P O L Y J O H N
E N T E R P R I S E S
www.polyjohn.com – 1-800-292-1305
Volume No. 6, No. 1 Winter/Spring 2006
WIN BIG IN THE PORTABLE SANITATION BUSINESS
INSI DE THIS ISSUE 6 Best Practices & Assessments:
4 customer service . . 7 marketing . . . . . . . . 9 capabilities . . . . . . 12 money . . . . . . . . . 14 people . . . . . . . . . 16 management . . . . . .
REVIEW FOR SUCCESS
Super Bowl champion William “The Refrigerator” Perry helps PolyJohn kick off the first PJ University Education Program
E A R N M O R E • S E L L M O R E • S E RV I C E B E T T E R
Serving You Better
his year we celebrate the
I am proud of the new PolyJohn.com, and
beginning of a whole new era in
hope you’ll fire up the computer and
customer convenience and service.
check it out.
With the launch of our redesigned web-
In this issue of JohnTalk we also
site, we are able to make ourselves
introduce PJ University, along with our
available to you 24/7.They call the Inter-
how-to articles and assessment tools
net “the information superhighway” for
for those who want to look more
good reason. It amazes me how fast it
closely at their operation, and graduate
moves, how much information you can
to the next level of success.
find, and how much we can now deliver. Go to polyjohn.com today and you’ll
can find areas to improve. The BIG 6
ever published in JohnTalk—nearly 100
REVIEW is bound to make you more
and counting. These are mostly “how to”
competitive and help you achieve a
articles about the many challenges of
running a portable restroom business. You’ll also find our extensive parts and tions you may have about repairs. You can shop through our online catalog of
1. Management 2. Customer Service 3. Marketing
can instantly order service supplies from
delivered to your door, usually in less than 3 days.
2 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
In the BIG 6 REVIEW, you’ll be thinking
service products. And what’s more, you our Rid-It® division and have them
Ed Cooper, CEO PolyJohn Enterprises firstname.lastname@example.org
through the BIG 6 REVIEW to see if you
find all the informational articles we have
products diagrams to answer any ques-
By Ed Cooper
We invite you to take your company
5. Money 6. People
THE MISSION DRIVES YOUR BUSINESS
We believe the BIG 6 REVIEW will help position your business to have the best season ever, and to have many winning seasons to come.
With the possibility of a downturn in the housing market and commercial construction starts on the horizon, it is important that everyone takes a hard look at their business to make sure they run a competitive, dynamic operation that can not only survive the challenges ahead, but come out stronger and better positioned in the market.
HOW TO WRITE A MISSION STATEMENT Your mission statement is a promise to all the people who come into contact with your
I’m sure the BIG 6 REVIEW will help
business, customers, employees, and end users. It should describe how you plan to do
you find out what you are doing right
business and what should be expected by the people who work for you and by the people
and what makes you successful. I am
who use your service. It can (but doesn’t have to) include one or more sentences defining
also certain you will find some areas for
each of the BIG 6 Best Practices our business strives to maintain:
improvement that, if fixed, can make you even more successful in the years ahead.
MANAGEMENT • CUSTOMER SERVICE • MARKETING
Be prepared to look at yourself in the
CAPABILITIES • MONEY • PEOPLE
mirror and at every facet of your company. We don’t want this to feel like
Try your hand at writing a mission statement for your company. Don’t worry if all the
homework, but we hope you’ll get some
words don’t come to you right away. Some companies take months to draft their mission
good information out of the process.
statement. Just take some scratch paper and try writing words and phrases that you want to include about each of the BIG 6. Then gradually, with the help of all your employees,
Good luck and good business. If you
turn these phrases into sentences.
need help with your assessment, call any of my Area Managers. They all have years of experience in this industry, and they’ll
INCLUDE EMPLOYEE IDEAS & FEEDBACK
be able to provide suggestions that will
Be sure that everyone contributes and takes individual ownership of your company’s
help you EARN MORE, SELL MORE,
mission statement. If the people who will actually put it into practice really believe it, then
AND SERVICE BETTER in 2006!
your mission statement will have a strong positive effect on your company.
Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 3
MANAGEMENT THE BIG 6 REVIEW
BOSS Now What?
Management Skills for a Top-Rate Service Company By Mike Cooper
re your management skills up to the task of building a top-notch, competitive portable sanitation company? Do employees look up to their managers for help, advice, and leadership? Do you rate employee performance fairly and objectively?
Are the lines of communication open between employees and their boss? Do managers serve the people who work for them by making their goals specific, well-understood, and attainable? When employees fail to accomplish objectives, it is easy to look at them as the problem, however there is often enough blame to go around. Let’s take a closer look at what owners or managers can do to create positive change and make their employees and their businesses more successful. Mike Cooper, COO PolyJohn Enterprises email@example.com
THE SIMPLEST WAY TO EVALUATE EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE IS TO CREATE A LIST OF MEASURABLE OUTCOMES
4 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
People Management and Performance Appraisal One of the most important roles of a manager is to evaluate employee performance.This is easy to confuse with criticizing employee performance. However, there is a distinct difference. Criticism tends to be based on subjective measures. It looks at values such as hustle, determination, and friendliness …things that can be felt, but not measured. Evaluation on the other hand, looks at measurable outcomes such as how many days per month an employee comes to work on time, how many customers are served in a day, how many miles are driven, how their daily performance is rated based on specific criteria, and how does their performance change over time. The simplest way to evaluate employee performance is to create a list of measurable outcomes you want employees to accomplish on a daily basis, and also to set long-term goals. A list of objectives can be created and refined into a system for fairly evaluating and rewarding employees. This requires the manager to keep careful records by tracking objective data over time in order to determine the actual performance of each employee.
