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Building, growing, and sustaining a portable restroom business is challenging. It’s a balancing act of satisfying current clients while attracting new customers. To this end, PROs tackle many sales and marketing tasks to ensure a steady cash flow. Yet, networking with the right people often falls by the wayside. And it shouldn’t because building relationships with potential customers and industry professionals results in word-of-mouth referrals and opportunities down the road.
Adding targeted networking activities to your toolkit can open many doors in your local community. With the right connections, your portable restroom brand comes to mind first in local leaders’ minds. Moreover, good publicity from industry networking events doesn’t cost a dime. Use this guide to discover the types of targeted networking and develop actionable strategies for your company.
What is Targeted Networking, and Why Should PROs Do It?
Targeted networking is a purposeful approach to building relationships with potential customers and other professionals. It involves identifying goals and the activities that will help you reach them. Furthermore, targeted networking means choosing who to interact with strategically. Time is precious, so spending it on connections with the best chances of success makes sense.
Unlike a marketing campaign, networking is a long game. Ultimately, you want to increase sales. But, to get there, you’re building meaningful relationships with people who may refer your services to a friend or bring your name up during a corporate meeting. It’s also a two-way street. Even if a local government official isn’t a customer (or maybe even uses a competitor’s services), offering advice for resolving an issue shows that your relationship is genuine and mutually beneficial.
In the long run, engaging purposely and nurturing contacts can position your brand as a trusted and valued community business. Likewise, building similar connections in the broader portable sanitation industry can open doors to opportunities and ideas that give you a competitive edge.
Deriving Value by Connecting with the Right People
Learning to network effectively offers the most value for your time and resources. Although PROs should maintain professionalism when interacting with community members or other professionals, certain relationships are worth nurturing over the long run. But you’ll need to identify which ones to spend time with and which ones to drop. You can balance your schedule and track progress by separating networking activities into two groups: local and industry.
Local Networking for Opportunities and Long-Term Contracts
Building connections locally involves interacting with business leaders, government officials, and other service providers. Outreach efforts focus on decision-makers or influencers. Networking activities may include sponsoring little league teams (and showing up at games) or participating in local business organizations. Or, it can be as simple as having lunch with a contact to chat about an upcoming construction project or city celebration.
Your expertise can help event organizers, construction managers, and government leaders better understand sanitation practices and budget for emergencies or festivals. Once your connections realize they can turn to you for advice, you can build on that relationship to increase referrals. Consequently, networking establishes your portable restroom company as a trusted, reliable brand.
Industry Networking for Growing Your Portable Restroom Business
Networking with fellow PROs, suppliers, and manufacturers gives you a competitive edge in understanding the latest trends and can even provide valuable insights for handling challenges. Additionally, industry professionals often connect with others in your region, meaning they can refer clients in your direction. PROs connect with industry professionals by attending trade shows, participating in online forums, and building solid relationships with manufacturers and suppliers.
Sharing your insights and best practices shows your value as a professional, strengthening your position in the industry. Giving a hand to other small business owners certainly doesn’t harm your operations or cost much more than a bit of time. Most PROs spend less time on industry networking than building local connections but find staying in touch via email or community forums easier. Plus, you can do it yourself instead of delegating activities to your sales and marketing team.
Develop a Local Networking Strategy in 7 Steps
Like a winning marketing strategy, successful networking requires a plan. It gives you goals to aim for, a way to measure your progress, and a list of activities to pursue. If your portable restroom company has a sales and marketing team, you can appoint roles and ensure accountability. At the same time, your local networking strategy is a living document. Remember to come back and adjust it for continued results.
1. Set Local Networking Goals
Establish objectives that align with your company’s overarching goals, which typically center around increasing sales and revenue. The purpose of networking will vary by company, depending on its size, location, and customer base. As such, portable restroom businesses’ ideal outcomes can be pretty diverse.
Think about larger goals like increasing the number of customer referrals or securing a specific number of event or construction contracts. Also, set objectives for networking activities. For example, how many community or business association events will you attend yearly? Will your company support a certain number of local charities each year? Or, do you aim to build one new partnership with a regional supplier each quarter?
