Are You Guilty of These Business Missteps?

These portable restroom operators share secrets to avoiding costly mistakes, and tell you how to break some bad habits.
Are You Guilty of These Business Missteps?
Are you losing money from wasting half bundles of paper towels?

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When at fault, what’s that phrase everyone says defensively? “Everyone makes mistakes!” 

And while true, it isn’t helpful to just know you’ve made a mistake or given into a bad habit. The “why” is as important as knowing how to prevent it from happening again. 

Mistakes are made in every business, but here are a few bad habits and proactive steps some portable restroom operators around the nation are willing to share.

Josh Reading is former owner of J.R.’s Johns in Grant Park, Ill. But before he sold his company due to family health reasons, one mistake he wanted to avoid was excessive product waste.

“One thing that we were working on before we did sell the company was product waste, as in the half rolls of toilet paper or half bag of hand sanitizer, half bundle of paper towels,” he says. “We really tried to make a point to eliminate this waste and make sure that we were using all of the half rolls or bundles in lieu of just wasting them.” 

Those costs add up and can affect a company’s bottom line. 

Another big decision that can impact income is lowering costs to compete with competition. While some operators might do this to successful ends, Tammy Kennedy, owner of Tanks Alot/Conroe Chem Can in Tomball, Texas, refuses to do so. She says if you do lower rates, “You will most likely get the job, but in the long run, you lose. You know what it costs you to service the units, and you do not want to skimp on this.

“You want to give the best service and provide a great reputation for your company. I have had some customers call and try to get me to match a very low bid, and I explain to them that I cannot operate and provide the service needed at that cost. I let them know that if it doesn’t work out with the other provider, we would be glad to have them back as a customer. Ninety percent of the time they call back and say, ‘You were right, the service was bad.’” 

When those customers do come back, Kennedy says, it’s important to follow up with a client after units have been delivered. She believes that is one thing some operators fail to do. 

“I know we always get busy, but I try to call once the unit is delivered (especially for new customers) and let them know that the toilet was delivered, give them my name and assure them that if they have any questions or comments to please call or send me an email,” she says. “They really like that extra touch. It has really made a huge difference in my sales and referrals.”

Turning those customers who initially went elsewhere into repeat customers is important to business. And like Kennedy, Fred Hill, owner of Gotta Go Now in Washington, D.C., agrees that not finding new opportunities can be due to operator failure as well. 

Hill keeps a close eye on what competitors are working on. “Our opportunity comes when their contracts run out,” he says.

Working in the bustling nation’s capital, Hill knows how to please customers, especially government contracts. In short — be fast!

One big mistake in a market known for speed is not responding quickly enough. He doesn’t consider all the political events he services any more challenging except for the time-consuming security checks and last-minute notifications of events. “When they call, within an hour or so, we’re able to do a delivery,” he says. “We set our schedule around that.”

That’s what makes him more efficient, he says, for jobs for the general public. 

But when all is said and done, Hill says, “It’s very fun; everybody’s moving at a fast pace.” 

When that fast pace slows down — such as in winter or other slow times — Kennedy encourages business owners to not avoid the “busy work.”

It may not always be fun, and it might seem tedious, but it’s every bit as important she believes. “Take care of business — clean up around your equipment yard, organize your inventory, do repairs and maintenance so when you do get busy in the spring, you are ready to get that inventory out there making money. 

“We get so busy in the spring and summer and units are coming in with repairs needing done so this is a good time to go over that inventory and do repairs and save you the cost of replacement,” Kennedy says. 


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