Follow the Leaders
Jacob D’Aniello is a Kenmore, New York, native and UVA grad who is also a trailblazer. D’Aniello realized from a young age that a successful business venture must be built on a naturally recurring revenue model, so he created a thriving business in an unlikely and untapped industry: pet waste removal.
It’s a business in which a sense of humor is required and encouraged throughout the organization. “We like to say, ‘Your dog’s business is our bread and butter,’” says the DoodyCalls CEO. “We also joke that, ‘We’re number one in the number two business.’”
What’s not funny is how seriously successful his company has become since 2000. Only four years into the venture, he and his wife franchised the business. Today, DoodyCalls is making waves nationally across 16 states and counting.
A: The paper route I started when I was 10 was the impetus for DoodyCalls. The idea of providing a consistent service each week really appealed to me. I also looked at my grandfather, who sold furniture and appliances, and my father-in-law, who sold shoes. In each case, they showed up each day with no revenue. That seemed really stressful to me. I also knew I didn’t want to spend time winning my clients away from my competitors – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but I wanted to focus more on winning people over to a market that they weren’t introduced to yet.
A: We’re very focused on replicating and growing, which is a lot of work within itself. We’re launching some new internal technology systems that are really exciting, and we’ve recently launched a new e-commerce store. We’re now designing and manufacturing our own pet waste stations and litter bags, and as far as I know, we’re the only pooper scooper company that has its own product line, so that gives us the ability to be a little more aggressive in the market.
A: We wanted to franchise because we felt like we stumbled onto a tremendous opportunity, and we really felt like it would be a great opportunity for other people – especially those who may not have access to a tremendous amount of capital. We also thought it would be a lot of fun working with other hard-working entrepreneurs. It’s hard to create an industry by yourself. It takes a lot of resources to blaze a path. The more brains, the better.
A: Don’t franchise until your organization is financially sound. You don’t want to have to count on the revenue from the franchise business for several years. You want to be able to take your time and find the right people to work with. And it sounds like a cliché, but when you decide to franchise, you’re really getting into a different business than the business you’re in. You’re now focused on relationships, franchise recruitment, support, and compliance. Make sure you understand and love those kinds of activities that will make you a great franchisor.
A: I get excited knowing that I can help individuals achieve their goals through business ownership. I also get a lot of excitement out of creating a great place to work, and it’s very satisfying to know that I make a positive difference in the lives of the people I work with. It’s so much fun to work with people. But probably what I’m most excited about is that I really love creating something no one else has done before. We are creating a national brand. We’re trying to do something no one has done.