PROs in the News

Editor’s blog posts show trends that land restroom contractors in the mainstream media spotlight and how they can build on the publicity.

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Very soon I'll mark three years of blogging about bits and pieces of portable sanitation news at the website companion of PRO magazine, On Jan. 4, 2010, I introduced the blog posts, explaining how I would use the 21st century technology as a complement to the content you get in this magazine every month. It's hard to believe so much time and so many blog headlines have come and gone.

I hope you've found the editor's blogs helpful at keeping you up with breaking news in the industry, highlighting some of the magazine stories we've published, and giving reminders on industry happenings, everything from the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International to recent changes at the trade association, the Portable Sanitation Association International.

The website and an editor's blog are great mediums for reporting news in a timely manner. When a topic involving portable sanitation hits the news, I can react and report on an issue instantaneously online, something I've done many times over the past few years. Looking back at the blog entries brings out some recurring themes for when portable sanitation makes headlines in the mainstream media. I'd like to point out a few:

Arson is an ongoing problem.

I know many PROs struggle with ongoing vandalism issues – tagging, tip-overs, drill holes on construction units, for example. But something more serious has made the news several times in the recent past: fires.

In one Texas incident, a few dozen units were torched, purportedly by homeless people who gained access to a storage yard through a broken fence. In other cases, a few restrooms here and there were targeted everywhere from the middle of a big city to rural Midwestern construction sites. In Minnesota, the local chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators offered a reward to solve restroom arson cases. A fire investigation website sought more information about portable restroom units, and got this response from a PRO:

"Most of our outdoor venues utilize numerous of these units side by side. They actually burned pretty hot and melt all the way down to the wood pallet base,'' the poster wrote. "I have never heard of anyone getting burned while in the unit as it was ignited. I guess it could be a matter of time.''

Are you doing all you can to protect your business from arson? Do you have ideas about security and vandalism in general that can help other PROs stem the tide of damage? Please go to the blog and share your advice.

Yours is seen as a dirty job.

Portable sanitation is a natural industry to highlight in many "Dirty Jobs'' news features aired across the country. We've seen a scenario play out several times in recent years: A PRO is called by a local news affiliate to participate in one of a series of Dirty Jobs reports. A reporter rolls up his or her sleeves and learns how to service restrooms at a special event or construction site.

These features are an opportunity to poke fun at the type of work you perform, and I'm not excited about reinforcing a stereotype the general public has about our industry. However, I also recognize how media exposure like this gives PROs the chance to highlight the industry's growing professionalism, showing off high-tech restroom trailers and service vehicles. It also provides priceless free advertising for potential customers – event planners, municipal officials and people planning backyard weddings – who will see your company in action.

If you are called on to explain what you do in a "Dirty Jobs'' feature, consider taking a little good-natured ribbing from a reporter in exchange for getting your name and service capabilities out into the public eye.

Many customers cut corners.

In one recent news story, a restroom contractor took flak for not properly servicing units on a pier in Southern California. Unfortunately, the root of the filthy restrooms was a municipal customer who cut services to save money. In this case, the city didn't listen to the PRO who warned that the units needed to be serviced daily or risk becoming over-filled.

In another case, event planners in Rochester, Minn., ignored the advice of a PRO and rented only a few units for a popular Fourth of July celebration. When thousands of visitors overwhelmed the event, the restroom provider bore the brunt of complaints because the company name was on the door. I'll bet this has happened to you.

I hope this is an example the customer can learn from. Skimping on the portable restrooms can transform a popular civic event into a public relations disaster. It's a shame the folks in Rochester couldn't be buzzing about the "rockets' red glare'' after Independence Day rather than the woeful restroom facilities.

The public can and does drive improved service.

There's been a slow, but steady drumbeat coming from the public and business owners in towns across America demanding better access to portable sanitation. Evidence is found in Saugerties, N.Y., where visitors put up a fight to get more restrooms set up throughout the downtown during tourist season.

In busy summer tourist towns, public restrooms may be too few and the ones available can be overwhelmed during a few weeks of the year. Rather than small cities spending vast sums for permanent facilities only utilized for a few months, portable restrooms can be a smart choice for user convenience.

Have you approached the small towns you serve to provide restrooms along city streets and in parking lots to ease the demand for bathroom facilities? If you provide such a service, have those placements worked successfully and provided a much-needed revenue boost? Let us know.


I end every blog post by inviting readers to share their reactions to the items, give their opinions on an important issue, and make suggestions for future posts. I appreciate every response, and want to take a moment to encourage you again to join the discourse.

Blogs are best when there is a two-way discussion.

Other PROs want to know how you feel about news stories or questions about providing clean service or running a small business. And I want to hear from you, too. So please visit my blog and feel free to start a discussion about any one of the posts. I monitor the blogs daily and promise to respond to questions, suggestions or any general feedback.


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