How I Became a Professional Pooper-Scooper
by Matthew Osborn
I've always been interested in new and different ideas, especially ideas about making money.
Even as a kid I had my little money-making projects. Whether picking wild berries in
the woods in Maryland, putting on a magic show, pet shows, lemonade stands, newspaper
route, I managed to keep myself occupied and provide enough funds to provide myself with
spending money. And I also enjoy doing things that are just a little out of the ordinary.
Still... the first time I heard that someone was offering to clean up after people's
dogs for a weekly fee, I just laughed -- I had to! I had never heard of such a thing
-- a person going around cleaning up after people's dogs for a fee. But the more I
thought about it, the more sense it made. I mean, here was a job that obviously has
to be done, but a lot of people prefer not to do it themselves.
So I spent the Winter of 1987-1988 studying and planning; spending time in the local
libraries in the few hours I had available between the two full-time jobs I was
working (making less than $6 an hour at each of them). I learned that there were about
100,000 dogs within 15 miles of my home. I wouldn't have to have even one percent of
them in order to have enough customers to improve my life. I studied ways to scoop
large quantities in the shortest time. I practiced with different tools, using
"simulated dog waste" to time how long it would take to clean a yard.
Back in those days I was living in a tiny upstairs apartment, and I didn't even have
a car. But I vividly remember walking a half mile through the snow to catch a bus
for work, and saying to myself over and over, "Someday I'm not going to have to do
this anymore!" I had hold of an idea that I KNEW was going to take off, and it was
not going to take much money to make it happen.
In the first month of the business, I spent a total of about $150 for tools, flyers,
cards, and a couple of very small classified ads. I got a few customers right off
the bat, and made my initial investment back, plus profit, after just a couple of
weeks. And that's how I got into the dog waste removal service business.
Little by little, constant improvements began to add up. Step by step, my little
business was making customers happy and getting bigger and bigger. The first vehicle
I could buy to use just for business was an old Honda Civic for which I paid $300.
But my customer list kept growing. I began hiring employees when I couldn't do all
the work by myself. When I had several people working for me I hired someone whom
I knew could become a good manager. After a few years that person was able to take
over more and more of the daily operation of the business.
The service outgrew the home-office and became an employer of 7 workers, with a fleet
of 6 pickup trucks -- serving between 650 and 700 regular weekly customers. I was
making a personal income of about $45,000 a year and spending most of my time with
my family, traveling, reading, and doing the things I enjoy. After ten years I felt
it was time to move on to new projects. For me it was time to focus on some new ideas,
so I sold my business to an excellent manager whom I know will continue to improve
the business and serve the customers well.
Over the years I've had so many requests for information that I finally put it all
down on paper. Complete details about operations, office prodecures, actual samples
of successful marketing materials, distilling my own decade of experience in starting
up from almost nothing and building a successful, thriving, well-liked and profitable
dog waste removal service business.
Ten Frequently Asked Questions about the Dog Waste Removal Service Business:
1) "Is this for real!?" It certainly is! I'll readily admit it sounds pretty funny at
first. But all over the country new dog waste removal services are being started, and
customers are signing up for them. Demographics and social trends point to an
accelerating demand for personal services for busy professionals and executives,
single parent households, and people who simply have better things to do than scoop
up after dogs.