Call of doody
Vic Preciado has already covered plenty of miles in his new Doody Guy Toyota Prius. Preciado, 31, works a full-time sales job in addition to running Doody Guy, the pet-waste-disposal business he founded in 2009. Preciado has to be fast to pick up more than 250 pounds of poop per week—while sometimes dodging angry rottweilers—but now that his phone number’s printed on his car, he promises to at least slow down behind the wheel.
How long have you been driving the Doody Guy car?
Since February 9. I really wanted to go with a Prius because it’s the green thing to do. It took about two weeks to get a reaction. I was worried I had made a mistake wrapping my car [with a graphic installation], but then I had a huge vet clinic respond because of the car.
What’s the public reaction?
I’ve met people who have called me a crazy driver. I think by having a wrap, you have to pay more attention to what you do and drive perfectly. Better than perfectly. I had a woman call in to report bad driving by an employee. I was like, “Did you see the license plate? Car number what?” Then I told her, “I’m sorry: It was me. I just got this car. I’m totally going to be a better driver.”
How much doody do you collect in a week?
Two-hundred-and-fifty to 400 pounds a week.
All from dogs?
Most of my customers are dogs only. I have one new customer out in Orangevale that has emu, alpaca, sheep, pigs and all kinds of dogs.
How do you combat the smell factor?
I’ve never had that problem. I have these custom [collection] bins that go into another bin. I have two pairs of shoes that are in another bin, too. People have ridden in my car, and they’ve never mentioned anything.
Was this your favorite chore as a kid?
I never had a dog until about three years ago. It was after about four or five months into the business. …
About four years ago, I was on unemployment, and I was looking for work—jobs in the money sector, like in sales. I’ve always had that background. But I was trying to come up with ideas for little stuff on my own. I know this sounds funny, but—I used to be in a lot better shape—and I was like, “How about we do an all-male cleaning crew that just wears shorts?” My friends would laugh, but I said, “If we really market this and we start small, it will build up.”
Did you launch the sexy cleaning crew?
No, but it has such small start-up costs! A business license and some cleaning supplies: You’re talking less than $500 to start up a business like that.
How did you decide on Doody Guy instead?
I’m a big fan of USA Today. I read it on my iPad every day, and my favorite section is the business section. About every week they’ll feature a business guy who went from nothing to something by doing something no one ever does. … So I read about this guy who had a business called DoodyCalls out in the Washington, D.C., area, and he started doing it for his professors, and it kind of blew up.
Do you worry about attracting customers in this economy?
Nope. I’m completely growing. I could easily buy another car right now. I want to be smart, though. That car wrap is the best thing a business can do, I’ll say that. Economywise, I haven’t had anyone cancel. I work in some neighborhoods where you might think people could not afford it, and they are giving me $20 tips with my pay. Or there will be college kids, five of them in a house, and they each chip in a few bucks, because they don’t want to do it themselves.
What’s the best poop-scooping implement?
I use my hands! I’m just quick and agile. When you use a shovel, it doesn’t go as quickly. I use these nitrile latex gloves. They’re really strong. I bring spares, but I’ve never had one rip in the heat of action.
How do you deal with aggressive dogs?
A rottweiler in Woodland tried to eat me, but I just jumped on the fence and got out of there. … A couple of my clients have Yorkies—little dogs—and they are the most protective dogs. I’ve been bitten by two Yorkies in the toe, but it’s through clothes, so it doesn’t really hurt too much.
Have you had any frighteningly huge jobs?
I had these students in Davis; they’re still my customers to this day. When they called me, it was a one-time deal followed by a weekly thing. So I asked, “How many piles do you have back there—20, 50, 100?” And he was like, “Eighty.”
Eighty’s nothing. I can do that. They had about 365 piles. I had to come back with extra gear. So they are the record holders.