Do you want to start a pet waste removal business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a pooper scooper business with NO money and no experience plus a sample Pooper scooper business plan template.
These days, a lot of folks are going into new businesses and the pooper scooper terrain is one of them. One thing that makes an entrepreneur stand out is the fact that they are always the ones who identify needs in the society to be filled and then look for ways to make money off the discovery; the pooper scooper business is basically no different.
While this business might not be so glamorous and only a few people will be willing to go into it, the fact that the business is lucrative should make you want to participate.
Note that in America, many households own more than one pet and most people are reluctant to pick up the poop of their pets, preferring to pay someone else to do it; which therefore means that you will be making a whole lot of money.
Another reason why this sort of business is good is that it costs very little to start up the business and get all the equipment you need; also the average time you get to spend picking up poop for your clients will be 10 minutes in an average backyard, which then leaves you free to handle other clients who will be needing your services as well.
And while you can charge a fair rate for an average backyard, you can charge more for a backyard that is larger than normal. Also, if you have built a network of clients and do not feel like doing the job anymore on your own, then you can hire others to do the labor while you engage in marketing and getting clients to sign contracts with your company.
Just like any other business you intend going into, it is vital that you conduct a thorough research about the business as this will enable you understand the business thoroughly. Your market research will help you know the different licenses and permits that you will require in order to run your business legally. This is vital because requirements vary from state to state.
Also, delving into any kind of business requires that you write a business plan. Need more comprehensive and in-depth information on the pooper scooper business? Continue to read on.
Steps to Starting a Pooper Scooper Business
1. Understand the Industry
The amount of money that is being spent by Americans on their pets – $41 billion – can be compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost all the countries – except 64 – in the world. The amount is double of what was spent on pets ten years back. According to Packaged Facts, annual spending on pets by Americans is expected to reach $52 billion before 2019.
This therefore means that what Americans spent on their pets was more than what it spent on video games, movies and music. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), the reason why spending on pets have increased is due to the fact that people are looking to reward their pets as they would humans.
According to a report by Packaged Facts, retail sales for pets’ waste products reached $3.5 billion in 2015. This shows an increase of over $500 million from 2010 and meant that the sector saw a 3.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during this time period.
The pet waste business is estimated to reach $4 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 2.5 percent with factors such as increased usage of waste bags for dogs and litter boxes for cats being amongst the top reasons for growth. Litter boxes for cats are one of the largest categories as it had an 82 percent market share in 2015.
According to a 2008 National Pet Owners Survey compiled by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 63 percent of households in the united states own at least one pet, which therefore means that there are at least 71 million homes in the United States that had at least one pet with some households having more than one.
This has therefore led the pets industry to be valued at more than $40 billion with the pet services market being a subset of the whole industry. This has led many successful pet services companies especially those in the waste removal market to open franchises and also include other services in addition to their pooper scooping business.
Since 2002, the pet waste removal business sector especially the local pooper scooping business has had support from a trade organization called Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPaws). The aPaws helps to educate customers on reasons why pooper scooping services is important especially in regards to the health of the customers and their pets.
Usually the average cost of picking up poop for one pet in an average size yard is usually between $10 to $15 dollars depending on the kind of client and if there was an existing contract beforehand. Those who go full time into this business make close or more than $200,000, which is why the business has been experiencing a boom.
The more than 83 million pet dogs in the United States produce close to 10.6 million tons of poop annually. This is asides from the litter from an estimated 90 million cats, and according to one poop scooping business, the amount from both pets can fill 5,000 football fields that are ten feet deep.
The pet waste business has become such a huge one that it has its own professional organization called the Association of Pet Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS). Even though the poop from pets are not yet considered an environmental threat, they can lead to harmful health issues especially as most dogs harbor bacteria, viruses and parasites.
The unease with what happens to the poop from pets has helped to bring about a new market where biodegradable poop bags are becoming the norm. Those in this market sell more than 19 million of the bags yearly but have not provided the solution as regards land filling as the bags are designed to be composted.
Also, compostable bags are being known to produce a potent greenhouse gas called methane when it degrades, which is why the EPA recommends that the poops of pets be flushed and there are special bags that can be flushed alongside with the poop as well but even that is also a problem as treating the waste of pets by sewage systems could become an additional burden to the system.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who need the services of a pooper scooper are the following; dog owners, cat owners and owners of other kinds of pets who do not have the energy to hunt for the poop of their pets or cannot be bothered to pick pet poop.
