Junk removal businesses provide an important service to homeowners and renters, home buyers, construction workers, and more. These businesses come into a site and clean out junk, which can consist of everything from scrap metal and old appliances to brush and trees to bags of garbage. These cleanup jobs are often large and physically demanding, and they’re usually jobs that the property owner doesn’t have the time, strength, or resources to do on their own.
Starting a junk removal business of your own means you’ll be your own boss and that you are providing a service to the community that people need, while also being able to bring in some nice profits for your work. But starting this type of business isn’t as simple as just heading out in your truck and hauling away unwanted items. It requires an understanding of the industry, staying abreast of trends, and strategically positioning your business within the market.
Read on to find out whether this business opportunity might be right for you and the steps to get started.
A junk removal business is a service that focuses on the removal of unwanted items from homes, businesses, construction sites, and various other locations. These services can range from removing a single piece of furniture to cleaning out an entire property. Such businesses play a vital role in helping to maintain a clean and sustainable environment, as they often recycle or donate a portion of the items they collect, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Most junk removal businesses consist of teams of employees working out of a pickup truck or dump truck. Once they’ve removed the materials, these businesses typically bring them to landfills or recycle appropriate materials. Because clients rarely have ongoing needs for junk cleanup, a junk removal business usually works with a variety of different customers at many different sites in a single week.
The junk removal industry is a broad and thriving sector within the waste management industry that is only expected to grow in the coming years. In the waste management industry, 12,820 businesses generated an average of $73.7 billion over the last five years. The industry is expected to continue growing, driven by increased waste production that correlates with population growth.
Understanding current junk and waste trends can help a business owner determine the services that will be most in demand. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each person in the United States generates about 4.9 pounds of trash each day.
The junk removal industry is not static and evolves in response to changes in society and consumer behavior. In recent years, there have been a few key trends shaping the industry:
- Sustainability initiatives: As awareness about environmental concerns increases, more junk removal businesses are focusing on sustainable practices. This includes recycling and donating usable items, as well as finding more eco-friendly ways to dispose of waste.
Electronic waste is a particularly big problem, and it results in approximately 70% of the toxic waste in the country. Less than 13% of electronic waste gets recycled, and electronic waste made up of mobile phones, computers, and TVs accounts for about 10 million metric tons of waste.
- Technology integration: Companies are increasingly leveraging technology to streamline their operations and improve customer experiences. This could include using software to manage schedules and routes or developing mobile apps that allow customers to book and manage their service appointments.
- Community involvement: Junk removal businesses are more frequently partnering with local organizations, charities, and community initiatives. This helps to increase their visibility within the community and contributes to a positive brand image.
A junk removal business’ target market will depend on the business’ specialty. Some businesses market to homeowners and renters who need junk removed. Other junk removers specialize in working with commercial businesses, construction companies, or other large-volume markets. Some businesses may specialize in a certain type of junk removal, like recyclable metal, brush, or old appliances. These specialties will determine the appropriate target market.
The market is quite diverse as it encompasses various sectors of society that generate waste or unwanted items. Here are some of the key target audiences for a junk removal business:
- Homeowners: This group is perhaps the most visible target market. Homeowners may require junk removal services for various reasons, such as cleaning out garages, basements, or attics, removing old furniture or appliances, or handling debris from home improvement projects.
- Renters and landlords: Renters may need junk removal when moving out, while landlords might need these services to clean out rental properties between tenants or to manage waste from renovation projects.
- Business owners and offices: Commercial spaces often generate substantial amounts of waste, particularly when they are moving, renovating, or upgrading equipment. This can include everything from office furniture to old electronics.
- Real estate agents and property managers: Real estate professionals often require junk removal services to clean out properties before sale or after purchase or to maintain the properties they manage.
- Construction companies: Construction and demolition generate significant amounts of waste. While some construction companies may handle their own waste management, others may contract out this work to junk removal businesses.
- Estate executors: When a person passes away, their belongings need to be dealt with. Sometimes, this involves removing a large amount of material, some of which may be considered junk.
- Event planners: Large events can generate a significant amount of waste, and event planners may hire junk removal services to handle this aspect of their cleanup.
It’s worth noting that while these groups represent the broad target market for a junk removal business, the specific target market may vary depending on the business’s specific services and location. For example, a junk removal business in a major city may focus more on commercial clients, while one in a suburban area may have more residential clients. It’s crucial to define your target market as part of your business planning process, as it will significantly influence your marketing and growth strategies.
