How to start a rubbish removal business

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When done correctly, a rubbish removal business can be profitable. What's better, you don't need specific qualifications to start one - just a good dose of self-motivation, a business-savvy nature and a knack for working with people.

In this article, we'll take a look at the costs associated with setting up a rubbish removal service as well as the tools and qualifications you'll need to run a successful company.

What is a rubbish removal business?

A rubbish removal business is typically a group of individuals who collect and dispose of people's unwanted goods. Removalists will collect the rubbish from a customer's property before transporting it to recycling plants, waste treatment facilities or a landfill site.

How to start a rubbish removal business

If you're not sure how to get the ball rolling with your rubbish removal business, check out the following key steps:

  1. Find your niche. As a rubbish removal company, it's important to decide what type of rubbish you'll be specialising in. Will it be general household rubbish, recyclable materials, hazardous waste or something else? Start by looking at what's available in your local area and finding a niche that isn't saturated by other businesses.
  2. Set up your business. Once you've chosen your niche, you can start to think about naming your business, getting a logo designed and setting up your website. You'll also need to think carefully about choosing a business structure, and sign up for an Australian Business Number, otherwise known as an ABN.
  3. Write a business plan. A carefully considered business plan can help you piece together a timeline of your business's finances, goals, and milestones. All of this will help you to design a watertight business strategy.
  4. Think about funding. After you've written your business plan, you should have a better understanding of your finances. Will you be self-funding the business or will you need to apply for a small business loan to get started?
  5. Set your prices. In your business plan, you should have touched on how much you'll be charging customers for your services. Will you be charging customers by time, weight or volume?
  6. Think about legalities. Every business needs a solid legal foundation in place to safeguard their practices. This can be as simple as writing up important legal documents to onboarding a small business lawyer for advice.
  7. Market your business. Next, it's time to let the world know that you're open for business. Marketing can be as simple as handing out flyers in your local area, setting up a business website or designing an email marketing campaign.
  8. Deliver excellent service. Providing excellent customer service is a surefire way to a growing and successful business. After all, great service will speak for itself.

man collecting rubbish

Equip yourself with crucial industry skills

While you don't need a specific set of skills to open a rubbish removal business, it can pay to have a general understanding of waste removal in your town or city. It's also worth looking into what your customers are looking to dispose of and how you can do this safely.

You will need to have a basic understanding of finance so you can crunch your business numbers as well as knowledge of marketing strategies to get the word out about your new venture.

Complete the relevant courses and qualifications

While there's no formal qualification needed to start a rubbish removal business, there are some courses available online where you can learn about waste disposal and management methods. These may include:

  • Certificate of Environmental Waste Management. An online program which will teach you about waste management and disposal processes. You'll need to set aside 100 hours of study time to complete this course and pay around $600 depending on the provider.
  • Certificate III in Waste Management. An intensive 11-month course which will help people serious about pursuing a career in waste management.
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    Get your rubbish removal license

    To legally operate a rubbish removal firm, you'll need to have the correct licensing in place. This will allow you to handle and dispose of rubbish in your local area. You'll find that the rules and regulations differ across states and territories. To find out the correct licensing for you, contact your local Environmental Protection Authority at the links below:

    Brainstorm your business name

    When it comes to naming your business, you need to choose something that reflects the services you provide and something that's easy to remember. Here are a few tips to help you hit both of these important points:

    • Write down a list of names that reflect your business and its services.
    • Shortlist your ideas by analysing the names and choosing those that are easy to say, spell and remember.
    • Research local competitors and make sure none have a similar sounding name.
    • Ask friends, family and people from the industry what they think about your name.
    • Double-check that there is a domain name available for your business so you can create a website.

    Register your business structure

    Before you start up operations, you'll need to choose a business structure. This will determine how you pay taxes as well as who makes the key decision in your business.

    If you're planning to run the business yourself, you may choose to set yourself up as a sole trader, to begin with. This puts you in charge of all business decisions, assets and liabilities. For tax, you're able to submit your business tax under your Tax File Number (TFN).

    When you set up a business with a friend or family member, you'll need to register it as a partnership. You'll pay tax just as you would as a sole trader, but they'll be two people as the brains of the business.

    As your company grows and expands, you may choose to change your structure and register your business as a company. Companies are much more complicated legal structures and are generally more costly to set up. However, they are much more flexible, allowing shareholders to invest and taking the financial burden off your shoulders.

    Put together a business plan

    Taking the time to put together a business plan can be extremely beneficial for you and your company later down the line. As a business owner, a plan can help you to understand your finances, goals and plans for expansions. These are a few essential sections to cover:

    • Business description. Explain what your business is and the services it provides.
    • Product description. Analyse the services your business is offering and compare them next to your competitors.
    • Target market. Narrow down your target marketing and how you'll be advertising your services to them.
    • Sales projections. Define your marketing strategy, and how you'll broaden your customer base.
    • Finances. How much will you charge for your services, and how much do you need to earn to break even? A thorough financial analysis is key for a business' success.
    • Future. Explain how you see your business growing in the future and set realistic milestones to meet.

