You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your pet waste removal business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a pet waste removal business?
You will need a vehicle to travel from one pet waste removal client's property to the next. This business requires waste removal equipment. A self-contained vessel for pet waste will certainly help. You will also need a means of scooping the waste off the ground. Invest in shovels, rakes, bleach spray, rubber gloves, pooper scoopers, and trash bags. Consider adding a trailer hitch receiver rack where you can secure a bin to hold animal waste. It will also help to have a website that details your services and rates. These start-up costs will likely cost between $500 and a couple thousand dollars, depending on the quality of equipment you select.
What are the ongoing expenses for a pet waste removal business?
The vehicle used to travel from one customer's property to the next must be fueled, insured, and maintained. Plan on spending a couple hundred dollars on such expenses each month. The space used to answer phone calls and update the company website will require utilities. Budget $50 to $100 or more for monthly utilities. High-speed internet will run $50 to $100 per month. If pet waste removal equipment wears down, it must be repaired or replaced. Budget at least $50 per month for such repairs/improvements. Additional expenses might arise from disposal fees at landfills, sewage facilities, or the dumpster company.
A pet waste removal employee will earn $8 to $12 per hour. If the business grows to the point that it expands beyond the initial market, an accountant, marketing expert, and possibly a manager can be added. These professionals will command a salary between $30,000 and $60,000 per year.
Who is the target market?
The target market is pet owners. Specifically, the target customer is an individual who is too lazy or too busy to pick up his pet's waste. It is worth noting some customers are either too old or injured to reach down to pick up pet waste.
How does a pet waste removal business make money?
Money is made by charging pet owners for pet waste removal. Many pet waste removal business owners charge by the week. Others charge by the month, the season or the entire year.
How much can you charge customers?
Charge between $10 and $15 for one weekly visit. Charge between $40 and $100 for one-time cleans of especially messy yards. You can also charge a similar fee for an unscheduled emergency clean.
How much profit can a pet waste removal business make?
The profit depends on the number of customers within driving range. Anticipate a gradual increase in earnings as word spreads about your pet waste removal business. Tens of thousands of dollars can be made in the first year or two. Expand to other markets and earnings can reach the six figure mark. Franchise the business and it can rake in millions of dollars per year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Offer additional services such as dog walking, pet sitting, deodorizing, the application of flea and tick spray and the removal of waste-related blemishes from yards. Charge extra for additional visits beyond the number agreed to in the contract. Consider charging extra for customers who have multiple pets. After all, collecting and eliminating the waste of several pets will take more time, effort, and manpower than the waste of a single pet.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your pet waste removal business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a pet waste disposal business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Pet waste disposal businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your pet waste removal business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a pet waste removal business
Promote the business by placing flyers at boarding kennels, dog daycare centers, dog parks, pet stores, office complexes, condos, veterinary clinics, and other common spaces. Advertise your services on Craigslist. You can even put ads in local papers and magazines. Add a branded wrap to your pet waste removal vehicle to increase exposure.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Go out of your way to befriend those who work as dog groomers, veterinarians, pet-sitters, pet store employees/owners and others who work with animals. Make sure your website is polished and rife with content optimized for search engines. In terms of customer retention, be reliable and friendly. Show up when expected, perform a thorough clean and be as cordial as possible.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Pet Waste Removal Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
If you are looking to make a positive impact on the environment and animals, a pet waste removal business is for you. This is your chance to eliminate unsightly and potentially dangerous animal waste. Your services will add to the visual appeal and safety of local properties. If you have a passion for animals and cleanliness, this is the ideal business.
What happens during a typical day at a pet waste removal business?
The business owner travels between client properties to collect and eliminate pet waste in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. The business owner also spends time marketing services, interacting with clients, discussing services and rates with potential customers, and servicing pet waste removal equipment.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pet waste removal business?
A successful pet waste removal business does not require any sort of rare skill. However, those who advertise the business in a highly effective manner will reap the rewards. Press the flesh with people in town to get the word out about your pet waste removal business. Encourage everyone you know to spread the word about your services. Be cordial when interacting with locals as nearly every pet owner in the community is a potential customer.
What is the growth potential for a pet waste removal business?
The growth potential depends on the locale, the business owner's drive and his marketing prowess. It will certainly help to establish a pet waste removal business in a populous suburban area in which many homeowners own pets that relieve themselves in the yard. Market the business properly and it will have the potential to take off in as little as a couple weeks or months. If the business continues to grow, it can be expanded across the region in the ensuing years and possibly even franchised.
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One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a pet waste removal business?
Most pet waste removal businesses provide services of similar quality. It is imperative that you differentiate your business by beating competitors' prices and offering unparalleled customer service. Treat customers with the utmost respect. Ask them about their pets whenever you interact. Express an interest in their well-being. Continue to establish relationships and your business will gradually grow.
How and when to build a team
A team will not be necessary unless your business expands to the point that you can't handle the volume of work. If you attract enough customers that are far enough apart, add a pet waste removal member to the team. This employee can drive from site-to-site at the far-away properties while you handle close-by cleans and focus on marketing, accounting and management.