In the year 2018, luxury apartment buildings accounted for 87% of the rental properties constructed. With an increase in luxury housing, there is also an increase in the need for valet trash services.
To start a valet trash business, you first need to create a business plan, obtain a business license, and get financing for your equipment. After you buy the necessary equipment, you must build a website and start marketing your valet trash services to your target market. Once you land your first few clients, you can offer referral incentives and scale your business up from there.
If you are thinking about starting a valet trash business, keep on reading. At the end of our guide, we will provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
1.Create a Business Plan
If you are 100% sold on starting a valet trash business, the first thing you need to do is write a business plan. You can either write a business plan by yourself or with the help of a business consulting agency.
The beginning of your business plan should have an executive summary – a one-to-four-page introduction that points out each part of the business plan. Next, you need to include a business overview.
The business overview should include the structure of the business (LLC, partnership, etc.), the nature of the business, and where the business will operate.
The third part of the business plan is a market analysis. This is your opportunity to define your target market, quantify the industry potential, and identify where you will stand compared to your competitors. The next step is to state how you will reach your target market – for example, what types of channels will you use to market your valet trash business?
As the fifth section of the business plan, specifically, state who will be members of the management team and what their involvement will be in the business. Creating an organizational chart is a great way to depict this unless the management team only consists of yourself.
Next, identify how much financial capital you will need to get the business up and running and how you will get the capital. If you already have a loan, make sure to include where the loan is from, what the repayment terms are, and what the interest rate is.
Finally, create a financial forecast that spans at least two to three years. This should include forecasted income, expenses, and net income. We recommend working with an accountant to ensure that you capture all of the potential income and expenses.
2.Get a Business License
Each city and county have different business license requirements. You should either visit your city’s website or call your city to see how to apply for a business license.
Aside from a license to legally operate a business, there should be no special licenses needed to start a valet trash business. After getting a business license, you will want to form a business structure – a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or sole proprietorship, for example.
Many entrepreneurs chose to form an LLC because it protects their personal assets. If you are the only owner of the valet trash business, then a sole proprietorship is a viable option.
Luckily, starting a valet trash business is not capital-intensive, at least not in the beginning. Your biggest expenses will include a commercial vehicle and utility tilt dump trucks. With a couple of grand, you could start a valet trash company without financing.
If you do not have the cash on hand, one of the best ways to secure financing is through a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The SBA works with approved lenders to offer 7(a), 504, and microloans.
For a valet trash business, you would want either a 7(a) loan – a loan with capped interest rates and minimal fees or a microloan – a small loan up to $50,000. Depending on your credit, you may also be able to secure a loan with a lower interest rate through a conventional lender.
4.Decide Your Target Market
As a valet trash business owner, you can service residential properties, commercial properties, or both. To decide on a target market, you must understand the competition in your city.
Since your city likely already has garbage collection once a week, would it make sense to target homeowners living in the suburbs? Probably not. Most valet trash businesses service apartment buildings, condominiums, townhomes, and some commercial properties such as small storefronts and malls.
A quick search on Zillow or Apartments.com will give you an idea of how many apartment complexes are near you. Make an in-person visit and see how the garbage collection works – are residents walking a long way to the dumpster to throw out their trash, or is there already a valet trash company servicing the apartment?
As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the apartment, the less likely there is to be a valet trash service. Valet trash services are often associated with luxury apartment complexes and higher-income communities. Therefore, you should focus on higher-income areas that either do not have valet trash or have a valet trash service in which you can undercut the price.
5.Open the Necessary Insurance Policies
We recommend that you open two insurance policies to protect your business: general liability and workers’ compensation coverage. General liability is a relatively cheap type of insurance that can protect you from claims made by third parties.
If you or an employee accidentally damages your customer’s property, the general liability policy would pay for the damages. A general liability policy also covers the cost of medical payments from injuries.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a must-have if your valet trash business has employees. Since running a valet trash business is very laborious and employees are susceptible to injuries, worker’s compensation coverage acts as a financial cushion.
For example, if your employee gets injured while on the clock, a workers’ compensation policy will cover the cost of medical bills and the lost wages you owe the employee while he or she is out of work. A licensed insurance agent can help you select a policy that meets the requirements outlined in your state.
