How to Choose Your Portable Toilet Supplier
Who is the best portable toilet supplier? This is a common question among individuals and companies entering the portable sanitation industry. Obviously, we are biased and emphatically answer, “PolyJohn!” But to be fair, we’re going to take our blue-colored glasses off briefly in this article and provide some insight that you will, hopefully, find value in regardless if you eventually become one of our customers or not. At the end of the day, we want nothing but the best for the industry. That means that we want each and every one of the portable restroom operators (PROs) out there to be successful.
When comparing portable toilet manufacturers, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. They can be grouped into three categories: Product, Customer Service & Company Intangibles. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each one and highlight some of the key points you should think about before selecting a supplier. We also want to encourage you to download and read our Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy Your Portable Sanitation Equipment. It’s a much more in-depth look at the portable toilet industry that sheds light on the things you need to think about before you make a purchase. It will be available soon, so be on the lookout!
But for now, let’s turn our attention back to choosing a portable toilet supplier…
The most logical place to start when considering your plastic portable toilet manufacturer options is with the toilets themselves. If the manufacturer can’t supply you with the products you need, there’s no reason to continue considering them. Most PROs have the following types of units in their fleet:
This is the base portable toilet, the one that is most commonly seen on construction sites and in other industrial settings. The standard unit is the core of the fleet and the workhorse of the industry. It’s built to hold up over the long haul despite constant loading and unloading and prolonged use in industrial environments. It’s important for standard portable restrooms to provide adequate ventilation and be able to withstand all weather conditions and the harsh chemicals that are used for cleaning. Standard units have a static-type waste tank and toilet paper dispenser and can accommodate upgrades including a mirror, hand sanitizer dispenser and coat hook. All portable toilet manufacturers should offer some kind of standard unit.
Special Events Units
Up a level from standard units is the special event unit. It’s used at festivals, fairs, weddings and similar events that are a little more high-end. These units are sometimes called luxury units because they commonly come with amenities like handwashing sinks, a hands-free flushable tank, solar lighting and other upgrades that make the user experience top-notch. Most PROs have at least a few special event units because special events can bring in good income in a short amount of time.
Enhanced Access Units
It’s a good idea to have wheelchair-accessible units in your fleet. It’s a requirement by federal law in many applications. Enhanced access units are larger than standard units to accommodate wheelchairs. They also are equipped with handrails and, sometimes, with add-ons like a baby-changing station, hand sanitizer dispenser and more to appeal to families with small children.
Restroom trailers are in a slightly different category since they are unique from other portable restrooms, but we’ll touch on them briefly. Restroom trailers, or luxury trailers, make the bathroom experience “like home.” The trailers are equipped with multiple stalls, urinals and, sometimes, showers. It’s common for trailers to have heating and air conditioning, as well as decorative fixtures, flooring and more. Restroom trailers are used at high-end events like outdoor weddings or special construction projects — settings where the customer desires more than a standard portable toilet.
It’s important to note that because restroom trailers are in a different category than other portable toilets that you may have to use a different supplier than the one you choose for plastic portables. Not all portable toilet suppliers offer trailers.
To view video overviews of PolyJohn products, click here.
Portable Toilet Supplier Manufacturing Processes
The quality of portable restrooms is dependent upon its manufacturing process.Every plastic portable toilet manufacturer has a different manufacturing process, even though they produce very similar products. Here are the key manufacturing processes that may occur:
To make the flat plastic sheets that will be used to construct the unit, plastic pellets are melted and formed (extruded) into plastic sheets of the desired length, width and thickness.
The plastic sheets are heated and softened, then forced over or into a temperature-controlled mold by means of pressure, where the plastic assumes the shape of the mold.
Plastic pellets are ground to a fine mesh powder and loaded into molds that are heated and rotated on a biaxial machine. The powder melts and coats the inside of the heated molds, forming stress-free parts of uniform wall thickness.
Polymer resins, pigments and additives are mixed together in a cylindrical barrel. After the material is heated to a liquid state, it is forced into a mold to form simple to complicated solid shapes. Components for foot pumps, paper towel dispensers and soap dispensers are examples. Plastic injection molding offers precise, consistent, efficient tooling.
Construction of structures from metal materials through welding, machining, forming and assembly.
Computer-controlled machines are used for accurate trimming, cutting and shaping plastics, non-ferrous metals and wood. PolyJohn uses CNC machining to create parts such as mirrors, mounting plates and floor blanks.
Low-cost method of forming pieces by blowing molten plastic into a mold. The blow molding process is designed to manufacture high-volume, one-piece hollow objects (such as water bottles). Less expensive, less precise manufacturing than injection molding.
Low-cost version of thermoforming in which a plastic sheet is heated until soft, draped over a mold, then vacuum is applied to pull the sheet into the mold. Vacuum-formed parts have a relatively uneven wall thickness.
