How to Start a Pet Waste Removal Business

  • This is the ultimate guide to creating your own pet waste removal business this year.
  • Yes, really. You can make money scoop dog poop!
  • To be clear, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme or a sell-cute-jewelry/makeup/yoga pants to your “network” business.
  • This a do work and make real money business.
  • My company Pet Domestic started as a side-business with one customer in 2013. Five years later we have 500+ active customers and $500,000+ annual recurring revenue (and growing each month).
  • I’ll cover all the major points in starting your company and getting your first few customers. Later we’ll discuss how to scale and grow.
  • Follow along with this step-by-step guide to avoid some common mistakes and find out what really works right now.
Pet Waste Removal

CHAPTER 1

Why start a side business?

Are you interested in starting a pooper scooper business while keeping your full time job?

I started my pet waste removal business while working a full-time job.

How? I hustled.

I scooped yards before work, after work, or even during lunch breaks. After I picked up several customers I even hired an employee. All while I kept my other responsibilities in order.

It’s not always easy, but starting a business from scratch never is.

When I was ready (and making double my regular job salary) I quit and took this business full time!

Why start a pooper scooper business?

Benefits and drawbacks

Five years in, Pet Domestic Pet Waste Removal now has over 500 regular customers, turns over $500,000+ in annual recurring revenue and steady growth each year.

My role has shifted from scooper to manager and now entrepreneur as we push to create a long term sustainable business for our customers and employees alike.

Cheap!

No major expenses, no specialized licenses

Learn about the disease spread by dog waste.

Competition

Competition

Some of the best research you can do in starting your business is to research your local competitors in the pet waste removal space.

How? Pull up your favorite browser and google search:

“pet waste removal service” + (your closest major city)

See which businesses pop up at the top. Also note which are running advertisments.

Click around on their websites and make notes on what you like and don’t like. Check out their imagery and the wording on the site and how you might improve.

Next, check out the same companies’ reviews and read what their customers have to say about their experience.

See if they have an online sign-up form and if they have and easy to find phone number. Review their pricing structure.

While you should always make your own decisions for your business and what works best for you and your customers’ needs, you should still be aware of similar companies and how your company may be perceived in the local market.

We have found often pet waste removal companies have not spent much time improving their website. This is a good opportunity for you to set apart your business by setting up an attractive and easy to use site.

Warning :

  • Don’t get discouraged if you see there are strong competitors in your area!
  • This is actually a great sign that there are customers who are ready to sign up for your service and should be viewed as a positive not a negative.
  • I would be more worried if there are no competitors in your area than if there were a lot of competitors. Competition shows you that there is an existing marketplace for your dog waste removal business.
  • When we started in the Washington DC area there were already several established national franchises in the area and nonetheless we quickly found a foothold and loyal customer base.
  • Find the things that you would improve and highlight them as a point of differentiation between you and the competitors and this will help your potential customers choose your company over theirs.

CHAPTER 2

FIRST STEPS - Business Basics

1. Pick a name!

Funny and goofy names abound in this industry. Check out Poodini, ScoopyDoo, or When Doody Daddy for example:

You can also go a more straightforward and generic route like Pet Scoop in Denver or how we did here at Pet Domestic. This can also give you flexibility if your business might add on a product or other pet service like dog walking, dog sitting, etc.

REGISTER THE DOMAIN AND SET UP HOSTING

Once you’ve got an idea, see if the “.com” is available on a domain registry. Host Gator, Blue Host, and many other companies abound to get your website off the ground.

If possible, find a name with the .com available, which should also indicate the name is not trademarked. You want a unique name for your new business! Go ahead and register the name.Cost: $2.99-$10. Godaddy is another easy domain registration and hosting company running a special as low as $2.99.

Once squared away, I recommend installing WordPress, an easy, free, and the most popular way to manage your website.

Build out your Business Website - Add images, contact info

Get a logo made for less than $50 with upwork. Upwork is a great resource where freelancers can be hired for a short gig helping start up your business. Post a flat-fee job for no more than $50 to create a logo with your new business name. Ask them to send it in several high-resolution formats with no
background. Add to your new site!

Selfie time!

Customers today like to connect on a personal level with the businesses they hire, especially when they work on their home. Build trust with a picture of yourself!

It’s ok if you don’t have a uniform yet, just get a simple, friendly and professional picture of your face. This gives your potential customer something instantly to connect with. They’ll know who they’re talking to on the phone and inviting onto their property. Aim for something close to this:

Add your selfie pic on the homepage and in the “about” section.

I followed these steps and had this basic website setup after a few hours work:

Add Contact Info

Once you have a dog owner on your website, make it super easy for them to contact you. Provide a phone number and a web form for your visitors.

Get a unique phone number for your business through Google voice. Cost: FREE

Make sure the area code is local to your area. For us in Northern Virginia, our number is (571) 295-6867, with 571 being a local area code.

Why? Using a local area code rather than a toll-free (800,888, etc) number gives your website a boost in local google searches.

In conversations with our customers we find they researched a few local businesses and made their decision on which to hire quickly. Make it easy for them to pick you: Pick up the phone when they call and offer to help!

Contact info should be standard across your website and all sites you add your company, such as Google my business, Facebook, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc. Website marketing pros refer to this as NAP consistency (Name, Address, Phone).

