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Wednesday, 26-Aug-98 13:21:28
Truck side advertising
... Hi all,
Just gained a new customer who moved her from Colorado. She said she was soooo relieved to discover that there was a poop scooping business (me) in this town since she had been with her last service for a long time and enjoyed not having to clean after her two Siberian Huskies. She was with Poop Van Scoop in Colorado Springs previously.
Today, I am going to install upright sideboards in the bed of my El-Cheapo pickup truck. My wife and I will be painting the adverts on the long boards. We think this will be a tremendous help with gaining new customers, and it will only be out-of-pocket money once as opposed to paying every week or month to keep an ad in the paper. We also have a local cable channel right here, and it's free to place an ad there, so that will be done as well.
I had a guy call yesterday who pumped me for all kinds of information about our service, then hung up on me. Obviously someone interested in starting their own scooping business, who was too lazy (and rude!) to research the information properly. Guys like him don't generally do too well in business, though, so I'm not going to sweat it.
One more thing. Has anybody else thought of offering limited "pet-sitting" to people who go on vacation but don't want to impose on their neighbors and ask them to check on the dogs and give them food and fresh water every day they are gone? I think something like that would be a very valuable service. Perhaps five bucks per day to pop over between scooping jobs and spend five minutes watering and feeding and romping with a clients dog. Just a thought.
David (DOODY CALLS!)
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 09:23:30
... Hello. I hope this finds everyone well. I had written in
the past in regards to my Father starting a business up. He
ordered Matthew's Book (Which he absolutely loves and found it
extremely helpful) and I had made him some flyers up at work
which he distributed and he landed his first customer last week!
Seems to be off to a slow start but hopefully it will pick-up
(no pun intended).
My Dad is a carpenter by trade and works 40+ hours a week. Has anyone any suggestions for scheduling around a full-time job? Any feedback is always appreciated. Thanks.
Wednesday, 26-Aug-98 23:54:23
Re: Truck side advertising
... Ya, I get up to two calls a month that do just what you
said. They call to pump. Many times I find it is the women who
work at a vet's office. They want to start their own business or
start someone they know. Often they have the advantage since
they can draw upon the listings of all the clients there.
As for starting a dog sitting business...do not do unless you have a strong backup. You would hate to be rushed to an hospital and have no one know about all those poor doggies needing to have something to eat...or water....and knowone to care for them. Now, that is another reason to get insurance....
Dr. Doo Litter (Dick)
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 11:43:40
Re: Matthew's Book
... Hi Laura,
Thanks for the feedback on the book! I'm delighted that your dad liked it and that it's really helpful in getting the business going. You've made my day! :)
As you probably know, when I first started my scooper service I was working TWO full time jobs. Right from the beginning I divided my service area into 5 sections, one for each day of the work week. Then as customers began to sign up, I would tell them which day of the week their service would be done. By not stating a specific time, I was able to do the work either early in the morning, or in the afternoon, whenever I could get a little time between jobs. This worked well for me.
I guess it was just luck in those days that people didn't ask for a particular time. Since then, when people would want to know a time, I would give them a 2 hour range for a particular day's visit.
Thursday, 03-Sep-98 00:15:46
Re: Matthew's Book
... The way I did it, working around an full schedule, was to
put all of the clients (although the route won't make sense) on
the 1 or 2 free days that your father may have. I stated to all
clients that they were on a flex schedule, and it would vary
over the next few months.
As people sign up start condensing the routes into sensible areas & days. It will cause a lot of driving around for a little while, but as long as the customers understand that their cleaning day(s) will change until a permanent slot is set up you shouldn't have a problem. (Long as you're up front about it).
I still have a couple of yards that are 'floaters', clients whose locations make no sense with any particular route (outside of my areas). Normally I wouldn't do these yards at all, but they are some of my clients parents, so I do them when possible (some weeks they are skipped entirely).
Scoopers Dog Waste Removal Service
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 11:53:10
... Debbie at Yucko's in St. Louis recently mentioned to me her
observations on times of the year when more new customers sign
up. I thought everyone could benefit from her experience, and
she graciously gave me permission to post it here:
"...someone was saying business was slowing down. I have found here in St. Louis, August is a slow month and then September picks up and then drops for the next 3 and picks up again.
I have charted this for the last 8 years and each year follows the same pattern with increase every year, but the high and low are all the same, except when it snow and makes it impossible to work and you can see those times, too.
Take care and God bless
I've observed the same cycle in my ten years. The busiest time for new customers to sign up is early Spring. Then it drops a little during the late summer, and we get several new customers again in the Fall. Things tend to stay faily level during the mid summer and winter.
After the biggest rushes of new customers, a few of those new ones will drop off in the following months, but most of them stay with us. I describe it as "ratcheting up" each year.