Checklist To Start A Junk Removal Business
If you’re thinking about starting your own junk removal business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here is a checklist of the essentials to get started.
Step 1: Assess the Market
Before starting any business, one of the fundamental steps to success is understanding if there is demand for your service. Starting a business without understanding the market can be likened to navigating a ship without a compass; you might stay afloat, but your chances of reaching the desired destination are significantly reduced.
Here are some steps you can take to conduct effective market research for a junk removal business:
Online research: Start by conducting a simple online search to find other junk removal businesses in your area. Check their websites to understand the services they offer, their pricing, and their operational areas.
Local government data: Look at data from local government or business development agencies. They can provide insights into local demographics, property development trends, or businesses moving into your area – all factors that could influence the demand for junk removal.
Surveys and interviews: Conduct surveys or interviews with potential commercial customers like real estate agents or construction firms, and even landfills to understand the local market better.
Social media: Utilize social media platforms to gauge interest in junk removal services. For instance, community groups on Facebook can be a good source of information about local needs and preferences.
Observation and field research: Spend time in the areas you wish to serve. This can give you a first-hand understanding of the potential junk removal needs of that area, whether residential, commercial, or construction-related.
Understanding your market is an essential first step in starting a successful junk removal business. It not only informs the feasibility of your venture but also helps shape your business strategies for optimal success.
Step 2: Write a Business Plan
After confirming that a market exists for your junk removal business, the next step should be to create a business plan.
A business plan not only serves as a roadmap for your business, outlining the goals, strategies, and steps needed for the business. If you’re seeking external funding, a business plan helps communicate your business’s potential to lenders and substantiates your idea with concrete data, projections, and strategies, instilling confidence that the business will succeed.
While every section of a business plan plays an essential role, here are a few segments particularly crucial for a junk removal business looking for funding:
Market analysis: This section should detail your findings from the market research, including your target market, your competitors, and the demand for junk removal services in your area. You need to illustrate the market gap your business will fill and how it will meet the market needs better than existing businesses.
Sales and marketing strategy: Lenders will want to see how you plan to attract and retain customers. For a junk removal business, this could include online and offline marketing strategies, partnerships with local businesses or real estate agencies, customer retention programs, etc. Demonstrating a well-thought-out plan for attracting a steady stream of customers will show the potential for sustainable revenue.
Financial projections: Perhaps the most critical section for funding purposes, this is where you outline your expected income, expenses, cash flow, and profitability. It would help if you also included a break-even analysis to show when your business will start making a profit. Detailed and realistic financial projections are a key section to show the feasibility of the business.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 3: Secure Funding
In the quest to turn your junk removal business from a dream into reality, funding is the next critical element to tackle. Given that this industry doesn’t generally require a high initial investment compared to some other types of businesses, your funding options may vary based on your specific.
After solidifying your business plan, you’ll need to explore various avenues to finance your startup. Here are some of the most common ways to secure funding for a junk removal business.
Personal savings: Whether funding the business entirely with the owner’s funds or seeking loans or investment, the owner will need to invest at least some of their money.
Friends and family: It’s quite common for entrepreneurs to approach their friends and family for funding. They are often more likely to believe in your vision and invest, sometimes offering more lenient repayment terms than traditional lenders. Just be aware that this could affect relationships if the business doesn’t succeed.
Bank loans: Traditional bank loans are a common source of funding for small businesses. Banks offer various types of loans, such as term loans, lines of credit, or equipment loans specifically tailored to finance business equipment.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantee: The SBA offers several loan programs designed to support small businesses. They don’t lend money directly but instead guarantee loans made by participating lending institutions, making it easier for small businesses to get approved.
Microloans: These are small loans typically offered by nonprofit organizations. They’re designed for startups or newer businesses that need a smaller amount of money. They often come with business training and planning assistance, which can be useful for first-time entrepreneurs.
Each of these funding options comes with its own set of pros and cons, and it’s important to carefully consider these before deciding on the best route for your business. It’s a good idea to clearly understand your financial needs and choose an option that aligns with your business plan and long-term goals.
Step 4: Register the Business
Like any other business, starting a junk removal business requires adhering to certain legal requirements to operate legally. Below are the common steps that need to be followed for proper registration and making the business legal. Note that each state has different regulations, so it’s crucial to check local requirements.