THE BIG 6 REVIEW MANAGEMENT
To measure a job in real terms, look at what standards need to be measured. For service drivers, you might collect data on such things as: • number of miles driven (compared to actual route miles), • number of gallons of waste pumped and dumped, • time taken to prepare each morning, • number of units serviced per day, • average time taken to complete a route. To track performance issues that can’t be easily measured,such as cleanliness or quality of work, it is best to create a rating scale. Rating scales help your evaluations become more consistent and help employees develop a better idea of what standards are considered adequate or excellent. Take for example a well-cleaned restroom—on a scale from one to five with one being a perfectly cleaned unit and five being a restroom that wasn’t pumped or cleaned at all. It’s pretty easy for most people to score the work and to understand the score. Typically, a review will also contain several items pertaining to basic work habits such as care for equipment, appearance, attendance and tardiness.
While no manager can follow their employees throughout the day, random spot checks throughout a month can accomplish the same thing by averaging scores over time. Averaging multiple scores is important. Since everyone can have a bad day or make a mistake, a single spot check should not be grounds for disciplinary action. By looking at real-world performance measures, you’ll see that some employees are more consistent, economical and efficient than others. Once you have collected stats for several months, you need to determine a positive approach for using them. In a fair performance appraisal, stats should be used to help employees set goals, to improve, and to earn more. Every portable sanitation business will have its stars. They are very valuable to your business and they should be paid accordingly. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all your employees should be working at the same pace your stars set. Goals that may be realistic for some people, aren’t realistic for others. Instead, try to encourage all your employees, including your stars, to set goals to improve by 5 to 10%. With fair and objective performance standards, you’ll be able to get to the heart of problems much quicker and address them in a productive manner.
Management Any large undertaking, whether it is organizing a large special event or over-hauling internal business procedures, is a project— demanding the time-tested disciplines of project management. Although mastery of project management does not come easily, any manager can understand its basics. Here are the basics: 1. First decide if it is a project or an ongoing service. A project has a beginning, middle and end. A big event is a project, a new construction customer is not. 2. Put one person in charge and give them the authority to finish. Give project managers the four basic authorities any other manager has—the authority to choose team members, pay vendors, make assignments, and deliver some kind of performance consequences. Whatever you do, don’t put a committee in charge. 3. Have a clearly defined goal. The more the project's goal is understandable and measurable, the easier it will be for the project manager to stay focused and keep it moving to get it done right. 4. Create a schedule and work plan—then follow it. A to-do list is not a plan, and a schedule is not a plan, but either is a start. The length and depth of the plan will likely depend on the size and complexity of the project. Regardless of size, every plan should provide information that answers all the basic project questions: why are you doing it, how will it be done, who will do the work, when will it be done, how much will it cost, and if it is a revenue generator like a special event—how much money do you expect to make. 5. Check progress frequently. The project manager usually needs to meet with project team members weekly to assess progress and make corrections.
(continued on page 6) Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 5
MANAGEMENT THE BIG 6 REVIEW (continued from page 5)
■ People Skills - Communication Another one of a manager’s most important jobs is to listen to the front-line employees. The proverbial “open-door policy” isn’t enough. What employee in their right mind would walk into his or her manager's office and say, “Sit down, there are some things you need to know about my performance?” Managers must spend time among their employees, working side by side, riding with them occasionally, asking the right questions, having meetings to discuss issues before they develop into problems. In addition to listening, being heard and understood also requires skill. If employees are to succeed, they need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Just because you said it, doesn’t mean they heard it, or understood exactly what was meant. After giving instructions or explanations of what you expect from an employee, ask what they plan to do in order to carry out your instructions. You are looking for confirmation that they understood what you asked them to do, and so they should be able to repeat, more or less, what you just told them. If they can’t, you’ll have to find another way to explain it. Some people don’t learn well with verbal instructions, but can pick things up much faster when you show them step-by-step what needs to be done. Different people have different learning styles. Part of a manager’s job is to learn how best to communicate with each individual you employ.
■ People Skills - Leadership Some people seem to be born leaders. Others learn as they go along. However, anyone can learn to be a leader. There are two types of leaders, those that people want to follow and those that people have to follow. By far, the most successful leaders in business are the first kind.
Management skills are the first piece to your winning big, but you’ll still need committed employees to make it to the finish line. Managers need to remember that employees decide each day how much of themselves to invest in the success of the business. The more employees invest, the faster your business will grow.
THERE ARE FIVE MAIN COMPONENTS OF LEADERSHIP
The first component is
communication. People don’t follow when the
plan hasn’t been clearly discussed and understood by all.
This means that you believe in your convictions and stick to your
commitments. People do not follow leaders who change direction too frequently.
However, as much as a leader should try not to be wrong, he or she should also be willing to admit mistakes and change direction when necessary. People don’t like to change directions in midstream, but they don’t like to be led off a cliff either.
☛An open mind.
3 4 5
Just as a leader isn’t always right, he or she shouldn’t be
the source of all ideas. A leader listens to his or her employees and values their contributions.
A leader stays positive and sees opportunities in change. A
leader's enthusiasm is contagious to his followers.
☛Lead by example. she wouldn’t do. 6 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
A leader doesn’t ask anyone to do something he or
THE BIG 6 REVIEW CUSTOMER SERVICE
our commitment to quality service may be the most important part of your company’s success. Commitment to Service starts at the top of your organization and influences everything else your
Lorraine Hanson PolyJohn International firstname.lastname@example.org
business does. For that reason, put your commitment in writing, talk about it with your team, and post it where everyone can see it.