For example our business is always listed as:

Pet Domestic Pet Waste Removal
1525 Lincoln Way
McLean, VA 22102
(571) 295-6867

CHAPTER 3

Learning how to get customers for your pet waste removal business is the most important part of your new hustle.

How? When a customer calls you, pick up the phone! Do not let it go to voicemail and hope they leave a message. Many wannabe entrepreneur fail here. You’d be surprised at how far along you get just by making yourself available to your potential customers.

Ok, so if you’re me, you say:

“Hello, Pet Domestic, this is Ethan, how can I help you?”

Choose your greeting to be friendly but professional.

What to do with the dog poop?

Make a decision from the beginning whether your company will haul away the dog waste or if you will leave it in the customer’s trash bin. Pet Domestic has always by default hauled away dog waste though many well-known companies leave it.

If you choose to take it with you, for your first few customers you can simply bag up and dispose in your own trash cans but by the time you hit 30+ customers you will likely need to look into a more professional solution.

If you are not ready to rent office space and get a dedicated commercial waste bin, look to team up with a local business and offer. Offer to share their dumpster cost with them in exchange for dumping a couple bags a week in the receptacle.

FAQ

Top 5 Questions to Memorize before Starting!

  1. How much do you charge?

  2. Do you serve my neighbourhood?

  3. When can you be here to clean?

  4. What do you do with the waste after cleaning?

  5. Do you lock up the gates?

These are the top five questions you’ll be asked by your customers.

Don’t worry if you have zero customers, and you’ve never spoken with customers on the phone.Just listen to the customer and ask these basic questions to determine a price:

  1. – Where are you located?
  2. – Would you like to try our no-contract weekly or twice weekly service?
  3. – How many dogs do you have?
  4. – What areas of your home would you like cleaned? Just the backyard?

On a pad of paper, jot down $15.

  • – For every added dog, add $2.
  • – For twice weekly service, subtract $1.
  • – Back yard service included. Add $2 for front yard.
  • – Add $2-4 for services such as hose-off patio or spray deodorizer.

You should end up with about $18-19 per visit per customer. Ask if the price sounds good to
them.

Yes? Great! then get the following info:

  • – Full name, email, phone number
  • – Street address
  • – Notes on how to access the property
  • – Any special requests on how to best serve their home
  • – Can I work with your dogs in the yard?

A1 – First question of location is important to decide if you can serve them or not. To start, I recommend starting with a small area, no more than 5 miles from your home. You will get calls from outside this area, and you will have to say “I’m sorry, but your home is outside our service area. You can check out [other highly-rated company] and I hope they can help you out!”

Turning away interested customers wanting to give you money sounds like bad business, but trust me, taking a customer in a far away area (25 miles west of us) or one in a high-traffic location (downtown city location with no parking) is a surefire way to lose money.

A2 – Most customers will want your service on a regular, recurring basis. Our most popular choice is once weekly. We also love our twice weekly customers, who give us twice the work (and nearly twice the revenue!).

Some customers will ask for a one-time cleanup or ad-hoc work. This is a way to make a quick buck, but not how you will build a sustainable business.

Pet waste removal customers want to make a decision quickly on which company to hire, and get back to living their life. So the phone call won’t be long.

Assemble Your Work Kit

Got that first customer? Success!

Now it’s time to get ready to work. All equipment and supplies can be sourced quickly and easily. You will need:

  1. Scooping Rake – (Corona GT 3070 Extendable Handle Cultivator or similar)
  2. Lobby dust bin – Quickie brand – Professional Plastic Upright Dustpan
  3. Water Sprayer – Chapin International – 1 or 2 gallon
  4. Bottle sprayer – Any brand in 16-32 oz. will work
  5. Bleach – Real bleach, available at any grocery, hardware, or drug store.
  6. White Trash bags – 13 gallon, kitchen sized
  7. Black Trash bags – 30 gallon, large.
  8. Plastic tub to organize everything – Medium sized
  9. Simple work uniform – Plain collared polo shirt, khaki pants, work boots.
  10. Vehicle and smartphone for navigation – Track your business miles and phone usage!

All in, your investment with these items is under $200, as long as you have a vehicle and phone to use.

CHAPTER 4

Scoop the Poop!

Some might think scooping dog poop as a profession is not much different from doing it for your own dog at home.

However, now we’re being paid to do it, elevating the service to a professional level is a must to retain clients. Here’s how to do it:

Park your vehicle on the street, not their driveway. As a worker on our customer’s property, we never want to inconvenience the owner and potentially blocking in their vehicle while working.

Confirm you are at the correct address.

This may sound silly, but employees of ours have at times cleaned the a neighbor’s yard rather than our paying customer. This causes two problems, one: your client still has dog waste in their lawn, and two: the neighbor is confused why a person they did not hire is in their yard, and is concerned they will be billed. Best to avoid this by double checking the number on the mailbox or front door. Townhouses in a block of 7+ homes can particularly be a
challenge.

Once you’ve established the correct house and yard, get your rake and dust pan from your vehicle. Line the dust pan with a white (13 gallon) trash bag and clip into place.

Next enter the backyard, if that’s their requested area for cleaning. Our typical customer has a gated backyard area, with a simple latched gate.

