What makes someone want to own their own business? What is the best type of business to own? Is it true that if you find a need and fill it, you can be successful?
I like owning my own business for many reasons. I get to wear what I want, I can take a day off without asking anyone, and I never have a boring day at work (there is always something to do), and it creates a fun way to interact and give back to my community. As far as the best type of business to own, they say the service industry is one of the best and fastest growing industries. When your business offers a service, instead of a product, it typically has a lower overhead, therefore, your profit margin can be larger. Also, people love to pay for services they do not have time to do, or maybe they don’t want to perform this service themselves. Finding a service that has a demand, but no one else wants to do, gives you a great advantage for success. You typically have little competition, and customers are open to the idea of paying to have you perform that service. So offer the service, care about what you are doing, give great customer service and have a mission that represents who you are. Our mission statement is this: " Our mission is to give to those in need and to provide jobs within our community. We believe we can accomplish this by being a leader in a unique industry and by being humble in our service to others."
I would like to tell you about a unique service I started, why I started it, and how you can start the same kind of service where you live. Odds are, no one else is doing this yet. You will also understand why I am proud to say my business is “in the can”.
In 2007, seven years before I started my current business, I came across the idea of a trash can cleaning service. At that time, my husband, Jason, owned a transportation service. A customer of Jason's from the UK told him about trash can cleaning services in England. This Englishman said trash can cleaning was a huge hit in England. He told Jason that this type of service actually started in Australia in the 1980s. The services there came to your home after your trash can was emptied and picked up the can, flipped it upside down, and sprayed it out with water and high pressure, leaving a clean trash can. When Jason, told me about this service, I was immediately drawn to it. I told him not to talk about this idea because one day I would do it. I am a woman of my word, and it did take seven years, but I did it in 2014. With my sister as my business partner, we had a trash can cleaning unit specially designed and custom built for us. We dubbed it the “curbside cleaning vehicle.”
Why start a trash can cleaning service? Well, here are a few reasons:
E-coli and Salmonella
Maggots, rodents and insects
Kids touch trash cans
Keeps rivers and lakes clean
There is a need
No one is filling the need
My business is literally “in the can”. Trash can cleaning is not glamorous. I am not afraid to get dirty or work hard, but I am one of those ladies who likes to wear pretty clothes, nice shoes and sparkly things too. I know women who own nice shops in the downtown area, decorating services, or run work-at-home businesses such as selling jewelry or makeup. These businesses are way more appealing on the surface, but I love what Ann Landers once said; “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” Let me expound upon the reasons I listed above to explain why a trash can cleaning service was appealing to me:
E-coli and Salmonella
Bacteria can be dangerous and hard to kill. It takes at least 150 degrees to kill most bacteria. Bleach alone will not even kill it. Bleach only kills the surface layer because, like any living organism, bacteria has a “self preservation” instinct. When it detects a threat to its existence, it forms a shell to protect itself from the danger. Once the threat has passed, the bacteria breaks down the shell, and it continues to multiply. You need high pressure to penetrate that shell, and you need hot water to kill the bacteria, which is why our system’s water pressure is rated at 3,000 psi, and we use water that can be heated as hot as 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Studies have found that the smells coming from your trash can are actually bacteria such as E-coli and Salmonella along with other forms of bacteria. One study from the University of Northampton even found Yersina Pestis, also known as the “Black Plague,” growing in some trash cans. This actually makes sense. We throw dirty diapers, used kitty litter, meat wrappers from raw chicken and beef, and much more in our trash cans. Then we do not adequately clean those trash cans because you simply can not effectively kill the bacteria without high pressure and hot water. How could these forms of bacteria NOT be in there? Regarding the “Black Plague,” rats carry that disease, and rats are attracted to the smell of a dirty trash can. Talk about an “ah-ha” moment.
Maggots, insects, and rodents
We have had customers call us because they had maggots in their trash can. Not only is this one of the most horrendous smells, but I can’t imagine trying to clean it by myself without our curbside cleaning unit. Flies are attracted to a dirty trash can, and they lay eggs on the rancid meat they find in your trash can. It does not take long for those eggs to hatch. BAM! Now there are maggots in your trash can. Bees are another insect attracted to the dirtiest of trash cans. Who wants bees swarming around their house? I have already mentioned the rats carrying the Black Plague, but you may also add mice and raccoons to the list for some homes. I know in my area there is a lot of new development and housing going up quickly where there used to only be big fields. This forces rodents out of the “wood work” and into those pretty new neighborhoods and sometimes, into the trash cans.
Kids touch trash cans
I have two toddlers and they are into everything. Knowing what I know now about trash cans, I simply can not disregard the importance of maintaining a clean trash can. This is also something I educate my customers about, and they get it. Many of my customers are also parents, and they do not want a dirty trash can in their home. How often do you grab your trash can then grab the door handles to your home or car? Maybe you even take out the trash, come in contact with that really dirty trash can, then you touch your children. If salmonella can be one of the bacteria lingering in, and on, your trash can you might be interested to know that the CDC reports 1.2 million cases of Salmonellosis and 450 deaths per year in the United States alone. As you can see, there is a tremendous health benefit to having an adequately cleaned and disinfected trash can. That peace of mind is a great thing to offer!
Keep rivers and lakes clean
Most people do not even try to clean their trash can on their own. All of the people who told me they cleaned their own have said “I just pour a bunch of bleach in there, fill it up with my water hose, let it sit then pour it out.” As I mentioned earlier, bleach is useless when it comes to killing that bacteria. Cold water from your water hose is also useless. In order to be effective, your water must be at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit. How about pouring that dirty bleach water out into your lawn or driveway? Did you know that is against FEDERAL regulations and most city ordinances? If you allow that water to enter the storm drains, it goes into our lakes and rivers, but our cleaning system actually captures the dirty water, and we dispose of it properly at a regulated facility.
There is a need
“Trash cans are supposed to be dirty!” This is what I hear some people say. It’s usually a man saying this. It may be because his wife asked him to clean their trash can and he didn’t want to do it so this response made sense to him. But actually, just like a toilet is not supposed to be dirty, neither is your trash can. It’s only dirty because there has not been an efficient way to clean it until now. Trash cans are full of smelly bacteria and in some neighborhoods you have to keep them in your garage. Even if a trash can is housed outside, it still smells, and you and your family have to touch it on a regular basis. Can you imagine if you never cleaned your toilet? Yuck! And for those people who said “a trash can is supposed to be dirty,” I have had several of their wives use our service, and now those same husbands love that we keep the trash can clean for them.
No one is filling the need
So now I’ve identified that there is a need. If you’re like me and you see that no one in your area is offering this type of service - Bingo! A business idea is born! This was my conclusion and that is why I started clean R cans. We have a truck with a robotic arm mounted on the rear. The arm grabs the empty trash can, and flips it upside down into a hopper where it is quickly sprayed with 190 degree water at 3,000 psi. We use all “green” degreasers and soaps, and we capture the dirty water then dispose of it an approved facility (that’s how we keep the nasty stuff out of our ground water). We even deodorize the trash can when we are done. Now the need has been filled in our area. Here at clean R cans, our mission is not only to provide a needed service to our area, but it is to help others in non-competing areas start a trash can cleaning service too. We will build a cleaning unit for you. We take pride in our level of customer service and integrity and are excited that others want to join our ranks and offer this unique service. There was a time when people thought it was crazy to go to a car wash because “you could just wash your car in your own drive way”. The concept of trash can cleaning is the same. In general, people in the United States are not used having this service offered, but they like the service when they find out it’s available. Wouldn’t you love to have a business that’s “in the can” too?