Come to Build Your Business. Stay for the Fun!

The WWETT Show offers a deep dive into the many product, education and networking opportunities available to portable restroom operators

Come to Build Your Business. Stay for the Fun!

Jim Kneiszel

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It’s February, and that means it’s time for the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show. If you’ve already made plans to attend the education seminars and marketplace Feb. 20-23 at the Indiana Convention Center, congratulations and we’ll see you there. If you’re still thinking about making the popular midwinter trek for the wastewater industry, I would offer up a little advice on how you can benefit by heading to Indianapolis.

Here is my list of the five things you should accomplish during your visit to the WWETT Show:

1. Make a new friend in the industry.

Networking at the WWETT Show is critically important to me as the editor of Portable Restroom Operator, and I would argue that it should be one of your highest priorities as well.

Face-to-face interaction with restroom company owners and technicians is extremely valuable in my goal to put out a forward-looking publication that addresses the issues most important to you. I can sit down with a table of PROs for lunch and learn the latest business challenges for contractors across the country. One minute I can be benefitting from the experience of a guy who runs a one-man show, and the next minute I can be hearing insights from one of the biggest contractors in the country. They all have an important story to tell and valid concerns.

You could have the same experience, sharing stories with PROs large and small, and hopefully coming away with a broader understanding of the industry as a whole. You may find new ways to attack a common issue faced by technicians in the field. You may spot trends that color your plans to expand to better serve your customers.

And you may make a connection with another PRO that lasts a lifetime. I know sometimes you wish you had a mentor in the industry to share ideas with — a colleague who maybe has some of the same concerns you do right now about expansion, hiring employees, buying that next new truck or better serving customers.

While you can’t talk to your competitor across town about ways to build the business, you can connect with folks just like you during the WWETT Show. It might be over lunch, when sitting next to you at a seminar, or while visiting a supplier on the show floor, but contractors just like you are everywhere in the Indiana Convention Center. Seek them out and exchange your email addresses so you can stay in contact throughout the year.

2. Learn something through a seminar.

The WWETT Show will feature 100 education sessions over three days to help you improve business practices. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, alone, there will be nearly 50 sessions to choose from. Here are a few Wednesday programs of interest to PROs:

Portable Sanitation and Work Sites. Karleen Kos, executive director of the Portable Sanitation Association International, and Joe Payne, operations manager at Terry’s Pumpin’ and Potties, will share tips on successfully providing portable sanitation on all sorts of work sites. Topics will include determining the optimal number of units on a work site and the best placement and configuration.

Time for Money – What’s the Real Cost? PRO Andrea Booker of Crossroads Portables, will share her sales and financial experiences to help contractors set and meet business goals. Topics will include reviewing data and knowing how to read it, the difference between a prosperity plan and a business plan, and identifying fans and hiring greatness.

The Power of Personalization: Building a Brand Experience. Nicole Arnett, vice president of operations at Superior Industrial Services, will talk about building brand identity with topics ranging from choosing the strongest social media platforms to building a sales funnel.

How to Attract, Hire and Retain Rockstar Employees. Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill, co-hosts of the Blue Collar Proud Show podcast, will help contractors analyze leadership failures and successes, engage employees in the work they’re best suited for and look at what companies offer job seekers.

Veteran Hiring, Transition and Thriving in the Workplace – From “We Will” to “At Will.” Andrew Morton, director of social engagement at Society of Human Resource Management, and Justin Constantine, leadership expert at The Constantine Group, will discuss the best ways to incorporate military veterans into a contracting business through a veterans employment program. Learn how to cultivate a military-friendly work environment and attract more veteran candidates.

Professional organizations involved in WWETT Show education include the Portable Sanitation Association International, Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association, Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association, National Association of Wastewater Technicians and National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association.

3. Find one new product that will enhance your services.

It’s not a hyperbole to say that the WWETT Show presents more products and services directly related to your niche business than any other place in the world. Restroom manufacturers: They will all be in the house. Truck builders: They’ve driven into the expo hall and shined up examples of their best work. Quite simply, the companies that aim to sell the products you need can’t afford to miss this show. Just like you want to see product, they want to see customers. And the Indiana Convention Center in February is the biggest wastewater products meetup.

That said, many exhibitors bring something new to the WWETT Show. For restroom makers, it might be a hybrid type of unit for convenience at events, a new design of wall panels or accessories aimed at easier cleaning or better user experience, or an enhanced deodorant offering. For the truck builders, it might be a new, more ergonomic tank configuration; a new chassis choice that adds power, better handling or other capabilities; or a knockout graphics package you could mimic in your next rig.

Look for those innovations. Don’t just walk past that flashy truck; probe the salesperson about new features that will benefit your drivers and customers. Look at all of the restroom displays and consider how adding a new unit or new line might give you an edge over the competition back home. And don’t ignore the smaller exhibitors offering startup products. The WWETT Show attracts exhibitors offering insurance products, financing specific to the wastewater industry and ingenious tools or cleaning products you’ve never seen before. Some of these smaller exhibitors may take off with a successful product, and you could get in on the ground floor.

4. Solidify vendor relationships.

In today’s business world, so much communication is done by text and email that you may rarely see a vendor show up at your front door. That speaks more to the changing times than the value of close vendor relationships. Regardless of how often you see them throughout the year, your vendors know your industry well and have valuable insights to share.

And it’s likely that all the companies who sell portable sanitation products to you are in Indianapolis for the WWETT Show. Every one of them. When you arrive and start looking over your show program, map out how you are going to include visits to each of your vendors in the exhibit hall. If you’ve already set up appointments with vendors to talk over your plans for 2019, you’re ahead of the game. Congratulations!

But with hundreds of booths to visit and so many education seminars, friends to visit, and things to do, you might get distracted. Don’t do it. Make visiting your suppliers a major priority. See their new products, pick their brains about industry trends and learn about their forecasting for the upcoming busy season. Be sure to give them a review about your busy season last year and hopes for changes in the future. Ask if they have any specific ideas tailored to your business and your region. Their business is knowing your business, so take advantage of their knowledge.

 5. Have fun!

The WWETT Show provides opportunities to relax and enjoy the company of other PROs. Admission is free for registered attendees at these events. First is the Spartan Tool Kick Off Party at Lucas Oil Stadium, 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. Gather with friends on the football field that is home to the Indianapolis Colts. Have a beer, listen to some tunes and throw a football to your buddies in the end zone. On Friday, Feb. 22, 5:30-8:30 p.m., attend the Industry Appreciation Party at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. There’s a western theme this year, with live music, food, drinks, door prizes, casino games and a mechanical bull to ride.

And if you want alternative activities, downtown Indianapolis is chock full of museums and other attractions, the Indiana state capital building is nearby and you can shop in indoor comfort at the nearby Circle Centre Mall. And when it’s time for dinner after a long day on the show floor, Indianapolis features hundreds of great restaurants within walking distance. See you at the show!


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