2. Create a Target Customer Persona
Networking can be less time and resource intensive than other types of marketing. Still, it requires effort, and a purposeful approach helps prioritize networking activities. Indeed, knowing what customers to target keeps your team on the same page. For instance, your porta-potty business may generate sales from construction companies. Your target customer persona should identify key decision-makers and elements that describe your ideal client.
Consider the following factors:
- Demographics: Build a profile for firms, agencies, and professionals in your geographical area. Is there a general age range, income level, or occupation that your target customer has in common?
- Industry: Will you prioritize a niche for your networking activities? Some PROs prefer to focus on events, whereas others aim for public works and emergency response situations. You can do both, but segmenting the profiles is crucial to personalize your approach.
- Portable restroom usage: Consider how often your ideal client uses portable restroom services. Also, consider where they need units (indoors or outdoors) and whether it’s for short- or long-term use.
- Challenges: What are your ideal customer’s biggest pain points? Government agencies face regulatory concerns, whereas event coordinators worry about customer service and cleanliness.
- Goals: What objectives do your targets wish to accomplish when renting portable restroom units? While construction managers prioritize safe working conditions, event organizers want attendee satisfaction.
- Behavior: What’s their buying process like? Do they require bids or have multiple stakeholders involved in the decision-making process? How long does it typically take?
- Communication channels: Nothing frustrates potential clients more than repeated calls when they prefer email or text. Learn how they conduct business and interact with other professionals.
- Budget: What constraints do your ideal customers face, and how sensitive are they to market changes? Look for details you can use while networking to demonstrate your value-added services or competitive pricing.
- Preferences: Every segment has different needs and interests. These may include luxury trailers, eco-friendly options, or family units.
- Job titles: Who should you spend time networking with? Your list may include business owners, party planners or coordinators, public works directors, local emergency managers, and construction superintendents.
3. Define Metrics and Assign Responsibilities
Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure networking outcomes. They require PROs to track activities like how often you followed up on potential opportunities or which connections referred new clients. Establishing metrics also ensures accountability. After all, you must designate staff to qualify the right people, meet goals, or explain why they couldn’t.
Again, KPIs vary depending on the business size, age, and networking objectives. At a minimum, you want to better understand your customer acquisition costs, number of activities, and networking return on investment (ROI).
Here are a few metrics your company could use:
- Number of new contacts: How has your company grown within the local community? Look at the total number of new connections derived from local events, business associations, online interactions, and one-and-one meetings.
- Local event attendance: Have you strengthened your local ties? Count how often your business was present at community gatherings, games for sponsored teams, and other local activities.
- Brand reach: Have your networking efforts increased brand visibility? Measurement examples include increased social media callouts from individuals, groups, or other companies, local media mentions, and website traffic from local sources.
- Number of referrals: Is your network sending customers your way? Calculate how many leads or clients came from word-of-mouth, specifically from networking contacts.
- Conversion rate: Are you targeting the right people? Gauge your success by measuring what percentage of contacts or leads convert to customers.
- Number of supported charities: Did you help your community this year? See if your company met its goal of providing services for outreach programs or charitable organizations.
- Networking ROI: Are you breaking even or succeeding with your networking strategy? Add the total costs of your networking efforts and compare them to the revenue directly or indirectly linked to networking.
- Number of partnerships: Have you broadened your circle? Look at ways you’ve partnered or collaborated with local leaders and businesses due to networking.
4. Outline Local Networking Activities and Tasks
Come up with a list of ways to connect with business leaders and individuals in your community. Start broad by listing everything you can think of, including follow-up tasks. Then assess the tactics to see how they relate to your goals and metrics.
Narrow them to activities you can complete weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. Each one should refer to a specific customer persona, and if you already have someone in mind, add their name and job title.
Consider these best practices when planning networking activities:
- Free or paid customer management programs can help your sales and marketing teams track networking efforts.
- Consider an account-based strategy to personalize messaging and increase engagement.
- Refer to target customer profiles and research when communicating with contacts, as this improves your wording and response rate.
- Incorporate in-person and virtual networking activities into your schedule to balance your budget and resources.