6.Buy the Necessary Equipment
Make sure to check off all of these items before starting a valet trash business:
- Garbage cans
- Recycling bins
- A commercial truck or van
- A utility tilt dump truck
7.Make a Website
Starting a website for your valet trash business is an absolute necessity. Even if it is a basic website, having an online presence establishes a sense of professionalism and lets potential customers find out about the services you offer and your prices.
We recommend a basic website hosting package (check out GoDaddy or Namecheap) that costs between $10 to $20 per month. You can create the website for free using a pre-built WordPress template or hire a professional web designer to make the site for you.
To keep costs down, we recommend starting with WordPress. Make sure the website displays your business’s contact information and prices. Another good idea is to start a blog as a way to drive organic traffic to your website through Google searches (we will touch in the next paragraph).
We recommend blog posts as an affordable way to drive organic traffic to your website. Ideally, the blog posts should contain long-tail keywords such as “affordable valet trash services in Denver.”
The hope is that a decision-maker, such as a property manager, will find your website via blog posts. If you do decide to go the blog post route, you should post a few times each week and make sure to write at least 500 words.
8.Market Your Services
After you have a live website, it is time to start marketing your valet trash services. The way you should market depends on your target market.
If you are targeting other businesses, you may not have as much luck using social media platforms, for example. We recommend the below marketing techniques to find corporate customers:
An appointment setting is when you have either a warm or cold lead and then act on that lead. The goal is to set up an appointment in person or over a conference call. When you are just starting, you could call every apartment building within a ten-mile radius and see if they need valet trash services.
Businessowners without cold calling skills should outsource appointment settings to experienced professionals. You need a solid script and a personable individual who can sell.
Once you get your first few clients, offer incentives if they refer other customers to you. For example, you could give them a free month if they refer a client that signs a year contract with you. Offering referrals is like a domino effect – before you know it, you will have a slew of new customers.
9.Hire Capable Labor
Depending on the size of the properties you service, you will need to hire at least one to three employees. The employees do not need special skillsets to collect trash, but they do need to be able to lift at least 100 lbs. of trash.
Working for a valet trash business is not the most desirable job, so you will need to offer competitive wages and benefits. To find employees, we recommend using Indeed, Monster, Craigslist, and Snagajob.
Costs to Start a Valet Trash Business
To help you understand all the costs associated with a valet trash business, see the below list. Note: these are estimates that will vary depending on the size of your business and where you live.
|Equipment||$5,000 to $25,000|
|Initial marketing expenses||$1,500|
|The first month of insurance expenses||$200|
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions about starting a valet trash business.
Do I need to Take the Trash to the Landfill?
No, you do not need to take the trash to the landfill. Most valet trash services only bring the trash bags to the dumpsters and the city’s garbage services collect the trash from the dumpster.
If you collect from properties that the city does not service, you will need your dumpster or you will need to take the trash to the landfill.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Valet Trash Business?
It costs roughly $5,000 to start a valet trash business, including business incorporation expenses, equipment, and the initial costs of insurance. If you need a vehicle, add $20,000 to $30,000 to that price.
Do You Need to Special License to Start a Valet Trash Business?
To find out if you need a special license to start a valet trash business, you should call your city or county’s licensing department. You most likely only need a business license.
Can I Handle Toxic Waste as a Valet Trash Businessowner?
Yes, but you would need hazardous waste training and certification. Most valet trash businesses do not service places that would be disposing of toxic waste.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Valet Trash Business
- Low startup costs
- Easy to maintain and flexible working hours
- Does not require employees with advanced skills
- Potential for long-term contracts with apartment communities
- Hard to find and retain employees
- A lot of competition from larger companies and cities
- Limited to a relatively fixed geographical area
Is Starting a Valet Trash Business Worth it?
We believe that starting a valet trash business is worth it, especially if you live in an area that has a lot of apartment complexes and condominiums. A valet trash business is an attractive venture because it does not require a large upfront investment, skilled employees, or extensive industry knowledge.
Furthermore, your clients will sign fixed-length contracts for your services, resulting in a steady and predictable cash flow. The hardest part will be getting your first few customers, but once you do that, you can easily scale the business and boost your income.
Ruben has been doing online marketing for the last 4 years. Prior to that, he spent 15 years managing different brick-and-mortar businesses, in the home improvement and logistics industries. Overall, he has 20 years of business experience under his belt. Recently, he added SEO, affiliate marketing, and link building to his business skills.