If you are therefore looking to define the demographics of your pooper scooper business, you should look towards individuals of different ages, cultures and income classification and other groups of people such as households, pet stores, apartment complexes, veterinary services, and city parks.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
The poop scooper business might not be a flashy one but those who are into it understand how lucrative the business is and this growing realization has made more entrepreneurs to venture into the business, with some that cannot run the business themselves employing those who can to help out.
Due to this, the market is becoming clogged up with so many entrepreneurs that most have started looking for niche services that will allow their business to stand out from others. A niche is an area of specialization that some entrepreneurs decide to focus on once they are looking for a way to stand out. While smaller businesses might be able to engage in one or two niche areas, large companies will surely be able to engage in most if not all the niche areas.
Below are some of the niche areas that you can specialize in if you are looking to start your pooper scooper business;
- Pooper Scooper
- Sale of litter boxes
- Brown and yellow spots treatment
- Sale of poop bags and waste bins
- Flea and tick yard spray services
- Application of deodorizer products to yard
- Pets day care
- Pets sitting and walking services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the pooper scooper business is that which depends on the location of the business as you cannot live far away and still be able to compete with pooper scoopers that are in other regions. The closer you are to your target market, the easier it would be for you to compete.
Distance can be a barrier when competing with similar businesses for clients. What most clients are on the lookout for when they need a pooper scooper, is that they not only arrive on time but are also able to offer quality service. This means that if they aren’t getting what they want from your business, they are likely to go over to another pooper scooper business that will. It is therefore vital that you understand how precarious your business is.
There are enough pooper scooper businesses in the United States of America and this is because Americans see their pets more as companions and are willing to spend on services for their companions. If you are therefore looking to start your pooper scooper business in the United States of America, you should be sure of facing stiff competition from other pooper scooper businesses in your region.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are brands that stand out due to several identifiable characteristics that they possess and the pooper scooper business industry is no different. Brands that stand out in this industry are popular for their names, their quality of service, their publicity strategy or perhaps their length of time in the industry.
Below are some of the most popular pooper scooper businesses in the United States of America;
- Poopless in Seattle
- In the Line of Dooty
- Pain in the Grass
- The Grand Poobah
- The Penny Hoarder
- Super Duper Pooper Scoopers
- Poop, Scoop and Away
The pooper scooper business is regarded as one of the fastest growing businesses in the United States when it comes to pets because most people that own pets do not mind spending to save themselves the time and effort in removing the waste of their pets, especially their dogs. A 2012 survey by the American Pet Products Association has it that the amount that was spent on pet services increased from $3.79 billion in 2011 to nearly $4.11 billion in 2012.
Even though most of the retail sectors are struggling to stay above water, the pets industry on the other hand is growing very fast and is seen as one of the fastest growing industries. In 2009, spending increased by nearly 5 percent as Americas spent $45.4 billion in the industry. The reason for the increase is due to the fact that consumers are considering their pets as part of the family and so do not mind spending on services such as food, clothing, healthcare and other services for their pets.
The pets industry has several categories such as food, supplies, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services and the services category is one of the fastest growing, after healthcare related pet spending, thereby enabling service based businesses such as pooper scoopers to be amongst those booming.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, the pooper scooper business market represents a fraction of the services in the pet care industry and has grown at nearly 10 percent rate in recent years. The reason for the growth of this sector is due in large part to the baby boomers with the empty nest syndrome and disposable income.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
The decision of whether to start your business from the scratch or buy a franchise should not be entirely up to you but also be based on the goals and objectives that you have laid down for your business. There are pros and cons to each option and entrepreneurs must conduct a thorough research on each option to decide which will be best for it to go into in the long and short run.
Buying a franchise should depend on factors such as how popular the franchise is, what franchise opportunities they are offering you and how much their franchise is compared to others. In a franchise, you are mentored through the beginning of the business till when you understand the business thoroughly and can run the business on your own. While there are many franchising opportunities in the pets industry, the pooper scooper market does not have much, as people will work with the closest pooper scooper business to them and the one that offers them fair rates and a quality service.
Starting your business from the scratch can be very difficult especially if you have no prior experience in handling a business before or you have no prior knowledge about the business you are looking to go into. Starting from the scratch can be so overwhelming if you fall into either category as you would need to be able to handle the management, accounting and promotional activities in order to make your business stand out from others. You will also need to ensure that you are proactive enough so that you can easily change strategies and make the decisions that will be favorable to your business in the short and long run.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business that is started faces threats and challenges at one point or the other, either when the business is about to start up or during the course of running the business. You should, as an entrepreneur know that some threats cannot be controlled and the best you can do is ride through the moment while being optimistic about it. As an entrepreneur being prepared for any challenges and threats is one way of showing your passion for the business.
