37% of Americans rent apartments. With that comes a large number of residents that have to put their trash out nightly and since the valet trash industry started, it has exploded in use over the past decade. Find all you need to know on how to start your own valet trash business below.
What is a valet trash business?
Valet trash is a doorstep trash collection service where a service valet goes door to door to pick up trash and take it downstairs to the dumpsters. This is usually done in apartment complexes where residents can easily set out their trash for servicing.
The junk removal service itself is pretty simple overall and essentially offers convenience and time savings for consumers for a monthly fee. The valet trash business provides each apartment resident with a company-branded trash container who, when full, places the trash can with the garbage bag outside their door in the hallway between 6pm-8pm.
The Service Valet shows up on the property between these hours and picks up the trash bags and disposes of the trash downstairs into the community dumpsters. Once all of the trash bags have been serviced, they make sure all loose trash is picked up by the dumpsters.
Valet trash businesses can be very profitable with property managers locking in a 1,000 unit portfolio earning over $15,000 per month from their residents’ trash, equating to over $180,000 annually.
5 tips for opening a valet trash business business
1 – Know your customer
You must take the time to study where the demand for a valet trash service is, which apartment complexes in which neighborhoods in which city. Your company should also have its own unique selling proposition or USP. To determine your USP, you should do the following.
- Review your experience and skills
- Do your market research/competitor research
- Narrow down your options for services to offer
- Come up with your business name
- Create your USP and define what your company will truly offer
The most essential part about forming your identity is to choose what to specialize in. For example, will your company only provide its services for apartment complexes? Or will you try to widen your net and look at student dorm buildings or care facilities?
Also, you can choose to pick up certain types of materials to recycle. Some companies prefer to work with regular household trash. Others can pick up more complicated items like electronic appliances.
It’s all based on a combination of what the market needs in your area and what you think will work best for you. After honing in on your identity and creating a USP, it should be easier to promote your services and start your marketing campaign.
2 – Choose a good location
As part of your business plan on how to open a valet trash business, you must select a good location in which to operate. Choosing a space for your valet trash business has more than a few considerations.
- Which area or neighborhood can you concentrate your valet trash business in and avoid long travel distances across city traffic?
- Do you want your valet trash business to be situated in the downtown business district, or do you want it to be in a quieter residential area?
- What is the average rental price of the area in which you intend to operate and benchmark much would similar apartment complexes pay for a valet trash service
These are just a few questions that you must consider when choosing a location. Make sure that you always consider your clients.
3 – Work on your finances
Your project is developing now but you’ll need to firm up on the figures. For this, you’ll need to develop a business plan for your valet trash business project and its financial plan. This is an essential step to ensure the success of your business.
It lists all your expenses and allows you to estimate your revenues. The business plan will allow you to validate the profitability of your project. This is when you can decide if you need to use financing solutions and which particular options would work best: Bank loan, crowdfunding, investors or something different.
The business plan is generally required by the banks or other financial partners from which you apply for financing and therefore should be clear, precise and complete. You may need a business starter loan from your local bank, Credit Union or avail or start your business with loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
Good to know: The budget needed to open a valet trash business depends on a number of factors and can range from $500 to $5,000 budgeted for expenses including company formation, staffing, equipment purchases, website formation and marketing.
4 – Equip yourself with the right business tools
To ensure your business runs smoothly, it’s in your best interest to equip yourself with powerful and efficient tools. In particular, you’ll need to:
- Open a business bank account
- Obtain a POS system to allow customers to pay with card
- Use accounting software to record day-to-day financial transactions and/or use an online accountant
From an inventory point of view, you should consider your:
- Equipment: Branded trash can, trash bags, over the shoulder valet bag, gloves, reflective vest and disinfectant
- Other: Business Cards, Marketing materials, staff phones and a company website
5 – Market your business
A huge part of your business now comes into play. You’ll need to start putting together your marketing materials with the correct messaging, visual appeal, and production level that makes you presentable to companies when you approach them.
Make sure to do this with some lead time before going out. Printable items could take a few days to prepare, while a website could take several weeks to months to create.
