IN Touch With: Erin Erman, owner and operator of Dirty Work
When and how was Dirty Work founded?
I founded the company nine and a half years ago. I've always been entrepreneurial. And I'm an animal person. I was thinking aboout what service I could provide and narrowed it down to a dog owner's worst chore: scooping dog poop from yards and green spaces. People that hire us have a little more pocket change than free time. I started the business and it grew to five full-time scoopers and various administrative help. The work is ideal for people who are individualistic, self-motivated and love to see dogs all day. I'll always be in the field so that the staff sees I'm also working hard. I learned from past jobs that it is important to see the boss's strong work ethic.
How have you been able to grow the business?
It wasn't quick. After about three to four years, the word spread within the tight-knit animal community. One of our early clients operates Adopt A Golden. Relations have helped us grow. But we really are animal people. It's not just a networking thing. I just bought my fifth local competitor.
Who are your clients?
Our clients usually have a fenced in yard that we'll clean, and we get to know the pets very well over the years. Some of our clients are disabled or elderly. We've started doing a lot of apartment communities over the past couple of years. Apartments hire us as part of maintenance. Hotels, too - pets are part of the family and will travel. We even have clients without dogs who live on a corner lot and need supplimental service.
What is your advice to someone starting a business?
Tenacity. Think of why you will succeed rather than the reasons you won't. Believe that you will succeed. Reach out to people. You'd be surprised how people will mentor you and help. Also, because we treat our scoopers well, we haven't had to hire for the past five years.
How is your business eco-friendnly?
Our tools and boots are sanitized with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved parvocide and disinfectant. All of the waste is treated and properly disposed. We're alo going paperless operating the business - in general, we're very environmentally conscious.
What do for fun ?
When you work outside 40-50 hours each week, anything in the air conditioning is fun.
How do you stay inspired?
My friends and family. And I'm really self-motivated. I have more ideas than I have time!