The booming real estate market drove Johny Kashat to picking up dog poop.
Kashat, a Royal Oak resident who usually works in the mortgage industry, decided to go in on launching a Pet Butler franchise with his cousin, Allen Park resident Steve Shamou. They launched the poop-scooping business earlier this year with Kashat assuming he’d do it as a side gig.
Then the real estate market went bonkers with offers on homes skyrocketing and fierce competition. That rise in the business then had Kashat looking at investing in his side business. It’s a move, he said, that’s worked out well so far.
“I was going to continue to do loans to make income until this business takes off,” Kashat said. “I figured I could take a couple days a week and take care of this. It’s become a full-time job.”
Today, Kashat spends several days a week heading across western Wayne County cleaning up customers yards through the Pet Butler franchise he and his cousin launched. It’s certainly a big change when it comes to going to work every day, but it’s one Kashat welcomed.
Instead of dress clothes, Kashat and his crews will head out to work in shorts and a vest, driving to homes in places like Livonia, Redford Township, Northville, Westland, Canton Township and elsewhere to provide their services to pet owners wanting to keep their yards clean of dog waste.
They’ll scoop several dozen yards a day, visiting a yard for about 10 minutes apiece. They’ll walk the perimeter of the yard, looking for any droppings and sweep them up. Most customers sign up with the service for weekly visits, a step the two say is critical to keeping a lawn healthy.
It’s a service that’s clearly in demand, Kashat said: they’ve seen business grow much faster in the last four months than they expected.
“Our goal was to get a second truck for the year, and we’re at five trucks now,” Kashat said. “There’s a lot of residual income once we get all the trucks and accounts going.”
Latest business venture
Launching the poop-scoop business isn’t the first venture the two cousins have done. They said they also ran Jumbo Video in Westland years ago, as well as another small business selling items on eBay.
Despite the shift in the type of work, operating a Pet Butler franchise is a natural step for the two cousins: Shamou owns two Premier Pet Supply shops in Livonia and in Canton — so adding another business related to pets was a no-brainer, Kashat said. Having those connections, he said, helped them receive the franchise from the Illinois-based company.
“They don’t want anybody just starting a franchise,” Kashat said. “They want somebody heavy in the pet industry already.”
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Having those connections with the pet store have also helped with staffing the new business, Shamou said. When people seek out work at Premier Pet Supply, he said he can’t always find a job for them, but sometimes can offer an opportunity with the new business.
“I have a pretty big pool of applicants at Premier, so I use some of them,” Shamou said. “Some of the college kids are asking to come back to work for summer since school is finishing up and I said, ‘I don’t necessarily have hours at Premier but I have some hours at Pet Butler’ and they’re all pretty game for it.
“There’s quite a few people who are willing to do it.”
More information on the business can be found online at petbutler.com.
Especially as the weather warms, Kashat said he loves heading out during the day to clients’ homes. It’s a freeing experience and allows him to stay physical and work around the goodest of boys.
“You get to be outside all day. You’re not cooped up inside,” Kashat said. “You don’t have anybody over your shoulders the entire time you’re at work.
“I get to deal with really nice people all the time, the dogs are friendly.”
Contact reporter David Veselenak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.