Our Service is Great… Most of the Time
How to Provide Great Service All of the Time By Lorraine Hanson
Putting your commitment in writing If your business doesn’t have a mission statement, this would be a good time to write one. Your mission statement may include one sentence about each part of The Big Six Review. See more about writing a Mission Statement on page 03. The sentence that focuses on your Service Practices should be a clear, short message that everyone in your organization can remember and take to heart. Here is an example of a very basic commitment:
PROVIDING THE SANITATION NEEDS OF CUSTOMERS AT WORK AND WHEREVER THEIR GUESTS AND EMPLOYEES MAY NEED SERVICE. That’s a clear description of what a portable sanitation company’s function is, however it says nothing about what is expected for the quality of service provided. To improve the mission statement you may want to add “the vision” or “the values” of the company. In the simplest terms, the mission statement should spell out your organization’s purpose, values and direction. Here is an improvement: CREATING PARTNERSHIPS OF TRUST WITH CUSTOMERS TO PROVIDE SANITATION SERVICES THAT NOT ONLY MEET THE NEEDS OF THEIR GUESTS AND EMPLOYEES, BUT IMPRESSES THEM WITH THE CLEANLINESS AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL OF OUR SERVICE.
(continued on page 8) Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 7
CUSTOMER SERVICE THE BIG 6 REVIEW (continued from page 7)
Can you always live up to such a promise? The point is, you and your employees can try. A wise man once said that if you reach for the stars, you may not touch one, but you won’t end up with a hand full of dirt either. While the dedication comes from the top, it must also be embraced by everyone who works for your company. If not, it is only lip service.
Brainstorming Customer Response Once you have written your Commitment to Service, call a meeting of employees and examine your business to see if you are living up to it. Give each member of the group a written version of the statement and then read it out loud. Ask for comments, suggestions, or changes. Then ask if they think the company always lives up to this statement. Where do you need to improve? Where are the service breakdown points likely to occur? How can you institute new procedures to prevent point-of-service breakdowns? Here is an exercise that can help you find the answers to these questions and get all your people involved in the process: Ask everyone to imagine that they are eavesdropping on a gathering of customers who are all talking to each other and sharing stories about your company. What does your group expect to hear? What kinds of comments would you like to hear? Have each person write comments both positive and negative on a sheet of paper. Some positive examples might be: “They’re really helpful,” “Their service is second to none in quality,” “They are quick to respond to emergency service or clean up situations.”
8 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
What negative comments do you hear? Employees may be reluctant to share negative feedback, however this is the most important kind. If you think this will be a problem with your group, assure them that there will be no retribution and that anything said in the meeting will stay there. If you have actual complaints from customers, even complaints that were misunderstandings or mistakes, read them to the group and discuss how they could be avoided in the future. Have everyone read what they’ve written, and write all the comments down on flip charts. No discussions, comments or evaluations at this point. You just want to fill the chart with comments both negative and positive.
Now ask your employees to imagine their customers talking about your competition. What are the positive aspects of your competition’s services? What are the negative traits your competition shares? Does your company have more positives than the competition? Does your company share any of the same negatives? Creating a customer-service-oriented company only works as well as all your people do. It is important to remember that everything starts from the top down. You cannot ask your employees to do anything different than you do yourself. Being a people- and service-oriented company always pays off. How? It serves as an inspiration and motivator for employees, and shows customers the kind of company you have.
Do you hear any basic values, themes, or common threads? What are the common positive comments? What are the common negative comments? Write these down on the flipchart.
reating a customer-service-oriented company only works as well as all your people do. It is important to remember that everything starts from the top down. You cannot ask your employees to do anything different than you do yourself. Being a people- and service-oriented company always pays off. How? It serves as an inspiration and motivator for employees, and shows customers the kind of company you have.
THE BIG 6 REVIEW MARKETING
or many portable restroom companies, marketing is an afterthought. Sure, most have a Yellow Pages ad, but few invest in the power of marketing to grow their business by creating an annual plan with a realistic budget for marketing expenses.
in the A e c i v er r S ea n r … a D st e How Do B he We t r fe Let People f O Know e W About Us? Margaret Keech Rama Plastics email@example.com
By Margaret Keech
arketing experts agree that a business should spend
approximately ten percent of their revenues per year on marketing. It only makes sense that you
need to let people know who you are, what you do, and how to reach you if your business is going to grow.
Marketing, however, can be frustrating for the inexperienced.You know you should implement some of the marketing ideas that come across your desk, but which ones? You know that marketing has value, but how do you measure it? Marketing is one of the most difficult purchases to justify because it doesn’t add up as clearly as, say a new truck.
(continued on page 10) Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 9
MARKETING THE BIG 6 REVIEW (continued from page 9)
In fact, marketing done poorly will not only fail to add up, it may even subtract from a good business’s reputation. For this reason, many people are afraid to go beyond the basics. How much to spend and where to spend it is a tough decision, and there are numerous options available. Some marketing tactics will be successful for a particular business, some won't. Some will cost an arm and a leg, some won't dent the budget at all.The key is finding the right combination of tactics and making them work for you. ADVERTISING—“I TRIED THAT ONCE … IT DIDN’T WORK!” The thing about advertising is that it doesn’t work unless you work it. A onetime space ad may not bring in a single customer. However, if the ad is well done, and it runs in the same place for several months, people will begin to notice, but the phone still may not ring. The ad really starts working when you call on people and they recognize you because they have seen the ad. Awareness is the beginning of a relationship. The longer an ad runs, the more familiar you become to your audience. It doesn’t sell for you, but it lets
potential customers know who you are, what you do, and how to reach you. If it runs for a while, it also shows them that you are in business to stay. Put a special offer in the ad, and it may even make the phone ring. But be careful that you don’t make “sweet” deals in your ads that will make your regular customers feel left out or cheated. If you want to try advertising, think of where you should be so that your customers are likely to see the ad. Construction newsletters, real estate guides, chamber of commerce newsletters may be better solutions for getting noticed by builders. If local construction suppliers have community notice boards by their entrances, put up a small poster with tear offs there. Local papers are probably too expensive for the recognition you’ll get. However, running a classified ad in the “Services for Hire” section during the summer months may be a good way to pick up the occasional back yard party or wedding. One of your best advertising spots is on your very own fleet of trucks. Magnetic signs and removable placards get a lot of attention. One operator I know had a big sign on his trailer all summer that said, “We’re going to a Party.” It was definitely
noticed, and he heard comments from hundreds of people. Your message will be seen by more people on your beautifully clean truck than in your local paper; so get creative! Advertising can be expensive, but you don’t have to spend a lot to get noticed. A very basic ad might have a picture of a restroom with a benefit driven headline such as: Cleaner, Faster, Friendlier Restroom Service—Call: “Company Name” ask for “Ed” at 1-800-292-1305 with an address. It doesn’t have to be any fancier than that to be noticed by potential customers. PLAN FOR A YEAR Portable restroom businesses tend to be seasonal. During the slow season, you have the time to think about the coming year and create a 12-month marketing plan. If you know how much you want to spend, you can sit down with the rate cards from many different advertising options and decide how, when and where you want to reach your prospects. For example, you’ll want to reach builders throughout the building season in case they get fed up with a current supplier and want to try someone new. Summer event planners are best to reach at least eight months before an event, since the planning stage is a long process and they start early. Summer party planners tend to make decisions only weeks before their events, so you’ll want to reach them throughout the season. Don’t forget to plan a customer retention program. How will you communicate with current customers throughout the year? Will you plan mailings? Will you run special offers to increase the amount of services you supply? How about a midsummer handwashing sinks promotion?
