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Start a Dog Pooper Scooper Business

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It may not be your first choice for starting a pet or animal-related business, but you should consider a dog pooper scooper and waste removal business just the same.

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Pooper scooper businesses are one of the fastest growning pet-related businesses in the country. With the explosion of dog ownership, and more people pressed for time these days, dog owners are increasingly willing to pay to have someone clean up after their beloved pets.

There are a number of advantages with this type of business, including low start-up costs, no special training or skills needed, you can work out of your home, and no need to buy a lot of expensive specialized equipment.

If you own a car, and can handle plastic bags and a shovel, and you’re not put off by less-than-aeromatic smells, you can operate this business.

On the other hand, running a dog waste removal business is dirty work, and you’ll need to have a thick skin when telling friends and family what you do for a living. But this shouldn’t be a deterrent, as the rewards of owning and operating your own home-based business far outweigh the potential drawbacks.

The pet services industry continues to grow faster than the overall economy, and was projected to top $4 billion in 2012 alone. And even if you don’t want to do the “dirty” work yourself, if you have good business skills, you can manage a pooper-scooper service and hire out the actual work to others.

Getting Started

First off, don’t quit your day job just yet. While it’s true that a pet waste removal business can earn you a very good income, it does take time to build up a regular clientele, so you’ll need other income while you’re building up your business.

The next step is to purchase the equipment you’ll need to run your new business venture. You’ll need a reliable car for starters, plus a shovel or “pooper scooper” of the type found at Petsmart or other pet stores. Additional equipment includes a good rake, work gloves, and sturdy trash bags (not the thin type that tear easily).

As your pooper scooper business grows, you might want to invest in a pickup truck (if you don’t already own one) or a van in which to haul your tools and waste bags. Also consider installing magnetic signs on the vehicle advertising your business, along with your phone number and website address of course.

Another thing you’ll need to do is register your new business in the state in which you plan on operating, with a registered trade name and federal tax ID. This is a service business, so you normally won’t be collecting sales taxes from clients, but you’ll want the tax ID anyway.

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It’s also a good idea to pay the extra money to purchase bonding coverage and liability insurance, which will cover you in case of an accident or some sort of damage to the client’s property while you’re working there. The bonding coverage, while an additional expense, gives your clients the piece of mind that they can trust you to do the work and complete the job.

It’s also a good idea before starting a pooper-scooper business to check with the health department in your area. Most have specific regulations regarding the removal of pet waste, and how to dispose of it. For example, some counties in the US allow pet waste to be disposed of in the owner’s garbage pickup.

While others require that this material be taken to a landfill for disposal. If the latter is the case, you’ll want to charge a little extra for the time and expense of driving to a landfill in your area.

Pricing, advertising, and other considerations

One of the hardest tasks that many new pet waste removal business owners face is deciding how much to charge. There is no one right or wrong answer as far as removal rates go, but a good place to start might be a $8 to $12 weekly charge for a single dog, and $12 to $18 for two or more dogs in the household. You might also consider offering a lower rate for customers who commit for a three or six month period.

Depending on the distance between jobs, most removal experts can expect to handle anywhere from three to eight jobs per hour. As you can see if you run the numbers, there is good money to be made in this business, especially as work increases and you build up a loyal clientele.

You might also consider offering additional services to your clients as a way of expanding your business. For example, you could offer to perform yard repairs, such as treating the yellow spots in the grass that often appear from pet urine. Other services could include pet sitting, dog walking, cat litter box cleaning, and even pet grooming if you have the training.

As far as advertising, there are a number of free or low-cost ways of spreading the word about your new dog pooper-scooper business. You could run a free ad on Craigslist.com in the local services section, for example. Or have color fliers printed up and hand them out around the neighborhoods you’re targeting.

You’ll want to have business cards printed, and you can pass these out to pet store owners, veterinarian clinics, and doggie day care businesses in your target market.

As time goes on, and you get your business off the ground and the ball rolling, you’ll find that word-of-mouth referrals are your best source of new clients, as your existing clients tell their friend and family about the great work that you’re doing for them.

You might even offer a small reward to clients that send new customers your way, sort of like having a small army of salespersons at your disposal.

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