Careful planning to introduce and package new services makes your business a profitable one-stop shop
Alex Rodriguez started FarWest Sanitation & Storage in 1994 as a one-truck portable restroom business. Two decades later, the services offered by FarWest have expanded well beyond just restroom rentals. The business is a one-stop shop for site services, providing restrooms, office and luxury trailers, storage containers, generators, barricades and fencing.
“It’s healthy to have that diversification,” Rodriguez says. “It all goes hand in hand. The first thing that goes into a job site is usually an office trailer with no power. That’s where the generator comes in. Then you put in a container, then the fence. It’s a package.”
FarWest has added many of those extra services in the last six years. The company uses Fences 4 Less for its fencing, Tamis for most of its barricades, and several different brands of generators (primarily Multiquip). Rodriguez says it’s driven by the demand of his clients.
“We had so many accounts that needed things like fencing, and we had competitors who were giving away fencing along with a restroom rental,” he says. “It was a little competitive in that sense. They were selling a package and we were losing out. We would rent a fence for our customer, but then for the next job, they would go directly to the company we rented the fence from. So we started offering fencing ourselves and now it’s booming.”
The same goes for FarWest’s luxury trailers. It’s another area of the business that has grown considerably in recent years. Trailers come from many makers, including JAG Mobile Solutions, Black Tie Products and NuConcepts.
“I never thought about having them because it seemed to be too much money,” Rodriguez says. “I was renting again when I needed them and giving that business to someone else. But then I started offering them myself and that’s booming.”
His advice to companies looking to expand service offerings: Fully commit to making the new service work, and don’t just casually experiment with it.
“When you invest money, I don’t care if it’s $10, you have to think about if it’s going to work out or not. You have to really study it, because business is not emotional. You have to be smart. You have to see a return on your investment and see how much it’s going to take to make the new service work.”
Because of that philosophy, Rodriguez has been able to add equipment and services while keeping FarWest profitable. He says nearly all of the equipment FarWest owns is paid for.
“The minute you go into deep debt, you’re done,” he says. “So everything you do has to have that purpose of getting a payback. In a sense, the company is the bank lending money to itself and you have to get that money back right away.”
In some cases, Rodriguez hasn’t seen the value in adding a certain service after studying it more.
“I don’t want to get into the power pole industry, though I have clients who would love it if I offered that,” he says. “There’s just too much liability, so I’m working with a smaller company that offers power poles and renting them as needed. I’m helping them grow a lot. They’re protecting me and I’m protecting them.”