10 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
THE BIG 6 REVIEW MARKETING
What about customer appreciation gifts like hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, or calendars? Do you celebrate customer anniversaries for those who have been with you for a year, five years, or even 10? If you know of any annual events that a company, family or organization has, call a few months ahead and ask if they want to reserve their units today. It’s a good opportunity to suggest an upgrade. A standalone sink prevents a lot of traffic indoors,
tips for marketing your portable restroom business on a small budget:
As you can see, you can market your portable restroom business on a limited budget, but it takes a plan and timely execution of that plan.
or a Comfort Inn is great for parents with tots or for the physically challenged. Marketing should be a continuous process to be successful. New customers don’t show up when you need them most. Instead, they are more likely to sign with you during the busiest part of the year. If you want to grow your business, marketing needs to be done during the busy season. Planning ahead will enable you to keep marketing even when things get rushed.
1.Think profits, not sales. Marketing is not just about telling new customers about your business, it’s also about staying in touch with current customers and making sure they know about all your capabilities to serve them. Selling new services such as sinks to existing customers may be more profitable than trying to find new customers.
2. Improve your relationship with your customers. Everyone appreciates a little extra attention. If you purchase new units, put them into service with your best customers first, and let them know they have been upgraded for being a good customer. Being honest, giving good advice, and listening to their concerns, will improve their loyalty to you.
3. How can your best customers help you? Use your knowledge about your best existing customers and your most profitable services to acquire new customers.What do your best customers have in common? How can you use this information to target new prospects?
The more you market your business, the more people will know who you are, what you do, and how to reach you.
Ask your best customers for word-ofmouth referrals.This is the best marketing a small business can invest in. Announce a new customer award program, for example, any existing
customers who recommend a new customer, get a month of service free or even a cash reward.
4.Watch what works. Track your marketing efforts and invest more in what works and less in what doesn’t. Continue to experiment with new marketing ideas.The most important question to ask of a new customer is, “How did you hear about us?” Keep track of the answers, and see what paid off.
5.Work the network. Build relationships in your community through service clubs, church groups, chamber of commerce meetings, and charitable activities.
6. Public Relations. If you donate service to a charity group, make sure the local paper hears about the role you played in the event. Don’t be bashful about taking credit—it’s not about the credit. It’s about free advertising for your business.
7.The Internet. Be sure to get a web page and get your page connected to Internet Yellow Pages, local business search engines, and service lists. If you are not technically savvy, talk to a local technology expert who can help you.
Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 11
CAPABILITIES THE BIG 6 REVIEW S T R E N G T H S , W E A K N E S S E S , O P P O RT U N I T I E S A N D T H R E AT S
WHY YOU NEED TO
YOUR COMPANY By David Wall
ou have customers, you have a pumping truck, you have restrooms, deodorizing chemicals, a place to dumpâ€”you have all the capabilities you need to service, right? As you may know there is a lot more to becoming successful in this business than that.
David Wall, Northwestern Area Manager PolyJohn Enterprises firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW YOU REACT TO CHANGE CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROSPERING OR BECOMING FROG SOUP. 12 John Talk â€“ Winter/Spring 2006
According to statistics from the Small Business Administration, most companies do not turn a profit until their third year in business, and a majority are out of business by their fifth year. While no one has kept statistics on the success rate of portable restroom operations specifically, you can assume that our industry is no different than others. If lasting 5 years is a rarity, imagine the odds of lasting 15, or 30 years in business? For those who do last, the rewards are great. You can be one of the few who make it if you are careful to monitor the business environment, watch what competitors are doing, predict what customers will want, train your employees to adapt, and be prepared to adapt your service assets according to the needs of the changing environment. Did you know that if you drop a frog into boiling water, he will jump out quickly enough to avoid injury? However he will sit happily in a cool pan of water while you gradually turn up the heat until he is cooked! A lot of businesses are like that. It is more difficult to react to gradual change than it is to react to immediate danger. The secret is to continually monitor the water, predict where things are going, and change with the conditions. Your capability to service is dependent upon meeting the needs of the market, selling your ability to meet those needs, and predicting what the market will want next. If the market remains the same, and your competitors remain the same, then your business can remain the same. However, conditions are rarely like that. The economy may change in your area as the local employment picture goes up or down, as the national economy changes, or as the population in your community grows, shrinks, gets
THE BIG 6 REVIEW CAPABILITIES
younger, or gets older. Competitors may change or go out of business and new competitors with new ways of doing things can move in.
