Detroit’s Trailer Events, LLC Rises to the Occasion

It all started in 2012, when Kristin Brochert was in the property restoration business. A client had an assisted living facility, at which the kitchen roof caved in. Rather than having the insurance company displace all of the patients because they weren’t able to provide meals, and pay the facility loss of income, she found an out-of-the-box solution that everyone could get on board with. After researching, she found that there weren’t any companies in the Midwest that rented out kitchen trailers for such emergency situations. She had a kitchen trailer brought onsite all the way from a company in Texas. Of course, in those days, since options were so limited, it wasn’t an ideal solution. Still, the trailer was badly needed, and ended up staying onsite for over a year.
Kristin planned all the corporate events for that company, including Tigers Opening Day. She learned that there’s a lot of moving parts to plan events, and that having a flushing toilet and kitchen were game-changers in their own right. She could see the enormous service and profit potential in setting up kitchen and restroom trailers at events and emergency sites. Ultimately, she decided to run with the idea. Here, she looks back on the lead-up to the launch of her own event trailer rental enterprise and these past years of growing her successful Detroit business:
The Building of a Successful Trailer Events Business in Detroit
I started working with a company from down south to custom build a kitchen trailer. In the meantime, I built two tailgate trailers. Those are used for a lot of tailgates, such as college sporting events, Detroit Tigers and Lions games and others. Our specialty tailgate trailers fit in one parking space and are fully equipped with a TV, satellite, sink, microwave, a grill, kegerator and a restroom. Over time, we found there was need for more restrooms for our events. I met with JAG (luxury event trailers manufacturer) and added a couple of restroom trailers to our inventory. We serve a wide range of clients at a wide variety of events, and we want to be able to accommodate all of them.
Offering the restrooms has been huge for our business; they go out every other day. It’s a really hot market right now, so we just received pricing to add an 8-stall and a 2-stall restroom trailer. They’re used at venues that might only have one bathroom, and at picnics, and at all sorts of outdoor events. We use the kitchen trailer for outdoor weddings and various events, but it tends to be more of a long-term solution during kitchen renovations and emergency situations. All of TE’s trailers are winterized, so they can be used year-round. Of course, people also rent a lot of other things: tents, tables and chairs, catering and bar items, and our newest addition, furniture. We have both black and white leather sofas, accent chairs, and tables and many other rental items for events.
We have several full-time employees, plus additional seasonal workers during the busy season. I have been lucky enough to have the same college students come back every summer to work. We are excited that one of our summer paid interns who has now graduated in the event planning field is now starting to work for us full-time as an Event Planner.
How Brochert Makes it All Work at Trailer Events LLC, Detroit
When the kitchen trailer is dropped off and set up, we show our clients how to use the equipment, but we typically don’t stay onsite with it. However, we do offer an option for a tech to service the equipment if needed. Although, we’re usually close by. We service all of Michigan. We will go outside Michigan, but, so far all of our business has been in state.
With the restroom trailer, we have an option to add a restroom porter service, for an additional fee. That person stays with the trailer during the event, to restock and clean the restrooms or take care of anything that needs to be done. When it comes to the tailgate trailers, someone stays onsite throughout the entire event, because we do not expect clients to know how to operate the satellite, the TV, etc..
I’m very lucky to have a really good staff. We work hard and very long hours. Everybody’s been with me a while, they’re loyal. I have a great assistant and warehouse guys, who are dedicated to getting deliveries out on time. At first, everybody told me I was looking for a unicorn — somebody handy who could deliver trailers and also talk with clients professionally. I have several of those guys who can do all of it.
Quality Commitment by the TE Team
My background is in sales and marketing. It wasn’t hard sales; it was more entertaining and building relationships, trying to keep in front of clients, taking them to golf outings and sporting events. I also worked for several hotels and restaurants. I am fortunate now to do business with a lot of restoration companies.
We have a warehouse and office in Troy (13,000 square feet) and another storage facility for furniture in Livonia. Even though our trailers are winterized, we keep the trailers inside during the winter, to keep them from damage during Michigan’s long and cold winters. We have a very strict and detailed system for managing our equipment, how it’s handled, checking for damage when it’s returned, and how we maintain and inventory it. The inventory is always something challenging to keep up with, because we are always adding to it, but we have a lot of processes in place, and we’re always tweaking them.
Trailer Events, LLC Marketing and Branding
All of our vehicles have logos, and the employees all wear tee shirts, jackets, sweat shirts, etc., with the logo. We do pay for some advertising in local ad spaces in the spring and fall, and we set up at several trades shows each year. We also sponsor and set up at golf outings, and have employees pass out information there. We’re on Wedding Wire, and we use Bark leads. But, most of our business is repeat business and from word of mouth. Every year, we do a lot of the same corporate events. For example, twelve different companies host an annual Detroit Tigers Opening Day event, which hires us to coordinate it. We usually have around 1,500 people in attendance.
