Fall Is a Season of Change in the Portable Restroom Industry

As the hot summer comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on your successes. And it’s time for a few changes in the magazine.

Fall Is a Season of Change in the Portable Restroom Industry

Jim Kneiszel

It’s back-to-school time and that means changes are in the wind for most portable restroom operators.

After Labor Day, those wild and crazy special event service contracts are slowing down, so maybe you’ll have a few weekends free to spend time with friends and family. I know what a grind and business disruption a large music festival or county fair can be on your operations. Of course, it’s great to get all of your inventory working for you, but the fall can bring a welcome respite from those long, hot days of summer.

When the kids go back to school, it’s also a good time to re-evaluate your business plan and see if your workload is matching up with your optimistic projections. Take a quiet morning or afternoon to go through the year-to-date balance sheet and compare the numbers to last year’s performance. If you’re coming out ahead, start thinking of ways to utilize more units or upgrade your equipment to better serve customers. If you’re falling behind, try to figure out why and ways to make a course correction.

Now that the pedal is off the metal, it’s time to reward your crew for a summer job well-done. Make sure they get the praise they deserve for long days and extra effort. Here are a few ideas: Fire up the grill in the parking lot for a Friday cookout lunch. Host a tailgate party before your local football team takes the field. Slip a little something in the envelope with their paychecks — how about a restaurant gift certificate so the crew can treat their families who sacrifice for the company as their loved one puts in all that event-related overtime?

Just like the fall season brings change for your portable sanitation company, we’re experiencing a few changes here at Portable Restroom Operator.

RIGHT-HAND WOMAN LEAVES

First and foremost for me is that after 14 years of editing this magazine, this is the first time I won’t enjoy an editorial contribution from my wife, Judy. She has written the Back at the Office column every month in PRO since COLE Publishing acquired the magazine in 2004.

To illustrate how much the business world has changed in the years since Judy started the column, her first topic of “hot prospecting” for new customers included no mention of social media … because there was no such thing in October 2004. And her final column last month asked whether PROs should address marijuana in an employee handbook … because so many states have legalized it for recreational or medical use. This question would have seemed absurd 14 years ago.

Judy addressed hundreds of small-business topics over the years, often focusing on the employer-employee relationships and the myriad of rules and regulations faced by portable sanitation companies. We’ve learned a critical lesson over and over again through her research and reporting — that your team of workers is your most valuable business asset. Take care of them and they’ll take care of your customers, and ultimately make your business prosper.

After developing this reporting specialty, Judy’s next career move comes as no surprise. She has taken a full-time position researching and reporting on government human resources regulations and compliance issues. Her work will help companies large and small navigate these often-complex rules. Given the many discussions I’ve had with PROs over the years dealing with human resources challenges, I’m sure this will be rewarding work for Judy.

WELCOME TO THE WIGLEYS

In 2017, Jeff and Terri Wigley sold their Atlanta-based restroom company, Pit Stop Sanitation Services. In a way, I was sorry to hear about this, as the Wigleys are consummate professionals and excellent representatives for the industry. Combining their varied business skills, Jeff and Terri built a successful operation in a vibrant market for construction and special events. Many of you also know Jeff as a longtime leader in the Portable Sanitation Association International, who skillfully guided that organization through some challenging times in the past.

I certainly couldn’t fault the Wigleys for wanting to refocus their lives and enjoy some of the fruits of their labor. But I also selfishly wanted them to continue to utilize their skills and their voices to promote the portable sanitation industry. A few months ago, I gave Jeff and Terri a call to see how they were doing. Terri was having a good time continuing to consult part-time with the new owner of Pit Stop, and Jeff was still keeping a hand in the industry through PSAI involvement.

Knowing the Wigleys enjoy communicating with folks in the industry and that they both enjoy writing, I asked them if they would like to help PROs by answering questions and sharing advice in the magazine. I was delighted when they gave an enthusiastic “yes,” and we started to build the framework for a new column in PRO. The result is At Your Service, and you’ll find the first installment in this issue.

In the column, Jeff and Terri will address issues they’ve been hearing about throughout the portable sanitation industry. These may touch on topics including marketing your services, handling employee issues, small-business management and financing, maintaining or buying equipment, and many more. Some of these questions come up at events they attend. Others may be hot topics found through social media sites. But they also want to hear your concerns directly and respond. They will share their own expertise, and if they don’t have the answer to a question, they will contact experts in the industry for advice.

Please welcome Jeff and Terri and their new column. If you have a question for them, send it to me at editor@promonthly.com and we’ll get them working on it.

PHOTOS AND FEEDBACK

If you took a summer vacation this year, I’m sure you saw portable restrooms providing a valuable service wherever you went. Did you pull out your phone and take photos of these units with tourist landmarks in the background? If so, we’d love to share them with readers in our Where’s the Restroom? feature. You will see that I posted a photo from a recent trip of my own in this issue. If you turn inside, you can look at the photo, read the clues and see if you can win our contest. The first reader to respond with the correct answer will receive a free PRO T-shirt.

As you see the changes coming in PRO, please feel free to contact me with your feedback. We’re here to serve the portable sanitation industry, and we welcome your ideas and suggestions.



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