Side Hustle #80: Pet Waste Removal (aka Pooper Scooper! $60-$80/hr)

by Guest Author -

poop emoji

[Morning! Welcome to another edition of our Side Hustle Series! :) Phil from CleanYards.co stops by the blog today to share his lucrative side business of cleaning out poop from peoples’ yards for money! Something I didn’t even know existed five minutes ago, haha… But with little overhead and no advanced degree required, it might just be the perfect little gig for anyone needing some extra money these days! Let me know if any of you end up trying it!]

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Poop is not a passion of mine but it’s very lucrative.

It all started with a simple question from a co-worker, “Do you know of anyone who cleans dog poop out of yards?” My initial reaction was one of bewilderment. Are there people who actually pick up pet waste for a living? And there are people willing to pay for it?

It turns out the answer to both of those questions was a resounding yes. This began my five year journey into the pet waste removal business, aka being a pooper scooper.

My game plan was simple. Research what other businesses were doing pet waste removal in the city, and confirm what exactly they offered and, most importantly, what they were charging. After completing my research, I purchased a rake and bin for scooping poop, created a free listing on Craigslist in the Farm and Garden section and waited to see what happened.

The goal here was to invest as little as possible and prove the potential of this strange new side hustle. Well, to make a long story short it worked very well.  I had about 20 replies to the ad within the first few days and managed to land 3 customers.  This was the beginning of my pooper scooper hustle that eventually turned into a real business.

Why Start a Pooper Scooper Side Hustle?

Here are the main benefits of getting in the pet waste removal business:

  • Low startup costs
  • Massive customer base
  • No office required
  • Profitable
  • Scalable business model

You are going to want a good pair of work boots too. Remember what we are dealing with here :)

How to Get Started

First, you need to understand what you are getting into when starting a pooper scooper hustle. You will be cleaning pet waste out of people’s yards, collecting it in a waste bag and disposing of it. This job does not take an advanced degree, but it does involve being outdoors and dealing with pet waste. If that doesn’t scare you off, this might be a great side hustle for you. I love the business and the opportunities it has provided to my family!

One of the most attractive parts of starting a Pooper Scooper business is the low startup costs. In order to get started there is a basic list of must have items:

  • Rake and Bin – required to scoop the poop
  • Latex/Nitrile Gloves – we are dealing with poop here
  • Large 1.1 Mil Waste Bags
  • Transportation

Once you have the essentials it is time to find customers. A pooper scooper typically deals with two types of customers: Residential and Business.

Residential customers (usually homeowners) will make up the bulk of your customer base.  Business customers are a bit harder to gain and take a considerable amount of hard work to acquire, but can be very profitable.

My recommendation for finding customers to those just starting out is two-fold. First and foremost, research your competition, if any, and check what they are charging. Using that information, set a base cost for your service. Consider number of dogs and frequency (daily, weekly, bi-weekly) when coming up with pricing.

Our Residential pricing starts at $20 for one dog/per week and increases from there.  Second, create a simple ad and post it on Craigslist and any local forums where people look for local services.

Pro-Tip: Offer free front yard scooping with every scoop. Doesn’t take long, adds value and separates you from the competition!

How Much Can You Make in The Pet Waste Business?

When I was first starting out, I charged $15/weekly scoop (one dog).  I now charge $20 for the same service and customers happily pay it.  A ½ acre yard takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish with quality scooping.

We schedule our scoops by neighborhood/area to ensure we can maximize the amount of time we are cleaning yards. We are currently earning $60-$80 per hour per scooper. This varies based on the actual yard size and whether we are able to scoop 3 or 4 yards in an hour.

When setting your price, make sure you’re considering transportation time, cost of materials, and local cost of living considerations. Also, look to the future and ask yourself if you have built in enough profit to one day pay someone else to do the scooping for you and still make a profit. We now use independent contractors to do our scooping, get a cut of the profit, and have a great little business.

