2006 Summer/Fall Volume 6 No. 2

Building Relationships and Working the Plan

By Mike Davids

Anyone would love to have a next door neighbor like Johnny Mizwicki. He kept his house and yard as neat as a pin and was one of those people who everybody admired—friendly, caring, fun to be around, hard working, and generous. He had just taken an early retirement from his job at US Steel at the young age of 50 when he died in a tragic accident.

Now, seven years later, his friends and next-door neighbors, Joe and Debbie Soucie, have honored his memory by building a company that reflects many of the values he embodied. Named Tidy John, after Mizwicki, it is a portable restroom company that customers like to do business with because it really is “like a good neighbor” (apologies to State Farm). The Tidy John company is a friendly, fun group of people that work hard and keep their restrooms as clean and sanitary as possible.

“It was Joe’s idea to start the business,” said Debbie Soucie in a recent interview. “One September morning, just after my daughter had started preschool, he invited me to go for a ride. I thought we were going to spend the day together. Instead, he took me to Whiting, Indiana, for a tour of the PolyJohn plant. I was surprised that he was thinking of starting another business, but after we sat down with Faye Kelley for an overview of how to run a portable restroom company, I was convinced that it would be a good business for our family. Faye was inspirational, very convincing, answered all our questions and put my mind at ease.”

Since that morning, Tidy John, Inc. has grown from its first order of forty restroom units to hundreds in service today. They cover a territory that stretches from South Chicago and its suburbs to Northwest Indiana.

Asked how they have managed to grow so quickly, Debbie was quick to point out that for Tidy John, Inc., it’s not all about growth. “I don’t think big is necessarily better. I think the reason we have grown is that we are focused on doing what’s right for our customers and our employees. We grow because we don’t lose customers and we have very low employee turnover. People like us and stay with us.”

With a background in sales and marketing with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Debbie understands the importance of taking care of people’s needs and making them feel special. While Joe works as the dispatcher, managing supplies, trucks and their second business—a dump trucking company, Debbie manages the Tidy John office along with her dedicated assistant April Zandy.

One of the little things she does to enhance communication with her employees is to keep a large bowl of candy—“the good stuff”—on her office desk. Every day, each employee meets with her or April for a few minutes to talk about their day and share some candy.

She asks about the customers they spoke with that day, how the route is going, whether they need anything to help them do their job better, and if they encountered any problems. “I go through a lot of candy!” Debbie said. “I know the favorite candy of all my employees and make sure I keep a good stock on hand. While it’s only candy, it is a way to make employees feel relaxed and welcome in my office. I want them to know they can talk to me about anything, anytime.”

Debbie knows it is important to build communication with employees and she also asks employees to build communication with the customers. “I encourage employees to smile, waive to customers, and stop in to chat occasionally. We don’t ever want to work so fast that we don’t have time to make the customer feel appreciated.”

“Joe and I also spend a lot of time in the field doing spot checks and talking to customers. When it comes to keeping customers, it’s all about the relationships you build.” Debbie admits that she and Joe “eat, sleep, and drink this business.” She says, “We are constantly brainstorming new ideas to solve problems and make the business better. We also read everything we can about the portable restroom business from the PSAI, JohnTalk, Sanitation Journal and Cole Publishing.”

In her pursuit to learn more, she attended the PolyJohn University Business Success Workshop at the PSAI Nuts & Bolts Show in Chicago last March. “This was one of the best workshops I ever attended because all the people there were so helpful. First, it was great meeting other portable restroom business owners and operators from around the country. We all shared lots of good ideas that we could take back to our own companies,” Debbie said.

“I was especially appreciative of Ray Luden and Elton Tamplin from PolyJohn and Kelly Newcomb from Newcomb Marketing Solutions for all the individual attention they gave us in helping us develop a marketing plan for the coming years,” she continued.

“Now that we are developing a comprehensive marketing plan, our goals are in focus, our message to our customers will be consistent, and we will have written guidelines to follow. I believe this will make us even more successful at building new relationships with our customers and potential customers,” Debbie said.

Just as anyone would appreciate having a good neighbor like John Mizwicki, any business would be lucky to have a service provider like Tidy John—a company that strives to do its best and works to make all its customers feel special.

If you would like to attend the next PolyJohn University Business Success Workshop, call a PolyJohn Customer Service Representative today at 1-800-292-1305. You can also download information on creating your own marketing plan at our website www.polyjohn.com by clicking on the picture of the PolyJohn University Business Success Workshop on the home page and then downloading “Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Plan.”

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