- Cesar Jimenez, 35, owns and operates a Pet Butler waste disposal franchise in Arizona.
- He quit his real estate job in May to open the franchise and now has employs three full-time workers.
- This is what his job is like, as told to writer Jenny Powers.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Cesar Jimenez, a Pet Butler franchise owner in Arizona, about his business. It has been edited for length and clarity.
A few years ago if you’d told me one day I’d run a poop-scooping business and bring in $20,000 to $25,000 a month, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here I am, a pro in the poop game — and I take my job very seriously. We like to say we are “No. 1 in the No. 2 business.”
I left my job as a corporate recruiter in the real estate industry in spring 2021 and officially became the ‘Chief Scooping Officer’ of my own Pet Butler franchise in Arizona.
I grew up around dogs. Throughout my life, there’s always been a dog in the house. In elementary and middle school I was so familiar with the dogs in my neighborhood that when any of them would escape, chances are they’d be found at my house.
In 2019 while working in real estate management, I opened a small poop-scooping business as a side hustle.
My plan was to run a test operation to determine if the numbers made sense and if it was a viable business model.
Around the same time, I got a mailer about franchise opportunities from Pet Butler, a nationwide pet waste cleanup and removal service. After doing some research, I realized investing in an established franchise model made more sense than starting from scratch.
In May 2021 I acquired a Pet Butler franchise with an existing book of business in a territory covering 12 major cities. I now have three branded trucks and three-full time employees who service routes all over the Central North Phoenix area and everything north of Salt River.
We currently have 327 clients and the majority of them are single-family homes.
On average my team handles 74 yards (67.67m) a day and each takes about five minutes to service.
Our techs undergo a thorough background check before coming onboard. Once hired, they receive on-the-job training which includes learning how to spot waste on both grass and rock surfaces. Rock is more common here and it’s easier to spot poop on a rock surface than on grass, where we have to walk in a grid form to find it. Our techs also learn how to use tools like a rake and spade and a giant dustpan lined with a trash bag.
Maneuvering the tools correctly is kind of like a golf swing. It takes practice to hit the sweet spot and get it just right. As part of the onboarding process, techs also shadow me and a lead tech.
Our techs are W2 employees and pre-COVID earned between $13 to $15 an hour. The pandemic made it tough to find people willing to work so I increased the wages to $15 to 17 an hour to find quality people I could trust.
We work Monday through Friday beginning around 6:30 a.m. in the summer and 7:30 a.m. in the winter and finish our days between noon and 2 p.m.
Service costs vary and depend on different factors such as how often we service a client, the number of dogs, the size of the yard, whether it’s a residential, commercial, or HOA property.
We offer a discounted rate to new customers of $8.99 per week for eight weeks to give them a chance to try out our services. After, our standard rate for a weekly backyard service costs $15.99 for up to two dogs and $3 per additional dog. Other services like odor elimination and patio spraying cost extra.
You’d be surprised by the amount of waste we handle. An average single-family yard with two to three dogs amounts to about 60 to 70 pounds of poop in a three-week period.
A lot can be told from a dog’s poop, and if there’s anything that stands out like blood in the stool we alert our client so they can ensure their pet is alright.
Every city and state has its own ordinance on how to properly dispose of pet waste. Once we pick up the poop, we bag it individually and then bag it all up in a heavy-duty industrial bag. Then we put it in our dumpster and the city picks it up.
From the time I took over the business until October 2021, I spent about 40 hours a week servicing clients.
As of last month, I was able to go part-time,although I still make a point of servicing all of our first-time clients. Now I focus mainly on overseeing operations, handling billing, and conducting quality checks.
It’s important that everyone who works with us loves dogs, because we don’t just service properties — we service the people and pets as well.
Owners are often surprised that our techs have developed independent relationships with their pets, but it’s common for us to carry treats and if we have a little time, we might even throw a ball around with them.
Some people think only the lazy or rich would hire us, but that’s not the case at all. A lot of our clients are just your average Joe. Some clients work two jobs and don’t have the capacity to clean their own yard regularly while others may have a disability preventing them from physically picking up after their dogs.
The other day I met an older client who told me she’d had cancer six years ago and it returned this year. She recently had surgery that affected her mobility and fell down one day while trying to clean up after her Golden Retrievers, so she called us. She loves her dogs and wants to keep them but doesn’t want her yard to be a mess. Now we take care of her yard so she can just enjoy time with her pets without worrying about the cleanup.
My wife Rachael and I have three dogs, all over the age of 10, who we refer to as The Golden Girls.
As for my own yard, Rachael is always yelling at me to get out there and clean up the dogs’ poop. I try to do it once a week, but since I own a pooper-scooper business I think she expects it to be done every few hours. So if you ask her, I’ve got to work on that.