Now is the time to ask yourself these 3 questions to make sure you’re ready for the busy season to start
By the time March rolls around, I am desperate for winter to be over. I long for the busy days of summer, where my days fly by. In an effort to make the long, northeast winter feel a little shorter, my staff spends the winter months planning and getting our company ready for the upcoming season.
The office staff gets ready for the season by trying to renew last year’s events and searching for new work coming to our area. But without toilets, trucks and technicians, there is little chance of that work being done.
This means that our operations team has to plan too. This planning comes down to three questions:
- Do we need new technicians?
- Do we need to buy new trucks?
- Do we need to buy more equipment?
Without fail, we almost always need new technicians. Workers move away, find new jobs or just aren’t right for our company, so our staff is always changing. Because of this, we are constantly looking for new drivers. Early in the year is the only time I want to be training, so we actively over-hire during the winter months, knowing that not every driver will work out for us.
These applicants are put through drug tests, road tests and more before they are sent out on a route with one of our senior technicians. While on that route, they will learn how to service a unit properly, how to use our equipment and everything else we expect a route driver to do. At the end of that test period, we will decide if they are a good fit for us. Trying to hire and train drivers during our busy season is a logistical nightmare, so we avoid it at all costs.
New trucks are every driver's dream and every owner’s nightmare. If you asked my current drivers, they would tell you they all need a new truck, but that just isn’t feasible financially. We normally purchase new trucks every other year, depending on how many of our route trucks need to be retired. A new truck is a huge financial obligation, so a lot of planning goes into it. The easiest way to make a decision is to add up the repair bills for a certain truck over a one-year period. If they are more than the cost of a new truck, it is an easy decision to make.
The last step to a successful season is making sure you have enough equipment. Unless we have a very large event on the books, we don’t normally purchase new restrooms. Most of our inventory is made up of Satellite Industries Tufway toilets and they are basically indestructible. But as you know, a successful portable restroom company requires more than basic toilets. You need sinks, holding tanks, pumps and so much more. Keeping track of your inventory allows you to order just once or twice a year, which saves money in the long run.
As you can tell, all three parts of operations require a lot of money, which at this time of year can be really hard to spend. If you are on the fence about buying new equipment or expanding your team, take a look at your sales during your busiest months last year. Does the money from the work exceed the cost of these items? If so, it should be a no-brainer. Remember, you often have to spend money to make money.
About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.