Restroom trailers are moneymakers, but they can’t rent themselves
You took the plunge and signed on the dotted line to purchase a restroom trailer. Now what?
What you don’t do is something Dan Fischer, sales manager of Comforts of Home Services, heard from one of his customers.
Fischer had sold a Texas customer a two-station trailer. The operator called him three months later and said he hadn’t rented it and was not happy. When Fischer pressed for more details, the operator said he had it stored, covered up in the backyard. “They were protecting their investment,” he says. “Just by moving it up front, they started renting it.”
His advice, in a nutshell, is to get the trailer visible. If potential customers can see it, they can ask about it — a perfect entrée to a rental pitch. Another suggestion, he says, is to let a charitable group use it for free to get some initial exposure for the unit and get your name in front of people.
Signage is such a simple thing, but it’s one many operators forget or neglect. “Let people know your company, phone number, etc.,” says Fischer.
“There is lots of advertising space on the backs of the trailers that is ideal to promote your company,” he adds. One operator failed to include his company name and phone number on a trailer, so Fischer said a customer called Comforts of Home (the manufacturer) for service because they didn’t know whom the trailer belonged to.
Charlie Senecal, general manager of the Satellite Suites’ trailer division, agrees that many new owners of trailers — especially smaller “mom and pop” businesses — may not know how to promote them once they have them. “It doesn’t magically rent itself,” he says, which might seem obvious, but marketing and promotion are often overlooked. Satellite, for example, will help buyers with promotion on their website, and using SEO and other tools.
Senecal also recommends buyers connect with their network of chambers of commerce, event planners and other local associations to spread the word about trailer availability.
Fischer passes along tips that have worked for other customers. He recalls that one client networked with all the wedding planning businesses in his region, sending out a targeted direct mail piece. Two months later, he already had three months of booking.
“He started promoting in January. By the end of February, he already had the trailer booked for April, May and June,” says Fischer, who adds that early promotion is important. Don’t wait until you have the trailer in-house to start networking and booking dates.
Gretchen Hole, owner of Swanky Restroom Trailers in Michigan, uses her experience as a portable restroom operator to her benefit. “I’ve been lucky because I was in the restroom business for 19 years,” says Hole. So she was able to plug her trailer business alongside that.
“Word-of-mouth for me has been huge,” she says, noting she can sometimes get referrals from others in the business who may not own trailers.
“I’m constantly thinking of new ideas every year.”
This article is part of a series on breaking into the portable restroom trailer market.