In the metro Detroit area there are a lot of local event companies. We all try to work together and send each other business, because there is plenty to go around. We’ve found that once we establish a relationship with a client company, they typically don’t look elsewhere. If I can’t accommodate them, I’ll work with other local companies to help them find what they’re looking for.
What sets us apart is how professionally we handle things. Clients choose us partly because of the follow-up we consistently do, from the first email or phone call. When arriving at the event site, we don’t just drop the equipment off. We go the extra mile. For example, we set up a wedding, and when it started raining, I sent an employee to the store to purchase weather-proof rugs to put in front of the restroom trailers so people wouldn’t slip. I think little things like that go a long way with people.
The quality of our equipment is important to us. You can be the best at follow-up and attention to detail, but you also need top-quality equipment. Our trailers are high-end models. They’re part of JAG’s urban collection, with wood-grained floors and modern interiors. People say, “It’s fancier than my bathroom at home.” I’ve custom built the trailers with JAG and added features such as an on-board water tank, to accommodate the venues that don’t have a hose hookup, which some local trailer rental companies don’t offer.
When renting from TE, people know what they’re paying for. Some rental equipment I’ve seen from other companies looks like it needs to be replaced. People compare what we deliver with others and comment on our quality. The whole process from start to finish, from quote pricing, to picking up the equipment after their event, is a seamless, convenient and high-quality experience for our clients. We take pride in that.
We use a local company to pump out our trailers after events and to provide standard porta potty units when clients request those. I rent several porta potties from them year ’round and refer any calls to them for that type of service. I’m okay with sending that business to them. I believe staying in your own lane. What I do is what I’m familiar with.
Cutting-Edge Employee Development at TE, LLC
We have a company software program that we use to manage all of our events, clients, vendors, employees, and inventory and contracts. We create detailed equipment load sheets for all of our deliveries. Our employees stay on track with their tasks by using our collaborative work schedule, that can be updated in live time on the mobile app. The best thing we do is communicate closely. Part of the staff’s job is to send photos of the setup from their smart phones to us at the office, so we can share those on our social media sites.
For the past couple of years, I’ve sent staff to Adobe MAX: The Creativity Conference, to attend various classes that they choose at the conference. There, they learn the latest marketing techniques, strategies, and software. I think it’s important to stay up to up to date with latest technologies.
We do a lot of company things together. I feel it’s very important to keep our team close. We’re are always setting up events for others, so it’s nice to have a lot of our own company events. We all work so hard, so it’s great having events throughout the year, just to get out of the office and to show appreciation. For example, we have an event for clients every single day in June. We’re running all the time. So, we deserve a break, when we can take one.
We try to make our monthly meetings fun too. It’s not all about what we’re not doing right, but what we can do better. I like to get everybody’s opinions and ideas. Everybody has an idea. I like to challenge the team with exercises like, “What do you think is the best way to do this process?” I want to get them involved, to have everyone take ownership.
Challenges for Trailer Events LLC
To the question of Kristin’s major challenges in managing her business, unsurprisingly, she identified one of the two universal issues that portable restroom rental business owners throughout the industry have told American Liquid Waste magazine are their biggest difficulties — finding good employees and maintaining vehicles and equipment. Kristin, to her great credit, only has one of those two issues. She describes the issue in straightforward terms: Right now, it seems like there are a lot of people who want to work, but don’t really want to work.
Advice for Industry Newcomers from Kristin Brochert, Trailer Events, LLC
It has been a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t change my decision to leave the corporate world and start this business. But, being an entrepreneur starting a business is a lot more work than people may think it is. It takes dedication, building loyalty, and having a love for what you’re doing. If you’re not a hundred percent sold on it, nobody else will be.
If you are going into this business, finding the right manufacturer is key. When I found JAG, the follow-through from them and the communication was excellent. I haven’t had any issues, but if anything went wrong, we have a close relationship, so I can call and ask questions. When we need a part replacement, I can order it through them and it’s there the next day. I feel lucky to have found JAG and to be in their referral network.
Keep in mind that a lot of times, you have to set up and break down in the same day for events. Also, scheduling and having a lot of events on the same day is normal. Plus, clients frequently will change things throughout the day, sometimes all the way up until the time the crew is arriving. Those things are all just part of the event business.
Kristin’s added as her final advice that new market entrants should be sure that this is the kind of business you’ll enjoy, before you embark on event services and equipment rental enterprise. This is the wisdom we hear from all of the most successful business owners in the industry.
Trailer event rental services is clearly a demanding, intensely detail-laden business, in which only the most efficient and driven individuals find long-term entrepreneurial success. Kristin Brochert of Trailer Events, LLC in Detroit MI is recognizable as a top performer in event business management, and among the best in the industry for focus on quality and customer and employee satisfaction.
STORY BY B JACKSON

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