How Much Should I Charge for my Pooper Scooper Service?


Almost inevitably the answer to the question “how much should I charge for pooper scooper service?” is “just a little bit lower than the competition.” At least if you’re new to the business. In my book, The Professional Scoop Master I address this in a more practical way. Let me start by saying that “just a little bit less than the competition” is NOT the correct answer.

“If everyone bought on price alone, we’d all be driving Yugos.”

I’m really aging myself now. If you don’t what a Yugo is, or was, it was a super cheap car build in Yugoslavia and imported into the U.S. about the mid 1980’s and sold for around four grand. Only problem was… it was cheap! Shifters would fall off in mid shift, parts would break and it always had something going wrong with it. Did I mention that they were cheap? Just goes to show you that not everyone buys on price, they purchase quality and value. So don’t treat your pooper scooper business like a Yugo.

I digress. Before you can decide how much you want to charge for your pooper scooper service or any service for that matter, you have to consider a few factors like:

  • How much do I need to make?
  • Have I presented my pooper scooper service as a valuable service?
  • What is the average size of the yards in my area?
  • How long can I expect to take to clean the average yard in my area?
  • What is the average rate in my area?

When you research these answers, then you will have a better idea on what to charge.

Let’s examine each of these factors a little more closely.

How much you need to make is a personal thought process. It will vary greatly even if compared to people in the same area. I suggest starting with what you absolutely need to survive: Housing, utilities, food, fuel, insurance, advertising and phone. Notice what’s NOT in there, car payment, credit card payments, clothing, weekly Starbucks stipend, even cable TV. These items should not be a necessity. Now before you yell at me for pointing out your life style, let me say that I do understand these things happen. Boy, do I understand! My point is that unless you have a huge influx of capital to start a pooper scooper business, you will have to learn to live frugally. And preferably continue even after your business grows. I don’t think about it much any more, but I do remember the day that I no longer had anymore car payments – haven’t had one for over 7 years! I’m never going to have another car payment for the rest of my life because I buy everything out right and I ONLY buy it if I have the money for it. I learned this lesson from my earlier years of living frugally and I must say, it’s a free feeling!

Have you told your prospective clients why they need your service? Did you present a value proposition to them?

What sounds better to you?

Use my pooper scooper service!

Or

My pooper scooper company will come to your home on a regular basis and clean up your dog poop so you don’t have to. We will save you time so you can spend more of it with your pet, not cleaning up after him. We’ll make sure his water dish is full, we’ll wash out the dog run and even spray some natural, pet friendly deodorizer and disinfectant so you won’t have to smell it or worry about dog related parasites. You won’t have to worry about the years of bending over to pick up, the flies, or the smell because we will take care of that for you.

OK, I went over my 30 second elevator pitch, but I think you get the message. You have to let potential clients know that your service is of value to them and why.

Contrary to popular belief, size does matter!

Yard size that is. I know pooper scooper owners across the country and they all have varying prices according to their areas. In fact, this is what prompted me to write this article – a certain company commented that another company (in a different state) was charging too low for their service. Why should he care? Another guy has an average yard size of about ½ acre. Of course he will charge more than someone like me who’s average yard size is about the size a large living room. Knowing the average lot size in your area will help determine the next factor.

image of pooper scooper

Maria – scooping in a small yard.

image of large yard with dogs

This yard is somewhat bigger, and of course we charge more.

How long is the average size yard going to take me to clean?

Guesstimating the amount of time it will take to clean an average size yard will be key in setting your prices. It all boils down to SPH or Stops Per Hour. A large majority of scoopers average between 4 and 5 stops per hour. That gives you between 8 and 10 minutes of travel time and 4 to 6 minutes of scooping time. Ideally, you want to raise your SPH as quickly as possible. At first this may take some time. That’s why I recommend that you concentrate your marketing efforts around existing customers. My local route is averaging 8 SPH, in and out in 2 or 3 minutes and just a couple of miles between stops. Just the way I like it!

So, let’s get down to brass tacks.

You should check up on your competition and see what they charge so at least you can be in the ball park. After all, if you plan on charging $45 per visit and your competitor only charges $12.50 per visit, guess who’s gonna get more customers? You have to be realistic. This takes us back to what you need to make.

Let’s keep the math simple:

Suppose you need to make $50,000 per year. Not a bad income. It’s over twice the poverty level in America, so we’ll use that. Now suppose you decide that you can clean 5 houses per hour. Let’s do the math. $50,000 / 12 months = $4166 per month income needed. Weekly that equates to about $968 per week. (4166/4.3 weeks in a month) Now divide that by a standard 40 hour work week and you need to make $24.00 per hour. If you can do 5 SPH you would need to charge $4.80 per week multiplied by 4.3 weeks in a month and that comes out to $20.64 a month for service.

Simple eh? But wait a minute. In order to pull that off you would have to obtain over 200 customers! Ouch! That’s obviously too cheap. Let’s try something different. Let’s treat this as business and not a hobby. Let’s change your hourly rate to something more substantial, like, hmm, how about $60.00 an hour! $60 divided by the proposed 5 stops per hour would come out to $12 per visit.

Let’s do the math again. You need to make $968 per week. Divide that by $60 per hour and you will have to work about 16 hours each week. (968/60=16) Let’s go a little further with this and divide 16 hours by a 5 day work week. That now equates to 3.2 hours of work per day or 16 stops per day (3.2 X 5 SPH) multiply that by a 5 day work week and the math says you will need 80 once a week customers to reach that goal.

Of course this is just an average. You will undoubtedly gain customers that want 2 or even 3 times a week service, or have more than one dog. Use this as a guide to setting your prices. And, as I stated in my book, I have seen a lot of companies come and go over the years and I usually get their customers. Most of the time I find that the reason they went out of business was because they didn’t charge enough!

Have a blessed day!


About Tim Stone

Timothy Stone is the owner of Scoop Masters Dog Poop Pick Up Service in Los Angeles, California. He is a co-founder of The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, (apaws.org) and current treasurer. In 2003 he wrote and self published his first book, The Professional Scoop Master - A Guide to Starting and Running Your Own Dog Poop Pick Up Service.

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