Here are some suggested marketing materials you’ll need:
- Business Card – A must-have, as anyone you meet should receive one of these. It should have your logo, phone number, email, company name, title and address on it
- Leave Behind – This is a short marketing flier describing what you do. Think of it as an “elevator pitch”, something a property manager would look at and instantly know what you did and how it can benefit them. You can also add in a unique gift to help differentiate you from the other vendors that come in
- Sales Kit – When you start to get meetings, you’ll need your go-to informational items to take them through what you do, benefits to the community, benefits to the management company, how you handle violations and your pricing for the service
- Website – This is your most important marketing piece. Your valet trash website is the first thing that potential clients go to and verify if you are a legit business. Also, the great thing about a website is that it’s a 24-hour a day marketing tool for your company. No matter what time someone finds you, it is there to answer any questions or bring them in as a lead
- Leads: Property Managers should be your best friend. Property Management Companies that take care of apartment complexes or an independent company that focuses on condo complexes can easily be found via a quick Google search
A Google Business page and a presence on social networks are also good ways to talk about your valet trash business and attract new customers. In addition, you can use Yelp to search for apartment complexes.
This will bring you info on all of the local complexes in your area. Not to mention all of the reviews with it. It is a good way to find out if the complex would be a good fit for your services.
Choose a couple of platforms and learn them in and out. For valet trash business, use Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you spend time on social media, be sure to post content for when your followers are most active to maximize the engagement.
Ensure your images that you post on Instagram are eye-catching, photos that will make your audience stop scrolling and click onto your profile to see more about the convenience and excellent service offered.
Training needed to open a valet trash business?
A college degree or qualification is not required in order to open a valet trash business. Experience in the field or in business is encouraged but not needed either.
Consider looking into one of those institutions to take a class on small business management or entrepreneurship to boost your confidence and knowledge base. What can be helpful is continued education like certification programs in the waste disposal business and general customer management.
Once you are comfortable with your business practices, you might think about expanding. In this case, you’ll have to think of every detail on a larger scale. This also means hiring and training more employees to manage your business and make sure all goes well. The more your company grows, the more staff you’ll need and train.
Regulations for opening a valet trash business?
To open a valet trash business, you’ll need to pay attention to certain business obligations and requirements. In general, valet trash licenses are uncommon. They may however exist in some counties within a state so it’s always useful to check with your local state, county and city authorities.
If you just service the community and all trash stays onsite, then you most likely will not need anything. If you take recycling or garbage offsite, then you will likely need trash hauling permits for the county you will be transporting in.
If possible, try to limit the demands of your business taking items offsite, as it can open the door for additional issues.Each state, county and city has their own codes and restrictions so it’s worth checking with the:
- SBA state licenses and permits
- Your local state/county/city office business licensing division
- Searching online
Which business structure should I use to open a valet trash business?
When setting up a valet trash business, you’ll need to think about what business structure will work best.
Many prospective business owners find themselves lost in the complexity of understanding and indeed choosing between an LLC, a sole proprietorship, a partnership or another alternative.
In the case of valet trash business, we advise you to choose one of these legal forms:
- A Limited Liability Company (LLC) for one or multiple owners
- Sole proprietorship if you own an unincorporated business by yourself
LLC’s are often preferred as, unlike a sole proprietorship, their business structure in the U.S. protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities.
An attorney or accountant can also explain to you how to open a valet trash business or you can choose a professional company formation service. These services offer excellent legal advice and business formations at a fraction of the price of a traditional attorney.
Is valet trash profitable?
Valet trash businesses can be very profitable with property managers with a 1,000 unit portfolio earning over $15,000 per month from their residents’ trash, equating to over $180,000 annually.
What are the costs to start a valet trash business?
Starting a valet trash business can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 budgeted for expenses including company formation, staffing, equipment purchases, website formation and marketing.
Do I need a valet trash license to operate?
In general, valet trash licenses are uncommon. They may however exist in some counties within a state so it’s always useful to check with your local state, county and city authorities. If you just service the community and all trash stays onsite, then you most likely will not need anything.
Tom is the founder of Gottagrow.io. He reads the offers, deciphers the details including features, pricing, included services and more to find you the best products and services.