As our cost climb, we need to evolve as an industry. Do not be afraid to step outside of the box of how you may have always done things. Instead look to be creative, continue to service the customer, but do it in a manner that would improve efficiencies in your operation and endure the communities you service.
John Paglia III
Our industry is ever changing but there are many constants. For the foreseeable future, it is a safe bet to say that there will always be a need for waste and recycling pick up the way it is done today. In comparison to many leaders, my time at the helm has been short. But even during this short tenure, I can see the industry starting to change. Competition always brings out the best in everyone for everyone. Please don’t confuse competition with cheap pricing though—there is a big difference. If someone wins a customer by low bid, in today’s day in age, I tend to have the attitude of “let them have it”.
Understanding Your Costs
Everyone’s cost may vary from operation to operation across the country, but one item remains constant. Finding, training and retaining quality employees in all positions is one our industry is struggling with. Wages and benefits continue to climb in the hopes of attracting your next best team member. To be clear, I’m fine with this. Waste industry workers put in countless hours to ensure waste and recycling disappears in a clockwork fashion. These employees responsible should be rewarded. At the end of it all, consumers should have to pay for this valet-like service. I’m not saying go out and price gouge, but men and women, understand your cost and do not be afraid to price your services accordingly.
We recently came across an account that, honestly, always seemed to bully us. Term after term we remained loyal to them and they did to us. We had extremely minimal complaints in the customer file, and had never raised their rate. After internal discussions, we sent them a cancellation of service and requested to either renegotiate a fair rate increase for both parties or put it out to bid. We offered the fair rate increase and they refused. After truly looking at our cost, we decided to put in a bid based on current market conditions. In the end, we resigned the account and retained the business. All service levels remained the same and revenue increased 50 percent. It’s a small example that proves the point I’m trying to make. There is no cheap service. Our cost escalates daily, do not be afraid to inform your customers and raise them accordingly.
Step Out of the Box
Automated pickup implementation needs to be taken seriously for many reasons. Drivers continue to be at a shortage, not to mention general labor positions if your company happens to be in a rear load residential market. There is also a big push in Florida, specifically, to recycle as much as possible. We have some households that pay for our trucks to arrive four times a week—twice a week waste pickup, one-time recycling and one-time yard waste. All of those trucks burn fuel, oil and tires, adding to material needing to be recycled. I always like to solve problems at the source. I would like to see the industry lean toward less pickups, and the customer accepting of it. In this case, if the customer was 1x week waste pickup and every other week yard waste/recycling, the number of routes needed would reduce. Our carbon footprint would also be reduced.
So why don’t we change? It’s a good question I don’t have a clear answer for. Looking at history I would argue, many companies do not want to change because they are afraid of losing market share and allow that “one guy” in a market to grow by being the cheap service provider. My urge and hope are that this history becomes history. As our cost climb, we need to evolve as an industry. Do not be afraid to step outside of the box of how you may have always done things. Instead look to be creative, continue to service the customer, but do it in a manner that would improve efficiencies in your operation and endure the communities you service. Feel free to reach out to me with your input; I would love to hear from you. |
John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.