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How To Start A Pet Waste Business
Thinking of making it big with a simple pooper scooper business? We’ve calculated that you can earn up to $100,000 a year or more in revenue as a solo pet waste owner. Now that’s before expenses which we also highlight in the article linked above.
Below we’ll cover the steps you need to start your own pet waste business and decide if this is right for you.
Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Pros Of Pet Waste Businesses
Pet waste work is easy. You drive by 3-5 yards an hour, pick up the waste, and dispose of it properly.
Easy, solo work. For introverts this can be a cash cow. For extraverts you may want to focus on adding a few other pet services instead of just focusing on pet waste.
Small Startup Costs
Startup costs are super low. If you were to use your existing car and buy the bare minimum you could start this business for less than $100.
See our detailed breakdown of expenses in our article – How Much Can you Make as a Pooper Scooper. Even in that article where we assume you get a loan to buy a used vehicle you still come out way ahead.
High Pay Potential
For those willing to market and build up a book of business where you clean 4-5 yards an hour over a 40 hour workweek on average you can make decent money. At $12 per yard that’s $384 a day doing 4 yards an hour over an 8 hour day.
Of course, you’ll need to beg for referrals for quite awhile before you can get to that many yards.
Still, what if this was just an extra income stream and your goal was to just pay your rent of $1,200 a month. At $12 a yard that’s just 100 yards. Most places will want service weekly or at least twice a month. Even at twice a month that’s just 50 regular customers.
Certification Not Needed
Picking up poop for now doesn’t require special certifications. You will need a local business license which you’ll get through your Secretary of State’s office. In Colorado you can do that for just $50 a year as an example.
Check your local State, County, and City regs though to be sure that no other special licenses or certifications are required.
Training Not Needed
Again, most areas don’t require special training or certifications. Figuring out proper disposal will take some work and checking with the local landfill or composting facility. After that it’s easy street.
Expandable to Other Pet Services
Bored of just pet waste? Why not add in dog walking services? These two businesses go hand in hand and you can make even more money per mile driven.
Good for the Environment
Offering these services makes neighborhoods cleaner. Pet waste adds fecal bacteria, worm eggs, and other harmful nasties into our local streams and creeks.
By offering this service you’ll make your local creeks and streams safer for kids to swim in and for adults to boat and fish in.
Cons Of Pet Waste Businesses
Don’t be fooled though. This is a business and all businesses have negatives. We’ll cover the top ones below.
Crappy Lonely Work
For the most part you’ll be working alone and you’ll be working with poop. This isn’t the best business for extraverts or those that are easily disgusted by waste management work.
Dangerous to Workers
You will have to protect yourself from infections, worm eggs, and the other nasties you can get from handling pet waste. Proper gloves and hygiene are paramount.
Must Follow Disposal Regulations
You’ll need to research how to legally dispose of this waste in your area. Usually calling your local waste hauling company or landfill will get you the information you need. Don’t be discourage if you have to make a few calls to figure this out. The last thing you need is fines for improper disposal.
Working Outside in Bad Weather
In addition to solo poop work, you’ll be required to make your rounds rain or shine. Perhaps deep snow will keep you away for a bit but that could also cut off your clients for the winter months which brings us to the next con.
Seasonal – Less Demand in Winter
If you live in an area with long winters with lots of snow you’ll find that your clients will likely cancel for a few months at a time. Just don’t forget to followup when it’s warmer. It could be quite the cleanup job come spring.
For winter you’ll want to consider adding in other services like dog walking to get you through the snowy months.
Low Fees Equals Lots of Marketing
Pet waste workers charge from $8 to $15 per yard depending on the size of the yard, the number of dogs, and how often they want service.
That’s pretty low. You need to do a lot of yards to make this work. It’s not a ton but you’ll need to do some serious marketing to get your name out there and build your regular clients.
Franchise Or Build Yourself?
So should you buy a franchise or build one yourself? While a franchise will help with marketing and procedures to make things easy, you’ll need to pay a lot out of pocket to get started.
