Updated: Jul 6
It may not be the most glamorous aspect of being a pet owner or running a pet-friendly event, but proper pet waste management is crucial. Improper disposal can lead to water pollution, soil contamination, and the spread of diseases among pets and people. This is why dog-friendly events must pay special attention to waste management, ensuring that pet owners have access to pet waste stations and are aware of the importance of using them.
One person who knows all about the challenges and rewards of pet waste management is Alec Jarzabkowski (pronounced Jar-za-bow-ski). A firefighter by day and a pet waste removal business owner in his spare time, Alec has turned an often-overlooked aspect of pet ownership into a thriving business, Number 2 Crew, located in South Florida. We had a chance to interview Alec about his unique journey and learned more about why pet waste management matters more than you might think.
Key Takeaways from Our Interview with Alec
The pet waste removal business is not just about picking up waste; it's about providing excellent customer service, being open and honest, and ensuring the safety of customers and their pets.
Despite the unconventional nature of the business, it has a tremendous potential for growth and offers the opportunity to make people's lives easier and contribute positively to the environment.
Balancing multiple responsibilities can be challenging, but with proper time management and clearly defined work hours, it can be done.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your journey from being a firefighter to starting a pet waste removal business?
A: So, I absolutely love the career of firefighting and helping the community. Firefighters* have schedules that allow us to work 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. This can help benefit some firefighters with the means of starting a second job or business. I've always been very infatuated with business and customer service and decided that I wanted to give it a shot starting my own business in the pet waste removal industry. Starting a business has always been a dream of mine so I just went ahead and went for it!
Q: What motivated you to start this particular side business? How has your experience been so far?
A: There are a lot of different reasons that this type of business motivated me! I think the pet waste removal industry is just getting started. I've listened to a couple larger business owners state that only two in 10 dog owners have ever heard of a weekly pooper scooper service! Another reason this business has motivated me is because it's a business model that helps other people.
A lot of my customers have very busy lifestyles or physical disabilities, and I love being able to make their life a little easier every week. My experience with this business so far has been amazing, challenging, and very rewarding. Number 2 Crew has expanded from a little business in Boynton Beach, Florida, to 250 weekly customers in Palm Beach County, Broward County, and St. Lucie County! It has been a fun journey learning the ins and outs of running a large business. I've learned new things about myself as well as how to provide the best possible experience for the customer.
Q: How do you balance your responsibilities as a firefighter with your pet waste removal business?
A: I balance my responsibilities as a firefighter and a business owner [through] consistent time management... I understand the workload that comes with having two full time jobs, and always make sure I'm able to manage both.... The nice thing about being a business owner is sometimes it's okay to just pause your advertisements and customer sign-ups to get caught up and not get overloaded with work or stress. It's important to limit stress by setting work hours and target deadlines. I do my best to limit my stress as much as possible where I can. It's definitely easy to get stressed in the world of business if you don't assign yourself work hours and target deadlines.
Q: What environmental impacts can improper pet waste management have?
A: Improper pet waste management can lead to water pollution, soil contamination, and the spread of diseases to your pets, other pets, and family members. It's an awesome feeling knowing that I'm also helping the environment while putting smiles on customer's faces.
Q: Can you offer any tips to pet owners about handling waste disposal effectively, particularly during public outings or events?
A: The most proper way to dispose of your pet's waste at an event is to make sure it is bagged and placed into a pet waste friendly green receptable trash can. Most events that allow dogs should have these animal waste stations. If not the next safest safest place would be into a normal garbage can.
Q: Are there any unique challenges or amusing incidents that you've encountered while running this business?
A: I remember my first customer and first time scooping like it was yesterday. I arrived at my customer's house and began scanning the lawn for dog waste. I remember searching for almost 10 minutes and still could find NO poop! I remember I started panicking a little bit. Luckily I finally found a pile and I remember laughing because I was so relieved that I found a pile of dog poop!
Q: Do you have any advice for people interested in starting a less traditional pet-related business?
A: My biggest advice for someone going into this type of industry is to just have fun! You're outside and working with dogs and amazing customers who are trusting you into their yard to clean for them. Giving your customer the best experience possible is the key to success. Another important piece of advice is to do your research on the proper sanitation required in between yards so there is no cross contamination. Safety for your customers and their pets is the most important factor. Always try to put yourself into the customer's shoes and use that to your ability on your business decision making. Being open an honest to every customer has helped me build an amazing relationship with every customer.
(*This statement refers to the schedules at Alec's fire station in South Florida. The work schedules of firefighters can vary depending on location and specific department policies.)
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