Manufacturing portable sanitation products requires skilled, experienced craftsmen using a complex series of processes and advanced technology. As part of your supplier research process, consider where manufacturing takes place, who is producing the products and what processes they are using. In a best-case scenario, manufacturing will take place locally by a team of knowledgeable and well-equipped experts with access to the “latest and greatest” in tools and equipment.
Consider the Value of Portable Toilet Manufacturers in the USA
What are the benefits of utilizing portable toilet manufacturers in the USA? Many Americans take pride in locally made products. They like finding “Made in the USA” emblazoned on items when they’re actively looking to make a purchase. It’s a symbol of quality and durability. You know when you buy American-made products that you’ll be able to count on them for years to come. It’s no different when it comes to portable toilets.
Companies, like PolyJohn, that manufacture in the United States are able to control quality from start to finish. High standards are maintained every step of the way because we know our customers are people just like us just down the road. We want to equip them with the best, which means we don’t cut corners.
Portable Sanitation Product Longevity
A major measuring stick of product quality is longevity. A well-made product is built to last. In the case of porta-potties, a quality product is one that can provide you with up to 20 years of use under normal circumstances, and possibly even more. It’s really a matter of “you get what you pay for.” You can purchase the lowest-priced units on the market, but chances are, you’ll be replacing them in just a few years. Or, you could make a larger initial investment knowing you won’t have to worry about those units breaking down for a long time.
What product features do the top portable toilet manufacturers offer? Here are a few examples. First, a quality porta-potty will have strong corners that can handle frequent strapping for transport, as well as frequent handling as it is maneuvered into place. Doors are good indicators of durability. If the door doesn’t sag, stays centered in the frame and closes firmly, it’s durable. A quality portable restroom will also feature uniform panel thickness and color, hinges that don’t warp and door springs that maintain tension. At the end of the day, you should be able to identify a product that’s built to last because its parts will feel substantial, not flimsy.
How important is product longevity when choosing a portable toilet supplier? Just ask veteran portable restroom operators, and you’ll find out that the answer is — very important. Matthew Duras, owner and founder of Johnny Servis in Prague, Czech Republic founded his company in 1996 with eight PolyJohn units. One of those portable toilets is still in use “only for very special clients” … 22 years later! “Over the years, we have had to make a few minor repairs but nothing substantial,” Duras said. “The materials are durable, the colors do not fade, the design is still very acceptable and also allows for mixed uses, meaning addition of sinks, flushing units, etc. A great unit and I highly recommend it.”
The Importance of Top-of-the-Line Components
You can’t have a quality product without quality parts. The integrity of portable restrooms is dependent on being constructed with top-of-the-line components. When considering a supplier, make sure they have nothing but the highest standards for each and every part that goes into their products — from the smallest pieces like toilet seat hardware to the largest pieces like unit side panels.
A great way to know how much a manufacturer stands behind their parts is whether or not they manufacture locally. It’s much easier to ensure quality and consistency if they control production, employ knowledgeable and experienced engineers and have supervisors who can see components being built and assembled every day. Obviously, it may be tough to find a porta john supplier that manufactures every single part. They may need to outsource some components. If this is the case, find out who that source is, if possible, and make sure they are a highly rated, trusted supplier. One bad part is all it takes to diminish overall product quality.
Operators of portable sanitation businesses will tell you that it’s a common business activity to fix up old or beat up units. To do this, you need access to parts. With this in mind, make sure your potential porta potty supplier has an inventory of replacement parts that includes:
- Nuts, bolts and screws
- Plugs and caps
- Plumbing parts
- Rivets and washers
- Component parts
- Decals and plates
- Discontinued and previous model parts
- Electrical parts
- Exterior components
- Skids and bases
- Small parts bags
Look for Consumer-Centric Design
A top plastic portable toilet manufacturer will have two users in mind when designing and engineering products — the end-user and you, the PRO. The public expects portable toilets to be sanitary, comfortable and easy to use. PROs look for units that are designed to make it easy to clean, maintain and transport them.
How do portable toilet suppliers ensure their designs meet the needs of their customers? The most effective way is by gathering “voice of customer” data. This means they keep in close contact with you, the PRO, who deals with the products on a daily basis. By drawing on the experiences of portable restroom rental business owners, the manufacturer is able to fine-tune model designs so that they offer the highest quality in terms of sturdiness, ergonomic handling, reliability, visual aesthetics and easy cleaning.
Because portable toilets and similar portable sanitation products are long-term investments, you should have high expectations for them. Never settle! Make sure you do plenty of research into product features and consider their impact on you and your customers. Spend time reading up on manufacturer websites and speaking to their sales representatives — and don’t be afraid to ask them the “tough questions.” You can also speak to other operators in your area and get their input on what design features they like to see in units and which ones they have problems with.
Don’t Overlook the Warranty of the Plastic Portable Toilet Manufacturer
A good indicator of a quality portable toilet supplier is whether or not their products come with a warranty. To take it a step further, you should also consider the terms of warranty coverage. A good manufacturer will stand behind their portable toilets with a strong warranty. It is recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that you compare warranty coverage just as you compare product style, price and other characteristics.