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 20:09:57
Magnetic signs ... I ordered new signs from MagneticSigns.com just a few days ago for my other car, and they arrived today. I was bowled over! Not only did they get here fast but the quality and crisp colors are far better than I had expected. Really good stuff, and really inexpensive! You should visit them at www.MagneticSigns.com I couldn't be happier.
Friday, 04-Sep-98 15:07:34
Setting up a database ... Has anyone tried using Microsoft Office 97 to set up a database to produce the forms that Matthew outlined in his book (invoices, customer worksheets, route sheets, etc.). I'm trying to use Access as the database and Word for the different forms but I am runnung around in circles. I am getting no where with setting the darn thing up and I would greatly appreciate any input or suggestions from my fellow scoopers. What type of software are others using?
Saturday, 05-Sep-98 01:24:18
Re: Setting up a database
... Hi Duane,
Yes, my wife created a complete data base for our scooping business using Office 97. Access is awesome, and she has made it so it will print out all reports, newsletters, route sheets, etc., and automatically update customer information. Granted, she is a self-taught whiz it comes to stuff like that (I am a professional graphics designer who turns into a mental pigmy when faced with data base stuff), but I just asked her how she did it and she said she drew it all out on paper first so she'd know the logical progression of things, then used the Wizards to accomplish her goals. It took her about two weeks...many long hours...but she finally has it just about the way she wants it. I asked if we could maybe send you the templates so you wouldn't have to go through all the headaches she did to create the damn thing, but she said all the macros she made and whatnot can't be disassembled or she would be happy to help you.
Apologies on that score.
But I can tell you that once you have a few of the initial things worked out, the rest sort of falls into place. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have specific questions as I'm sure she'll be happy to help in that manner.
And to anyone else who is thinking of making life easier, Microsoft Office 97 is the only way to approach this.
Tuesday, 08-Sep-98 11:59:33
Re: Re: Setting up a database ... Thanks David, I guess I have to get an Access book and start reading.
Monday, 07-Sep-98 18:41:09
Re: Setting up a database
... PET BUTLER has been running on Lotus Smartsuite for several
years. I find their database management program, Approach, much
easier to use than Access and a LOT less expensive.
Going it yourself
PRO - It may be cheaper. You will know what is there, so when it screws up, you'll have some idea of why. The knowledge has value. Upgrades happen when you want them bad enough to write them.
CON - Hiring a pro may result in a better, more effecient set up. If a few hours of tinkering keep you from doing more profitable tasks, that's expensive.
I can set up a flat file on Approach for $10. It's a lot better than the one PET BUtLER used for years, but not as good as a well designed relational database.
Sorry, I don't like Access and don't have a current copy, so I won't program for that database.
Wednesday, 09-Sep-98 04:49:58
Re: Re: Setting up a database
... I agree, approach is a much easier database to do a first
design in - although Access is so powerful if you you have the
time and energy to expend I would lean in that
It took me a very short time to set up a flat file in Lotus Approach (an afternoon, I guess) that includes the standard client database, route sheets, letters, etc. It would seem to be the most user friendly of the three that I checked out (Approach, Access & FileMaker Pro).
All of my billing, though, is done using QuickBooks Pro. I've been using the Intuit products for years, so was familiar with it. Also, my database knowledge is zip, so I stayed away from trying to set up financial accounts on my own.
Scoopers Dog Waste Removal Service
"Your Dog's Business is Our Business"
Thursday, 27-Aug-98 13:32:14
Making truck signs ... For those of you who may have, or are thinking about getting a small truck for your scooping business, I wanted to let you know that I spent the day yesterday shopping for materials, and installing my new truck signs. Total outlay of cash was only $40 bucks and I ended up with two 6 foot long, 18 inch high mobile billboards that will advertise my business everywhere I go. Those little magnetic signs are great, but they cost more and are only about 1/5 the size of these truck signs. All it took was two pieces of 1/2 inch shop grade plywood (they cut it to size for me), six 1X6 pieces of Spruce (for the uprights), twelce "L" brackets at $.50 each, a hnadful of little bolts, washer and nuts, one cheap can of putdoor white (could be any color) latex paint, one cheap brush, and one can of black (our choice) spray paint for the lettering. The sides are very stable and solid. On the inside of each sideboard I will be placing hooks so I can hang various items from them and stop things from sliding around in the truck bed. The whole thing was really quite easy to figure out and do, and for my one time expenditure of $40, I get permanent advertising! By the way...I'm also thinking of making a 3' X 2' sign in the same colors that will be mounted on the top of the truck cab. The lettering will be reversed so people can read it in their mirrors when I'm at stop lights. I think this will only cost about ten bucks.
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 10:13:30
Re: Making truck signs
... There is a safety concern here. Those signs reduce
visibility for the driver, particularly when backing.
This is not a bad short term inexpensive solution, but vinyl letters on a well maintained truck looks like you are serious about your business.
