(Ambrosio’s note: Betcha didn’t know there’s a huge market potential for pet waste removal (estimated at $2.8 billion a year) — I certainly didn’t. When I first heard about DoodyCalls, I honestly wasn’t sure if this was a serious business opportunity. But I changed my mind real quick when I read the Wall Street Journal article where DoodyCalls was prominently featured.
I had the privilege of interviewing Jacob D’Aniello, Co-Founder and CEO of DoodyCalls, and I must say he presented a very solid case in favor of this pet waste removal franchise opportunity. The company has been around since 2000, began franchising in 2004, and currently has around 45 franchise units in the United States. DoodyCalls is a unique franchise opportunity worth looking into.)
1. What made you decide to start DoodyCalls?
I started DoodyCalls because I saw a tremendous opportunity. I had graduated from the University of Virginia and taken a job in the IT sector in Washington, DC. One day when I was commuting home, there was an interview on the radio with some guy who was going on and on about his wonderful career picking up dog poop.
I almost changed the channel but then realized this guy actually loved his job, earned a good living (claimed to be making more than I was at the time), worked his own hours, said his clients loved him, and didn’t have to commute anymore.
My girlfriend (now wife) Susan thought I was crazy at first, but then she saw it too. It wasn’t rocket science or brain surgery, but the more we started thinking about it, the more excited we became. The next week, we started placing classified ads in the local papers and the phone started to ring.
From the beginning, my vision has been to build DoodyCalls into the first national pet waste removal franchise with locations across the United States and that’s what we’ve done.
2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a pet-related franchise?
Americans love their pets and the numbers back it up. By recent figures, there are now an estimated 78 million dogs and 86 million cats owned as pets in the United States. Moreover, consumer spending on pets has nearly doubled over the past decade, from $28.5 billion in 2001 to an expected $50.84 billion in 2011. This is a growth industry that makes strides year in and year out, and that’s not something to ignore.
But even more important than that, pet care is an all around fun industry to work in. The people I meet in this category genuinely seem to enjoy their work and enjoy life.
3. What sets DoodyCalls apart from your competitors in the pet services industry?
What sets us apart is an unwavering commitment to customer service, professionalism, and building the DoodyCalls brand.
Right now, we’re the largest national systematized brand in pet waste removal. Our biggest competition is the smaller independents. Every time someone reads a story about us, they can go out and buy a shovel and compete with us, but there’s really a lot more to it.
With 11 years under our belt, we know what it takes to build a thriving pet waste removal business and we’re able to provide every franchise owner with the systems, training, and support they need to get their business off the ground and running.
4. What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee?
We’re looking for franchise owners who are passionate about marketing, brand building, and team management.
Entrepreneurs don’t join DoodyCalls to scoop poop. They join because there’s remarkable potential in this category and our franchise is leading the way. According to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, the market potential for pet waste removal is estimated to be $2.6 billion annually, the vast majority of which is untapped.
DoodyCalls franchisees are business owners. They hire employees to handle the scooping aspect of their operation so they can focus on company building. In our experience, building a successful DoodyCalls business is about marketing your services, building your brand locally, and managing your team.
5. Can you describe the ideal territory and neighborhood for a DoodyCalls franchise?
With 62% of US households now owning a pet, this is a franchise that works well practically everywhere. The absolute best areas for DoodyCalls franchises are ones where the people are busy, there are lots of pets, and there is a high concentration of neighborhoods where the homes are located close together.
6. Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?
Our most successful franchise owners follow the DoodyCalls plan, they are always marketing the business, and they don’t scoop.
We’ve recently started a brand new series on the DoodyCalls Franchising Blog that gives an inside look into what drives our top performing franchisees to succeed and how they’ve created success in their local markets. It’s called the DoodyCalls Franchisee Spotlight.
7. What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your franchisees to help them become more successful?
We help franchise owners set goals and achieve them using the DoodyCalls system. Beyond providing the plan and support systems to execute that plan, we also focus on overall skills development. For instance, franchisees who want to learn about public relations can work with our Communications Director and he will teach them as much as they want to know about working with the press and
landing publicity in their local media market.
Every DoodyCalls franchisee benefits from:
- Our professional Customer Care Center located at Doo’Ville—our national headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- A large and growing collection of professionally designed marketing materials.
- Proven marketing and business development plans.
- Access to state-of-the-art scheduling, route management, and invoicing systems.
- Professional in-house public relations campaigns and support.
- Ongoing training and business support.
There’s tremendous opportunity in this category. Pet waste removal is a developing industry just as maids and landscaping services once were. The sky is the limit and we’re leading the way, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there.
9. Can you describe your typical day as CEO of DoodyCalls? What do you enjoy most about your job?
The details of every day are different, but in one way or another, I spend every day working with our franchise owners, our franchise recruitment team, and our support team to continue building DoodyCalls into the first national pet waste removal franchise with locations across the United States.
As a team leader, I’m very involved. I play an active role in just about every aspect of the DoodyCalls business. What I love most about my job — what drives me — is that we’re building a company for franchise owners to use as a vehicle to achieve their goals.
There’s nothing better than when franchise owners call to tell me they’ve reached a milestone in their life, whether it’s starting their first business or achieving a certain revenue goal — those are some of the best moments of my life.
10. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about DoodyCalls?
With DoodyCalls, we’re pioneering a new category and marketing is the cornerstone of the effort. We believe so strongly in this statement that we’ve created a Commitment to Marketing Campaign, where new franchisees in 2011 are reimbursed up to $12,500 for advertising and promotional expenses during the first 12 months of opening their DoodyCalls franchise to help get their business
off the ground.