Extremely important note: Relatch the gate when you enter!

We have some escape artist dogs that will bolt out of the yard through a gate door left ajar. Relatch tightly and keep your customer’s dogs safe and secure.

Now, in the correct yard, get to work walking the yard in a grid pattern, like you would mowing the lawn. Gently loosen and flip them into your bucket with a quick motion.

Train your eyes to the ground, looking for the dog waste. Small dog breed’s waste can be tough to spot, so focus on the lawn and you should begin to be able to spot it more easily. If you fill up your dust pan more than halfway, remove the bag, tie up and start with a fresh bag. Collect all bags before leaving.

Walk the main part of the yard in a grid, but also be sure to check the less obvious spots a dog might hide: mulched bushes, flower beds, under a playground, behind a shed, beneath a deck, etc.

Within reason, you should be checking the entire property, and especially focus on high traffic areas near patios and their back door.

Aim to spend about 10-20 minutes per yard cleaning, but for first visits, this may go longer. Clean the yard until you cannot find anymore waste after several passes back and forth.

While cleaning, always work to establish your company’s top level of care and attention. Aim to be friendly but professional in all interactions with your customers. We do this by:

  • – Work efficiently and quietly.
  • – Be gentle on customer’s property, not to damage gates, step on flowers, and treat
    their home as your own (or better!).
  • – If dogs in yard, be friendly but not overly comfortable. It’s fine to greet a
    friendly dog, but do not spend extended time playing. You are hired by the homeowner
    to clean up, not becoming best buds with the pups.
  • – Leave everything as it was, especially in how gates are secured.

ADVANCED CONCEPTS

Decide geo areas. Monday Thursday split.

How to stack routes.

Decide if this is for you

WEBSITE SEO

Billing your customers.

Pet waste removal is a great business in that dogs poop year-round. Our service is a reliable subscription business where we grow each month and have a predictable income. At the same time this business does take some time to develop a good customer base, but once you do have hundreds of customers you will enjoy steady stream of income.

Getting paid!

What’s the best way to bill your customers?

Should you accept all forms of payment? Debit, credit cards, cash, bitcoin?

I recommend you start from the very beginning only accepting debit or credit cards through a payment processor like Stripe.

Payments summary from Stripe

Our first year in business we at times accepted promises of a check or even cash and found this hard to keep track of and at our current level of several hundred accounts would be impossible to manage with a very small office staff.

Stripe does have a drawback in that they have about a 3% fee to use the service. Once you set up a customer’s subscription it is extremely easy to manage on a monthly basis. No invoicing!

Sign up for an account at Stripe.com and pair with your dedicated business checking account and you will receive payments on a regular basis.

We bill our customers on our flat monthly rate which we calculated by taking the per visit rate multiply by 52 visits per year divided by 12 months in the year and that is their averaged flat rate for example $17.95 per visit equals $78 per month.

An emailed Stripe receipt our customers receive each month. Easy to
setup and track.

This gives the customer the same rate per month and same billing date every month. Don’t forget that there are more than four weeks per month.

Let’s say a customer has Friday service. Check out the calendar. Some months have four Fridays, but many have five. On average, there are 4.34 weeks per month.

Don’t leave money on the table!

What if a customer calls up and wants to pay with a check?

We politely explain that in order to keep our prices low we require a debit or credit card and that is our business practice. Occasionally a customer may request to pay cash after your visit.

Again, we explain that we require a debit or credit card and only put a hold on the amount to be charged for the first visit and they will have one full month to review our work with 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy before any charges are made to their card.

Nearly all customers are satisfied with this policy but you may encounter a few that are set on paying only cash or a paper check and we encourage them to try another company. You will lose very little business with a debit or credit card policy.

Pro-tip: Customer set on paying cash or check will likely be difficult in the future. 🙂

CHAPTER 5

Customer Service

<<< fill in with section here on customer service >>>>

CHAPTER 6

Marketing and Advertising

Good reviews are your best marketing.

But new businesses have a big challenge. They’re completely unknown!

Even a medicore reputation is better than no reputation at all.

Potential customers want to be able to trust you but an unknown company is a risk many people avoid. Online reviews will help you establish your reputation and trust quickly in your area.

Reviews are critical to any modern business. I personally don’t sign up for any service or business without first checking the reviews, and always look through the negative reviews.

Showcase your new business by getting great reviews from your happy customers.

Great! So how do you do that, and which websites are the best to focus on?

Here’s what we have found in 6+ years of running a pooper scooper business is that you want to focus on Google reviews and Facebook reviews.

Afterward, you can build out a profile on Angie’s List, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau BBB.org as your company matures.

Google reviews are posted on your Google my business page. Set up your page with accurate name, address, and phone number information so potential customers can learn about your business, read reviews, and sign up all in one place.

Get feedback!

From your very first customer you should ask for feedback through a phone call email or even a text message. Ask for feedback right after you complete your first visit to see if they have any comments or questions.

Hopefully you’ve done a great job not only with the sign-up process and how they initially got started with your company, but after the cleaning they’ll be so impressed with the cleanliness of their lawn and how easy it was to work with your company that they’ll be more than happy to help your company with a short review on your website of choice.

Pet Domestic has reached out throughout our history to engage customers and solicit feedback.