Therefore some of the threats and challenges that you are likely to face during the course of starting your pooper scooper business are; economic downturn that will see clients spend less on certain services for their pets, government policies bothering on health and disposal methods of waste, arrival of a new competitor within the same region and also intense competition from an already existing pooper scooper business.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
There are several factors that you need to take into consideration when looking to choose a legal entity for your poop scooper business and they are how flexible the legal entity is, the limit or otherwise of the liability, the ease at which the legal entity can be opened and controlled, how the taxation structure would be and several other factors. One way you can make your findings is to visit your city council or engage the services of an attorney or accountant to help you with the legal entity that would best suit your business.
There are basically five legal entities that are in existence for entrepreneurs looking to start their business in the United States and they are sole proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC). However, the legal entity that you should consider using for your pooper scooper business is either a sole proprietorship or an LLC. You should note that some of the laws regarding these legal entities differ depending on the state where you will be operating your business from.
In a sole proprietorship, the owner is regarded as one who is in charge of all aspects of the business regardless of who he or she hires to run the business. All the profits made in the business are enjoyed by the owner and any loss incurred during the process of running the business are borne by the owner as well, and should the business run into any debts, the owner will be held personally liable.
The taxation structure under this legal entity is based on the personal income tax returns of the owner. Another disadvantage with this business is that the owner cannot source for funds from external private investors or commercial banks if there is a need to seek for funds to expand the business. Most pooper scooper businesses starting off usually do so on a small scale and therefore choose the sole proprietorship kind of legal entity.
In an LLC, the business is regarded by law as a separate entity from the owner and can therefore be seen as one that can sue and be sued without affecting the owners personally. Borrowing in an LLC is usually in the name of the business and failure to pay back a loan through no fault of the owners’ means the business will be held liable and not the owners.
The taxation structure is also simple as owners are taxed on their personal income tax returns. This legal entity is really suitable for those who intend to start their pooper scooper business on a large scale or those that intend to upgrade from a sole proprietorship form of legal entity due to how their business has grown.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
In starting any business, you cannot begin certain legalities if you have not chosen a business name. This therefore goes to show how important it is to pick a business name for your business. However, you should try to ensure that the business name that you have picked is one that is unique, memorable, easily pronounceable and is indicative of the industry you are in. Also, ensure that the name you choose hasn’t been chosen before as you might not be able to register your business.
Below are some unique business names to consider if you are looking to start your own pooper scooper business;
- Paws and Furs Poop
- Fast Pooper Service
- Easy Peasey Poop, Inc
- Hey Poop Services
- Pooper Squad
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
For any business you are looking to start in the United States of America, it is mandatory that you purchase insurance policies. For instance, if you go over to clean a client’s yard, you or your employee might damage something or any other incident might occur that will need you to pay for it. Paying out of your pocket will make you run into a loss faster as against when you are protected by insurance.
Also, most pet owners prefer to work with pooper scooper businesses that have their own insurance. If you aren’t sure of what insurance policies you would need to purchase, you can get in touch with an agent or broker who will let you know what policies will be best for your company.
Below therefore is a list of insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you are looking to start your pooper scooper company in the United States of America;
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Auto Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The scooper pooper business is one that has thrown up a lot of challenges for the government especially in relation to the environment which has led some entrepreneurs to invent solutions to the poop challenge. If you are in this category of entrepreneurs that have invented what you consider important, then you should consider applying for an Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) to protect your invention. Ensure that you get a lawyer that is well versed in copyright and patent registration to help you out, by helping you apply with the USPTO.
If however, yours is just a regular business, then protecting any part of your business you deem important is up to you. You can chose to apply for an IPP for your company name, logo, slogan or any other material you deem important.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The pooper scooper business is largely a service oriented business and therefore requires no special or technical skills before starting the business. However, it is necessary that one is fit as you will be bending and lifting a couple of times every day.
If you are therefore looking to start this business, you would have no need for professional certification. All your clients require is that you pick the poop of their pets and carry out any additional services as agreed by the contract.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
When starting any business in the United States of America, it is important to have a list of legal documents at hand as not having these could lead you into having problems with the law and then getting penalized. If you are not sure of what legal documents you need to run your business with, you can visit your city hall or have a legal attorney to help you with the documents that you might need.
