This month, we check in with Brian Flinchum, who owns what is considered to be Florida’s largest waste container cleaning business, Mr. Clean Bins.
1. Brian, how did you get into the business of washing trash and recycling bins?
I consider myself to be a serial entrepreneur, having run successful businesses from sunglass retail stores to a property management company. I also am VP of development at Risk Management Advisors and have had a 20-year career in the insurance industry. I just enjoy building companies, too. I’ve been running Mr. Clean Bins for five years, with about 3,300 recurring subscribers in Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla. I employ four drivers, two virtual assistants and a sales manager.
2. Where did this cleaning service originate?
It’s been a thing in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, since the 1950s. It dovetails nicely with pest management because clean bins cut down on rodent and insect problems. It’s been a thing in the United States for at least a decade, especially with homeowner associations (HOAs). In fact, there is an association that is starting up called Trash Cans of North America. There are probably 1,000 bin cleaners across the country. Some are franchises; others are independents like me.
3. What were your start-up costs for this service?
Well, it was four years before I paid myself (laughs). I’d say the cost of the cleaning trucks was the biggest investment. I just bought a brand-new truck for $170,000. Before then, most of mine were used and in the $120,000 to $140,000 range. A 40-house average route yields about $1,200 per day. Route density is important; each stop takes about five minutes to do if you have one trash bin and one recycle bin. Like pest control, the less windshield time, the higher the profit.
4. How are you marketing this service to consumers?
We target the upscale female homeowner audience, and we run advertising on TV, Facebook, GoogleAds, NextDoor, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. We only want residential accounts, because commercial dumpster cleaning trucks cost closer to $250,0000 apiece, and there’s just not enough business to justify the costs involved. Our website does
a great job of explaining what we do and where we service: MrCleanBins.com.
5. What’s next for Mr. Clean Bins?
Continuing to grow and keeping cancellations to a minimum. We automate text reminders now so if someone is going on vacation and doesn’t put out their bins, they can give us the head’s up that we can skip them that week. We plan to continue to find ways to keep margins bigger, and employees and customers happy.