The Pros and Cons to Poop Scooping

Running a poop business is a lot of fun. You have the opportunity to be outdoors, make your own schedule, and meet some friendly pets along the way. The low startup costs and large customer base make it really easy to get started.

The downside of this side hustle is that it is not passive income – it takes time and lots of effort. You are only paid for the scoops you complete. On the upside, you will get out of the business as much as you want to put into it. If you are not afraid of hard work you’re good to go!

How to Get Started in The Business

My recommendation is to take action right away if it’s something you are interested in. You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. A side hustle in the pet waste business will require you to take action, but if you do, it can be very rewarding.

I recently created a course for those looking to get started in the business: CleanYards.co

I teach people how to start a local, profitable Pooper Scooper business as quickly as possible. We cover everything from tool recommendations to accepting payments, handling day to day operations, building a website, making sure you’re covered legally, and much more.

I love the pooper scooper business. It gets a dirty reputation (and for good reason, it’s dirty!), but that also means opportunity for those willing to take it.

Remember, this isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do this!

If it’s something you’re interested in, I hope you’ll give it a shot.

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Shared by Phil Terrell of CleanYards.co as part of our Side Hustle Series. For similar hustles we’ve featured on the blog before, see below:

FUN FACT: This post contains the word “poop” 18 times :)

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharon April 28, 2020 at 9:47 am

A friend of mine years ago started the same business. It was called Rover’s Leftovers. Tag line was great,
“taking alot of crap all over Houston”. After 5 years she sold for a quarter million. Not too shabby.
Have a good one,
Sharon

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2 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 10:04 am

Hah! Brilliant!!

I feel like having a good sense of humor in this biz can help you go far :)

Your friend sounds fun.

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3 Phil April 28, 2020 at 2:18 pm

That’s a great tagline. Might need to keep that in mind. When I was first starting out I would randomly take pictures of strange poops in customers yards and share them with our notification email… “Your yard has been scooped. What has your dog been eating? (insert picture) Humor does go a long way in the poop business.

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4 J. Money April 29, 2020 at 10:56 am

HILARIOUS!

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5 Brian April 28, 2020 at 12:06 pm

I guess I am weird, but dog poop in my backyard never bothered me. I also noticed that my dog’s poo disappeared a lot quick when we switched to a more “natural” dog food to combat some of her allergies.

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6 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Interesting!!

I didn’t even know people *didn’t* clean up their dogs poop and instead hired people, haha…. But hey – I guess they’re adding to the economy and hustlers like us! :)

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7 Phil April 28, 2020 at 2:14 pm

I was shocked as well Brian. I never had a problem with picking up my yard but I’m thrilled that other people dislike it enough to pay me to do it for them!

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8 Blaine April 28, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for sharing. I actually really like this idea. One thing I didn’t understand. The pro tip. ?

Pro-Tip: Offer free front yard scooping with every scoop. Doesn’t take long, adds value and separates you from the competition!

Does this mean charge for back yard only and then do front yard free? I guess there is usually not much poop in the front yard. Ok, I might have just explained it to myself. Lol.
Great side hustle idea!
Thanks

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9 Phil April 28, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Blaine,

You got it. Most pooper scoopers only offer service for front or back yard. Most people only let their dogs use the back yard so there should be very little clean up in the front. The idea is to differentiate yourself from the competition and provide a little added value. I try to add value by doing little things that go a long way; free front yard clean up, additional pet related services, and very good communication. It pays off and keeps the person who tries to take away your business for a few dollars less from succeeding.

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10 Christine April 28, 2020 at 1:18 pm

I was getting to the end of reading and wondering “hmmm, how many times did he say ‘poop’?” And, voila, there was my answer! You just GET me, J! Lol!

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11 Phil April 28, 2020 at 2:12 pm

It’s a poop filled business worthy of a poop filled article.

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12 J. Money April 29, 2020 at 10:59 am

For another fun article you might like then, check out this one on Britney Spears ;)

https://www.budgetsaresexy.com/better-work-bitch-britney-spears/

See if you can guess how often “bitch” appears! Lol…

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