5 Tips to Winning the Portable Sanitation Game

Like the Monopoly tycoon, you need to make some bold moves to bring home bigger revenue in the coming years.
5 Tips to Winning the Portable Sanitation Game
Jim Kneiszel

I’m sure you’ve played the game Monopoly. Throw the dice and move around the board with your toy car, battleship or thimble, buying properties, putting up little red plastic hotels and trying to drive other players to bankruptcy. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun for folks who like to play board games to win.

The game demonstrates a basic risk/reward business proposition. You spend your currency (albeit fake yellow and orange bills) with reckless abandon, mortgaging everything to the hilt, and then hope the dice roll your way for a few turns around the table. Keep passing GO, collecting $200 and you’ll probably win eventually.

You can celebrate victory with a happy dance — but you may lose your friends in the process. Sure, some people (present company included) take winning this game a little too seriously. This is why I haven’t been able to scare up a match with anyone in my family for years.

The dapper Monopoly tycoon figure — with his walking stick and top hat — came to mind when I received a press release recently promoting the business-building book Double Double, written by Cameron Herold, who grew the company 1-800-GOT-JUNK from a $2 million to $102 million business over a few years. Just like the Monopoly tycoon, Cameron says there’s no place for the timid when trying to build a business.


“If you’re a CEO or entrepreneur and you don’t plan on doubling your profit and revenue within the next three years, you may be lacking focus,’’ Herold says. “It’s within your grasp to increase your business drastically within a few years, but you need to make several smaller goals in order to do so. It all starts with a vivid vision.’’

Herold offers a few nuggets of business development advice to get us interested in buying his book. Among his ideas is to trade your office for a day at the ocean, in the forest or even in your hammock in the backyard to escape distractions and think about the future of your business. Get away from the computer; grab a notepad and jot down random ideas to help your business. Brainstorm. Don’t dismiss wild ideas that come to mind.

The Monopoly tycoon in me appreciated Herold’s confident approach to building exponential growth in a small business. While I imagine he would be a worthy opponent with the “funny money’’ and a board game, he’s obviously succeeded in real life as well. So I took his advice to let my mind wander in search of ideas that would help PROs double the size of their business in the next few years.


Here are five ideas I came up with to help you buy Boardwalk, win second place in a beauty contest and get out of jail free in 2016 and beyond:

Market to a new type of client.

Get out and hustle up some business in an area you’ve ignored in the past. Perhaps you hit the suburban home construction industry hard, but have never thought to approach the big redevelopment players in your downtowns who are transforming old warehouse space into trendy loft apartments. Urban customers, working in tight spaces, have different portable sanitation, temporary office and traffic control needs that you may be in a position to meet. On the event side of the business, maybe you’ve gone after the county fairs and carnivals, but you’ve steered clear of the country club or high-end outdoor wedding market because you weren’t sure you were up to the challenge of providing VIP-type service. Step out and take some chances looking for new work and you may be rewarded with a bigger bottom line.
Focus on landing a few key events.

Look for a big fish to hook, or a few smaller fish that can add some serious revenue for your company. You’ve got plenty of summer work to pay the bills, so you may have made only half-hearted attempts to take a lucrative special event client away from your competitors. Are you used to working on lowly Baltic Avenue? Why not shoot for upscale Park Place? If your repeat event business is secure and your customers are happy, lay down the gauntlet to prove your great crew can provide top service for a premier local or regional event. Ratchet up the marketing efforts for niche events such as outdoor theater and music venues that will be a great complement to your loyal customer base. Then approach event planners with an aggressive pitch. Keep making phone calls to these potential customers. You never know when this constant communication will pay off. But always remember you’re selling quality service, not just a cut-rate price.

Buy equipment for a new revenue stream.

Monopoly is just a game, but it still provides a valuable reminder about building a business: You have to roll the dice and invest some capital to get ahead. This doesn’t mean you risk it all on huge speculation at every turn. Rather, you must be smart about how you spend money and willing to take measured risks. When you recognize a great opportunity to purchase equipment that will pay off in additional revenue, you can’t be afraid to pull the trigger. Many small-business owners are resistant to taking on debt, and a degree of caution serves them well. But if there’s a service void in your market, adding a specialty truck or restroom trailer, for instance, may help you fill that void and ensure future business that will more than pay for what seems like a huge financial outlay now. Standing pat in a competitive marketplace is not usually a recipe for long-term success.

Build your professional image.

Find ways to freshen your approach to service so you stand out among PROs in the area. Pay attention to details like replacing outdated uniforms, modernizing your branding and replacing tattered or amateurish vinyl graphics on your trucks. Is your customer service up to today’s demanding standards? Listen to how your crew interacts with customers over the phone and on location. Are they pleasant and responsive to everyone, all the time? If you don’t already do so, consider offering uniformed attendants to all of your event customers, better on-demand service to keep construction units more consistently clean, and upgrade all standard units with hand-wash sinks or flushers. Every step you take — whether it’s improving appearance or enhancing service — should show the customer they are the top priority.

Get employees involved.

Without the entire crew on board, it’s doubtful you’ll realize the growth you envision for your company. There are a myriad of ways to encourage workers to take play a more pivotal role in business building. You want them to take ownership in the company, and one way accomplish that is obvious: Give them some ownership. Consider starting a profit-sharing program so employees experience the ups and downs that come along with business ownership. In addition to a good wage, offer employees other incentives to play a role in marketing and selling, such as a commission for bringing in new customers. Start a contest among all employees — from the drivers to the receptionist — for renting more units or upselling customers into better service plans. Remind your staff they are responsible for more than just showing up and doing the work; they must look sharp, focus on customers and share ideas for improving the business.


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