DOG OWNERS: Love your dog -- hate poop?
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Scoopers & Friends Discussion Board

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Welcome! On this page and the pages that follow are messages archived from the Scoopers & Friends Discussion Board, going all the way back to May of 1998. The Discussion board is an online forum of people in, interested in, or curious about, the business of pet-waste removal. You can browse the messages, or CLICK HERE TO SEARCH by keyword, or click here to participate in current discussions.

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Message Date/Time:
Sunday, 03-May-98 15:22:25

Doesn't size matter?? ... I am a professional pet sitter in Alabama and plan to expand my services this summer by
offering yard cleanup. I enjoyed reading Matt's book but noticed that there was no mention of how the size of a yard affects pricing.

Shouldn't size matter? What is an "average" size yard? Should pricing change if the yard very large or very small?

Message Date/Time:
Sunday, 03-May-98 17:16:12

Re: Doesn't size matter?? ... Some people do take the size of the yard into account in pricing, and that's certainly a decision that you would want to make for your own business. In my service, I wanted to make it as easy and as simple as possible for customers to buy from me, and having a flat rate contributed to that goal for us.
I always did reserve the right to charge more for a very large yard, but I never had to charge extra for yard size. It's just a pricing schedule that seemed to work quite well for us.
While others certainly have different points of view, here are a few thoughts about my view of charging according to the size of the yard: I like to be able to tell people right away how much their service will cost. I also found that my classified ads worked better when I put the price in the ad. I didn't want to have to go to the trouble of measuring a yard, or comparing their yards with others. Similarly, I didn't adjust prices by the amount of poop a given dog produces, nor the size of the poop... etc, etc, etc.
I also didn't charge according to how far away from my office a customer's yard was. This probably is a greater factor even than the size of a yard, as far as the total time it takes to go to the site, clean the yard, and go to the next site.
The overall guiding principle in this issue, for me, was the matter of convenience for the customer. I think from the customer's point of view they just want to know what it's going to cost.

Maybe some other scoopers can add their views, which may be different from mine. :)

Message Date/Time:
Wednesday, 06-May-98 23:59:57

Re: Re: Doesn't size matter?? ... So far I charge one rate based on the number of yards. How ever size is beginning to make a difference to me. Those of us who live in the mid-west do not think of yards in feet but in yards. As example: alot of yards in this area would pass for small farms when compared to the eastern or western part of the US.

Again, I have one customer who lives right in the city and his yard is no bigger than a front living room. I feel guilty charging him the same price. In fact I am thinking of talking him into a once every two week visit. I charge for once every two week visit 1 1/2 the weekly price. Keeps my travel time down, leaving me with more time for the bigger customers.

Message Date/Time:
Thursday, 30-Apr-98 14:03:59

starting a business ... HELLO! WHAT A GREAT IDEA.
My name is Tim Ecker and I am from Baltimore, Md. I am a very hard working person who is tired of making money for other people. I saw you on the internet and said I can do that business here in Baltimore. I have done a little research here and can not find any Dog Waste Removal Co. in the Washington D.C./ Baltimore area. So why not start one part time.
Your idea is a great service to everyone.

I would like to ask you a few questions about how you started your business. Any advice will be helpful.

1. Where did you come up with the idea of dog waste removal?

2. How much money do you need to start up? License, insurance, bonded, equipment, etc.

3. Pricing approach.

A. How much do you charge?

1. weekly, monthly, yearly

2. Yard size

3. Number of dogs and size of dogs

4. How much time does it take per yard? A average yard being 1 acre.

5. How do you market your Company?

6. How do you dispose of the waste?

7. Equipment needed?

8. Quality assurance

A. How do you know if your cleaning the yards thoroughly?

9. Local laws: Have you come across any laws about disposing of the waste?

10. How long did it take your company to see a profit?

I know you are a busy person but any respone would be appreciated.

