Sensible Advice and Lots of It, at the 2010 Nuts & Bolts PSAI Workshop

Running a business can be a lonely and frustrating experience — a feeling that those in the sanitation service industry know quite well. They operate on a razor-thin profit margin in an industry with a patchwork of certifications and regulations from all sorts of local, state and federal regulators.
The Portable Sanitation Association International looks out for the interests of those who own and work in the sanitation service industry. Their weekend-long Nuts & Bolts Workshop at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi in March offered a wide and attention-grabbing array of topics. Customer service, the use of so-called “social media” and profitability were among some of the topics covered. Tossed into the mix was a speaker who motivated members by discussing a high-profile corporate whistle blower.
The main session began Friday, March 26 with a presentation by guest speaker Paul Chaney who explained the reasons business owners like themselves have become frustrated with the effectiveness of traditional advertising and marketing.
As consumers are becoming more “elusive” owners of companies both large and small need to use non-traditional methods such as social media via the Internet to corral consumers. Chaney used real-life examples to illustrate his message. Among the questions from attendees were how to use computer blogs to promote their companies, how much time those blogs require and what sort of business information should be included on a blog.
The morning session was followed by an interactive workshop moderated by speaker Rob Little. His focus was geared for attendees who have long-term working relationships with those in their companies. The goal is to help them discover new ways of working together.
Friday’s round table discussions gave attendees an opportunity to brainstorm on issues that affect them daily. The cost – the real cost – of doing business, how to save money and increase profits, customer service and ways to manage repair expenses for restrooms and trucks were all on the agenda.
Other roundtable discussions Friday were tips that companies can use to differentiate themselves from their competition in ways other than pricing, route management and monitoring, social media networking as a sales tool and web marketing and company branding.
The day wrapped up with attendees meeting in a final session to discuss common problems based on company size, from under 500 units, from 501 to 1,500 units, 1,501 to 3,000 units, and companies over 3,000 units.
On Saturday, Stevin Hoover, an author who wrote a book on FBI informant Mark Whitacre, the highest profile corporate whistle blower of all time, spoke.
Hoover speaks and writes about white-collar crime and is the leader expert on Whitacre and how he overcame adversity (Whitacre, you may recall, served time in prison). Hoover discussed how Whitacre overcame adversity and how his experience can be applied to personal and professional relationships.
Also on Saturday was the topic of the cost of doing business. A panel discussion, led by Flay Anthony, included Tim Peterson, Mike Rice, Jeff Wolfarth and Millicent Carroll.
The group reexamined the direct expense portion of the cost per service analysis that was presented at last spring’s workshop. The goal was to assure that all expenses are factored in when determining a price structure that will assure profitability.
Other sessions covered on Saturday included cell phones in the workplace, marketing for specific segments such as special events or construction, deodorizers, route management and monitoring and team building. The afternoon session provided health and safety certification opportunities.
In addition, to the speakers and certification, attendees had an opportunity to meet with exhibitors.

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