We showcase our professionalism with real customers’ experience working with us and we encourage feedback with an email after the initial visit with links to Google, Facebook, and Yelp for reviews.

Don’t be shy!

Customers will often write reviews unprompted but as it were many very happy customers simply never get around to it. They enjoyed working with us, but needing an invitation to put pen to paper. Some even mention they appreciate being asked and knowing their feedback was wanted. That said, we do not violate any terms and conditions of the websites by offering any financial incentives or discounts.

Make sure to spread your reviews around to the various important websites Google, Facebook, Angie’s List and Yelp evenly, but first focus on building out Google and Facebook.

I would recommend starting with Google and Facebook and aim to get at least 10 reviews on each website before moving on to the other smaller website but still focusing on making Google your number one priority.

Recommendations and reviews from your past customers are the absolute most powerful tool for building trust with new customers. Potential clients want to make sure that they are signing up with a trusted company that will deliver on its promises before engaging with you.

Reviews and recommendations from friends and posts on community websites such as Nextdoor.com are extremely convincing, and leverage your current customers. It’s essentially free marketing!

Negative Reviews – Problem-solving + professionalism

Any business will at times encounter negative reviews.

Here are some best practices in how to respond to poor remarks on your public facing review websites.

First, of course by doing good work and engaging with your customers in a respectful manner at all times, even if you receive a complaint, is the best way to avoid negative reviews. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

However if you do receive a review of one, two, or three stars we feel as a business we should provide some more context that may be useful to others reading the review to make a fair judgment about the poster’s merits.

Always be honest with your response and give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt. Give the respect to be entitled to their own opinions but always maintain your position of doing the best job you can, while being fair to yourself, employees, and company.

1. Apologize and empathize.

Nobody likes to sign up for a business and then be disappointed so make sure you apologize that they had a bad experience and empathize with whatever issue they may have had. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

Further, thank them for the feedback in that all feedback positive or negative helps your business learn and become better. This important wording honors your customer’s public remarks and let it be known that you were not thin skinned and unable to take constructive criticism. A pooper-scooper business especially should not feel that they are above criticism, as we are here to serve customers, dogs, and their properties’ needs.

2. Offer a solution.

Say, the customer complained that they were missed the areas in their yard after your cleaning. After apologizing and saying that you feel sorry that they feel this way. Offer a complimentary re-cleaning at their preferred date.

Pet Domestic receives very few complaints or refund requests, and if you’re doing good work you should also find similar results. Offers of a quick redo visit should smooth over any complaints. Potential customers reading your interactions with low stars but likely give them confidence that even if your service isn’t what they expected, they will not be charged for it and you will honor your 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Always maintain professionalism and never engage in a personal personal comments. Avoid questioning your reviewers intent and certainly never attack the other person personally. While you may be tempted to fight fire with fire unfortunately as a small business we are in a one way relationship when it comes to feedback. Especially in a public setting such as Google reviews which can be viewed by anybody.

Here’s a real life example of how we responded to a poor review:

If you do feel there are malicious reviews posted by competitors or are otherwise fraudulent there are systems to report such abuse. Hopefully those fakes will be taken down, however as a small local business you should not spend much time on this type of threat as your business will likely not encounter enemies as long as you play by the rules.

Pet Domestic does not currently respond to positive reviews, but we do write a short email message or text thanking the customer for leaving the feedback. We feel publicly thanking reviewer’s good reviews can appear as though we are generating these reviews or even posting fake reviews.

To Recap:

Once you’ve found your customers, do good work; After your initial visit, ask for a review.

Do it right after that first visit, because this is the point where your customer is most excited. They now have somebody clean their lawn free of dog waste, for a fair price, and never have to think about it again. It’s a revelation for dog owners!

Advertising

Advertising goes hand in hand with marketing, but it is certainly is not the only method of generating new customers.

In looking over our Google Analytics data we are currently pulling in about 25% of our customers through paid online advertisements.

Google ads are a great resource for new businesses that do not have an established website.

To get started, sign up for a Google Adwords account and set a budget that you can comfortably pay. Begin with about 50 or $100 per month so your costs do not exceed your budget. Always keep an eye on your spend and how many customers these ads are generating. Use Google ads tools to establish a conversion goal and monitor this on a regular basis at least once a month to see how you’re doing.

Today, we currently spend between 500 and $1000 on ads per month which generates us between 7 to 15 new customers on average per month. This means each customer cost about $50 – 100 which we are happy to pay.

You may be asking, “Why are we happy to pay up to $100 per customer? That sounds like a lot of money?”

Answer: Our average customer on average spends about $2000 with us. So for $2000 in revenue we have spent on average about $75 via our paid ad.

Here are some examples of Google ads we currently run and feel free to use a similar ad for your ad copy.

Service Area

It is very important to pick a tight geographic region for where your Google ads will pop up.

You can be very specific with Google ads on which neighborhoods to target. Aim for a convenient location near your home to start, if you are working by yourself or where your potential employees will be working. A general rule of thumb is to keep your service area to no more than 25 mile radius. Very important!

Keep your keyword bids to a reasonable dollar amount no more than aim for about $5 dollars per click. Here are some focused key terms to focus on which should find you some great potential customers.

pet waste removal
pooper scooper service
pooper scooper company
pet waste removal company
pet waste removal service + (your geographical area), i.e. Portland, Orlando, etc.

