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How Many Toilets Do You Need to StartEvery business needs a starting point. It’s the point at which you have what you need to properly conduct your operations. The question we most often get about starting points is the number of toilets needed to launch a one-person portable sanitation company. How many is enough?

The answer depends on you. First, you have to know your goals. Most startups have one of three goals in mind as the main reason they want to enter the portable sanitation market:

  • You want to earn extra income, perhaps with an eye on expanding in the future
  • You already own another business and are looking to expand into portable sanitation
  • You want to own and grow a full-time portable sanitation operation

If you are planning to keep your current “day job,” then you could easily begin with 10 units. It’s not enough to sustain a full-time portable sanitation company, but the cost is not excessive, and you’ll earn extra income and get a good feel for what it takes to succeed in the industry.

In the second case, good examples of current businesses entering the portable sanitation market as a “sister service” are septic-cleaning services, sanitation companies or rental companies. Since you already have a profitable enterprise to support you, you could begin with a single unit if you so choose. We’re also familiar with some larger companies that started with several hundred units.

However, for most operators, the goal is to own a successful full-time portable sanitation business. Let’s concentrate on this group.

Planning is essential. Before you open shop, you’ll have to determine what opportunities are out there by establishing your service area, evaluating potential customers, assessing the level of demand, and checking out your competitors. Read our manuals “Your Guide to Starting a Portable Restroom Business” and “Your Guide to Operating a Portable Restroom Business” located in the JohnTalk Vault. Register or Log In for access to them.

You can also get an idea by pre-selling your services. Contact companies and event organizers. Let them know you are planning to start a top-quality portable sanitation company. Ask them if they would consider using your services.

Once planning is complete, your operations need to become profitable as quickly as possible. To reach this goal, your first target is to recoup the significant cost of your initial investment in the business.

For many PROs, here’s how the numbers add up – their first purchase is 28 toilets, or multiples of 28.

Why is 28 the lucky number? Because 28 is the most number of units that will fit on a 53-foot semi. Filling the semi completely is the most cost-effective method of delivery. (Some first-time PROs might decide to start with 20 units because their delivery trailer may have a 20-unit maximum capacity.)

Your first 28 units give you the inventory for full-time operations. If you begin with 28, it’s realistic to assume that you could have 20 or so on rent within the first few months. After delivery and setup, it should take you one day to cover your route and clean the 20 units, giving you time to sell your service on the other days of the week. You’ll have an additional 8 units to work with as you grow.

Once you have your starting point, it’s up to you to commit to making your business succeed. Remember, the beginning is often the hardest part of the journey!

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