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 11:50:24
Press Release pays off
... K-9 Potty Patrol made the front page of the business
section of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. (Sorry, the date is
missing from my clipping)
Pretty good attention getter for a company with only 5 clients so far.
I didn't check the web page
You may find it there.
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 16:25:42
... Haven't been on the board for a while, 'lo
Curious to know how other one person outfits have handled being sick or injured. I've worked through many colds, flu, etc. but earlier this week my appendix sort of blew up. Wound up in ER where they shipped me upstairs to remove the offending organ. They tell me everything would have been easier if I hadn't gotten sick with a severe flu the day after the operation... as if I had a choice
I contacted clients by phone to let them know that I wouldn't be making the rounds until sometime next week, although I did cut that short by a few days. Most had no problem, although there were a few that did - particularly the newer clients with whom I had no track record. Has anyone run into a situation where you were unable to work for an extended period of time, and if so how did you deal with it? Hire a temp worker?
Scoopers Appendix Removal Service
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 20:47:03
... Hiring a temp might be a good idea, though I'd be a little
leery of a stranger working alone with no training in the job.
I was laid up for months one time, but I had just started hiring
help just a little before that, so I had people to do the work
However, not long after I first started the business my car died and I didn't have money for another one. I made arrangements with a friend of mine; I would give him the schedules and he would use his car and do the work. We split the money. That lasted some weeks, which was just long enough for me to scrape together the money for another old car.
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 22:58:16
... Hi John,
Sorry to hear about your illness. I can relate to you, thats for sure! First let me say that if those clients can't understand why you were unable to scoop their yard, then I wouldn't want to work for them. It sounds like they have a bad attitude about life! Come on, it was an emergency! But, what to do about it. I network with other Pet sitters/scoopers. I have been lucky, lately. But last November, I was in the hospital for two weeks with Pneumonia and Pleurisy! Then it took me 2 months to start to feel better, So I had friends help me once I was back on the job! It is also good to have a husband/wife who knows where you are to be everyday, just in case you don't make it there. In an emergency they can either go do the job or call and explain why you can't do the job. Keep records where the other "person" who will take over for you, has easy access. That way they can get right on it! Still there are times when you just are not able and can't find a replacement. People who you work for should really understand that you are human just like they are, you get sick, you can get in an accident or ??? I know everyone wants to keep their clients but, do you think they are a good client if they bellyache about something you couldn't help. You will find BETTER clients... you don't need the bad ones!!! Good Luck!!! Deborah
Monday, 31-Aug-98 13:52:43
... John, hope you feel better soon. My hat's off to ya.
Gotta admire the work ethic that gets you out there soon after
You did the right thing. Call your customers and tell them the truth. Most understood, didn't they? When they see you out there, most will have quite a good reason for being loyal to you.
Loyalty is a two way street. You promised them, you had better deliver. Lack of planning on your part does not excuse you. This problem is going to happen. Plan now, be prepared when it happens. These are not bad customers. They are customers. You had an agreement. They expected you to honor it.
In a one company town, you may well get those customers back. In a town with competition, particularly bigger competition, you may not.
Make a plan to cover if (when) it happens again. Explain to ALL of your customers. Tell them what happened. Tell them how you will prevent lack of service in the future. Tell them how much you appreciate their understanding and continued business. Word of mouth about the guy making it right will outweigh those griping.
Saturday, 29-Aug-98 16:33:50
... While scooping a yard a little while ago a woman with 3
dogs came wandering by, saw me at the truck and stopped to ask a
few questions. Toward the end of the conversation she shook her
head, stating "I really can't understand why people are so lazy
that they can't clean up their own dog's waste. It's no big
deal, just takes a few minutes and doesn't bother even me to do
it. In fact", she said - dead serious, "my housekeeper cleans up
the yard at least every other day! I don't understand why
someone would hire a service like yours when it's so easy to do
With that she continued walking up the street...
Sunday, 30-Aug-98 10:23:01
Re: And finally... ... Oh Well : )
Monday, 31-Aug-98 13:51:54
Re: And finally...
... I think she is missing something. :-}
where are you from?
Monday, 31-Aug-98 18:25:04
Re: Re: And finally... ... I'm based in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. Where are you?
Monday, 19-Oct-98 17:51:46
Re: And finally... ... What does she mean she wouldn't pay someone to do it -- she pays her housekeeper and the housekeeper does it so she pays her housekeeper to do it! Did you ask her if she's that nice to every service person she encounters, or just you?!?
Sunday, 30-Aug-98 03:11:17
Scoopin' the parks
... Hi all,
About three weeks ago, when we were gearing up for our new scooping business, I sopke with one of two people in my city who control the parks around here. I told him all about our new business and asked if the city would be interested in having us keep the parks clean in the area. He seemed interested, said he'd have to talk with his associate, and that he'd get back to me.