When comparing warranties, be wary of warranties that offer pro-rated coverage. For example, with a pro-rated 10-year (120-month) warranty, every month the value of the replacement may drop by 1/120. So, in thirty months, or less than 3 years (30/120), the warranty covers only 75%. The units’ warranted parts have already lost 25% of their value.
A pro-rated warranty might also be expressed in years, but the decline in value is similar. For the first year or two of the warranty, it may cover 100%. But by the third year, the economic value may drop by as much as a third, and within five years, as much as 90%.
PolyJohn’s warranty is 100% from day one and stays 100% for three full years. To read our full warranty, click here.
What else is important when choosing a plastic portable toilet manufacturer? Your decision should be about more than just the products themselves. Customer service is another important factor that needs to be taken into account. Your relationship with your manufacturer will go beyond the initial purchase. You may have questions about the porta johns at some point, or you may need to troubleshoot problems and get replacement parts. For these situations, it’s helpful to be working with a company that has good customer service. Reaching out to them after the sale should be a simple, pleasant experience… not one that is difficult or causes frustration.
Seek a Continued Relationship
At PolyJohn, it’s often said that “The only thing that lasts longer than our products is our relationships.” As a company, we aim to manufacture top-quality products, then establish a relationship with you that promotes the best use and maintenance of those products. The continued relationship helps us meet our goal of making your business a success. Are there other portable toilet manufacturers in the USA or internationally that puts such an emphasis on after-sales service? That’s something you should think about when doing your research.
A best-case scenario for you after you purchase portable sanitation products is that you will have a point person, preferably a designated sales rep, to contact with questions or additional service-related discussion. You’ll get better service when you know your point person and have an established relationship with them. And in the event that your sales rep isn’t available, you should count on the manufacturer having 24/7 resources to help you out, which will likely be found online. They can include a Help Center, FAQ section and Contact Us form.
Does the Portable Toilet Supplier Go Above & Beyond?
Something to look for that proves a company has strong customer service that focuses on relationships are examples of the company going above and beyond for its customers. These are the circumstances where the company has done something for a customer that even the customer wasn’t expecting. For example, in Portland, Oregon, PolyJohn Northwest Area Manager Terry Lievens received a call from a customer at 8:00 p.m. There was a forest fire, and the crew needed five more sinks at the site by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. There wasn’t enough time for the customer to send a truck. Terry drove 240 miles to make sure the customer received the sinks in time.
Some of these examples of going above and beyond will be evident on a portable toilet supplier’s website in the form of testimonials or possibly in blog posts. If you can’t find them, ask. A potential supplier should be able to tell you how they go above and beyond for their customers.
Products and services are the two main areas of focus when it comes to choosing a portable toilet supplier. However, there can be some extras, or intangibles, that you can consider. It may make the difference in the end — especially if you find yourself in a situation where two or more potential portable toilet manufacturers are equal in your eyes.
Industry Knowledge of Portable Toilet Manufacturers
When you go to buy portable sanitation equipment, it helps to buy from a source that knows the industry inside and out. Would you put more trust in a sales rep that could only read you a list of product features and answer a few basic questions or one who has a broader knowledge of the industry and has a true understanding of the challenges you face every day?
At PolyJohn, we are fortunate to have countless portable sanitation experts at our disposal. Many of our employees have worked in the industry for years, and some are former PROs like you. They’ve owned their own portable restroom companies or worked in them, used the products and learned what works best and what doesn’t. Their knowledge is invaluable when it comes to product development and customer service. Plus, many of the people across all departments of PolyJohn have been with us for years — and decades in some cases.
When vetting a possible portable toilet supplier, ask detailed questions to get a feel for their knowledge. If you get the feeling they’ve got their finger on the pulse of the industry and are constantly innovating to meet the needs of the people in it, keep them on the list. If they seem disinterested or out of touch, move on!
Personal Touch: An Added Bonus
Do you know someone who refers to a business contact as if they were a good friend or even a family member? That’s the kind of business relationship people dream of. It’s one you should seek with your portable toilet supplier, and it can be attained if you look hard enough. Here is another example where portable toilet manufacturers in the USA have an edge over international competitors. Just take a look at the company’s makeup. Is it a corporate machine run by investors who are motivated by bringing in larger and larger profits? Or is it a family-owned business that connects with its customers and is motivated by making their lives easier and helping them succeed?
You can probably get quality products from either source. Maybe good customer service as well. However, it’s likely to be the family-owned business that will have your back down the road… 10, 20, 30 years from now. Who do you think is going to go out of their way to stay in touch with you and make sure you’re doing ok for years to come? The corporate giant or the company with the “mom and pop” feel?
Choosing a portable toilet supplier isn’t easy. You have many great companies to choose from and a variety of factors to consider. Now that you’ve read this article, we hope you’ve learned some things that will help make your decision a little easier. If there’s anything else we can do to help, be sure to let us know.