Thoughtful touches and attention to detail can take your service from good to great and bring in those word-of-mouth referrals
What impresses people most at a wedding or special event — decorations, food, music, drinks? The restrooms don’t usually make the list of memorable amenities.
The customer just doesn’t want the event to be remembered for odor issues or running out of necessary items. No one wants to see their guests gathering up the custom-printed wedding cocktail napkins to use as toilet paper.
It doesn’t take much to make a bad impression, but putting in a little extra effort to provide top-notch service will earn you repeat business and referrals. The little touches that show people you’re striving to meet their needs can make all the difference — especially for special events.
Nita Bailey, co-owner of RS Waste Services in Houston, Texas, believes no detail is too small when it comes to differentiating her business from numerous competitors. Bailey saw more growth opportunities within the special-events market, which would offer higher profit margins and decrease the company’s dependence on construction.
“There’s a market segment ignored between high-end luxury trailers and construction units.’’ That’s why she ordered the Piccadilly Concepts flushing units, which she considers a step up from standard restrooms.
Taking things a step further, Bailey also puts plants like shrubs and palm trees — even poinsettias during the Christmas season — around the skirting of the company’s restroom trailer or around clusters of event restrooms. Inside, she adds fresh flowers, specialty soaps and hand lotions.
She started doing this after hearing at an event service tradeshow that if women won’t use a portable restroom, they go home sooner and the group sponsoring the event loses revenue. The challenge is to attract and keep patrons at an event, and get them to come back again — and construction restrooms won’t do the trick, Bailey says.
Bailey also prefers a smaller, more discreet and attractive decal placed on the interior of a restroom instead of plastering large decals on all four sides of an event unit. If people are paying to rent the unit, she feels they’d rather see something other than company decals on the sides — like the bride-and-groom vinyl wraps that adorn a pair of the company’s High Tech II restrooms.
Bailey says the addition of the wraps provide a great alternative for a cost-conscious bride and groom who can’t afford a luxury restroom trailer. She’s open to the idea of wrapping restrooms to fit any themed event; the cost ranges from $150 to $300 per unit, depending on the image. If the theme is universal enough that the company can reuse it, RS Services covers the cost.
Another way to distinguish your business as a premier provider is to operate your special-events division under a different name. When a team of business partners bought ABC Sanitation, based in Nampa, Idaho, they agreed to rebrand the special-events arm of the business as PortaPros, coupled with the slogan, “Clean and Reliable.”
Because PortaPros serves a small to midsize market that includes at least two competitors, general manager and co-owner Marcus Hunter says the company seeks to differentiate itself by carefully choosing the products it carries. They include new Satellite Industries event restrooms, Purell hand sanitizers and Georgia Pacific toilet paper. The Maxim 3000 restrooms are white with gray trim and feature hands-free flushing and a larger interior with sink, coat rack and mirror.
Like PortaPros, Chris Dundon realized having specific restrooms designated for special events was a smart move. The owner of Dundon Plumbing and Heating branched into portable restrooms in 1999. He offered his first units to construction accounts, but the barn weddings that grew popular in his area soon became a focus.
“Construction units were never good at weddings,” he says. “People were looking for something better.” He provided new, clean and attractive units (using Walex Products deodorizers). And when he saw that wasn’t always enough, he started buying VIP trailer units. But Dundon points out that while the products he offers are important, his service is the real key to success — and weddings are a special animal.
“It’s a whole different marketplace,” he says. “You have to have somebody who really takes the time with the bride and goes over everything. You have to have a good website, good literature.” He also cautions you’re likely to get mixed messages from the different people involved — Dad might want a standard unit but the bride wants a trailer, the mother-in-law thinks it should go here, the groom somewhere else. “It takes a special employee to do it,” he says. “And a lot of coordination and patience.”