If success is a wheel that you must keep turning, then service and products are the engine that drives it. Although these can be your two main expenses in terms of time and money, nothing helps the bottom line more than investing in great service and quality products.
Service is about planning, consistency and execution. You have to plan a service schedule with your customer before you close the deal. Customers may try to save money by cutting back on service schedules. However, this is one area where the customer is not always right. You are the expert, and you need to make them believe it by showing credentials such as PSAI membership or the Portable Restroom Unit Estimator, available from the PSAI. If you agree to a lower-than-needed service plan, your customer may blame you when restroom users complain. Your customer may believe your company's service caused the problem rather than his approach to cost savings. When your reputation is on the line, make certain that service schedules are appropriate for the customer's needs.
Consistency requires well-trained service people and deodorant products that do their job. PolyJohn offers a free service video that can help you train your employees to do things the right way every time. Make sure management makes frequent and unannounced spot checks on units in the field. Then reward your best service people with inexpensive promotions like gift certificates or Employee of the Month recognition plaques.
In service, it's the little things that count. People won't notice that your unit is clean; they expect that. However, they will notice if the mirror sparkles, the graffiti is gone, and the unit always smells fresh. One trick for being noticed is to change the fragrance in your tank deodorizer each month. People won't notice if it always smells the same because their noses will get used to it. They will notice a new smell; they'll think you've done extra work. One fragrance costs the same as another, so be sure to keep several on hand and rotate them.
Your equipment, restroom units, sinks, tanks, etc., should be of the finest quality. Don't pretend that your customers can't tell the difference. Many of the bargain units out there are flimsy; they feel cramped inside and take longer to clean because of tank and surface design. You could save a few dollars in the short run by purchasing inferior units; but if they last half as long, and your customers don't like them, you'll pay the difference many times over in lost business and replacement costs. You'll also find that if your competitors use an inferior product, it will be easier to sell against them. Your customers are happy to pay a few extra dollars a month for the security of knowing that they won't disappoint their own customers, guests, or employees with inferior restroom facilities.
Choosing Hauling and Pumping Options that are Right for You
In the pumper truck business, the truck is your biggest investment. Be sure that you invest wisely and look at the truck as a long-term asset. Lease or buy... purchase new trucks or used... these are questions to discuss with your accountant. However, make sure that your truck capacity is large enough to handle your routes and your dumping schedule.
Your truck is the second most visible symbol of your company. Since the portable restroom business is about supplying clean, sanitized facilities, your truck should reflect your service values. It should be clean, waxed and well-maintained. Service drivers should always clean up the truck at the end of each shift. Trucks don't have to be new to look good. Dents can be pulled out, rust spots painted, hoses replaced and the tank jet-sprayed. Your truck is a rolling billboard and a great source for free advertisement if it looks good and has your company name and phone number written clearly on all sides.
A poorly maintained truck with a faulty exhaust system will have your customers wondering whether you will maintain their rental units. So make sure you keep your trucks on a routine maintenance schedule with a qualified mechanic. Explain to the mechanic how important your truck is to your business. Keep your vehicles clean. Truck washing services are an inexpensive way to maintain your image on the street.
Never allow a restroom to go unserviced because of a problem with your truck. Plan ahead for truck breakdowns so it won't be disastrous to your business. If you are a small operator with only one or two trucks, find a resource in your area who will rent you a truck on short notice. There may be a septic operator in your area who is not a competitor and will rent you his truck at night. Or build a working relationship with another portable sanitation company in another town out of your service area so you can back each other up.
Be sure your trucks are properly insured and your drivers have been fully trained, licensed, and given clear instructions on what to do in case of an accident. When it's your truck and your employee, you are responsible.