Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MissPoop.Com Success Story

Link of the day - The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need


When someone is trying to think of a potential business to launch, it is unlikely that poop would be the first think they’d think of. For Miriam that was an idea, and it turned out to be a profitable one.

Since MissPoop launched a couple years ago it has grown at extraordinary rates. By keeping her service area local, making smart choices, and through positive word of mouth advertising, she has continued to profit through the recession, too.

If you ever wondered whether the pooper scooper business could do well, MissPoop has the answer.

Tell us a little bit about MissPoop.

MissPoop- Dog Waste Management is basically a pooper scooper service. We visit our clients yards one to two times a week and pick up the dog feces. Once wrapped up in a brightly colored plastic bag, we leave the “package” by the owner’s garage or garbage. In addition to poop scooping, we do keep an eye out on your dogs feces to look for signs of ill-health, foreign objects and other danger signals.

How’d you manage to stumble into this kind of business?

MissPoop was started seven and a half years ago. I had a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, left during a downsizing with a healthy package and my retirement saving and invested EVERYTHING into another business with a person who I knew socially and professionally. Our business grew, however she was stealing money from the business. When I discovered the losses, she offered to buy me out. To make a very long, bloody story short, she did not buy me out, she stole more money and while I was waiting for the court to figure this out, I went back to the pharmaceutical word. Bored out of my mind and frustrated beyond belief, I knew I had to start another business. So I did some soul searching and decided that any thing I did have to involve five criteria. It has to:

* be financially responsible so I could support myself and my future.
* involve me creatively in some manner every day.
* be emotionally rewarding and stabilizing (no bullshit politics etc).
* involve outdoor, physical activity every day since I knew I needed to stay healthy.
* be spiritually fulfilling. I wasn’t even sure I know what that meant to me at the time, but I knew I needed good, clean energy and people or dogs around me.

My boyfriend said to me one night as I was trying to brainstorm complicate business ideas, why don’t you pick up dog poop? I was mortified that he would even suggest such a thing, but I went to my computer, looked it up and called a few of the early pooper scoopers and asked for advice. They were all extremely helpful and within a week, I had written a brief business plan, bought minimal supplies, printed up business cards, created flyers and started. I practiced my “technique” in my backyard.

Where are your services located?

MissPoop covers a ten mile radius area outside of Valley Forge Park, Pennsylvania. We focus on several types of neighborhoods and contrary to popular opinion; our client base is not just the wealthy, but all income levels.

Has the recession had any effect on your business?

I have been extremely fortunate. Throughout the past several years I have done several things to insure customer loyalty and it has paid off in a variety of ways. I have not added fuel taxes or increase, but tightened up my route so that we worked smarter. I offer discounts for solid referrals and we offer great service. MissPoop continues to grow every year, and in the past three years, I have added MissBehave - Dog Training to our repertoire of services. We also pet sit and specialize in fun, active, home-like pet sitting so we are always busy.

What goals would you like to achieve for your business over the next year?

I would like to continue to grow MissPoop by another 25% so that I can keep two part time staff well funded, which also allows me more time to focus on the MissBehave part of the business. MissBehave is the area where I am targeting significant growth for 2009. MissStep, a new dog walking service we started this year is also expected to grow by 50% this year.

Since it’s launch, what kind of growth has it seen?

The first several years I grew by 100% each year. Currently we average a 10-15% growth. We do not advertise at all. I have a webpage, facebook, blog, car signs, business cards and call on all sorts of pet industry suppliers - groomers, lawn services, veterinarians, dog walkers, etc. I network like crazy and it pays off.

What lessons have you learned from your experiences as an entrepreneur?

To stay focused, motivated and keep a schedule. Don’t let things slide and always maintain a professional manner no matter what sort of business you are in. Part of my success is that I present myself and my business as if it were the most honorable profession and respect it for the valuable service it offers to my clients.

What does your business have that helps separate it from the competition?

Most of my competition is pretty good and very professional. While understanding that we are all competitors, we work hard to create an atmosphere of cooperation and referrals. If one of us gets a call in an area we don’t frequent we take all the information, call the other pooper scooper and give them the lead. We also follow-up with the customer to make sure their needs have been met. I love it that my competition and I work that way. It is hard to not get greedy and want to do all the business, but it is just not possible to do it all well if you are spread too thin. I believe our customers appreciate that we go out of the way to get the right service provider to their front door.

How do you maintain balance between your life and your business?

I am not sure that I do that very well. My life revolves around MissPoop, MissBehave and Ben’s Bed and Biscuit. I do take drawing classes, write for both my businesses, and pursue very un-dog like related activities on occasion. For the most part, however, you could say my life has gone to the dogs!

If you could sum up your business pitch into one sentence, what would you say?

My logo has a dog on the toilet, reading the paper. The pitch is as follows: “Until Then, Call Us.” It works very well.

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