2002 Spring

Winning Big Events: A Guide to this Growing Market

For the past decade, special events have created the fastest growing market for portable restrooms. More people are getting outdoors on weekends to enjoy parties, parades, festivals, music and fairs. Here are some tips to help you succeed in this growing market.

Start Small
The most common way to get into the event market is to start small. Put aside a few special-event units and market them to small towns, social clubs, church groups or party planners. As you develop experience with this market, ask customers for testimonials. If you are the kind of service provider who always does more than expected, your business will grow by word of mouth.

Provide Something Extra
As the market matures, equipment and service standards have risen dramatically. Many of today’s special-event planners are looking for the kind of amenities found in the higher-end Fleet Series. Sinks are also becoming required equipment for most events, especially those selling food. Add-ons such as ADA units, sinks and flush restrooms can be a great way to increase your revenue at an event.

Lorraine Wardy of Sarabias Portable Restrooms in El Paso,Texas, has found a unique way to build revenues. She uses the sale of advertising space on banners to help support the cost of rental and service. This has been particularly useful at fund-raising events. The American Cancer Society was able to defer the cost of toilet rentals by selling the advertising space on the banners. “It’s a win/win situation for everyone. They sell the space, the money raised helps pay my fees, and the advertiser gets a prime location at the event,” said Lorraine.

Advertising on restrooms may become more common in the years ahead if Max Resultz succeeds with their PromoCan concept. Visitors to the PolyJohn Booth at Pumper Expo 2002 saw how a state-of-the-art back-lit billboard can be attached to a Fleet Series restroom.

Listen and Respond
Many times event planners will try to save money by cutting the number of units rented. It is important to listen and respond to this or any other issue that will affect the quality of your service. Share your experience and industry information to discourage cutbacks that will reflect badly on you and the event itself. Event planners will remember when people complain about full units and long lines. They won’t remember that they were the ones who cut service.

Double-Check Service
This is where you find out if your planning has paid off. The day before, take a drive by and make sure the event hasn’t been “reorganized”. Check that heavy equipment, stage scaffolding, or trucks aren’t relocated and blocking your service routes. Kevin McWilliams whose business Got-To-Go Potties services the Pocono 500 auto race, found a sea of people blocking units at his first race. “We learned that if you were patient and friendly, the crowd would part for the “potty” truck, but you must factor very slow driving into your service logistics.”

Wrap Up, Appraise, Plan
Prepare a post event appraisal that explains what went right as well as what can be improved to share with the event’s organizers. With this tool, you can work with the planners to help make next year go smoothly. Finally, do a cost breakdown so that you can determine if the event was profitable and if you need to fine-tune future bids. “It is easy to think special events are more profitable than they really are due to the big cash flow in the summer months,” said Rich Vegter at Service Sanitation in Gary, Indiana. “However, you need to recognize your annual costs associated with building up your business to handle summer workload and price that into your event model. Failing to account for these fixed costs is a mistake many inexperienced companies make.”

“It takes well-prepared professionals who can handle the twists and turns of this valuable
and growing income stream to succeed in the long run.”
Rich Vegter—Service Sanitation

Industry Info

Click here for a listing of companies offering Trucks & Accessories, Decals, Financing, Restroom Trailers, Trade Publications, Marketing, Restroom Manufacturing/Sales, Billing/Routing Systems and Insurance.

PJ University

Click here for more information on effectively marketing your business to special event coordinators, and construction and agricultural businesses.

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