Just how much does a pet waste franchise cost? The range to start is from $3,600 up to $110,000. Some even have net worth requirements of at least $50,000. They do this because they want to make sure you have cash to support the business in it’s first year.
The first year is hard and a cash cushion will help you get through. Of course, with a franchise that cash cushion is up to you to maintain.
Personally, we’re bigger fans of starting your own business. If you really hate the marketing though and you have the money it might be worth it to check out some of the top Pet Waste franchises:
Choosing A Name
You’ll want an easy to remember name that you can share easily, doesn’t have a trademark, has an open URL, and is available in your state. We cover all of this in our article on Pooper Scooper business names.
After you choose a name you’ll want to register the name and business with your Secretary of State. As an example in Colorado it takes just a few minutes and about $50 to register a business. You’ll setup an LLC if desired at usually the same state website.
Setting Up An LLC
Like registering your business, setting up an LLC is relatively easy. You just need to submit your Articles of Organization with your State’s Secretary of State office.
In addition you need a Federal EIN number which you can get in minutes from this IRS website.
Lastly you need an Operating Agreement, initial funds for the organization, and then you’ll need to keep regular records.
For our LLCs we always setup a business bank account and get a business credit card. That way you can fully separate business income and expenses from your personal income and expenses. This is key to maintaining the protection you get from an Limited Liability Corporation.
We’ve setup several LLCs but we aren’t lawyers. We recommend you get appropriate advice on this and continue your education.
You can read more about it from NOLO. We recommend you check out their book or their guide on single member LLCs.
Licensing And Training
You’ll need at least a business license to operate in your state. In addition you’ll want to check if your State, City, or County has specific licensing requirements for a pet waste business. Likely they don’t but you should check.
As for training expect none to be required. Again, any required training will come from local State, City, or County regulations.
Insurance – Vehicle And General Liability
You need insurance! At the minimum get general business liability insurance from a national or local insurance provider.
Check out these providers of pet business insurance:
- Pet Care Insurance
- Pet Services Insurance
- Pet Care Affiliates
- Business Insurers
- Pet Sitters Associates
There’s an unending amount of stuff you can buy for any business. To keep things simple here’s the minimum you need for a pet waste business:
Use your own or buy one used. See our breakdown on costs here.
Standup Long Handled Pet Waste Scooper
Use this so you’re not bending over a lot. You’ll save yourself a lot of back pain later if you get a long handled pooper scooper.
Use medium sized bags to collect waste. It’ll save time to use one bag per yard.
Collect bags in a bin in your vehicle. This should be something simple like a rubbermaid that’s cheap and easy to wash.
One of the most important parts! Don’t allow yourself to get a bacterial infection or get worms from pet waste. In addition wash your hands before eating anything and after each shift.
Change of Clothes and Shoes
Lastly we recommend you change your clothes after the day’s work is done and use a different set of shoes while working. This will keep you from tracking invisible worm eggs or other nasties into your house at the end of your shift.
In general you’ll charge from $8 up to $15 per yard per week or however long you go out there.
Charge less for smaller yards. Charge more for larger yards, larger dogs, and coming less often.
If you could charge by weight you should but that’s ridiculous. In general though you’ll set prices by how much waste you remove for each yard trip and how much time it takes you to complete that yard. Again, bigger dogs have more waste and bigger yards take more time.
Marketing And Advertising
Keep marketing simple. Clean a few yards for friends and family for free. Ask for referrals and for them to do a video review that you can upload to YouTube and share with other potential clients. Also ask them to write a review for you on your Google Maps listing. Make it easy for them – email them a link.
Just 3 pages and your website will be set. You can get free online templates for privacy policies online. Check your competitors websites to get ideas of what services to offer and what to talk about on your About Us page. Of course, write it yourself and don’t plagiarize.
Then when the website is setup go ahead and register with Google My Business. That will get you located on Google Maps.
As you get clients ask them both for referrals and for them to give you a review on Google Maps.
Set a goal of so many clients per month. Write that goal down on a piece of paper and hang it on your fridge.
Keep hustling until you get there.
Then and only then start to look at other options like Facebook or Google advertising.