on our service, but also identifying ways to augment our offerings. We’re not exactly sure what the post-COVID event world will look like, so we’re keeping up on developments and making and revising plans as we inch closer to the reality of re-opening.
Fortunately, because we’re almost six years now, we are able to weather this storm. We’ve had to shrink down our expenses, which unfortunately means temporary staff layoffs, and we can’t give our regional event teams the hours they typically see from us. However, we’ve communicated to everyone that we want them back as soon as possible.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
The most exciting part about the upcoming year, other than simply getting back to business, is debuting our new truck design. Based on our experience at thousands of events, we’ve designed a setup that increases our overall locker count as well as our larger locker units. It will also provide for locker access both inside and on the truck exterior which makes our presence even larger and allows for a better flow during busy drop off and pick up times. We’ve managed to do this all with the exact same footprint and with only minor increases to set-up and breakdown time, which is extremely important for our operations.
Five years down the road, we plan to have 35 trucks operating throughout North America with footholds in all major league sports, concert venues, festivals, and every large running event.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I am a total podcast binger! I’m hooked on Gangster Capitalism and Business Wars and loved StartUp on Gimlet. I love hearing the inner working of other businesses - big or small, established, or brand-new.
What’s more interesting to me than hearing someone’s advice or tips for success is diving into the full story, hearing all the highs and lows.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Focus and be realistic.
Focus your efforts on the sales and marketing channels that make the most sense for your business. You don’t need to be everywhere at once, you just want to be in front of the people who will do the actual buying. And, if your budget is small, you need to make every dollar count. For example, we don’t spend any money on social because our first step is a B2B agreement. Instead, almost all of our marketing dollars go to SEO and paid search so the folks who want to bring us to their events can find us.
Also, be realistic. Overnight success is almost always actually supported by years of work, and not always ideal. You want to grow at a pace you can handle, so you can control your output and maintain quality. Having the goal of overnight success or a miraculous seven-figure buyout offer sets you up for disappointment. Of course, you’ll take either! But define success in realistic, achievable terms.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Unfortunately, during COVID, we are not hiring, and we have our new hires and re-hires lined up once we start up again. However, we should be looking to expand sales and operations teams within the next 8 months or so!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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