More general keywords like “dogs” or “dog poop” can possibly lead to new customers, but bid low, about $.25-.50 per click since these are less likely to be interested in your business.

Done right, Google ads can be a wonderful, ongoing stream of new customers for your business. Ad copy can be made into a template which can be kept available to be advertised indefinitely.

Since our business is not very seasonal we can keep the same ad copy up 12 months a year and never have to worry about changing the ad. Feel free to experiment with seasonal advertising or holidays if you feel so inclined, but we have not found these adjustments to net

Facebook advertising.

At times we have found success with Facebook advertising but it has been inconsistent and not a simple to implement as Google ads here are some examples of Facebook ads which have at times found success.

mobile_view

Some pooper scooper companies have even branched out into other platforms such as Instagram.

Here’s a link to a local company in Indianapolis that has found success posting their materials to Instagram as a form of marketing.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<< pic of IG ad >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Marketing Strategy

Start with free marketing such as setting up a Google My Business local page and Facebook.

Make sure your business name is consistently posted there along with a picture of yourself in uniform. As you get new customers ask them for permission to take a picture of their yard, and if possible their dogs looking happy in their nice, clean yard.

After you’re done post these to your Google and Facebook pages. Make it a habit to post these on your Google page photos and Facebook timeline with the neighborhood location to give to help identify what you do where you do it and how great you do it as well. Here’s an example below:

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< example>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Keep your marketing fun happy!

Focus on the benefits that your customer will receive by signing up for your service and not on the dirty business of dog poop.

For example you could show a happy dog playing in the yard with a tennis ball or frisbee with your offer. If possible include some other happy imagery such as a family playing having a backyard barbecue. They don’t have to worry at all about the family running around the with bare feet.

Some pooper scooper companies get caught up in posting pictures of the collected waste or poop jokes. Don’t give your customers that “ick” factor, and stay positive and on-message.

As they say in restaurants you sell the sizzle not the steak.

Working with dogs.

I love dogs, and I make sure that all my employees love dogs as a requirement for working at Pet Domestic.

We leave the option open to our customers to keep their dogs in the backyard if they prefer. We always lock up their gates as we always walk in and out of the property. As we leave we always triple check to make sure the gate is locked up tight.

Some dogs can push their way out or find sneaky ways to get out of the backyard. We need to make sure that our customers know we work hard each and every visit to make sure that the dogs are safe and secure.

So first as we enter the property we take a quick look around the immediate area. Just in case the dog is looking to dart out behind us, we quickly relatch the gate after entering. We go about our work and if the dog is friendly we always greet them and make sure they feel comfortable with us being on their territory.

Some dogs are less friendly and are possibly a little at times nervous have our presence and we respect them as we are their guest. Always leave space for a more reserved or anxious dog and in time she should become comfortable with our presence.

We focus first on the business of scooping the yard completely clean of all dog waste and if possible we may greet our customer’s dogs. If there is time available, we may even play a quick game of catch, but always maintaining a level of professionalism and not becoming overly comfortable.

Remember we’re paid to clean dog waste, not become best friends with their dogs.

Sometimes I’m asked how do we handle an aggressive dog. Rarely we encounter a dog that is truly aggressive, and if we feel or we hear from the customer that the dog will not be able to have us in the yard at the same time as him we ask that the dog be kept inside on our cleaning days.

We always stick to a set schedule and keeping the dog inside on their assigned days should not be too much of an inconvenience for most of our customers. A text/call ahead of time or a knock on the door is a frequent request for these customers. It gives them a moment to secure the pup and let us get to work.

On rare occasions we have had to ask customers to keep the dogs inside as they have acted aggressively towards our employees. We reserve that right to always be safe while working. However almost all dogs can be worked with in the yard as long as you leave them their space and work efficiently.

As a further precaution we have insurance in the form of pet sitter’s insurance link here and always pay our workers comp Worker’s Compensation insurance just in case a incident does occur however prevention is the best form is the best policy.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Pet Sitter’s insurance >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

or

Set up the business to be legal

Accounting
Insurance
Business license

New customers, new friends
Find new customers with a great website (phone number and contact form)
Review sites
Ads – google, facebook, bing. Do not use yelp!!!!
Referrals from existing customers. Do great work, and your customers will mention it to their friends.
Angie’s list

Optimize the work

Use routing software
CRM

Taking the business to the next level
After 30 employees
Hiring your first employee
Vehicle wrap
Taking the business full time. When we hit

Pooper Scooper Company Marketing

CHAPTER 7

Hiring

Hiring your first employee

I was working in a full-time job for the first three years of my business. I found it difficult after my first 10 regular customers to keep up with the workload. Since I was trying to build a long-term profitable business, I decided to hire an employee. I knew that an employee would be soaking up most of my profits in the beginning. This business works well with dozens or hundreds of customers. I knew from crunching the numbers, that if I was able to build up a large customer base, I would need to hire employees to help. This was whether or not I had a full-time job. SInce I had other considerations and wanted to maintain my full-time job, I decided to hire an employee. It was the right decision for me. Hiring is a complicated issue, especially in the beginning. It is unlikely that you will be able to offer a potential employee the kind of full-time hours or benefits that a larger employer can provide.