Choosing a business structure: The first step in making your business legal is deciding on your business structure (also referred to as business entity). This affects your legal liability, taxes, and how you run your business. Many junk removal businesses operate as Sole Proprietorships or Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). A Sole Proprietorship is the simplest form to set up and provides the owner full control of the business. However, the owner is personally liable for the business’s debts and liabilities.
An LLC combines the benefits of a corporation’s limited liability and a sole proprietorship’s simplicity. With an LLC, the owner’s personal assets are generally protected from business debts and liabilities.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Business licenses and permits: Junk removal businesses may require specific licenses and permits, depending on the location of the business. For example, you might need a general business license from your city or county, a sales tax license, and Employer Identification Number.
When starting a junk removal business, do some research into the disposal regulations in your area. These are typically administered through the state’s environmental agency. Disposing of certain materials, like hazardous waste, may require additional permits and fees. Many junk removal businesses avoid this challenge by working only with non-hazardous materials, but the potential profits from this type of work may be worth the extra hassle. The same is true of disposing of large items, like appliances. Familiarize yourself with the different facilities that you will need to travel to, and get an updated list of disposal prices. Having this information can help you to appropriately price jobs so you don’t lose out on profits because of these fees.
Zoning laws: It’s common to start a junk removal business from home, especially if it’s just a single-vehicle business. As that business grows and expands into a multi-vehicle fleet, it may be time to rent a commercial property or garage.
Before starting, be sure to check with your local zoning office to make sure you are allowed to operate a junk removal business in your desired location, especially if you plan to operate the business from home or store vehicles and equipment on your property.
Related: Choosing a business location
Step 5: Purchase Equipment and Supplies
Investing in the right equipment and supplies is critical to the operation of a junk removal business. The type and size of equipment you will need depend largely on the scale of your operations and the types of junk you plan to handle. Here’s how to go about purchasing your essential equipment and supplies:
Define your needs: First, identify the equipment you need to start your junk removal business. This can include vehicles, safety equipment, lifting tools, and other supplies. You may need special equipment or containers if you intend to handle hazardous materials.
Purchase vehicles: A reliable truck is the workhorse of a junk removal business. Depending on your budget and the scale of your operations, you might opt for a pickup truck, box truck, or even a full-sized dump truck. Consider factors such as payload capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability, and ease of loading/unloading when choosing your vehicle. You might consider buying a used vehicle to save costs, but be sure to have it thoroughly inspected to avoid costly repairs down the line.
Tools and equipment: Hand trucks, dollies, lifting straps, and shovels are common tools for a junk removal business. For heavy items, you might need equipment like a forklift or a loading ramp.
Safety equipment: Safety should be a top priority. Purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) like work gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, and high-visibility vests for you and your workers.
You might need equipment like a forklift or a loading ramp for heavy items.
Supplies: You’ll also need supplies like garbage bags, tarps, and bungee cords. If you plan to recycle or donate items, you might need containers or bins for sorting materials.
Step 6: Figure out Pricing
Determining pricing for a junk removal business can be challenging, especially for newcomers in the industry. However, establishing an effective pricing strategy is critical to your profitability and success.
Many junk removal businesses offer free on-site estimates. This allows you to assess the job, provide an accurate quote, and build trust with the customer. Be sure to clearly communicate what the price includes (labor, disposal fees, etc.) to avoid misunderstandings.
Here are a couple of tips on how to determine pricing for a junk removal business:
Understand your costs: Your pricing strategy must take into account all costs associated with running your business. This includes direct costs such as fuel, vehicle maintenance, disposal fees, and labor, as well as indirect costs like marketing, insurance, and office expenses. Understanding your costs will help you determine the minimum price you need to cover expenses and make a profit.
Research competitor’s pricing: Research what your competitors are charging for similar services to get an idea of the market rate and help you position your business in the market.
Are you planning to compete on price, or do you offer premium service that warrants higher rates? If you offer additional services like cleaning, recycling, or donation delivery, consider how these will factor into your pricing. These services can command higher rates, but they may also increase your costs.
While it’s important to stay competitive, don’t undervalue your services.
Pricing is both an art and a science. Your prices need to cover your costs and make a profit, but they also need to be acceptable to your customers. Balancing these considerations will help you develop a successful pricing strategy for your junk removal business.