SWOT Analysis You should perform a SWOT analysis at least every six months to see what it
Trends can change in our industry as well. If you look at the history of the portable restroom business and how it has changed over thirty years, you can get a pretty clear picture as to where it is going. Portable restrooms started as heavy, smelly, crude plywood boxes. Then small fiberglass units took their place and it was a big improvement. Next came polyethylene and the toilets were lighter, better looking, odor resistant, larger and roomier. Today, sinks and flush units are becoming more popular. Will this trend continue? In Europe and Asia these amenity-filled restrooms have already become the standard.
First create a list of Strengths: These are the positive factors that enhance your company's ability to keep current business and win future business. Examples might include employee skills, exclusive knowledge or experience, strong customer relationships, the quality of your equipment, marketing advantages, and monetary advantages, such as high profit margins. Think of the Strengths that separate your business from the competition.
Predicting local changes requires reading industry publications, local and national business news and guessing how trends, economic cycles, or events will affect you. New housing starts can be the big thing one year, the next it may be a large public works project like a new airport or a highway project. If construction slows down, perhaps a major festival will take its place. For most businesses, change is a guarantee. How you react to change can make the difference between prospering or becoming frog soup.
Next make a list of your Weaknesses: These are the negative factors within your company that may hurt its ability to win future business. They might include the lack of a specific product or amenity, poor employee experience or skill-sets. Other examples could be lack of customer knowledge or having fewer monetary resources than larger competitors.
Like the frog, you already know at some level of consciousness what is happening around you. However making yourself aware of it requires some work. A great tool for analyzing the market, taught in most business schools, is called the SWOT analysis. The letters stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
teaches you about your business and the environment for your businessâ€™s sales and service.
List Opportunities: These are the positive factors outside your company that could possibly be developed to your advantage and result in business above and beyond your current sales projections. Examples might include inexperienced competition, greater-than-predicted expansion of your market such as new construction projects or special events being planned, new tactics to increase profitability, unexpected opportunities to increase your company's visibility, other competitors going out of business, additional markets opening up, unforeseen favorable publicity and customer demand growing at a greater-than-predicted rate.
Threats: These are the negatives outside your company that might occur and block your company from achieving its sales projections. Examples might include being faced with an unanticipated decrease in your customer base, unexpected new competitors that are experienced or well-financed, a severe economic downturn, skyrocketing interest rates or sudden price increases such as the recent run up of fuel prices.
Winter/Spring 2006 â€“ John Talk 13
MONEY THE BIG 6 REVIEW
ccording to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), most businesses that fail do so for lack of money management, not as you might expect from lack of sales, or profits.This is particularly true in the portable sanitation business, because the cost to service increases quickly during the busy months and payment for service can trail a month or two behind delivery of service. Peak earnings come in summer, peak receivables come in early fall, and peak cash expenditures come nine months later. Having enough money to manage cash flow on a day-to-day basis and making projections for the months and years ahead is a tricky job. If your cash reserves don’t last or your line of credit isn’t large enough, you won’t be able to purchase the supplies you need to make your busy season a success.You have to be able to generate the cash to cover the overhead as well as any new debt service payments. John Camphouse, CFO PolyJohn Enterprises email@example.com
How to Get
Even if you make the sale, you could fail if you don’t charge enough to keep the business healthy for the entire twelve-month business cycle. Along with underbidding jobs, another common mistake for start-ups is to pick the “low-hanging fruit” when you sign up new customers. These are customers who need service because they have been dropped by a competitor such as contractors who can’t get service because they have had trouble in the past paying their bills. You make the sale, perform the service, but can’t collect payment on time. This stresses your cash flow position and could lead to
to Run&Grow Your Business By John Camphouse
14 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
THE BIG 6 REVIEW MONEY problems paying your debt, making payroll, or buying supplies such as fuel or consumables that allow you to continue servicing. Sound pricing strategies are fundamental, so is becoming aware of the credit history of new customers. An annual budget is also vital to anticipating large recurring expenses such as taxes, equipment renewal, and seasonal employees. Developing a five-year spending plan for growth can show roughly how much needs to be saved each year depending on how much growth you plan to achieve.
Developing a Line of Credit
How much you can borrow depends greatly on the true cash equity your business has. Banks look at debt-to-worth ratio to define the net worth. If you are a sole proprietor, they also look at your own net worth including home value, cars, and other investments. But solid numbers alone won't win loan approval.
Presentation skills and your business plan are critical to a successful outcome. You need to present a business plan that includes a company background, purpose of the loan, product/ market information and financial information.
Lease or Buy? “Neither borrower nor lender be,” may Ben Franklin’s famous quote:
If you don’t have enough capital to run your business through a complete season, then you may be interested in finding financing from a bank that supplies small business loans. There are two important factors involved in getting a business loan: 1. a proven track record (normally 2 years) with a healthy cash flow, and 2. an excellent presentation of a sound business plan. A lot of people use personal savings or borrow from relatives and start off small in order to develop a track record. However, someone who has a proven track record in another business and writes a sound and plausible business plan may be able to find startup capital with a financial institution. However, an individual or partnership with little experience is normally advised to seek help from the Small Business Administration because the SBA can guarantee up to 75 percent of the loan amount allowing banks to feel much more comfortable about providing a loan.
have been good advice 200 years ago; but today your decision should be based on accounting principles, and an understanding of cash flow,
Include projections on how you intend to accomplish your goals in your business plan.Who the market is, how large it is, what service entails, how much service costs you, how much you can charge, and where the capital to finance a purchase or lease equipment and to operate will come from. Your confidence in your plan, knowledge of your business and ability to answer bankers’ questions appropriately may mean the difference between a large line of credit, or no credit at all.
rather than the advice of others. The question of whether you should lease or buy all depends on how you plan to run your business. If you don’t expect a lot of growth, or if you are
concerned about a downturn in business, then buying makes more sense than leasing. The last thing a business owner wants during a downturn is to make payments on equipment that is not being used. However, if you expect to grow, leasing may be a good alternative to buying. For example, if you use all your available cash to buy equipment and then find new customers, you have no way to buy additional equipment because your cash is already tied up. Leasing can be a way to keep more working capital on hand. According to Mitch Davis of Preferred Lease, a company that specializes in leasing equipment to the portable sanitation industry, it takes approximately 20% of restroom units in service to make the monthly payments on leased equipment. “Look at this way,” he said,“If you lease 100 units and rent 60 (typical utilization for the industry), then 20 units are paying the lease on the entire 100, while the other 40 restrooms are bringing in cash that can be used for operating expenses and growth.” Obviously there are financing expenses that come with leasing. In fact, financing charges can increase the cost of equipment by a third or more. However much of this extra cost can be written off on taxes. By tying up less of your available cash at any given time, leasing may be the best option to relieve cash flow pressure if you plan to grow your business.
