Not Every Portable Restroom Client Is Worth Keeping

You know who your problem accounts are, and it’s probably long past time you let them go

Not Every Portable Restroom Client Is Worth Keeping

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By now I am sure you have realized that not every customer is a good fit for your business. In the beginning, we all believe that you take any customer you can get. But after a couple years, you realize that some customers are abusive, bad payers or the like. More important, these bad accounts are taking up time that could be spent on good customers. 

When you acquire a new business that is one of the things that will take you some time to figure out. Back in 2008, we purchased a company in Philadelphia, which allowed us to enter a completely new market. After months spent going through the paper records — yes, I said paper — of every customer they had ever had, I felt like we had a good handle on the current customer base.

We reached out to all the event customers and were able to renew almost all of them. As Philadelphia was a new market to us, we realized that there is a huge category of customers that do picnics in Fairmount Park. A huge park system, Fairmount Park cuts through the city and covers over 2,000 acres. Keeping track of all the different picnic areas was a full-time job in itself. 

The reason I mention this group of customers is because they were the worst group of customers we ever had.

They were notorious last-minute order placers. Every Friday night at 5:30 or 6 p.m., the phone would ring with all these orders for a picnic at Lemon Hill or a family reunion at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. By then, the office would have closed and I would have to pull over on the highway to take their order. Then, we would scramble to fit these orders into an already packed Saturday morning.

On top of that, they were incredibly cheap. They wanted our nicest toilets at the lowest price possible. They would call in multiple times, hoping that by getting a new person on the phone they would get a lower price. They would also place orders, but when we would call to confirm, they would say they never had confirmed and they found toilets somewhere else for cheaper.

But the worst characteristic of this group was that they all wanted to pay in cash, which is something we don’t do. Personally, I feel that it is too much work. The driver has to take the money and then it has to get back to our headquarters in Connecticut and be reconciled with the right customer account. We also felt that it was unsafe for a driver to be collecting money and keeping it in his truck. On this, we were very firm that we wouldn’t do it.

That was when we realized that it was better to walk away from this group of customers than to keep trying to meet all of their needs. Obviously we still work in Fairmount Park and we still do these types of events, but we are upfront with the customer on the phone. Orders must be in by a certain time, our pricing is firm and they must pay over the phone with a credit card.

Being a small business means that you have to be flexible in order to make some customers work. But you don’t have to work for a financial loss or put up with customers who terrorize your staff. You can decide that your company’s time is more valuable then their orders and it is OK.

About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.


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