There are many things to consider when starting or buying a skip bin business. Don’t let this put you off though, skip hire businesses are an industry that has demonstrated resilience even when times are hard and represent an excellent long term investment.

Learn the Business

If you’ve never worked in a skip bin business, you should definitely reach out to some existing businesses that are far enough away not to be in competition with you. You should try to find companies that will be a similar size to you when you start or buy so they’ll have relevant suggestions to share with you. Offering to work for free in the yard is a good way to incentivise getting the advice from the business owner. I recommend doing this with a few companies if you can as it will help to see if the businesses are following good practice or not.

Marketing and Getting Customers

Before starting or buying you should build a list of builders and trades people in the area you’ll be running you’re skip hire business and familiarise yourself with the names and companies. These will likely make up 70 - 80% of your business, they are often not easy to win but when you do or if you’re buying an established business make sure to be prompt and reliable. You should call everyone on this list and introduce yourself and your new business.

Many skip hire businesses are spending a lot of money on Adwords because it’s relatively easy. If you are cash poor you’ll be better off investing time into social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram (this is very popular with tradies) and LinkedIn for making contacts in larger building firms. While you may not consider yourself an entrepreneur don’t let that put you off consuming a healthy amount of Gary Vee on YouTube to learn about various social media strategies. I think the 1.80 strategy is great.

Keeping Track of Bins and Bookings

Each business I speak with has a different system for capturing bookings and tracking where their bins are. I have spoken to people with 5 bins who just keep it in their heads (not recommended) through to those with 10 trucks and custom computer systems (a big investment). About 75% of companies use a diary and/or spreadsheets to keep track of work completed and then produce invoices in an accounting system such as MYOB or Xero.

I’ll choose now to insert the shameless plug for our service (Hiary) that is a bin manager software that can help you with automating many of these processes.

Bin to Truck Ratio

There are a few indicators when buying a skip bin hire business whether it has been run effectively. One is whether it has maintained good relationships with builders and has a high ratio of regular account customers to casual bin hires. Additionally you should be looking at how many bins the company has, if the ratio is high then you’ll end up with a lot of skips in the yard once you start running things efficiently. 1 : 30 is reasonable assuming 7 day turnover on average.

Things to Watchout for

High truck to bin ratios may cause significant cash flow issues in the short term if payment has been collected on skips left on customer sites and cash has been extracted from the business. You should ensure that you account for any stockpiled waste as you will need to have the resources to sort and dispose of this material. Additionally if you purchase assets from a business that has gone into liquidation then be careful to consider the waste that is in the skip particularly those on public property.  

Licenses

Depending on the size of the operation and whether you plan to sort the waste you collect, various licenses may be required by the EPA (in your state) and by your local council. You should speak with both organisations before you purchase or start your skip bin hire business as you don’t want to fall foul of either organisation. In addition licenses may be required to transport or stockpile wastes such as rubber (tyres) or asbestos. You should make yourself aware of the specific rules in your region.

If you are purchasing a company you should definitely check with the local council that the company has not been operating outside of the EPA or Local Councils rules. This will ensure you don’t find yourself in hot water early in the piece. Other rules and regulations regarding weight allowances and weight distribution with specific wastes (such as concrete) may need to be understood as set out by your states RTA or equivalent organisation.

Good Luck

We would like to wish you good luck in your new venture, if there is anything we can help or advise you on we’d love to hear from you.