Sometimes it is easier to get financing when purchasing an existing sanitation business with a recent track record of success and current existing customers. The bank can look at how the business was run in the past and compare it to your business plan to make a determination on whether they are willing to bet on your success or not. Whenever you create a business plan, be sure that your future projections are not overly “rosy.” A good contingency plan will help you anticipate problems and have enough capital left to deal with them. Something unexpected always happens, and successful businesses have enough capital to deal with whatever lurks around the bend.
Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 15
PEOPLE THE BIG 6 REVIEW
ustomers enlist your company to take care of their sanitation needs. However, there are competitors in your area who also can do the job. Customers have choices … what makes them choose you?
The answer usually comes down to one of three reasons—price, service, and people. If you spend all of your efforts concerned about price, you are in a no-win situation.You can never set your price low enough to make up for quality service and good people.
It’s the People…
How to Find, Develop and Keep Good Ones By Dan Tyler
On the other hand, if you provide the best service and the best people, you will never have to play “the price game” and lower your price to keep a customer.They will value what you provide, because you make every effort to provide more value. Great service builds fortunes in repeat customers. Poor service will drive your customers to your competition. Dan Tyler, Manufacturing Manager PolyJohn Enterprises firstname.lastname@example.org 16 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
As we have said earlier, your company’s commitment to provide quality service drives your success potential. That commitment includes how you service, how you train employees, the condition of your equipment, your management objectives, and your employee compensation and motivation strategy.
THE BIG 6 REVIEW PEOPLE
People Make the Difference You need quality people to provide quality service. Finding them, training them, motivating them and keeping them can be one of the most challenging parts of your job. 1. Finding Good People
service to others. If instead, they say something about helping their family, learning your business, or helping others—they are outwardly focused and probably a better candidate. Ask them what kind of jobs they enjoy. If they have trouble answering the question, chances are they are not committed to providing service. If they talk about jobs where they have to solve problems, fix things, help people, or make things better, your candidate is probably a more service-oriented person. Ask if they have any outside hobbies or interests. If a candidate mentions volunteer work such as helping with youth sports, church activities, or family interests, you can bet they are focused on being a service to others.
In a service business like portable sanitation, personality and character are more important than experience and skill. The skills can be taught, however the determination to always do your best for the customer comes from internal motivation.
Ask them what they do on mornings off. Service-oriented people tend to take care of chores before going off to do things for themselves.
People who are committed to service have a unique psychological profile. But finding them isn’t as hard as you might think. In an interview, you’ll be looking for “service traits” and they aren’t difficult to spot.
Ask, what is their ideal vacation? If it has to do with sitting on a beach or by a pool, they may lack ambition. If they talk about plans to do something active like fishing, camping, or exploring new places chances are that they have some ambition, they like learning new things, and they don’t mind working a little to get what they want.
You aren’t looking for the smartest, most experienced, or most successful individual. Instead, you are looking for people who are selfless, giving, helpful and dedicated. Start an interview by asking them why they want the job. If their immediate reply has something to do with themselves, a new car, a new apartment, etc. there’s nothing wrong with that, however it may indicate they are more interested in themselves than in being a
2. Motivate Employees People have an innate desire to be valued by others. Therefore recognition tends to be one of the strongest motivators. Recognition comes in many forms and is always appreciated if it is deserved and if it is sincere. Superficial recognition is worse than no recognition. A pat on the back is good, but a compliment at a company meeting is better.The important thing is to remember that those whom we supervise want to be valued and recognized for their contributions just as we do. Never miss an opportunity to praise, especially in public.
Another strong motivator is our human need, to be part of a group. Indeed, a major part of anyone’s identity rests with their sense of belonging, whether it's to a family, church or work team. Most people aspire for a real sense of purpose. It is important that all employees know the vision and the values of the company and know they are encouraged to represent these values to the customers. Managers and owners who create an inclusive family atmosphere also create a loyal work force. What should you focus on to improve employee commitment and motivation? According to The United States @Work Study, US companies need to focus on the following key areas: ✔ Businesses should involve employees in planning organizational changes and in building spirit and pride. ✔ Employers should solidify the link between job performance and pay. ✔ Employers should provide increased opportunities for personal growth at work. One way to encourage personal growth is to sponsor training programs and skill certification training such as the program offered by the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI). You can find out more at www.psai.org. Training connects directly with productivity. One study in the 1990s indicated a 300% return on investment for employee training. Yet many businesses fail to recognize the importance of continued training. Another common mistake is to train managers or salespeople but not service workers. Smart companies train all employees.