Step 7: Create a Marketing Strategy
Because there are low barriers to entry in this industry, your business will be up against plenty of competition. This means it’s even more important for you to create a recognizable brand and offer services that are better than what competitors provide. This doesn’t mean that you have to charge less than competitors, but rather that you have to provide a quality service and experience that customers won’t find elsewhere.
Marketing your junk hauling business is crucial to attract customers and establish your brand in the marketplace. Initially, you can start by defining your unique selling proposition (USP). In other words, what makes your junk removal business different from the competition? Do you specialize in certain types of items, offer same-day service, or have an eco-friendly focus? Your USP will become a key part of your marketing message.
With the USP in hand, it’s time to let potential customers know your business exists.
First, take advantage of free online directories and review platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Claiming your business on these sites can improve your online visibility, particularly for local searches. Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on these platforms, as positive reviews can significantly influence potential customers’ decision-making.
Next, consider building a professional website. Even a simple site that outlines your services, pricing, and contact information can be a powerful marketing tool. Include customer testimonials and before-and-after photos of your work to showcase your capabilities.
Social media is another valuable platform for marketing your business. Regularly posting on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn can increase your visibility and provide opportunities to engage with potential customers. Post content that’s relevant to your audience, such as tips for decluttering, the environmental benefits of junk removal, or behind-the-scenes looks at your work.
Also, don’t forget about traditional marketing methods. While online marketing is important, offline tactics like networking with local businesses, joining the local Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring local events, or distributing flyers or door hangers in targeted neighborhoods can also be effective.
Last, developing relationships with other professionals in the area such as realtors, construction contractors, property managers, and real estate flippers are all likely to frequently encounter situations needing rubbish removal. Building these relationships can lead to repeat business and referrals.
Remember, the goal of your marketing efforts is not just to attract customers, but to build a strong, recognizable brand for your junk removal business. By consistently delivering excellent service and using a variety of marketing tools and tactics, you can build a strong reputation and a successful business.
Step 8: Launch the Business!
As you approach the launch of your junk removal business, there will likely be some remaining steps to finish up. These steps tie together the various elements of your business, ensuring you’re prepared for operation.
Business insurance: Insurance is an absolute must for your junk removal business. It protects you from potential liabilities such as property damage, vehicle accidents, worker’s injuries, and more. Common types of insurance you may need include general liability insurance, commercial auto insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance.
Bookkeeping setup: Proper bookkeeping is crucial for managing your finances and meeting your tax obligations. Consider using bookkeeping software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks, or hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant.
Contracts: Depending on the nature of your jobs, you might need various contracts. For instance, a service agreement outlines the services you will provide and the price, protecting both you and your client. For larger cleanouts, you might need a waiver of liability for any damage that may occur during the removal process.
Business bank account: Opening a business bank account is important for keeping your business and personal finances separate. It also lends credibility to your business and can make tax filing easier.
Management software: Specific software can help manage your junk removal business. For example, Jobber and Housecall Pro offers features like scheduling, invoicing, and route optimization.
Accepting credit cards: Unless made aware before starting the job, some customers will be able to pay by check, but most customers will expect to be able to pay with a credit card. You can use services like Square or Stripe, or your bank’s merchant services to process credit card payments.
While these are common steps most businesses will need to take, everyone’s needs will be different. Starting a business is a highly individual process, and the specific steps you need to take can depend on many factors, including your location, the size and scale of your business, and your personal business goals.
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Not accounting for these costs in your pricing strategy can seriously undercut your profits. So before quoting a job, be sure to research local waste disposal pricing and regulations, and ensure you factor these costs into your pricing model from the start.
Common Questions When Starting A Junk Removal Business
What is the NAICS code for a junk removal business?
The NAICS code for a junk removal business is 562119, which is categorized under Other Waste Collection.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.
Related: What is a NAICS code?
National Waste & Recycling Association
How much does it cost to start a junk removal business?
Starting a junk removal business can be relatively affordable compared to many other types of businesses, but it still requires a significant upfront investment. The exact cost can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as the scale of your operations and your location. On average, you can expect to spend between $15,000 and $75,000 to start a junk removal business, less if you already have a truck.
