Traveling doesn’t make sense in all cases, but it might be worth considering for your septic pumping company.
If you got a call from a customer asking you to deliver portable restrooms or a shower trailer to a distant location, would you do it? If it was a disaster relief situation you’d probably be happy to deploy whatever equipment you could as quickly as possible. But in other cases you might hesitate because of the financial and logistical costs involved.
Customers make those requests for various reasons. It might be an existing client who has a project in another state and they like working with you. Or perhaps you have specialty equipment that’s not readily available elsewhere. Maybe a small town has a large event coming up and they don’t have enough units.
A number of portable restroom operators who never imagined they’d travel long distances with their equipment got that call, figured out how to make it work, and are now providing that service.
That was the case for Ryan Pierce, owner of Lone Star Latrine in Austin, Texas. He’s currently providing units and daily servicing to a border patrol station along the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, 350 miles away.
“I had a relationship with one of the vendors that was already down there,” he says. “They needed additional toilets, so they called me.”
Traveling doesn’t make sense in all cases, but it might be worth considering. If you have the personnel and equipment available, the next step is to look at the extra costs.
Personnel expenses. There are several ways to address personnel issues. In some cases, the company might deliver a piece of equipment and then contract with a local vendor to service it. In other situations, a company might have the driver stay with the equipment while it’s in service. In that case you’re looking at hotel and food expenses. Pierce took a slightly different approach.
“I bought an RV and put him in an RV park,” he says. “Then I give him a per diem.” Pierce also provides his drivers with company fuel cards to avoid reimbursement hassles.
Of course you’d have to have a reliable, self-directed employee who has the ability to be gone from home for extended periods. Pierce was lucky to find someone who actually enjoys it. In fact, his driver has done it before — he was stationed in Houston for three months after Hurricane Ike and Louisiana for six months for the BP oil spill.
Travel does have its benefits for the employee — in a disaster situation they feel they’re helping, and in other cases they get to see the country or attend fun events.
Vehicle expenses. In addition to increased fuel costs, you’d be putting more wear and tear on your truck. You’d be buying tires more often. There may be toll, tax and weight fees. Of course, some of these expenses are tax deductible.
Hidden costs: There are other, less tangible costs to think about. For example, while your units are on the road they are not available for use. Likewise, your employee is not available for other projects and may not actually have full-time work servicing the equipment being transported.
Or you may be concerned about loss of control. Pierce completely trusts his driver in Brownsville but does keep track of all his people with route tracking software. Here are some route tracking software options to consider if you add extended travel to your septic pumping outfit:
- Mobile WorkForce from Point-of-Rental Systems allows the mobile worker to eliminate paper by performing tasks on site with any wireless device or laptop, and not have to be granted full access to the company server.
- Retriever Scheduler from Retriever Communications allows companies to optimize their mobile workforce by improving job visibility, scheduling capabilities and fast checking of field technician availability.
- The RouteOptix Android App is available on most Android devices, including smartphones and tablets.
- Checkmate tool and equipment tracking software from Dynamic Systems features metal barcode tags that reduce the time it takes to locate equipment by ensuring that items will not be lost or left behind.
- iButton technology from EZTrakR Systems Inc. verifies services on a driver’s route are completed with electronic service validation.
- The SignalTrack platform from GPS North America offers a secure Web dashboard that can be managed from any Internet-connected workstation or smart device.
- Waste Management Software from Operasoft requires no on-site installation and handles all types of service requests, real-time dispatching, GPS tracking, supplier/contract management and invoicing.
- StreetEagle Mobile Barcoding from InSight Mobile Data Inc. equips field workers with asset locations on a map and barcode technology to enable them to scan any asset to communicate activity and inventory data.
- Manageit from Ituran USA is designed for fleet managing and dispatchers, and contains instant and accurate GPS fleet tracking, personalized reporting, recovery services and more.
- The VT310 from Meitrack USA is a GPS tracker with five discrete inputs and outputs, and two analog ports.
- NexTraq comprehensive GPS fleet tracking allows fleet managers to track employees, vehicles and assets, while providing detailed fleet reports and analytics that help identify operational inefficiency.
- The PortaTracker program from Tracker Solutions provides customer information, including site and mailing address, phone number and history on one navigatable page.
- The AT-X5 live GPS tracking device from US Fleet Tracking is compact, discreet and easy to install.
- With SAFE Software, technicians with basic computer skills can enter, organize, route and schedule pumping and service for customers.
- The Tank Track business management program allows users to manage customer information, track property details, upload plans, schedule appointments, assign trucks, map routes and more.
- Evolution software from WennSoft delivers asset management, maintenance agreements, simple and segmented work orders, field service, advanced dispatching and scheduling, mobile solutions for field technicians and more.
All these expenses must be built into your charges. Then it either works for both sides or it doesn’t. Although it will cost the client more, they’re often willing to pay it for the peace of mind they get working with a vendor they trust.