How to Take on the Big Boys and Win

Portable restroom operators often face a crowded marketplace including a huge competitor. Follow these steps to compete successfully.
How to Take on the Big Boys and Win
Dr. Kevin Coughlin

Most people are aware that the economic engine in the U.S. is small business. In fact, most would agree that small businesses are the foundation of the economy.

Very little provides more satisfaction than building and running a successful small business, but many business owners make a fatal mistake at the outset: They don’t understand what their customers really want. To put your best foot forward as a small-business owner, you must create a dialogue with customers and ensure they understand you’re looking out for their wants and needs.

But building a customer-driven small business can be a bit different when competing with a much larger competitor. How do you fight a company or business that has an almost unlimited supply of money and expertise? In all truth, it can be extremely difficult and takes a lot of effort, but it can be done and is being done all across the country. Your customers want to feel connected, they want to feel special, and they don’t want to be just a number or another transaction.

Your customers are all looking for products and services they believe in, like and trust. That is the winning combination in competition, and you and your team will be on the way to successfully competing with larger regional and national portable sanitation providers by making the experience

SPECIAL for your customers. Here’s how to get started:

S - Superior service

First and foremost, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Experiment with every interaction between your company and the customer. A great starting point is to assess the quality of phone etiquette and your employees’ ability to address your customers’ questions. Ensure you are receiving good feedback that is timely and accurate. Evaluate your website and email responses. Take an honest look at your products and services to make sure they are the best they can be.

P - Products

Evaluate your restroom inventory, truck fleet and service to see how they stand up against the competition. Take a hard look at the processes and procedures you can implement to make products and or services more appealing and cost-effective.

E - Education

This means training, training and more training with everyone on your team, and perhaps most importantly, training for yourself. Many times as business owner you are the last to recognize you may need and benefit from training more than anyone else. Success starts at the top, and without positive business training, you and your company will suffer.

C – Consistency

Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your processes and procedures to make sure they are simple, repeatable and trainable. Delivering consistent service is paramount to long-term success. Anyone can do something well once or twice, but when you can do it consistently, you know your company is running well.

I - Ideal customer experience

Frequently review your customer accounts to see if they are coming back to you again and again. If the pattern of repeat business is lacking, it’s imperative that you ascertain why.

A – Approachable

Do your employees and customers have access to you? If not, why? Determine how to create an environment that allows information to reach leadership so team members and customers know their concerns will be addressed and not overlooked.

L - Lighthearted

When it stops being fun for you, your team or your customers, you have started your company in a downward direction and action must be taken to change that culture. When your customers and team members have an enjoyable experience there is no better marketing plan available.


Most business owners want and dream to become larger. The reasons are many, but the main reasons are that success is equated many times with more or bigger. However, more doesn’t always mean better, it simply means more.

If your desire is to make your company or business larger, be careful what you wish for. The vast majority of small-business entrepreneurs like the risks, controls and challenges of building a business more than the end result. As has been stated many times, it is the journey more than the destination that brings real satisfaction.

For those who are wise enough to realize this, you must understand that all the things that can make the large companies great are also the things that can be seen as negatives. This knowledge provides business owners an opportunity to compete and win over customers that eventually gets overlooked by the huge service providers.

In the end, all business owners are unique, but most entrepreneurs have common traits. They are competitive, they like the action and want to win. They are motivated and work hard, have a desire to succeed, and willingly make sacrifices to accomplish their goals.

Whatever your aspirations, stick with them. Find out what motivates you and what you really love about your business. Then pursue that passion and you will receive much more than financial reward. You will have the satisfaction of reaching your goals.

Dr. Kevin Coughlin is a dentist, author and small-business speaker. For more information, go to


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