I got a call from his associate yesterday. She asked me to give her quotes for three of the seven or so parks in this area. I went and walked them off today, and figured one at 2 hours, one at one hour, and the third at three hours. I'll deliver my formal proposal on Monday.
I figured (as Matthew suggested in his book) my hourly rate at $25, which would mean monthly revenues of $600 based on one visit to each park per week. Once these parks have been worked on for a couple of months and they can see the difference, I will see if I can talk them into letting my company handle all the parks in the city. I also think that being able to tell prospective customers that DOODY CALLS! handles the dog waste problem in the city parks will go a long way toward building a good impression. After all, if the city is willing to pay my company to clean up dog poop, why shouldn't they?
I'll let you know what the parks department says on Monday. Have a good weekend!
Monday, 31-Aug-98 09:36:49
Re: Scoopin' the parks
... I'm interested in knowing how many people are helping you
do this because I'm thinking the samething. Good luck I know
it'll work out.
Monday, 31-Aug-98 18:21:34
Re: Scoopin' the parks
... Keep in mind that you probably walked the parks during the
best weather you'll have during the year. You might want to add
a bit of time to the estimate so when it rains, snows, etc.,
you're not losing anything.
Monday, 31-Aug-98 11:26:44
An Advertisement for DOWN HOME "Poop
... You may earn a few extra dollars by selling an item
directly related to your wonderful profession. I would like to
add that as an animal owner, I think you should definitely
combine pet sitting with scooping. When in need, it is
difficult to bring a total stranger into your home - you already
have an "in".
DOWN HOME makes over 20 - 7x7in. furry animals that "poop" jelly beans. They are refillable and sealed in an attractive package. We are just starting up a line of darling dogs in many breeds. I wholesale them for $10.00 and they can easily sell for $15.00/$16.00. They literally sell themselves by the laughter they invoke. This is a small in-home business.
A few pictures may be seen at www.pooppals.com or email me for more info, pictures ($1.50 for dogs or $3.50 for all the Pals) or order forms.
You can place your orders by e-mail to me, I will drop ship. You charge postage. I bill you monthly.
Monday, 31-Aug-98 12:01:55
... Hi everyone!! Well, I landed a spot on a talk radio show
here on Sept. 10. They want to discuss the health issues of
leaving dog waste in one's yard. Besides worms(round,hook,tape,
etc.) what else can be transmitted to people by animal waste????
I'm trying to find any info I can.......if anyone can
help.....Matthew, Diane, please do. My stomache is already full
of butterflies and it's a week away!! Any advice from anyone
I'd appreciate it :o)
Thank you so much,
Monday, 31-Aug-98 21:06:31
Re: Transmittable Diseases
... Hi Julie,
I'm sending you some files by e-mail. There is a little too much to post here. :)
Tuesday, 01-Sep-98 19:46:35
More info on parks
Just to update interested parties on my dealings with the local parks administration (they call it "Urban Forest Service"), I had my second meeting today and presented our formal proposal for the job. We bid 6 hours total weekly servicing to three separate athletic areas at $840 per month. They seemd to think this pricing was very good. In fact, they are interested now in having us prepare proposals for the other parks in the area, including all the areas within those parks...not just the athletic areas. If all goes well I will be hiring one person in town to service just the parks for us. I'll keep you all posted.
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 06:52:44
Re: More info on parks
... Hey David,
Way to go!!! Best of Luck to you. How did you go about writing your proposal? Does the library have information concerning that? Can you give me a pointers for writing a proposal?
Wednesday, 02-Sep-98 14:05:36
Re: More info on parks
... Here's the way we formatted our proposal. Nice letter head
(I designed the graphics, wife put it all together) and
everything looking neat and professional. Dated, the person's
name, title and business address near the top. Just under all
the opening header info, we listed the areas in question, in
this case the three athletic areas of the parks we were bidding
on. After each entry, we estimated the time we thought it would
take to complete the service, suggested one service per week,
then entered the monthly fee(we simply calculated a 4 week month
here, even though on average there are 4.3 weeks in a calendar
After all three areas and their respective time estimates and monthly fees were entered, we totalled the monthly cost for all three areas, based on one visit per week.
Under all of this, we explained our pricing, pointing out that in the future we could "reasonably expect to earn $30 to $40 per hour servicing 4 to 6 residential accounts @ (average) $7.50 per hour". We priced our time at $35 per hour for park work, which ion this case added up to a total of $840 per month for all areas discussed.
By the way, I hired (tentatively) a gal yesterday who has a wonderful reputation in this city for being a diligent, hard-working woman who is completely dependable. And to top that, her sister *always* covers for her when she is sick or cannot make it to work. These two have also agreed to always take up any slack if I am unable to work for some reason. Things couldn't have worked out better for us!