Starting a roll off business

Starting a Roll Off Business the Right Way

Nedland Business Insight

The roll off business: It could be a gold mine—or a money pit. It all comes down to market opportunity, entrepreneurial spirit, and investing in the right assets—at the right time.

Noodling the idea of a roll off dumpster start-up?

Make sure you’re planning thoughtfully before you make the plunge.

Research your local waste management market

A roll off business is an inexpensive way to gain entry into the waste management industry—provided there’s a place for you.

Is your area underserved?

We recommend completing a SWOT analysis—identify the Strengths and Weaknesses of your business and the Opportunities and Threats to its success.


Call every rolloff dumpster business in the yellow pages and do some gumshoe detective work. Find out which services they offer. Inquire into their rates and the size containers they have available.

Is there an opportunity to serve residential remodel businesses or difficult-to-access urban areas with smaller, more maneuverable roll off dumpsters?

Next up, scan the Interwebs for local roll off business reviews. Do customers seem genuinely happy with the service they’ve received? If there’s a pool of unhappy customers, you might be able to dazzle them with outstanding service.

The key is to identify the niche opportunities that are ripe for the taking.

Can you really afford to make the leap?

Your market research will have helped you asses the current market rate for containers by size and rental period.

The next step is to determine if you can afford to purchase the necessary start-up equipment and deliver competitive rates without putting yourself out on the street.

Starting out with a used truck already equipped with a roll off hoist is most likely going to be your best bet. And, they’re out there. In fact, when our customers upgrade their equipment, they post their used vehicles with us all the time.


The roll off hoist is the workhorse of your dumpster rental business.

You’ll also, obviously, need a roll off trailer and containers.

As you’re scoping out the start-up costs, don’t forget to factor in maintenance costs, replacement costs, landfill dump rates, truck insurance, and the fuel required to operate.

Then, consider daily operations. At the outset, will you run the business entirely on your own—or will you hire a driver and/or a person to handle calls? If it’s the later, those are expenses you’ll have to factor into the equation, as well.

And, don’t forget marketing, of course. How is the competition marketing its services? How much would it cost to get your foot in the door? With a lot of searches now happening online, you’ll want to invest in a simple, mobile-friendly website and some digital advertising.

Okay, you’ve tallied up your start-up costs and monthly operating costs. How much do you need to profit from every roll off container you purchase?

Carve out your niche in the roll off industry

Starting a stand-out roll off business begins with defining what types of opportunities you would like to see walk through your door.

Carving a niche allows you to attract the customers you want and also gives you a competitive edge. Due to high-corporate overheads, larger firms often can’t compete with the prices offered by smaller or local roll off businesses.

When choosing a niche to specialize in, consider sites where larger trailers can’t easily fit or run the risk of damaging the property. Roll off dumpsters are well-suited for:

  • Residential construction/renovations
  • Demolition
  • Roofing
  • Yard waste
  • Junk removal
  • Bulk disposal

Identifying potential customers is simplified when you think in terms of niche opportunities:

  • Real estate agents often need roll-off disposal services when preparing foreclosed properties for sale.
  • Landlords may be seeking roll-off dumpsters to clear our tenant debris in their rental properties.
  • Contractors and do-it-yourselfers regularly use disposal services for renovations and yard waste removal.

Why stop at roll-off containers?

Another way to gain a competitive advantage is to find complementary services to offer to your customers. The best way to uncover opportunities to diversify your business is to listen to your customers and understand their needs.

Have you considered delivering portable restrooms to your construction clients? What about offering hazardous waste disposal as a way to open up a new stream of recurring business?

If construction is booming in your area, diversifying your services by adding non-construction revenue streams can also serve as a safeguard against an unforeseen economic downturn.

Remember, the greatest value you can provide for your customers is the excellent service that is targeted to their needs. Don’t get carried away competing with the uncontrollable prices of competitors in your niche. Research the industry averages for pricing in your region and set your prices low enough to make a profit after covering your operating costs.

What roll off equipment should you purchase?

Once you’ve determined the type of work you will be doing and for whom, it’s time to shop around for the necessary equipment.

Choose your equipment based on what you plan to haul, under what conditions, and in which environments. It is safe to say, nearly every roll off startup will need to begin with the basics, including:


Don’t worry about keeping your containers clean–If they’re dirty, that means you’re making money.

What types of containers should you purchase?

The size and type of containers are based on what you plan to haul. For example, a 15-yard or 20-yard roll off will easily fit in smaller spaces. Whether you plan to haul liquids, hazardous materials, or heavy loads will also dictate what equipment you will need.

It’s important to scale your operation to a manageable size that you’re comfortable with. Beginning with a small number of trucks and dumpsters helps you minimize costs while giving you the freedom to purchase additional equipment as your business expands.

Operate your roll off business like a pro

The ease of operating your roll off business boils down to two things: building strong relationships and minimizing risks.

So, don’t be shy about putting yourself out there.

It’s always a good time to get the word out about your great customer experience. Have a happy customer? Ask if they’d be willing to provide a testimonial you can use on your website and marketing materials. And, make an effort to maintain good connections with neighborhood associations, realtors, and contractors. Recurring customers and referrals are often the most reliable sources of business.

Also, don’t overlook your partnership with landfill operators. A great partnership is guaranteed to help your bottom line. Once you’ve built a solid rapport, you can usually negotiate per-ton rates, which are savings you can pass along to happy customers.

Another thing you shouldn’t overlook: safety.

Make safety and compliance a priority rather than an afterthought. Research and pay attention to required permits and inspection processes. A small mistake relating to improper loading, securement, placement, and disposal can be dangerous and costly.

Now you’re ready

Any successful roll off business owner will tell you that, in the end, it was hard work that drove their success. Give your business time to grow, even if you’re forced to reinvest your initial profits.

A great deal of the value you’ll provide your customers is your wisdom in waste management—and that only comes with experience. In the meantime, some good old-fashioned preparedness and a solid base of happy customers should be enough to get you on the path to growth.