Refresher Course

With so much of your reputation riding on clean service, it’s time to give your restroom inventory the white glove and sniff tests.

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If your inventory of portable restrooms is sparkling clean and free of foul odors and filthy grime, your business battle is more than half won. Think about it. You may be the greatest marketer in the world – the Steve Jobs of the portable sanitation industry – but if you can’t keep your units clean and fresh, all those sales skills won’t save your company from ruin. Cleanliness is the essential factor in succeeding in this business.

That’s what the Product Focus story in this month’s issue of PRO is all about – keeping it clean. Writer Craig Mandli has amassed a variety of products designed just for portable sanitation contractors to achieve clean and reliable service.

Clean = Success

That high standard of service is what the success of our featured contractor this month, On Site Sanitation Services, in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, is built on. Without a consistent record of cleanliness on the job, owners Karen and Dave Holm know they wouldn’t have enjoyed 25 years of growth and prosperity. Turn inside to read more from writer Betty Dageforde.

The same goes for Arnold’s Environmental Services, of Saukville, Wis., featured in this issue’s On Location story. Do you think owners Tammy and Pat Oreskovic would continue to get contracts to serve great events like the RAGNAR running race from Madison, Wis., to Chicago if they didn’t demand clean service from their technicians? Not a chance. The challenge of serving a long relay race is explored in the story by writer Ken Wysocky.

So what are some of a PRO’s keys to effective cleaning and maintenance? Let the following suggestions be a starting point in the discussion about tidy service. And if you have your own tips or techniques to share, drop me a line at editor@promonthly and I’ll publish them in a future column.

Organize your inventory

Do you have the luxury of storing your restrooms indoors in a warehouse setting or maybe on a covered cement slab in the yard? Kudos to you if you have that sort of arrangement. But PROs often utilize an unimproved gravel yard or grassy spot out behind the office for storage and staging purposes. In any case, organization is the key to keeping a large number of units shipshape. First, group the units by condition or type of service they perform. Event units on the left, construction units on the right, for example. Create a tidy and sheltered area where damaged or grafitti-tagged units await repair. Keep restrooms out of the wind, away from heavy sun exposure and clear of trees that might drop messy seeds or sap on them. Make rows straight and well-spaced to allow easy access to the units for inspection or choosing the right unit – by color and amenities – for the customer being served.

Adopt a routine inspection regimen

The old adage, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,’’ is critical advice when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your equipment. Even if you clean restrooms before you bring them back to the shop, don’t just drop and forget them. Create an inspection checklist for your yard manager or technicians and follow it without exception. Look for popped rivets, wobbly skids, tired door springs, cracks and holes in panels, and fading and sun damage that would prompt you to take a unit out of service. At the end of each job, make a determination that the unit will continue for event use, be downgraded to marginal construction sites or dismantled, recycled and replaced. Use an Excel spreadsheet or other equipment-tracking software to make notes on every piece of equipment you own. With this information, you will put out more presentable units and can determine a realistic replacement schedule.

Cleaning should be comprehensive … especially in the yard

Write down your best service protocol for working in the field and perform periodic spot checks by following your workers on their routes. But part of creating the best user experience is taking care of detailing before the restroom leaves the yard. Get into every nook and cranny that can be the frustrating source of odors. Take the time to blast away unsightly scale in urinals. Settle on an effective graffiti removal product and have plenty of it on hand. Designate an area strictly for cleaning and maintaining units, with all the essential tools on hand for power washing and repairing or replacing panels. Provide ample space to maneuver equipment, store replacement parts and work in an area protected from the elements.

Try periodic sampling of available cleaners and deodorants

Your requirements for odor control and cleaning capabilities can change with the seasons, the years or even the types of customers you’re serving. You may have chosen deodorants and cleaning supplies years ago and stuck with them even as your business has changed. Consider sampling a variety of products to see if that long-ago choice is still the best for the work you do. Formulations change, companies are producing new scents all the time, and newer, convenient forms of packaging emerge. Ask manufacturers for samples and run side-by-side comparisons to see which products are most effective. Ask your customers if they prefer one scent over another. Ask your technicians about the products they prefer. Don’t be afraid to change the cleaning products you use if you see a way to improve service.

Don’t forget the truck detailing

When thinking about cleaning and maintenance, don’t leave your service vehicles out of the equation. Just like a spotless truck is a clue that you’re a clean service provider, a truck with caked-on mud and odor-causing residue can give customers a negative impression. Get in the habit of requiring technicians to end the workday by cleaning their truck inside and out. That means hitting the cab with a vacuum cleaner, picking up the fast-food wrappers, and using some Armor-All on the dash and door panels. A power wash and wipe-down will make the exterior presentable. A periodic waxing will give it a showroom shine and help protect the vacuum tank from corrosion. Consider changing out worn hoses, updating older accessories and adding an exhaust deodorizer.


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