Trailers Gain Traction

Portable trailers have risen in popularity in recent years. From events to disaster relief, the uses are endless as people demand roomier restroom facilities. David Sauers, co-owner of Royal Restrooms in Savannah, Ga, began his business providing trailers at weddings. “It soon progressed to military, and now it’s almost an everyday use with 5K runs and high school football games.”

EVENTS

“When we started our business 11 years ago, festivals only used porta-potties at the events in our area,” says Robert Glisson, co-owner of Royal Restrooms. “This includes high-end festivals from wine and food to events like Children’s Book Festivals. Food is served at most of the festivals and children are often present. It made no sense to us that you could charge $50 per person to come to a wine festival and have women dressed in sun dresses and high heels but yet they had to use a porta-potty. So we approached the event coordinators concerning these events.

“At first the coordinators did not want to talk or even consider the idea because of the cost. We explained that if they were to get air conditioned restrooms with sinks, running water, mirrors and stereos, then their patrons would stay longer, thereby spending more money at their event. For instance, if it was 95 in Savannah (as it is during the summer), someone might just go home because they had to use the restroom instead of staying and using a porta-potty.”

“The clients were not sold at first so we talked the coordinators into using restroom trailers by matching the price they paid for porta-potties for one year. They accepted and the response was so overwhelming that patrons made more comments regarding the restrooms than the decorations, the event location and even the band. It was their most complemented item.

“Needless to say, we still do that same event after 7 years. After that, other festivals noticed the trailers, spoke with the original user and decided to give it a try at their festival. They experienced the same effect with their customers. The festivals made more money and the patrons were happier; it was a win-win for everyone.

“We even went as far as helping event coordinators determine how much they would need to increase the cost per ticket to afford the restrooms. In some cases, this was as low as 50 cents per ticket. So for an extra 50 cents, they could use the restroom in luxury; a small price increase over what they were already paying. We now service festivals all over the southeast and beyond.

Sauers explains that parents with children who need to go to the bathroom or need a changing table will opt to go to a restaurant down the street rather than try the balancing act of going into a porta-potty.

CORPORATE REMODELS

“We are OSHA-approved,” says Sauers. “So when a national chain needs to remodel their restrooms, they can bring in one of our trailers and knock out both of their bathrooms at one time, which reduces their cost and downtime.

“We’ve handled remodels for a national chain for years. It used to take them six weeks to complete their remodels, but now they’ve got it down to 2-3 weeks.”
MILITARY

“We began fulfilling military contracts early on,” says Sauers. “As our footprint and inventory expanded, we gained nationwide coverage and have crossed international waters. Each contract has its unique specs, including user ratios, stringent timelines, finite details and little to no room for error. Safety is of utmost importance. The rest depends on our own adaptability and innovation to satisfy their strict requirements. That’s a challenge we like. As a result, we set industry standards often relied upon by military agencies during their bid planning process.

DISASTER RELIEF

After Hurricane Katrina hit, Sauers travelled to Louisiana and Mississippi to help. He met with disaster management groups, learned how FEMA operates, and the chain of command for municipalities and state governments. “There is a very clear chain during disaster response,” says Sauers. “I started going to hurricane conferences, operations command centers, and participated in mock disaster scenarios. Once I got my foot in the door, I received invitations to different conferences and meetings. You have to earn their respect before they will even look at you. It took a number of years to get embedded to where we are now. We’ve provided trailers after floods, fires, tornadoes, ice storms–almost every major disaster.”

Sauers warns he put in a lot of time and effort before he saw a profit. “Things are constantly changing too–the way people pay and general preparedness. You may get a call second hand from another person who is looking for a turnkey operation for a camp.

“Everyone likes a hot meal, but when you’ve gone a few days without a hot shower, well we aren’t used to that. That can make you more miserable and hurt morale. Planning accordingly can make a difference.”

Sauers began advising on disaster preparedness and participating at conferences. One of his main pieces of advice is, “There is a limited supply of restrooms and showers and we need to be thought of at the forefront rather than an afterthought.”

LOGISTICS PLANNING AND CONSULTING

Sauers has worked with event planners for both the Republican and Democratic conventions and other large scale events. “Those events come down to security,” says Sauers. “They want to know how quickly you can get in and out, having the right passes, lettering on uniforms and equipment.

“We have the number of trailers required down to a science. It is mixture of what you would like and what we recommend, that goes for both restrooms and showers.

“The beauty of our ability to respond to a disaster is that if there is a tornado and they need 35 trailers in two days time, we can deliver that. The closest office may not have 35 available trailers, but the other owners pull together to provide what is needed. One office probably won’t have the man power either, but again, they pull together to provide the service.”

FUTURE

Dan Fischer, sales manager at Comforts of Home Services, Inc., has seen the demand for trailers increase among mid-size trailers (14’ to 20’). He says this is especially true with semi-private models where consumers have more toilets or urinals within the same frame layout compared to the private room mode.

Many in the industry feel that as consumers become accustomed to roomier bathroom options, the new norm will be trailers as opposed to the single porta-potty.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

For more information:

Royal Restrooms, www.royalrestrooms.com
Comforts of Home, www.cohsi.com

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