Time to Up-Sell?

There’s no time like the present to tell your customers how enhanced sanitation will be good for their businesses

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It might not seem like the time to be going to your customers — particularly in the construction industry — and asking them to spend a little more money on portable sanitation services. After all, your customers have been in a cost-cutting mode for a few years now, and I’m sure most of them have asked you for options to reduce their monthly bill at some point.

But when you argue for adding hand-wash facilities to every standard restroom order, you may be able to turn the up-sell into an upside for your business. That’s because your customers may be paying hidden costs for their decision to withhold sinks or hand sanitizers from their barebones orders. While they save a few bucks on the frontend by refusing your offer of hand-wash options, you can explain that they may be paying for that decision down the road in ways they aren’t expecting.

A decision to ignore basic sanitary needs means the inevitable spread of germs and harmful bacteria at the work site, which translates into sickened workers and sick days that can throw a wrench into ever-tighter construction deadlines. From a strictly business standpoint, that means taking a chance on disappointing their own clients who expect work to be completed on time.



Sick workers also drive up your customers’ healthcare costs. The expense of one worker leaving the jobsite and going to a doctor will likely more than offset the cost of providing a hand-wash station to all of the customer’s employees for a full month. Talk about being penny-wise and pound-foolish!

And what about the cost of ignoring employee job satisfaction? I’ve always thought this argument was a compelling one: Why should a construction worker in the field expect any less sanitary provisions than the employee handling paperwork back at the office? I’ve worked at locations served by portable restrooms with no hand-wash options and that question always comes to mind.

Job satisfaction doesn’t rely on one magnanimous gesture from the boss — like awarding a holiday bonus or contributing to a 401(k) retirement account — and then not sweating the details. Rather, long-term employee satisfaction relies on consistently making positive decisions on human resources issues large and small. And luckily for you, providing hand-wash options is a relatively small and easy workplace perk to provide.

If your customers fail to treat their employees well, retention will become an issue. As the economy recovers, workers will find more options for employment. And you understand the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for a good worker. Someone walking off a portable sanitation route can ruin your day, just like a carpenter or electrician walking away from a project can ruin the day for a small construction company owner.

These are all important messages to convey to companies that order your standard restrooms. But how do you get the word out … and turn the tide so standard restrooms are always accompanied by a hand-cleaning option? Here are a few suggestions you can try as you ramp up for the busy season:

Stress improved sanitation on your website and in printed materials.

A successful up-sell starts with the materials you hand out to customers or the website you send them to as they’re pondering an order. Do your brochures, introductory letters, flyers and website stress the importance of hand-wash options? Or do you merely lay out all the restroom options for customers and make it easy to choose the cheapest one? There’s nothing wrong with hard-selling basic sanitation. Rather than thinking of it as a sales pitch, you are doing customers a service by telling them about the critical importance of cleanliness.

Ask your public health officials to get involved.

Your local public health nurse and the medical community in general want to be your partners in promoting better sanitation. Increasingly, the job of preventative medicine and wellness education will be keys to slowing the skyrocketing cost of healthcare. Visit your local health department’s website and amass materials on best sanitation practices to incorporate into your website. Ask your public health officials to provide you with a letter outlining the importance of hand-washing, then post the letter on your website and hand it to customers.

Begin a dialog with your homebuilders’ group.

If you haven’t done it already, consider joining your local homebuilders’ group as an associate member. Then, after you’ve been involved with the organization for a while, ask to speak to members about basic sanitary needs at the worksite, and explain how they can benefit from raising the standards for their restroom service. Always remember you are the professional voice on issues of sanitation and you are providing the group with a service.

Offer free trials or temporary deep discounts.

Sweeten your deal for construction customers to demonstrate the benefits of hand-wash facilities. Give reluctant customers a sink along with their basic order for free for the next month. Then ask them to survey workers about the enhanced service. If you can’t give it away for free, how about a one-time discount?

Add hand sanitizers at a minimum in every unit.

Make a statement about the importance of sanitary conditions by upgrading all of your standard restrooms to include hand sanitzers. This is a growing trend among PROs who aren’t waiting for customers to raise their standards. They are no longer offering a no-frills restroom. Doing the same might help your company stand out from the competition and be perceived as the quality or value leader in your territory.



Have you been successful at encouraging hand-wash upgrades in your standard restroom orders? If so, how did you turn the corner with cost-conscious customers? Tell me your success strategies and I will share them with readers in a future column.


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