The Pros and Cons of Advertising Portable Restrooms Prices Online

Three portable restroom operators detail their digital strategies

The Pros and Cons of Advertising Portable Restrooms Prices Online

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The world saw a drastic increase in online traffic and communication through the past year of working from home and social distancing, yet the debate of using online pricing strategies is one that persists among portable restroom businesses.

Andy Gump Temporary Site Services has been servicing the southern area of California since the 1940s, and to this day the company chooses to leave pricing off of its website.

“We want to engage with the customer,” says Nancy Gump-Melancon, owner of Andy Gump Temporary Site Services. “Most often what they think they need and what they actually want are two different things. By us being able to ask key questions, we can take care of the customer needs better.”

Not supplying a readily available price list online drives potential customers to pick up the phone and have a conversation about their specific wishes. This is especially important when the customer may not know the terminology involved with products and offerings. “They may not even know the difference between a VIP or an Executive Royal versus a Majestic versus a Deluxe,” Gump-Melancon says. “It can all sound the same on a piece of paper.”

Nancy Gump-Melancon
Nancy Gump-Melancon

Gump-Melancon also sees the advantage of engaging the client through phone conversations from a logistics standpoint. By speaking directly with the customer, she can iron out the details like knowing if the unit has to fit between a gate or what sort of truck access is available at the site.

There is also the perspective that a price sheet locks in prices and does not allow for a business to adjust to unique situations, difficulties or changes in supply and demand. “Last year with COVID, hand-washing stations were in incredible demand, and if we had had a price sheet out at the beginning of the year for hand-washes versus what they were in April, May or June when we couldn’t even get them, that would have been a totally different thing and we couldn’t have abided by those earlier prices,” Gump-Melancon says.

Others in the industry have a different stance on sharing pricing information on their website. “We don’t mind putting prices online. I feel it’s good to put some sort of pricing, or some sort of starting guideline because I have nothing to hide. We don’t compare prices anyway,” says Mike Benson, owner of A1 Porta Potty in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. “We might be a little higher or a little less, but our quality is what we sell.”

A different take

Benson mentions how important wording is when listing prices online. “It’s all about the word ‘starting,’ or ‘starting at.’ You can always back yourself on that,” he says. Using phrases like starting at, or presenting price ranges give businesses flexibility to adapt to circumstances and inhibit customers from using an online price as a formal quote. 

“Part of the sales process when the call comes in is making sure your customer realizes that if they are 20 miles outside of our service area that we’ll cover them, but it’s going to cost a certain amount of money,” Benson says.

Mike Benson
Mike Benson

Benson and his crew at A1 Porta Potty have long been active on social media, so not much had to change for them to cater to the online shopper. “We were pretty well-known online before the pandemic,” Benson says. “The pandemic created more sanitary reasons to have restrooms and hand-washing stations, but as far as what we were doing online, we pretty much stayed the same.” 

Devan Hanson, owner of Texan Restrooms, thinks it boils down to people being used to having immediate satisfaction and for that reason he has embraced online pricing since opening his business. “Let’s say you want to buy a new truck, and you go on some website and it says, ‘call for pricing.’ I’m not picking up the phone and calling to get transferred to 14 different people to find out the price of this truck,” Hanson says. “I’m going to a website that has the price listed and I’m going to buy from them.”

According to Hanson, having their prices online is efficient on their end, too; it limits the time they spend with customers that are just calling to shop around. He also says competitors are going to price match one way or another so having the information easily accessible to competitors doesn’t really affect pricing. “If they want to know your pricing, and you’re super secretive about it, they’re going to have a buddy call and ask the company what their pricing is anyway,” he says. “They’re going to find it, so you might as well just give it to them.”

Devan Hanson
Devan Hanson

Like Benson, Hanson also suggested that just because prices are stated online, it doesn’t mean that they are set in stone. “If I have a customer that has 40 toilets at one time all the time, they get a better rate. My local customers that we do business with day in and day out, the bread and butter of my business, I take care of them.”

For Texan Restrooms, they think that having an online presence through the pandemic has been an advantage because people could get answers and products quickly when demand began to exceed supply. “People knew what the price was so they would call and order it,” he says. “There was no guessing game of giving a quote that doesn’t turn into a sale. It saves a lot of time with nonsense calls when people can go online and know what they are going to get and what they are going to pay for it.”

The pandemic has shaken up strategies across the board for businesses. For some, their tactics were unwavering, while others chose to adopt new techniques and adapt to the changes. No matter what their stance is on online pricing, all companies agreed that it all comes down to serving the customer and taking care of them. “Focus on your company and customers and do the best job you can and don’t focus on what your competition is doing,” Hanson says. “I look for the customers that appreciate good service.


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