It’s important to come up with a marketing game plan to get your restroom trailer options out in front of customers
Maybe you’re the only restroom trailer game in town. Or maybe there are three other vendors. In either case, it’s important to let your offerings be known. Your trailer can’t pay for itself if it’s sitting in your lot.
Renting trailers is not the same as renting portable restrooms; at least that’s what Gretchen Hole, owner of Swanky Restroom Trailers in Michigan, has found. “A lot of people may not know that you have [the trailer],” she says.
Know your potential customers
Hole’s website touts that her units offer, “privacy, comfort and swank appeal,” something that is definitely attractive to her target audience of smaller, exclusive events.
Attendance at wedding shows, for example, has helped her secure jobs — mainly because Hole can then tout the special amenities she offers. Boldly painted interiors, rugs, artwork, plants, mirrors, music, soft lighting, even swanky signage: all those accouterments help Swanky live up to its name and woo customers looking for more than just a utilitarian restroom trailer.
One of her trailers includes a parlor room. “I designed this trailer after years of talking to my past guests,” she says. “I found that guests would hang out in the trailer to cool down or warm up” depending on the weather.
Separate from the competition
Hole has built her business by standing out among other operators. That’s key, says Charlie Senecal, general manager of the trailer division at Satellite Suites.
“You want to try to stand out,” he says. “Purchase a trailer that is different or upgraded from what your competition has, and then get that information in front of your customer. Explain to them why yours is different. … Show them pictures of actual units.”
Think about details
Like Hole, he agrees that attending trade shows with a fully decked-out unit can be key to making sales or rentals. “When we go to a trade show, we stage our units,” he says, noting that people often even ask to buy the decorations. “It really is so simple, but it has a very, very big impact.”
Look into government contracts
Also, depending on their geographic location (and seasonal climate changes), portable restroom operators can face alternately very busy and very slow times. Some operators have found that securing government contracts can not only help tide them over during business lulls, but they can also forge valuable relationships that can benefit their company in the long run.
While this might more frequently impact individual restroom units, trailers could also be part of the package.
If you want to bid on government contracts, operators should consider registering on various government websites (such as www.uscontractorregistration.com) as a viable vendor. Note, however, that calls don’t just come pouring in. It’s up to potential bidders to monitor websites for state, local or national government entities.
Before you go after a contract for a government entity or a job that requires bids, do some research. Companies owned by women, minorities or veterans may get a slight edge, so check out the Small Business Association website (www.sba.gov) for more information on how to work such factors into your proposal.
Check out these articles for more on bidding for government contracts:
This article is part of a series on breaking into the portable restroom trailer market.