If you do need the income, then I recommend that you continue working on the routes as best you can. If you have another full-time job, then this can be your weekend gig. However, I would recommend that you try to hire well.

For your first hire, I have had luck with the websites, indeed.com, craigslist and Facebook. I recommend that you cast a wide net. You don’t want to limit yourself, especially if there is a minimal or no cost to place an ad. It is always good to do extra work in the beginning, so that you can hire the right person. Hiring a person quickly may not work with your organization. You shouldn’t get overly optimistic that the employee will be as good of a worker as you are or do everything exactly as you expect to be done. However, you should be a disciplined employer who has certain expectations for everyone, including yourself.

We asked the same set of questions to all of our employees, which shows that you will be aware of your local hiring laws with all the questions and requirements for hiring. If this is not done properly, it can result in lawsuits and give your company a potential source of liability.

We currently provide each of our employees with a truck, company phone and a clear route for each day’s work. If you are unable to pay for this or if it is initially more than you can afford, I recommend finding an employee with a truck, who is willing to use that personal vehicle. You can then reimburse them for the mileage, so that you do not incur the additional cost of purchasing a vehicle. We ensure that we reimburse miles for our employees in the first couple years in this manner.

Accounting, taxes and other kinds of punishment. As with any small business, taxes and your costs will have to be tracked. At the very least, you should open a separate bank account with at least a debit card. This will allow you to separate all pooper scooper company related expenses and revenue in one account. It will be completely separate from your personal account. This will assist with your taxes, if you’re doing your taxes on your own. It is especially important, if you are going to be turning over future responsibilities to a bookkeeper.

How not to get customer mailers

Flyers
Door hangers
EDM
Newspaper ads
Radio ads, TV ads

There are several methods that I do not recommend using for acquiring new customers. As a new business, many account managers at advertising companies will reach out to sell you on the advantages of their advertising program. However, I do not recommend signing up for their services, because they are too costly and they are not effective in acquiring waste removal customers.

As soon as you set up a website for a local service business, you will get calls from companies that will trick you, by even offering an award for being an outstanding new business. They say that they would love to give you this award for a low price of several hundred dollars. They promise in exchange to place a link to your website spot on their website.

Dog questionable is a rather niche business. I discovered this personally and in discussions with other pet waste removal professionals. These traditional methods of advertising should be avoided. These include radio ads, newspaper ads, TV ads and a light.

The US Postal Service offers a service that I thought would be very good for our business. However, it turned out to be a lot of work without much payoff. It is known as ED DM (every door direct mail). While it may work well for businesses that appeal to most people, such as pizza dental offices or real estate, they do not work for dog waste or mobile.

I am for size that even though dogs are popular and Long to popular Dog Waste removal is a niche business and especially in the beginning when our budget is limited and

In the beginning, when your budget is limited and you don’t know what will work and what won’t work, I really recommend sticking to free or cheap advertising or marketing resources. I would avoid these expensive and complicated methods for spreading the word. ED DM is a low-cost option, where the post office offers to deliver a piece of mail for about half the price that it would normally cost. While you can target your favorite neighborhoods with some very helpful tools, you will find in the end it will probably not succeed.

For example, in 2014, I delivered about 10,000 pieces of mail to a couple of hundred houses for the cost of about $6000. and received for my work to new customers to customers for $6000 or threeOne new customer for $3000 spent will not make for a good business. By comparison, our Google ad campaigns and organic SCO dollars spent returns customer for every $50-$100. However, these ads bins are sustainable for a long-term business.

One new customer that costs $3000 will not make for a good business.

Other methods I recommend avoiding or at least trying at the very last door hangers or coupon play tabs that you might see at the supermarket a door hanger you might ought to do yourself and that just like a cleaning service or do you delivery might in an apartment complex or other dense areas like a townhouse community leave a flyer on every single door in a neighborhood and while this may be attractive and that printing costs are relatively cheap you will do a lot of work you will I underestimate the amount of work spent to hang advertisement on every single door knob in the neighborhood. In the early days of petdomestic, I personally hung about 500 flyers. This took me about 500 minutes or about eight hours of work delivering and hanging door hangers back-and-forth, back-and-forth. This practice may or may not be legal. You will often run into one or two angry neighbors that you were soliciting in their neighborhood. Whether or not it’s legal, you are spamming a community of people where 99% of them are not interested in your service. This is primarily because you have no idea who has a dog, a yard and would be interested in your service. You should stick to targeted online methods, which will quickly deliver qualified candidates for your business. Remember that your customers will seek you out, if they want pet waste removal services for their home. When they find you, they will gladly pay you, if you do good work for them. Therefore, focus on showing that your business to be a trusted and responsive resource. They will knock on your door and call you with credit card in hand ready to go.

