The Perks of Having a Dedicated Special Events Team

You might be nervous to divide up your workforce, but if special events service is running your portable sanitation team ragged it’s something to consider

The Perks of Having a Dedicated Special Events Team

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When you work on a big event, you know you are in for long days. Between delivering equipment, setting things in place and providing service during the event, the days just get longer and longer. Spreading out staff so that you can control hours, for safety and to reduce overtime is a constant battle. After all, there are only so many employees to go around.

When event season arrives, we hire new employees around the clock. If we are honest with ourselves, this is a really hard job. If you hire 10 new employees, five are no-shows, three quit the first week, and if you’re lucky two stay on through the season. No matter how hard you try to onboard, plan, and train effectively, until those new workers are sucking waste out of a toilet in 90-degree-F heat, they have no idea how hard this work is.

With the constant hiring, you would think you eventually get to a point where you have enough staff. But it still never seems to happen. And here is why:

Take a large event for example. You spend two weeks loading equipment in. You need delivery drivers to do that work. At the same time, you still need to do your weekly routes. Then the event weekend rolls around. Now you have to dedicate 10 to 30 workers, depending on the size of the event, to one job — on top of the regular weekend work you already have scheduled. But the key piece of the puzzle is that even though you are on site until midnight Sunday, you still have to be able to do your weekly routes bright and early on Monday morning.

Sounds confusing and exhausting, right? For that reason, our company consistently tries to put together a group of workers that just does our large events. That way the event workers never overlap with route workers. Event work and weekly route work are two completely different parts of our business and it works for us to keep them separate. It can lead to overstaffing at times, but it also means we constantly have a pool of workers to pull from.

Event hours can be really long, and it would be so easy to put the same workers on the long shifts. You don’t have to worry about transportation to areas that you can’t get a car into. You don’t have to train two people to do the same job. But in the long run, it’s just not safe. 

When we provided the toilets for the papal visit to Philadelphia in 2015, we knew we would be working around the clock. The shear quantity of toilets (over 3,500) and the security checkpoints meant it would be hard to switch up staff. So we planned in advance. We had a campground within the secure perimeter so people could rest, as they needed to. We had parked trucks strategically so we didn’t have to bring them in and out of the secure perimeter. We signed up for catering, so we didn’t have to worry about meals, which is a huge logistical problem at large events. And we brought enough men that we could do two to three shifts per day depending on how big the crowds were. 

When discussing attendant services for events, I think it is very important to outline what the customer expects from you. If the event is a wedding, you can’t send a driver in their uniform. They have to look nicer. If it is a larger event, it is important to clarify if the attendant is just removing trash and restocking toilet paper or if the customer expects that person to be able to pump the waste at the same time. That means having a truck on standby, so you want to price accordingly. 

Some of this knowledge comes from years of experience. Sometimes you have to do something wrong fives times before you can finally get it right. Every event is really different so I can’t say there is a perfect formula. But knowing you have a strong staff behind you means you can usually tackle anything. That is the secret to A Royal Flush. We have an amazing staff of hard workers that we know we can depend on.

About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.


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