- Identify high-value tasks and contacts to ensure these receive attention, even if other duties must be pushed back.
- Aside from local events and charities, consider connecting with leaders at community colleges, high schools, and trade schools.
- Don’t forget that you’re not pushing a sale. The purpose of networking is to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
5. Personalize Your Marketing Materials and Swag
There’s a time and place for handing over a flyer listing your portable restroom services or a hat. The local waste management company supervisor may ditch your fancy rental brochure after your meeting but hold onto your branded product data sheet because your tip about sanitizing on a budget hit home.
Look over your target customer’s pain points and goals. Then think about which marketing collateral serves the purpose. A luxury event consultant will appreciate the presentation folder and full-color flyer. But you can ditch the product data sheets. The crisis management coordinator wants to see stats about what inventory you have on hand and what emergency services you provide. By personalizing what you share with your connections, you show them that you value your time.
6. Draft a Checklist for Researching Targets
An ideal persona is one thing. But meeting individuals is another. No one fits into a box. Whether you’re messaging a new LinkedIn connection or introducing yourself at a local event, knowing the person’s interests and background is vital. Fortunately, you can learn a lot about most people online and through company pages.
Encourage your team to strategize and research to come up with the best approach. It’s best to take notes while reviewing their background and create a checklist of potential talking points. This is especially important if you find a no-go topic or sore subject. You don’t want a salesperson to bring it up down the road.
7. Review Progress and Check in Regularly
Since your networking strategy is a living document, it’s vital to see what’s working and adjust your plan as needed. Look for activities that offer the highest return and those that require little effort yet have long-term advantages.
After reviewing your metrics and progress, develop insights. Every portable restroom strategy should involve learning lessons. When it comes to networking, always be willing to ask yourself, “What lesson did we learn when trying to find the right people?”
How to Build Your Portable Sanitation Industry Network
Networking with other PROs, manufacturers, and suppliers is an excellent way to stay abreast of industry news and trends. It also provides an outlet for letting off steam with like-minded business owners who understand your customer base and pain points. Joining organizations like Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) is a great starting point. But you’ll want to participate in trade shows and online forums while understanding how you and others benefit from professional networking.
Explore Opportunities to Connect with Professionals
Aside from PSAI, the Ontario Association of Sewage Industry Services (OASIS) and state wastewater removal organizations offer networking opportunities. You can attend tradeshows and conferences to meet with PROs and have fireside chats with industry leaders. But don’t forget about charity golf outings and virtual events.
For instance, PSAI provides online training sessions and virtual town halls. Online Facebook communities are a great place to ask questions that business owners outside the sanitation industry simply don’t understand. You’ll find tips on everything from dealing with non-paying customers to graffiti removal.
Best of all, going to industry events and interacting in community forums can lead to invites to meet up in person when traveling. You have a built-in group of PROs to visit the next time you take a road trip. If you keep proper records, you can deduct some expenses related to professional networking activities.
Resolve to Stay Involved
Like local networking, you can set personal goals to make new contacts and follow up with them regularly. In the same way, for relationships to last, they must be mutually beneficial. Consider how you can help others succeed, whether offering advice on a community forum or volunteering to speak at an event.
Understand the Benefits of Professional Networking
There are many advantages of attending tradeshows. But attending is different from being an active participant. You can reap even more benefits by interacting with others and establishing long-term relationships. Moreover, your contribution positively reflects on the greater portable restroom community and individual members.
A few reasons for networking with industry professionals include:
- Access to tips and tricks: Get advice from PROs with boots on the ground to improve operations, your bottom line, and customer relations.
- A glimpse at key trends: Hear from experts across the country and globe about what they’re experiencing as suppliers, manufacturers, and PROs.
- Gain a competitive edge: Whether it’s word-of-mouth referrals or early bird discounts, nurturing the right relationships can boost your company.
The Right Connections: Targeted Networking for the Win
A calculated approach to networking provides a return that goes beyond financial gains. It increases your professional reputation and gives your portable restroom business a competitive edge. Between word-of-mouth referrals and connections with other PROs, you can expand your company and get the support to grow as a leader.
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