Thanks, Tim Ecker

Message Date/Time:
Thursday, 30-Apr-98 23:15:23

Re: starting a business ... Hi Tim,
I think the Washington, D.C. area would be terrific for a dog waste removal service -- several of them, even. There is a large population, many professionals, large areas of upper-income people who work long hours, a high percentage of female executives and professional women, and other demographic and psychographic factors that should contribute to the success of this kind of service there.
Some of your questions are addressed in the FAQ section of the web page, but the answers from the other pro's that contribute here will undoubtedly be very interesting and valuable. I look forward to seeing the responses. :)
You could spend a lot of money starting up, if you have available capital; if you wanted to buy new trucks, uniforms, spend a lot on marketing, etc... But you can get started on very, very little money, also. Especially if you are starting part time. Equipment costs could be less than $30, possibly -- for a lobby pan, a suitable shovel (I like the TrueTemper "Real Tools for Kids" shovels) and a box of tall-kitchen size Glad bags.
Licensing and bonding requirements depend on your local regulations. I think most places don't require anything like that, while others may. When I was driving trucks into the landfill itself, I was considered a solid waste hauler and had to be registered and bonded. Those expenses were about $150 a year. But when we hired a dumpster service and no longer went to the landfill, we didn't have to comply with those regulations since we were no longer covered by them.
Your local S.C.O.R.E. office, listed in the phone book's government section under the Small Business Admininstration, should be able to help you identify the local requirements. Your state may also have an office to assist new businesses.
Pricing is an interesting topic discussed in another thread here on the message board... be sure to check it out.
An average yard size is nowhere near an acre. :) Different neighborhoods vary, but I have found that I can clean an average of 6 yards per hour, over a total week's work -- that includes travel time.
Size of dog doesn't matter to me. The main element is the time it takes to clean, and it's easier to find the poop of big dogs. :) Little dogs can be a lot tougher because you may have to go slower and look closer to be sure you get it all.
My business was profitable after two weeks, and built up from there, bootstrapping all the way. I spent a total of $150 before the business was self-sustaining (and I could have saved about half of that, it turns out).

Message Date/Time:
Friday, 24-Apr-98 07:47:37

This is GREAT! ... What a brilliant idea, this message board! Thank you Matthew!
Who knows, maybe we can get a mailing list going sometime.
We have just started in this business, here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. We sent away for Matthew's book. It was a tremendous help. Very thorough on each aspect of this service.
We were extremely busy during spring cleanup (2 guys, on the road, all the time.)
It sure has been interesting! As far as charging prices, ofcourse the rates are different in Canada, than the U.S., but we do one dog regular size yard for 60.00. We seldom stray from that. If it is just a run, or the person is physically or visually handicapped, 50.00.
That may sound like alot to some of your customers, but spring cleanup is hard work! We take the waste away in a trailer, and we disinfect EVERYTHING! That is SO important!
In fact, in all of our advertising, we stress this.
Now that Spring has sprung, we are trying hard to get back to the customers to sign up, (the one's that didn't right away).
Also, we were written about in the 4 local papers here this week. That was super!

Keep posting your messages, and questions, I am sure we can all learn from each other!


Message Date/Time:
Sunday, 03-May-98 15:51:37

Tools of the Trade ... (Don't you just hate it when newbies like me get on a board and start asking a bunch of questions that have already been answered!)

Anyway here goes...
It seems to me that scoopin' poop has been around long enough for someone to have developed some sort of 'vacuuming' system to replace the manual shovel and scoop.

Am I being too futuristic? Has anyone out there experimented with other methods of scooping?

Message Date/Time:
Sunday, 03-May-98 17:24:39

Re: Tools of the Trade ... It is undoubtedly possible to make a powered vacuum system to clean up dog poop. Many people have heard of the situation in Paris, France, where they have "motocrottes," motorcycles with vacuums to clean up dog waste from streets and sidewalks.
I have considered the idea of using something like a small 4-wheeler with a vacuum for large grounds, like apartment complexes or condominiums.
But for normal residential clean up, I think the scoop and shovel system works awfully well, and can see some disadvantages to using a machine system. A gas-powered vacuum system would certainly weigh much, much more, which would add physical stress to the work. It wouldn't save any time because one or two quick sweeps with the shovel is just as quick as vacuuming the piles would be. It would certainly cost more for equipment.
And think of the matter of cleaning the equipment. With a scoop and shovel, you simply spray them off with water or disinfectant. With a vacuum, you'd have hoses and tanks to empty, clean up, handle, probably get clogged up from time to time...
So, yes, a vacuum system would be possible, but the questions would be whether that would be efficient, effective and economical compared to using a scoop and shovel. In my opinion, the simpler way is cheaper, lighter, and much more efficient.
The idea is still intriquing for those very large areas where you have to clean several acres for commercial jobs, though. :)


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