Commercial accounts.
I recommend that you stay away from commercial accounts, such as homeowners associations, apartment buildings and dog parks and stay focused on residential homeowners. The typical homeowner is a family with a husband, wife and some children. The wife and the husband usually consult with each other and decide to sign up for your business. By contrast, a commercial account requires dozens of approvals, research time and other work on your end. A residential customer might ask you questions about your prices or when you come out this week. A commercial account customer will ask you dozens of questions and often request a custom solution for their community. This will require custom attention for every customer. Some companies find their commercial accounts to be profitable. They feel that it is worth the time and energy. This is even though they are signing up for a lot more work and headaches than with your residential accounts. Commercial accounts often ask for pooper scoop or station installation. This involves mixing concrete and digging a two-foot hole in the ground. It is also necessary to call the utility company to make sure there are no buried lines nearby. It is also necessary to supply dog bags and to keep track of the keys for each station. Residential customers, by contrast, are simple, easy and much less hassle. With commercial accounts, such as an apartment building, where you may have more revenue than a typical home, you also have every single resident of that apartment complex as your customer. As a result, there may be several complaints about your work, while with individual homes, there will only be a handful. The people that live in the home and are typically more forgiving than an apartment complex of 100+ dog owners.

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You should set up your website, once you’ve decided on a name and a.com registration and hosting. Your website should be a simple and attractive resource for your company. It will allow your customers to get an idea about who you are and what you offer. It is best to keep things simple with very big pictures showing happy dog owners. You could also include a picture of yourself in uniform (or if you later have employees) to give potential customers an idea about what they’re signing up for.

If you have any your room on your site, share your reviews and have a link to them. You should provide answers to basic questions which on your prices and the areas that you serve. These are relatively advanced techniques. However, you should be sure to set up your website with some basic Ezio search engine optimization. You should optimize the words for the key terms such as waste removal company and pooper scoop or service.

Make sure that your page is mobile optimized and looks good on an iPhone or android phone. This is important since the majority of your customers will be viewing your webpage on a phone rather than a laptop. You should, therefore, gear your website to be optimally viewed on the phone first and then every other device second. As you grow, you should implement an online sign-up portal. However, when you’re just getting started, you should have a big easy link to call your main telephone number. It is important to refer to this phone number in many places on your website. This will make it easy for your customers to find you.

It is very likely that your competition does not have a great website. Therefore, this is an easy way to set yourself apart from your local competitors, by having a modern and attractive website that quickly answers your customers questions. Remember that pet waste removal customers want to make a quick decision. As long as they feel that they can trust your company and you provide the service that they want in their area, they will sign up with you, so they can get back to more important things.

If you now have a few customers (even 10 to 20 customers) and want to keep track of them quickly, it will be difficult to keep track of how best to serve them with all of the pertinent information, such as their name and address and when they’re being billed. You can start with routing software to keep your schedule straight. Removal is great because we offer a year-round schedule. Most customers will be only once a week schedule for the whole year. We use a great app called Your book or your book.com. Most of its features are offered free, although there are a couple of low-cost premium features for about $40 to $50 a month.

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The best feature of your book is the route optimization. Even if you have just a handful of customers, it will speed up how quickly you can move through your route and not waste time in traffic. There are some other online resources like jobber and, Servicemaster pro which you can check out and may like better.

They also offer some basic CRM customer resource management software that allows us to keep track of the customer’s name, address, phone number and email if you need to reach out and contact them about their service. Our techs get a request to send a text message before their visit and we include this in the service notes.

COMMENTS

Pics

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CHAPTER 8

Scaling up to 100+ customers

CHAPTER 9

Shortcuts: Franchising, Buying a Company

What about a franchise? Would joining up with a national franchise be a good idea?

Possibly. Large franchises may assist in getting trained on their operations and help you to get some customers in the door.

However, it is important to consider that franchises require substantial upfront cash investments ($30,000+) and then regular royalty payments. It can amount to 7-9% of revenue, not profit. That’s a lot of money.

With franchises, you’re building someone else’s brand. Therefore, you will never create an asset for yourself. Your parent corporation owns your customers and you cannot sell your business.

I believe that franchising can work well for other industries, like restaurants, where many customers show up on Day 1, such as: “A new Jimmy John’s just opened!”. However, a pooper scooper business’s customers show up one at a time, which can take years to grow. This is true of both independent or franchised operations.

If you’re starting a business, you don’t want another boss. If you work through the challenges on your own, you’ll retain your freedom and make more money in the end.

Do you want to start a pet waste removal business or do you already have one? Let us know about any questions in the comments section.

The pricing of your services is extremely important to making a profit. I learned this the hard way. in there when I first started out with that domestic I charge two little I thought as a new business you were unknown and they were big competitors with established brands that would charge a premium and to stay competitive we were charged less I would not recommend even from the very beginning that you starting out always charge it least what your competitors are charging in your area I have found the opposite to be true. By discounting your services, you are sending a message that you are of a lower quality and are less likely to be trusted. As a result, you were competing for lower quality customers. You want to attract customers who are not necessarily just looking for the best price but also for a long-term sustainable business that is properly insured and treat their employees well. They are willing to pay the fair market or even, at times, a premium price. for those companies these are your best customers easel the longest and then pay the bill more like the one time I have found in offering discounts

I have found that by offering discounts you attract the kind of customers who will sign up, just for a couple visits. Then they will cancel and maybe move on to the next discount company.