Below therefore are some of the legal documents that you will need in order to start your pooper scooper business in the United States of America;
- Service contract documents
- Business Plan
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License and Permit
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Federal Employer Identification Number
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Even though this business is one that doesn’t require a lot of capital, you will still need money to enable you start your business and run it till it is able to generate revenue and make profit. In every business, you will be required to have at least a part of your capital so that when you are sourcing for start-up capital you can easily use that to convince others of the seriousness of your business.
Below therefore are some of the ways that you can source for funds for your pooper scooper business;
- From personal savings and sale of personal stock
- Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
- Get a business partner to contribute part of the start-up capital
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Choosing the right location for your pooper scooper business is very important as the location of your business can cause you to either grow your business or allow it become a failure. The pooper scooper business is one that can be run from home but before you can make this decision of running your business from home, there are a number of factors that you will need to consider.
If you are intending to run a small business, then starting your pooper scooper business from home will not be a bad idea as it will help you save on overhead or running expenses. However, if you are looking to run your business on a large scale, then renting a commercial facility is very vital.
One factor that you should take into consideration when you intend to rent a commercial facility is where the location will be. You should ensure that you pick a location that is within your target market so that you will be able to get to your clients in record time.
If you are looking for a facility to lease or rent, you should engage the services of a real estate agent who knows the area well especially where there is likely to be a lot of pet owners, so that you can locate your business within the hub of your target market.
Ensure that you have a separate budget set aside for the location you intend to lease or rent, so as not to put a strain on your overall budget.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The pooper scooper business is not a business that requires any technicality or special skills of any sort. Any entrepreneur going into this business ought to be fit so as to be able to handle several jobs at once.
As this is a service oriented business, the start-up capital needed for this business is very low and shouldn’t be difficult for any serious entrepreneur to get. If you however intend to run the business on a large scale, you will require more equipment and would need to hire more staff than one who is starting off on a small scale.
Regarding the equipment you will need in order to be able to run your business efficiently, you will require; garbage buckets, rubber boots, plastic bags, shovels, thick gloves, and a vehicle for easy transportation.
Building a business structure is very important especially if you are looking to start off on a medium to large scale where you will need to employ people to help you out. The employees you need to run your business successfully they are; Chief Executive Officer (owner), office manager, front desk officer, accountant, driver, marketing executives and pooper scoopers.
From the above break down, you will need at least 9 people in order to be able to run your pooper scooper business successfully.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The business is one that is service inclined and so it would require that you have all the necessary equipment you will need in order to run the business successfully. Knowing how to properly dispose the poop of your clients’ pets is very important and you must know what the city regulations are as regards disposal of waste from pets.
Having a signed contract with your clients is very important as this will clearly stipulate what your services are and the rate you will be charging.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Marketing your pooper scooper business is vital to the growth of your business as this is how you will be able to generate the revenue that will grow and boost your business. Marketing allows you to be able to penetrate the market in order to get a huge share and also stand out against your competitors.
Just like any business, it is important that you conduct a market survey on the business you intend to go into so that the marketing strategies you develop will be very effective. The market research you conduct will help you know who your target market is, what they expect from you as well as who your competitors are and how best you can win them over.
Once you have conducted a market research, you can then draft the marketing goals and objectives that will be used as a guide when crafting marketing strategies for the company. Empower your marketing executives to draft appropriate strategies for the business and also to modify or delete strategies that will not work.
Below are some of the marketing strategies and ideas that you can use for your pooper scooper business;
- Posting your ads consistently on craigslist
- Pay others, such as affiliate marketers, to help advertise your business
- Make use of Google Adwords in order to market your business
- Make use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus to advertise your pooper scooper business
- Place adverts in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Ensure that your pooper scooper business is listed in yellow pages as well as in online directories
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
For every entrepreneur looking to make it big in the industry they are in, boosting the awareness of the business and creating a corporate identity are some of the ways to do so. The act of boosting the awareness of a brand does not end in just the awareness that has been created, as awareness helps generate the intended revenue for the business.
This is one of the reasons why companies that have long been in existence and are considered successful do not mind spending a large amount of revenue to promote their business as they understand the power of publicity. It is necessary that you craft the right publicity strategies that will not only create awareness for your business but also communicate your business positively to your intended target market.
There are several means by which you can promote your business and it is therefore necessary that you know which ones will cost less and yet be more effective for your pooper scooper business. Below therefore are some of the ways that you can boost the awareness for your brand and also create a corporate identity for your pooper scooper business;
- Using walking signs to promote and create publicity about your business
- Networking with others at community events and fairs in order to create awareness for your business
- Send news releases about your business to local newspapers and radio stations
- Create a website and use this to promote your pooper scooper business
- Ask your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in various locations