How to Start a Small Roll-Off Dumpster Business

by George Boykin; Updated September 26, 2017
dumpster in an alley

You don't have to be H. Wayne Huizenga, who built Waste Management, Inc. from a one truck operation into a Fortune 500 company, to appreciate that “there's cash in trash.” Waste disposal provides several niche opportunities in roll-off dumpsters for small operators to start profitable businesses. Research your market to uncover holes of unfulfilled demand. Then, plug those holes within reach of your resource capabilities.

Find Your Niche

Residential construction/renovations, yard waste, junk removal and bulk disposal are particularly well-suited for small roll-off dumpster operators. Larger firms tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit of garbage and trash removal. Moreover, some industry commentators claim that small local operators have a competitive pricing advantage in certain niches because they are not saddled with high-corporate overhead as national firms. Niche opportunities include real estate agents who often need roll-off disposal service to get foreclosed properties ready for sale. Landlords often need the service when preparing rental units for new tenants. Contractors and do-it-yourselfers require disposal services for construction cleanups and yard rubbish removal.

Equipment Requirements

Roll-off trucks and dumpsters are your main equipment needs. You can start with one truck if that fits your budget and comfort level. Plan on spending a minimum $40,000 for a decent-quality used truck. Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, one of many sources, is a good place to start your search for trucks and dumpsters. Dumpsters range in size from 10 yard dumpsters up to 40 yard dumpsters. Small, 10-yarders generally work well for the kinds of disposal services where small operators compete effectively. They have a small footprint that allows parking them in small spaces, such as driveways and residential backyards. Used dumpsters start at around $2,000.

Operational Issues

This is not the kind of business that you operate out of your home. You need a secure location to park your equipment other than your backyard to avoid neighbor complaints. Make marketing a priority rather than an afterthought. Get a website and explore using search engine marketing techniques such as localized “pay per click” advertising and writing a blog. Play nice with neighborhood associations, realtors and contractors. They can become steady and reliable sources of business. One well-placed outdoor billboard could do wonders for your business. Avoid competing on price. Any determined competitor can undercut your prices if desired. Compete on intangible factors, which distinguish quality companies from all others, such as superior service. Research what your local competitors charge and set your prices to make a profit after covering your costs for doing business.

Negotiate with Landfills

Great partnerships with landfill operators will go along way toward contributing to your bottom line. Operators commonly charge per-ton rates, which are negotiable in many instances. Moreover, there are different kinds of landfills. Most handle rubbish classified under subtitle D as “non-hazardous” material by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, hazardous materials fall under stringent and costly federal and state regulations that are much different from non-hazardous rubbish. To avoid costly mistakes, become informed of EPA regulations and those of your state environmental agency regarding the disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous rubbish.

About the Author

George Boykin started writing in 2009 after retiring from a career in marketing management spanning 35 years, including several years as CMO for two consumer products national advertisers and as VP for an AAAA consumer products advertising agency. Boykin mainly writes about advertising and marketing for SMBs.

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