I recommend looking around at your competition for your own information. However, you should probably be charging on average of about $17 per visit. You can offer a small discount such as a one dollar per visit discount or twice weekly services. I would recommend that for every other week’s services, you either do not offer the service or if you do, add a significant amount to the purpose of rate Here is what my initial table of prices look like: need table here

We now offer an easy pricing tool, so the customer does not have to look through the spreadsheet. It is a much cleaner interface. However, when you are getting started, you can just post a table like this to your website, Facebook and any other places where you are advertising your company. In this way, the customers will be able to easily look at the prices. It is important because it is the number one question that you will be getting.

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Mobile view of Pet Domestic pricing/signup page

Here is what Pet Domestics’ prices look like.

Why is pricing so important and why do I emphasize it so much? It is because your costs are fixed for performing this service. The cost include your equipment, the gas for your vehicle, the bags and the rakes. Everything that goes into this is a fixed price. It doesn’t matter whether you charge five dollars a visit, $10 a visit or a hundred dollars a visit. What you probably should be charging is about $17 per visit. Your costs will be the same. You would be working for free, if you charged an average of five dollars per visit. You would lose money on every customer. if we charge a fair rate $70 per visit to make a fair price or we were to charge extreme Home out sure we could potential he make more profit Per customerHowever, there is a limit to how much you can charge per customer, before you start to lose customers. you Polin per month do you acquire permit We have found the price to be about $17 to $20 per visit. This is about the going rate for our area outside of Washington DC. Your local markets may vary but we have found that prices tend to be about the same. whether we’re prices for this kind of work or about the same for your costs and therefore your profits should be able to be a similar price

We have so far discussed regular, recurring service weekly, twice weekly or biweekly. We occasionally get requests for one-time cleanings. This is most common in the springtime for people who let their yards go during the winter. We currently charge a flat rate of $85. When we receive this request, we always offer our regular, recurring service as a better solution. At the end of the first month it is actually cheaper for four visits or a once a week service. The $85 one-time cleaning is about the same as our monthly cleaning fee of $80.

We like to have them try out our new contract for satisfaction guaranteed service. They will be able to enjoy never having to worry about doing the work themselves again. This approach often works. However, if a homeowner is determined to use our service just for a one time cleaning, we offer it for an $85 one-time charge. We probably do a few dozen of these each year. You can choose your own rate, if you want to charge more or less than that. However, we find that the set-up cost for the new customer requires that we charge a little bit extra, than it might take a typical one time cleaning. You never know what you’re going to find with each new customer. However, it’s very rare for us to take more than one hour. Therefore, we find that $85 is a reasonable amount.

We like to have them try out our new contract on a percent satisfaction guaranteed service. This way they can see if they enjoy never having to worry about doing the work themselves again. It has been our experience that this often works. This is a fair price for the amount of time it takes us to set up the customer account, to get started with that customer and get our bearings. We also price in some risk that is involved with any new customer relationship. There will likely be a few more hiccups then our tried-and-true to long-term customers. We set that price if they are only committing to a one-time cleaning with us. We always charge a little bit extra to protect ourselves. Nevertheless, we still give them 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed service. If needed, we will return until they are completely satisfied with our work.

Add-ons

We do like to keep our business very simple and, therefore, we only offer dog waste removal and not other typical dog related services, such as dog walking, sitting, grooming etc. If the customer would like some other simple services that we can accomplish while we are doing our poop scooping, we offer deodorizer service for an extra two dollars per visit. We also offer to clean the patio or other hard surfaces. However, that is an ad-on due to the increased time required for our cleaners. We also offer a hose off service, provided that the customer gives us access to a hose. This allows us to hose off the area, so the customer can have a perfectly clean patio or deck (if they get dogs that area).

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Add-ons give customer options for a more premium service

Add-ons are a great way to boost your total revenue per customer. Many customers always will choose the premium package. This is called price anchoring. It’s always good to offer these services, even if the customer never chooses to purchase them. With the deodorizer and hose- off service, if they may feel they are getting a discount by not choosing the services. If you offer these services, it them just those customers that you are a premium level provider and that they are getting a good value for their basic service. About half of our customers just get the basic service. The add-ons are a great way to boost your total revenue per customer. Many customers will always choose the premium package. This is called price anchoring. It’s always good to offer these add-ons, even if the customer does not choose to use them.This is because the customer will feel that they are getting a discount. They believe that they are getting a great deal on their service because they chose to just get the basic service. They feel like they’re getting away with something. We always like to give our customers what they want.

COMPETITION

Competition is not something you should spend a lot of time working on. However, it is always something to keep in mind, in case your potential customers are referred to one of your local competitors. You should pay attention to what they offer or to their pricing. It is good to have as much local industry knowledge as possible. We use knowledge about competitors as a way to differentiate our business. Many of our current competitors are franchised, nationwide companies. By contrast, we choose to position ourselves as a local and independent company that is easily accessible. We have no call centers. All of our calls are currently directly handled by the owner. Our customers value that direct local relationship. This is an advantage of being a small local company versus a large national brand. Residents of our area are very proud to support local companies, rather than a franchise organization.

Nevertheless, you should not spend too much time worrying about what your competitors are doing. There are profits to be made in this business without having to worry about what somebody else is doing. We have found that our franchise competitors and a few local independent ones are all making good profits and succeeding in their businesses without getting into the type of disagreements or unpleasant competitiveness that is prevalent in other industries. Although you should familiarize yourself with the pricing of your local competitors, Your primary focus should be on yourself and what you can offer to the local community.

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