12 Winning, Business-Building Ideas You Can Try Right Now

Our PROfile companies from 2017 each shared a valuable bit of advice to help you build profit and work more efficiently

12 Winning, Business-Building Ideas You Can Try Right Now

Judy Kneiszel has operated her own small business for 20 years and is familiar with the many rewards and challenges of business ownership. Write to her with questions, comments or topic suggestions at thewordhouse@ameritech.net.

Every month, this magazine runs a PROfile article, which I’m sure you read from start to finish the day PRO arrives in your mailbox. Each PROfile is packed with information — from the history of a company and tales of events served to descriptions of its trucks and restrooms. PROfiles are also filled with nuggets of business advice, much of which can be implemented back at the office. To refresh your memories, I reread all the 2017 PROfiles and put together a sampling of things the featured companies are doing to increase their success. If the pretty truck photos distracted you the first time around, here’s another chance to benefit from the business knowledge of the 2017 PROfile subjects.

January – Murdock Portable Toilets: Diversify.

Diversification is the key to success for this Russellville, Arkansas, company, which provides portable sanitation and septic pumping as well as grease trap maintenance and line cleaning services. From the story: “When customers in one segment of the business falters, others keep chugging along.” Bottom line: If all your eggs are in one basket (i.e., a single customer or industry accounts for more than half of your business), it may be in your long-term interest to hit the pavement and do some selling to diversify your customer base. If all your work is of the same nature, consider adding services to keep your equipment and people busy.

February – Powell’s Sanitation: Emphasize teamwork.

Training and teamwork were stressed in this month’s PROfile. Jonathan Powell says his Loris, South Carolina, company’s new drivers are trained by riding along with an experienced technician. He also keeps the drivers on their toes by conducting random inspections, and he conducts monthly staff meetings to keep the team working together.

March – QP Energy Services: Embrace technology.

Cy Quakenbush and J.R. Pickens — the “Q” and “P” in this Smithville, Texas, company’s name — had several good business practices to share, including one most folks back at the office would appreciate. QP Energy Services has embraced technology to the point where there’s little paper to shuffle. All orders and pickup slips are texted and emailed to technicians. Time stamps indicate when technicians receive messages, and they don’t have to stop and waste time writing down messages the way they have to with verbal messages. The ability to ship delivery tickets and pickup slips to the server allows invoices to be sent out more efficiently, which increases cash flow.

 

April – Jersey Shore Restrooms: Have an exit strategy.

This month’s nugget of advice was that every business owner should have a plan for getting out of the business. You’ll have to find the April issue either online or in that stack in your bathroom to read the whole story of how Don “Buddy” Van Sant started his second portable restroom business, but unlike his first go-around, this time he’s got a plan to hand it over to a younger partner when he gets to the point where he wants to spend more time on his hobbies than working. He says he was too young when he sold his first business, but this time, foresight and planning are priorities. There may be cases when you’re too young to retire, but it’s never too soon to start planning for it.

May – JW Craft Portable Restrooms: Stick by your pricing.

When you have a customer across the desk, internet, or phone line who’s pressuring you to cut prices, keep the philosophy of Naples, Florida PRO Jennifer Corrigan in mind. She politely declines to play the how-low-can-you-go game, saying she believes cutting rates to earn market share only promotes price wars and devalues the service provided by professional portable sanitation contractors. And both of those harm the industry.

June – JOTS Rentals: Assess your routing.

A memorable lesson from the PROfile of this Longview, Texas, company is the difference effective routing can make to the bottom line. By managing the size and range of the routes in its original market, JOTS Rentals has been able to expand into a new, larger market without having to significantly add to the payroll or truck fleet. 

July – Outdoor Restrooms: Try creative scheduling.

Another way to increase productivity was shared by this PRO in Kansas City, Missouri. This team sat down and scratched out a staggered schedule, allowing them to reduce labor and capital expenses while still keeping their restrooms serviced. They run eight service routes a week with only six trucks by having drivers work in staggered shifts.

August – Pete’s Toilet Rentals: Learn the office side.

This month’s office tip was simply to get in there and do it. Dan Smart just started this Plaistow, New Hampshire, portable sanitation company this year. And with only three employees, he has to be a jack-of-all-trades, meaning office tasks can get pushed to the back burner. Office work may not be what your customers hire you to do, but doing it is the only way you’re going to get paid and gain an understanding of how your income is spent. Smart admits the office part of the job is not his favorite, but he says it’s good for him to become familiar with all of the tasks involved.

September – Site Equip: Be an original.

All the way from Lasham, England, the message in this PROfile isn’t so much a business operations tip as a business philosophy: Don’t be afraid to try something new. In 1988 when the company was founded, the portable sanitation industry was nearly nonexistent in the U.K. But by their willingness to take on something new and introduce it to construction contractors and event planners, owners Geoff and Sonia Gilbert have grown the business to 3,000 standard units as well as restroom and shower trailers, dozens of employees, two locations, and a service territory that covers most of south England, including London.

October – Nelson Sanitation & Rental: Delegate.

While the August PROfile source was an advocate for getting into the office and getting tasks done, the company in the October spotlight advocated delegating. “You can’t do everything yourself — you can’t be on every job,” says owner Derrick Nelson. He hired someone to answer the company’s phones, handle payroll and do some dispatching. The new employee also made sales calls to event planners and construction companies, as time allowed. Did it pay off? Nelson says within three years the Rice, Minnesota, company almost doubled its restroom-rental business.

November – Waste Now Restrooms & Dumpsters: Get social.

This Louisville, Kentucky, company showed off the benefits of embracing new media. Waste Now has a website including several pages of information and blogs, and it uses social media tools including Facebook and Google AdWords. “Social media is a huge part of today’s society. We use it to find more employees and more customers, and to promote our company,” says Waste Now owner John Payne.

December – Take A Break Portables: Commit to cold calling.

The message you should receive loud and clear from the PROfile in this issue is that persistence pays off. Take A Break Portables owner Sherry Rodriguez made her success happen by making cold calls to construction sites across her target area and handing out promotional brochures. That ensured she got her company name in front of Hayesville, North Carolina-area decision-makers. “Keep asking for the business,” she says.



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