No-Frills Standard Restrooms Pump Up The Profits

Standard restrooms provide the reliable, no-frills service required by many of your regular customers. Consider these ways to build your inventory for convenience and profitability.

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The simple standard restroom is the unsung hero of your portable sanitation business. It is there to serve the basic needs of your customers, a no-frills option that brings in steady revenue every month. These units must take a licking and keep on ticking, proving to be sturdy tools that provide years of faithful service until one day being disassembled and taken to the recycling center to provide the raw materials for another plastics-based product.

If you’re like many PROs, your standard restroom inventory is a hodge-podge of name brands, models and colors that spans a generation. You might have a handful of heavy-duty fiberglass units from days gone by that have been sitting on the same site for years. You may have picked up a variety of restrooms through company acquisitions, having no choice in the selection of your stock. Perhaps you’ve hopped from one manufacturer to another over the years, testing the durability of all the products the industry has to offer.

If any of these scenarios fit your business, it’s a challenge to keep all of your units in tip-top shape and retrain ever-changing crews on maintenance best practices for each of the brands and models. And when it comes time to set up a row of 15 units for a special event, you could be hard-pressed to find a matching set. That can require a careful search of the yard, or even juggling units between several locations to find the right mix to put at a high-visibility location.

If you had to do it all over again, you’d probably quickly identify the standard unit that best serves your customers and continue to buy and stock the same unit. For technician familiarity, ease of repair and replacement, and new-worker training, starting fresh with an inventory of identical restrooms would make a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, starting from scratch is not an option for most companies. But as you move forward, you can make sound business decisions based on upgrading your standard restrooms and promoting uniformity. Here are a few ideas to consider for your next big order of restrooms:

Take a look at the marketplace

Review all of the standard restrooms offered to the industry. The first step is turning inside this issue of PRO to read Craig Mandli’s Product Focus story on the topic. Then plan to attend the biggest trade event in the wastewater industry, the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show in Indianapolis next February. At WWETT you can see all of the available models up close and talk to manufacturers’ representatives about each of the products. Establishing good vendor relationships will help when it comes time for repeat restroom orders or when buying parts and accessories.

Stick with a few models

Choose a model that works well for you and bolster your inventory with the same model. As your numbers grow, your drivers and yard crew will become more familiar with the intricacies of your chosen unit. They will know the component wear patterns – for instance, how long it takes for a skid to deteriorate or how often door springs or hinges need to be replaced. Sometimes PROs find they like both the standard and upscale restrooms produced by the same company. Sometimes they like a standard unit from one provider and an event unit from another. That’s OK. The more consistent you can be with your choices the better. But if you narrow your selections to one unit from two companies, you’re probably ahead of the game.

Choose a signature color

Choosing a restroom color customers instantly associate with your company is a great idea. A signature color builds brand identity and makes it easier to stock and replace new panels for standard units that can take a lot of abuse on construction sites. A trend I’ve been seeing lately is companies buying the same basic unit, but choosing one color for event usage and one color for construction. That makes it easy to organize units in the yard and quickly prep the appropriate units for delivery. One idea is to pick a more festive color for events, such as purple, and one that’s less apt to show dirt and scuffs – say tan or gray – for construction applications.

Upgrade to stand out

Your standard units are most often associated with construction sites and for customers who want the most basic unit without any added accessories. But you might also place an upgraded standard unit at events like the county fair or backyard parties. So you want a unit that provides maximum flexibility when it comes to adding features like shelves, mirrors, solar lighting and hand-wash stations. You want these items to be easily added or removed. And you want to go with the unit that can be best configured to meet your individual needs.

One idea to ponder: Perhaps the days of a unit without a hand-wash station or hand sanitizer are over – even at the construction site. Consider ordering all of your standard units with an option for cleaning up after restroom use. If you think construction customers will balk at the idea of paying a premium for clean hands, upgrade the units at no additional cost and see if that boosts loyalty. Placing more restrooms for longer periods of time over the course of a year could easily make up the cost of the sink or sanitizer unit. And it can help build your service reputation.

Rockin' Your Rig

In the July issue, Truck Corner writer Bob Carlson wrote his final column and bid farewell after nearly a decade of writing about portable sanitation service vehicles for COLE Publishing. But even though Bob has stepped away from the monthly column, we remain committed to answering your questions about vacuum truck – or any service vehicle – operation and maintenance.

Our crack team of reporters will research your Truck Corner questions, reaching out to industry experts when necessary to get you the best answers. We plan to continue including the column as long as readers need fresh information about their trucks. Send your questions for Truck Corner to

In addition to the interactive truck advice column you know, we’re introducing a new occasional feature about choosing and caring for your most valuable equipment. This month is the rollout of In the Garage. With each story, we’ll delve into a different topic about purchasing, maintaining or repairing your most valuable rolling assets.

Look for my story inside giving a rundown on the latest advances in work trucks being powered by natural gas. While natural gas might seem like a new and untried technology, there are more than 100,000 diesel-converted natural gas work trucks in the U.S. and almost 15 million on the roads worldwide.


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