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How to Bid Contracts

From the start of your career in portable sanitation, you will learn that it is a very competitive business. This is especially true when bidding on contracts. Contracts are not only a highly prized, predictable source of income, they help establish lasting business relationships and build your reputation as a portable restroom operator.

The key to successful bidding is to put the real value of the bid on capabilities and responsiveness, not just price. When you continually undercut other bids, it’s a race to the bottom. By focusing on a standard of service, you can continue to evolve your business and develop professionally. What do customers value most? A preferred service vendor they can trust. You’re worth the price!

A good starting point is to ask for a ballpark figure – how much was the last successful bid for the same event or contract? This figure will tell you if you can make a competitive offer. But remember, numbers don’t tell the whole story. Your goal is to win the business at a higher rate, but with better service.

The main sources of contract business are:

Special Events

Take the time to understand the full scope of the event. Give clients all the products and services they want and need, and charge accordingly. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t underestimate just to lower the price. The cost of toilets per attendee is usually much lower compared to other costs.

  • Find your niche by spotlighting the aspects of your business that make you stand out. Selling points may include new units, hand sanitizer, 24-7 response time, uniformed drivers and ADA- compliant units.
  • Offer testimonials from similar functions you’ve worked to show you are capable and event-tested.
  • Go long-term. If you’ve worked the same event before to the customer’s satisfaction, try to lock in your services. You might offer an incentive based on a long-term commitment, such as a discount for a 3-year agreement.

Parks and Recreation Sites/Forest Preserves

Parks, recreation sites and forest preserves can be very busy places when outdoor activities are at their peak. This can place a strain on your services, so it’s important to focus on the details of the contract requirements.

  • Often, a specific service day is requested. Be prepared to commit to that day.
  • Establish how you will handle “extra cleaning calls” that can result from heavy site usage, especially on weekends and holidays
  • Have the capabilities to provide additional rentals on an as-needed basis
  • Check to see if any special events being held in the parks are your responsibility
  • Are ADA-compliant units required?
  • Are units required to be certain colors?

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Industry contracts (usually 3-5 years) are difficult to win. Responsiveness and capabilities are a must.

  • Be able to fulfill any badging requirements. These include:
    • Background checks, including fingerprint screening
    • Random drug screens
    • Site-specific training (in order to issue a contractor badge)
    • TWIC cards (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) at oil refineries
  • Be able to follow all safety/OSHA requirements

Government: Municipal, County, Township, State, Federal

  • Continually check city, county, township and state websites for contracts up for bid
  • Be active in your community, join civic organizations and get to know your civic leaders
  • Are you already a preferred vendor for parks or forest preserves? Use this as a leg up to win additional contracts.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to help small businesses bid and win government contracts. Start by visiting the SBA website at https://www.sba.gov/contracting/what-government-contracting.


Looking to Take Your Portable Restroom Business to the NEXT LEVELDownload our FREE Guide: “Your Guide to Operating A Portable Restroom Business.”

Thinking About GETTING INTO the Portable Restroom Industry? Download our FREE Guide: “Your Guide to Starting A Portable Restroom Business.”

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