(continued on page 18)
Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 17
PEOPLE THE BIG 6 REVIEW (continued from page 17)
The number one 3. Keep Good People The number one reason people leave a job is the “M” word. You may assume it is “Money” because that’s what leaving employees will tell you. The truth is, most people leave because of “Management.” Great managers also need to be service oriented. If your main interest is getting people to do the job so that you make more money, you will have a hard time keeping good people because your focus won’t be on what you can do for them, but on what they can do for you. Since service-oriented people want to feel like they are part of a team or an extended family—that they are all working together to accomplish a greater goal—it is management’s job to set the goal, get everyone involved, and share the rewards when it is met. To create a family atmosphere in a business, owners or managers need to be genuinely interested in the people who work for them. They should know and appreciate the uniqueness of each employee as well as their personal hopes and goals. Managers need to ask themselves, “What can I do to help my employees succeed?” Then they need to monitor that success, not as a watchdog who barks if they don’t succeed, but as a mentor who encourages them to try again, while complimenting and rewarding when they do succeed. Employees want to know that their boss will back them up should a more senior manager or a customer question something they did. Workers respond best when they know their leaders value them and “have their back.” Obviously, employees who chronically cause problems with customers don’t fit into this category.
Another way to keep good people is to provide fair compensation. It is essential if you hope to attract, develop and retain peak performers. These days, “fair” means much more than just a salary. Flexible time, profit sharing and health insurance, and retirement programs may be necessary to attract and retain the best employees. These benefits are the norm in other industries and are even awarded to entrylevel workers at the local Wal-Mart. While health benefits may be outrageously expensive for a small business, other benefits that workers appreciate cost next to nothing. Flexible work schedules, for example, are an easy benefit to offer. In most families these days, both parents work, which makes having someone at home when the children get off school a fundamental need. To make this possible, early mornings or late nights may be acceptable schedules for servicing restrooms, perhaps even more efficient since traffic is greatly reduced during these times. Often an employee’s decision on whether to stay or go comes down to the bottom line—a competitor is offering them more money. To keep your business from losing its best people, it makes sense to pay just a little bit more than your competitors. In the long run, you may save money by keeping good people and avoiding the cost of hiring and training new ones. Today’s service revolution is creating a new set of winners and losers. The winners will be those companies that provide superior customer service, strive for zero customer complaints, and provide training and benefits to motivate their service employees.
reason people leave a job is the
M word. You may assume it is “Money” because that’s what leaving employees will tell you. The truth is, most people leave because of “Management.”
18 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
Global Mindset to Improve Your Local Business Dealings By Vernon Hills
travel over 250,000 miles a year because I know there is no substitute for getting to know your customers personally.
Vernon Hills, President PolyJohn International email@example.com
Successful international sales require my physical presence, because customers around the world like to develop friendships that serve as a foundation for long-term business relationships. Even though I may live 3,000 miles away, my occasional visits give them the confidence that I am close enough to get to know them, to appreciate their needs, and to be there when they need me. So I travelâ€”as the Chinese proverb says, "If you want to hunt tigers, you have to go into the bush."
(continued on page 20)
Winter/Spring 2006 â€“ John Talk 19
(continued from page 19)
YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PEOPLE ARE REAL, THAT THEY ARE IMPORTANT, AND THAT YOU CAN ADJUST TO THEM. Over my years of traveling, I have familiarized myself with many local customs and cultural norms. While there are more similarities than differences, there are certain things I try to remember when dealing with different cultures. For example, when you are invited to dinner, always sample the food they offer—no matter how strange it looks!
Cultural differences don't always parallel ethnicity. For example, people have different styles of learning, different preferences in receiving and using information, different work ethic and tolerance for waiting or distraction.
Consider the simple action of eye contact. British and Americans accept it as an indicator of honesty and competence. However, eye contact is not as valued in Asian cultures, where it is better to look down when speaking to show your respect. Westerners are taught to "speak up in school," to debate their views and make presentations. On the other hand, the Asian culture considers “quiet” to be a sign of respect, which we could mistakenly interpret as a lack of decisiveness. Another example is how to begin a sales transaction. Westerners are very task oriented in business and want to get started right away, where Asians tend to be more relationship oriented. I’ve learned that I can accomplish more when doing business with Asians if I invest more time in relationship building. The ability to adjust to different cultures is called having a global mindset. I call it common sense. While you may never make a deal outside the US borders, you do have to deal with different cultures every day, whether you are talking to customers or supervising employees. 20 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
Even though they may all live in your local community, a vast array of differences exist. These differences may be personality, cultural, or lifestyle; but each has unique rules of behavior and values. People may be Asian American, African American, Latino, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, Mormon, etc. Or they may be country or urban, male or female, white collar or blue collar, old or young, college grad or high school dropout, shy or outgoing, Democrat or Republican, leader or follower, hippie or ex-military…you get the picture. You may not be dealing with language barriers or other international differences, but the differences are just as real. It’s no wonder there can be miscommunication, misunderstanding and occasional frustration. That’s why it is important for all salespeople and managers of employees to
maintain a “global mindset.” You need to accept that the differences between people are real, that they are important, and that you can learn to adjust to them. Think about your customers’ and employees’ cultures at home. How are they different from yours? Do these differences influence their reaction to you? What judgments will they make? Can you approach them in a way that puts them more at ease with you? What judgments are you making about them? Are your judgments prejudicial? Part of making adjustments is listening more and talking less, and making some concessions to the differences you perceive. For example, if they wear denim, you wear denim. If they wear a tie, you wear a tie. If they have different religious holidays, try to remember this and show your respect for their beliefs. Even if they are fans of a sports team that you dislike—find common ground. Understanding different beliefs, habits, and cultures is essential to your business. It makes employees more comfortable working for you, and it makes customers more willing to do business with you. If not aware of cultural differences, it can create friction and result in increased turnover or customer dissatisfaction. Large corporations sponsor “Diversity Training.” However, in a smaller company it might be best to simply talk about customers’ and employees’ likes and dislikes, communicate with them, get to know them, and be willing to accept differences.
Our new expanded website is now available 24/7 to help you Earn More, Sell More and Service Better!
www.polyjohn.com Another great way of being there when you need us.
It’s Easy as… 1, 2, Click You’ll be surprised at how easy www.polyjohn.com is to use. Anyone can do it, even people who don’t know much about computers. Convenient drop-down menus make all your selections available at the click of a mouse. Our other websites, including www.johntalkonline.com and www.rid-it.com can now be reached directly from www.polyjohn.com.
