The Stool Bus—Follow the Movement

When Jay Carroll pulls up to pump a customer’s septic in Pie Town, New Mexico, people easily confuse him with the local school bus driver. Upon closer inspection, one can see that the bright yellow school bus is, in fact, The Stool Bus, complete with the Pie Town Independent Stool District logo which looks similar to the school district logo. Sitting behind painted windows, are Loosey Stool, Pu-Wee and Stinky, Corny, Skidder, and Deuce—all on their way to “stool”.

“People can have a bathtub full of sewage, but when they see the truck, they just smile,” says Carroll. “They universally love it and the humor of it defuses an otherwise stressful crisis situation. Some have waved me down on the road so they could take a picture of it. One lady even stood right in the middle of the lane like a traffic cop and pulled me over.”

Stool Master Carroll enjoys putting a smile on people’s faces, which often happens again when he hands them their “Stool Rules”, an informational theme-related brochure for customers that shows them what not to do and how to maintain their system. “Unfortunately for some people, it isn’t until they have to have their leach field dug up that they realize the importance of maintenance. We try to educate them in a more memorable way.”

So far, the bus has made an appearance in several parades, winning prizes for originality and theme. “We live in a small community, so we just ham it up and try to educate people about the importance of maintaining their system,” says Carroll. “It’s proving to be a successful concept. We believe we’ve found a way to make a discussion of septic issues fun, and it sure helps people remember who we are.”

A couple of months ago, there was a dire septic situation with a resident that lived two hours away. “They knew we were coming, but when we got there, a man came out and told us that we were in the wrong place, that they didn’t have any children,” says Carroll. “We had to say, ‘No, we’re with the Stool Bus.’”

Pie Town is a rural–and primarily residential–community, which takes Carroll and partners, son Jason and Corey Albin, great distances to provide a variety of services such as installation, pumping, inspections, and repairs. Last year, they added portable restrooms, called stool rooms of course, that carry the same Stool Bus theme.

High desert and mountainous conditions require Carroll to primarily install drain fields made of infiltrator or some form of chamber. “Hauling gravel way out here is not practical because of the cost of materials and delivery. We can come with a backhoe and poly tanks from Norwesco or Snyder to do an installation. Concrete tanks present another delivery issue with hauling, loading and unloading.”

“We use Arc 36, which has worked well,” says Carroll. “The 5-foot chambers are easy to handle and flexible enough that you can bend to avoid obstacles, within reason. It’s real practical and among the more affordable and available.”

The Stool Bus partners have built a solid reputation in western New Mexico. “Word travels fast and we want people to truly believe that they got a good deal and tell others that they did and were treated right.”

It’s fairly common for the Stool Masters to spend 40 minutes talking to people about their septic systems. “It amazes me how little people know. Those conversations have given us a lot of customers as well.”

Carroll is a firm believer in customer service. “Even though we are a small community, people do have choices,” says Carroll. “I spend my time with them and make it as pleasant and informative of an experience as possible.”

Currently, Carroll has one truck, but he’s looking to add another one. “We are looking for the right truck now. We already have the vac tank and the pump ready to mount. We are a debt free company and keep money in the bank. So, when we find what we’re looking for, we’ll put another truck together.”

Carroll grew up in the septic business with his dad before going into the construction business about 20 years ago, which he and his family also own. When excavating for an install, he prefers to use his CASE Excavator, a CASE skid steer, and “a lot of shovels.”

The Stool Masters are thinking about continuing the movement by franchising. They own copyrights to the name and all of the graphic features and slogans. “Our goal isn’t to own fleets of trucks all around the country, but I know that there are other companies out there who do have multiple trucks and competitors,” says Carroll. “If they are established, reputable and want to capture a greater share of their local or regional market, we think it might make sense for them to at least consider the value of dressing up those trucks as we have with our distinctive and memorable Stool Bus branding concept.” We’ve even considered negotiating with the right person to do a regional start-up. After all, we started with zero business and zero exposure and now, three years later, we are busy. Name recognition and a sticky brand are keys to that success.”

You might think that Carroll is in business to make people laugh. But, The Stool Bus has made his business quite regular. “People remember The Stool Bus—and they do it with a smile on their faces. That’s powerful.”

Story by Jennifer Taylor

Resources

You can follow the movement at www.stoolbus.com

For more information:

Norwesco, www.norwesco.com

Snyder tanks, www.snydernet.com

Arc 36, www.ads-pipe.com

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!