    Purchase new tools and equipment

    A rubbish removal business requires significant initial investment to get it up and running. Here are a few essential pieces of kit that you'll need to invest in. If you need help funding your business, check out these loans for small businesses.

    Truck/Ute

    You'll need to invest in a large, sturdy vehicle to operate as a rubbish removal company. To find a ute that's fit for purpose, you'll need to budget between $25,000 or more depending on the specification you're looking for, and your budget.

    Skip/trailer

    If you're keen to get stuck into the big jobs, you'll need somewhere to put all of that rubbish. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a skip or a trailer, that your vehicle can tow.

    Personal protective equipment

    It's essential to keep yourself and your employees safe while working on the job. Your insurance policy will generally demand that you provide a bare minimum of protective overalls, gloves and boots. However, if you're dealing with more toxic waste, you may also wish to invest in masks and eye protection too.

    Along with these essential items, here's a quick rundown of some tools that will come in handy:

    • Dolly
    • Broom
    • Extension cords
    • Shovel
    • Hammer
    • Sledgehammer
    • Rake
    • Socket sets
    • Push broom
    • Reciprocating saw
    • Wheelbarrow
    • Broom and trash cans.

    Away from the day-to-day operations, you may also need a hand running the backend of the business. In terms of business software, take a look at Jobber and Workiz Easy, which can help schedule, manage payments, time tracking, and provide great customer service.

    Every business needs to understand its legal rights and obligations. To do this, let's start by taking a look at some key legal documents that you'll need to put in place.

    • Partnership agreement. If you're opening the business with a friend or family member, a partnership agreement will outline both owners' rights and responsibilities.
    • Employment agreement. It's unlikely you'll be able to run a rubbish removal business alone. For each employee that you hire, you'll need a customised employment agreement in place.
    • Privacy Policy. If you are using your website to collect customers information, from their names to their credit card details, you'll need a privacy policy in place that explains how that information will be used.

    If you're thinking about writing these documents yourself, why not use an online legal template as a starting point. Alternatively, contact a small business lawyer who can help you navigate the legal technicalities of starting a rubbish removal business.

    Insurance

    Another must-have to protect your company and its employees is having the right business insurance in place. Rubbish removal can be risky, especially if you're dealing with heavy machinery and hazardous waste. Here are a few different types of insurance to consider:

    • Public liability insurance. Public liability insurance covers you and your business if you injure a customer or damage their property.
    • Professional indemnity insurance. Professional indemnity insurance isn't compulsory, but it will protect your business against any legal claims.
    • Vehicle insurance. You'll need to make sure that all of your drivers are insured to drive your company vehicles.

    Get access to legal services and documents online

    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $49 + GST per week
    $2,548 + GST
    No
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
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    Set your rates

    Rubbish removal businesses typically charge customers by volume, time or weight. The simplest of these three methods is time; that is, you charge customers for how long a job takes.

    This takes into account weight and volume as the more rubbish there is to dispose of, the longer it will take. Hourly rates for rubbish removal companies in Australia typically vary between $30 and $80. You may also want to charge a call-out fee or a disposal fee.

    Volume-based pricing is also worth considering and is based on how full your truck is. For both time and volume charges, you can use software to help you track and calculate costs.

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    Accept payments from your customers in person and online with Square's card readers, payment terminals, digital invoicing and e-commerce tools.

    Find your first paying customers

    You can start to build up a customer base using various marketing channels ranging from email marketing and social media advertisements to traditional flyers and posters.

    In addition to these channels, you can also explore various online marketplaces that provide a hassle-free opportunity to find new customers. Here are a few services worth checking out:

    • Use Hipages to identify local customers in your area.
    • Airtasker allows you to advertise your business' services to people who need them.
    • Oneflare connects you with customers looking for rubbish removal services.

    Another way to broaden your customer base is by listing your business on directories such as TrueLocal and White Pages.

    Frequently asked questions

    Can I dispose of all rubbish for my customers?

    It's up to you. Some rubbish removal companies choose to have a 'blacklist' of items they simply won't dispose of. This can include hazardous or non-recyclable items that are expensive to get rid of.

    Should I invest in a rubbish removal franchise?

    Investing in a franchise can be a good way to start a business as you're buying into a company's established reputation. You can also save on marketing costs and find customers more quickly. However, you should consider the disadvantages of investing in a franchise too. This includes franchise fees, significant upfront expenses and sometimes restrictive conditions limiting your business' success.

    What are the other costs associated with a rubbish removal business?

    Aside from investing in a van, trailer and essential tools, you'll also need to consider legal fees, insurance costs and put aside a budget for marketing your rubbish removal business.

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