Now you can learn more with PolyJohn University and JohnTalk Online Where do you find business information and education to help keep you and your employees up to date on today’s best practices in the portable restroom business? We call it PJ University and we offer it FREE online at www.polyjohn.com.
Cleaning & Deodorizing Products
If you have a commitment to serve, you can never learn too much about improving your business. A new idea can help you solve a problem or gain the winning edge. Our team of business experts have written about almost every topic for running a portable restroom business—from marketing and sales to service when it’s 20˚ below zero. Our experts are the best in the business. In fact, if you added up the combined portable sanitation industry experience of all our regional managers, it would exceed 100 years. At PJ University they share their knowledge in articles, assessments and self-training programs. Whether you run a regional giant and need to train new managers, or you are a mom and pop start-up business, you’ll find whatever you are looking for at www.polyjohn.com.
there when you need us
Web Ordering…the infinite supply closet for chemicals & deodorizers You’ll also find the tools and supplies that help you deliver your promises to customers and keep them delighted with your service. When it comes to keeping your business running smoothly, few decisions are as important as deciding when and how much to order. That’s why we streamlined the ordering process. Now you can reduce inventory and warehouse space by ordering just in time, day or night, and get delivery in 3 days or less. And if you accidentally run out, or get an unexpected job, you can choose next day delivery. If you need to see detailed parts diagrams for ordering and technical assistance, you’ll find it all available online at our new website www.polyjohn.com.
The Industry Standard PJNIIITM
The Fabulous FleetTM
4-Person Hand Wash Station
Waterworks Fresh Water System
BRAVO! NEW Two-Person Handwash Station
Comfort InnTM Enhanced Access
800-292-1305 Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 21
The Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) Announces
2005 Scholarship Fund Winners Education is the way to advancement. That’s true for individuals as well as the entire industry. That is why the PSAI has long promoted education and is proud to introduce its new scholarship winners
2005 PSAI SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS Chandra Kunz Bart Kunz Pumping Afton, Wyoming Erin Keaveney Johnny On The Spot Old Bridge, New Jersey Jennifer Downey Five Peaks Technology Muskegon, Michigan Daniel McCall Satellite Industries, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota Jennifer McCarty McCarty’s Portable Toilets Weston, West Virginia Joshua Holmstadt Satellite Industries Plymouth, Minnesota Kasey Herring Heffeman Insurance Brokers Portland, Oregon Ryan Taylor United Site Services Westborough, Massachusetts
Gregg DeLong, Southwestern Area Manager and PSAI Scholarship Committee Member PolyJohn Enterprises firstname.lastname@example.org 22 John Talk – Winter/Spring 2006
In its very second year of the fund, the PSAI was able to raise over $56,000 in contributions from members and awarded eight scholarships to deserving individuals in our industry who made a commitment to advancing themselves through higher education.
The PSAI’s goal is to award scholarships to incoming college freshmen and current undergraduates of any age who are employees of, or immediate family of employees of PSAI Member companies in good standing—worldwide.
RISING College Costs Parents should always be aware of the
The program is chaired by one of PolyJohn’s customers Ned Carpenter, owner of
skyrocketing tuition costs for their
Porta-Jon of the Piedmont, Gastonia, NC. It is administered by Scholarship America,
college-bound child. In the Trends in
a non-profit group highlighted by SmartMoney Magazine as one of only 17 nonprofits
College Pricing 2003 report from the
that make the most effective and efficient use of charitable dollars. Scholarship
College Board, a national nonprofit
America not only manages donations to the fund, their experts are also responsible
association, the average cost of tuition
for reviewing applications and rewarding the scholarships so that there are no political
and fees at America’s four-year colleges
or regional biases in the selection of scholarship recipients.
and universities has sharply risen 42% at private institutions and 47% at public
According to Bill Carrol, PSAI President, the ultimate goal is to raise enough money
institutions since 1993. A year of tuition
to create an endowment fund that will be perpetually self-sustaining through managed
at a private university, not including
room and board, is now $19,710; a public school averages $4,694. Jim
Donations to the PSAI scholarship fund are tax-deductible and go directly to
Boyle, president of College Parents of
Scholarship America who awards the PSAI scholarships to deserving students.
America (888-761-6702; www.collegeparents.org), a nonprofit
The potential to win a scholarship is a great benefit to you, your family, your
organization that provides resources and
Please notify all your employees that this
information to parents, estimates that
opportunity exists. Applications for next year’s scholarships can be downloaded at
over the next decade the total cost of
www.psai.org. Click Applications & Info.
one year at a private university will range
employees and their families.
from $40,000 to $60,000.
Parents must therefore plan very early to avoid incurring big debts later. Savings plans such as state-sponsored 529 plans are excellent ways to save for young children. Parents whose children are now old enough to attend college should consider Parents’ Loans for Undergraduate Students, which are low-interest federal loans that are available through the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Winter/Spring 2006 – John Talk 23
With PolyJohn you Always Earn More, Sell More and Service Better. Are you in this business to win big? Then provide the restrooms designed to stand up to abuse and last over 20 years in the field. No restroom is tougher, and nobody offers more interior floor space!
For a free autograph of Super Bowl Champ,William “The Refrigerator” Perry and resources to help your business grow, go to www.polyjohn.com
Cleaning & Deodorizing Products
The Industry Standard PJNIIITM
there when you need us
The Fabulous FleetTM
4-Person Hand Wash Station
Waterworks Fresh Water System
BRAVO! NEW Two-Person Handwash Station
Comfort InnTM Enhanced Access
800-292-1305 – www.polyjohn.com FIRST CLASS MAIL U.S. POSTAGE PAID MICHIGAN CITY, IN PERMIT NO. 57 there when you need us
2500 Gaspar Avenue Whiting, IN 46394-2175