Here’s a breakdown of the costs you’ll likely encounter when starting your junk removal business:
Vehicle: A reliable vehicle is essential for a junk removal company. The cost will vary depending on whether you purchase new or used, but you can expect to spend between $10,000 and $50,000. If you’re starting small, a used pickup truck may suffice. As your business grows, you may need to upgrade to a larger truck or add additional vehicles.
Equipment and supplies: You’ll need a variety of equipment and supplies, including safety gear (gloves, safety glasses, steel-toe boots), hand trucks, tarps, straps, and shovels. These costs can add up to around $1,000 to $2,000.
Business registration and licensing: Costs for registering your business and obtaining any required licenses vary by location, but budget around $200 to $1,000 for this.
Insurance: Initial insurance costs will vary depending on your coverage needs and other factors, but you may need to budget around $2,000 to $3,000 for your first year’s premiums.
Marketing: Initial marketing costs will depend on your strategies but might include website development, online advertising, and print materials. Expect to spend around $1,000 to $5,000 on initial marketing efforts.
Software: Management software can streamline operations, with initial costs ranging from $50 to $100 per month, or around $600 to $1,200 for your first year.
Operating expenses: It’s recommended to have three to six months of operating expenses on hand as a buffer. This covers costs like fuel, vehicle maintenance, labor, marketing, and office expenses. Depending on the size of your operation, this could range from $10,000 to $30,000.
These costs are estimates and can vary based on numerous factors. Your costs may be higher or lower, depending on your specific situation.
How profitable is a junk removal business?
The profitability of a junk removal business can vary greatly depending on factors like operational scale, geographical location, and the efficiency of your operations.
To provide a simplified example, let’s consider a small-scale junk removal operation.
Imagine you’re able to secure five jobs per week, each averaging $200. This would give you weekly revenue of $1,000, or $52,000 annually. If we add some weekend work, say two additional jobs each weekend at the same rate, this would add an extra $20,800, bringing the total annual revenue to $72,800.
Next, we consider expenses. Assume you have an efficient vehicle that uses $50 worth of fuel per week, adding up to $2,600 annually. Add in vehicle maintenance costs of around $1,000 per year, disposal fees averaging $25 per job (or $1,300 annually), and insurance costs of around $2,000 per year. If you’re running the business yourself initially and not paying additional labor, your main expenses total $6,900.
Subtracting these costs from your total revenue, we get a profit of $65,900 ($72,800 revenue – $6,900 expenses).
Keep in mind that this is a simplified example and doesn’t include many additional expenses like marketing, taxes, office supplies, bookkeeping, and other potential costs. This estimate also assumes a steady stream of work, which can fluctuate depending on seasonality and market competition. Therefore, while a junk removal business can be quite profitable, the actual figures will vary greatly depending on your specific circumstances. It’s crucial to do detailed financial planning and keep careful track of all your expenses to ensure your business is financially viable.
What skills are needed to run a junk removal business?
It doesn’t take a business degree to start a junk removal service, but certain skills and experiences can increase the chances of that business becoming a success.
Knowledge of local disposal regulations: A junk removal business owner will need to be familiar with local disposal regulations and facilities so that they can choose appropriate disposal locations and methods.
Physical strength and endurance: Junk removal is a physically demanding career, so strength and endurance are important to productivity and to the business owner’s well-being.
Attention to detail and an eye for safety: Junk removal, especially when it involves larger, heavier items, can be dangerous. A business owner will benefit from an eye for detail and situational awareness to keep themselves and their employees safe.
Knowledge of proper lifting techniques: Knowledge of proper lifting techniques is important and can help to prevent injuries to the owner and staff.
Customer service skills: Strong customer service skills can help a business owner to develop good relationships with customers to get referrals, positive reviews, and even repeat business.
Management experience: A business owner who has experience in hiring, training, and managing staff will be well-prepared to hire the right employees for their business.
How should I price my junk removal services?
There are several ways pricing can be structured for a junk removal business:
By volume: This is the most common pricing model in junk removal. You price based on the amount of space the junk takes up in your truck. For example, a full truckload might be one price, half a truckload another, and so forth. This method is straightforward and easy for customers to understand.
By weight: Some junk removal businesses charge based on the weight of the items. This can be more accurate but more difficult to estimate on-site.
By item or task: For certain items or tasks, you might charge a set fee. For example, you might have a standard fee for removing appliances or cleaning out a garage.