In the Money Business: Abe Breuer’s Approach with John To Go

How does a teenager with ADHD who had problems in school rise to become the CEO, owner, and operator of one of the best portable toilet companies in New York City’s Tri-State area? Through persistence, dedication to exceptional customer service, hard work, and attention to detail. Abe Breuer is the owner and operator of John To Go and VIP To Go, a pair of portable toilet companies that approach the business from a different — and very successful — perspective.
If you take a drive through the Tri-State area around New York City, there’s a good chance you’ll see distinctive purple portable toilets and the trucks used to service them. Founded by Abe Breuer and his brother, Victor John To Go takes a unique approach to the liquid waste industry by creating a strong focus on the business side rather than the portable toilet side. This has allowed the company to reach unexpected new growth through customer retention and strong referrals.

The History of John To Go and VIP To Go

When construction was hot in the U.S. and New York City area in the early 2000s, Abe and his brother knew that they wanted to get involved in the market, but they didn’t want to build homes or skyscrapers. Instead, they wanted to get involved with the industry by providing a service that would make it easier for the contractors to be successful without competing with them. After careful consideration of the options available to them, the brothers looked into portable toilets. But why portable toilets? Investing in a business takes money, and many people prefer to focus on more glamorous industries. However, everyone needs toilets, making it a solid market to invest in.
At the intersection of the money in construction in the region, demand for services and the money going into liquid waste companies in the region was the beginning of a solid business plan. In 2004, John To Go was founded, followed shortly after by VIP To Go, which provides luxury restroom and shower trailers for long and short-term jobs nationwide (in the region). This allowed the brothers to spread their business across the area, bringing in a little income from each project.

What Makes John To Go Stand Out from the Crowd

The company was started on the concept that the business was focused on making money by renting toilets. “We’re not in the toilet business,” Abe declared during our interview. “We are basically in the money business, and the way we make money is by actually renting toilets.” Because it’s often not considered a very prestigious business, many people in the business dress the part. “They always dress the part. They dress dirty and they don’t take care of themselves and the same thing with the image of their company because they think they are in the toilet business. We’re in the money business. Some people make money through real estate, some people make money from Wall Street and we make money from toilets.”
The company invested in new equipment, deciding to choose purple for their marketing so that they’d stand out from the crowd with a happier color. Standing out is just part of the business here, with a strong focus on the business side of the company. “If you come into our office, it’s state of the art, beautiful, you’d think we run a hedge fund all year. That’s basically what makes our business different than anybody else.”
Another difference is the yes attitude you’ll see throughout the company. If it’s at all possible to meet a client’s request, whether it’s for a last-minute movie shoot, an extra service visit, or a late-evening dropoff time, it gets done. “I wouldn’t say yes if you want me to remove your tonsils, but if it’s in the realm of things that we can do, that’s a yes. That’s the attitude and the image that we’ve given to our clients, our employees, and ourselves, it’s basically what has gotten us to today,” Abe mentions. Is it any surprise the level of success the business is seeing?

A Review of John To Go’s Leadership Team

CEO Abe Breuer

Starting his first business at age 16, Abe Breuer is a down-to-earth entrepreneur who sees possibilities everywhere. “Every single day, every person every coincidence every challenge is simply an opportunity.”
CFO Victor Breuer

Abe’s brother Victor has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from American InterContinental Industry and has extensive experience in sales and marketing.

Accounting Manager Cindy Hall

With extensive bookkeeping and accounting experience stretching back nearly two decades, Cindy puts her experience to use every day keeping John To Go operating efficiently and effectively.

Customer Service/Sales Manager Breindy I.

Though it’s somewhat unusual for companies to combine their customer service and sales departments, John To Go’s family-like relationship with their customers makes it work well under Breindy’s thoughtful management.
Dispatch/Operations Manager Yakov Soifer
With a larger-than-usual dispatch center to manage the company’s digital assets as well as physical ones, Yakov does a wonderful job of keeping everything moving smoothly around the city and the business.

A Review of John To Go’s Equipment Inventory

But what kind of equipment does such a successful company use to keep their business running effectively? To start, new equipment. “We roll over our equipment every two or three years, so our equipment is always new.” But why make such a big investment rather than purchasing used equipment? “We want one thing, that a phone call should never come into us saying, ‘Your equipment was faulty,’ or, ‘Your picture said A and this arrived B.” This should never happen.” New equipment is the best way to avoid these issues, especially on busy Tri-State streets.
The company sticks to small and medium trucks that they can maintain in-house, allowing them to always be able to take care of any issues that may arise. A fleet of Ford F-350 pickups, as well as F-550 and Hino 195 medium-size trucks, handle a lot of the daily load, along with Satellite and FlowMark pump trucks. They also invest in portable toilets from PolyJohn and purchase restroom trailers from Black Tie, Rich Restrooms, and Satellite. This equipment is also replaced every 18-24 months to ensure it’s reliable and doesn’t cause problems for the customer.

John To Go’s Changes to Improve Business Growth

Among the changes that John To Go has seen over the years is how digital transformation is sweeping across the industry. Rather than sticking with older methods of doing business, Abe has made certain that the company keeps up with the latest state-of-the-art technology. This starts with their website, which includes automatic quote generation and booking. A company employee is available 24-7 to ensure that someone can answer the live chat with actual help for the interested party.
But the investments in tech don’t stop there. Every truck has cameras and trackers on board that record the location and video of every service stop. These assets are automatically tied into the dispatch department so that the customer can receive proof that a location was serviced or otherwise have proof of exactly what happened at a specific time. A few moments of time in the dispatch department provides the client with emails containing video links for their verification.

A Look at John To Go’s Daily Operations

The day starts the evening before. “By the time dispatch and operations leave the day before, they’ll have all the paperwork and everything prepped for the trucks. We have an overnight guy that will clean, stock, and take care of the trucks so the drivers can come in and simply do a check on their trucks to make sure everything works before they leave.”
Once the drivers arrive at midnight, the first thing they do is a multi-point inspection of the truck they’re taking out. They’ll check the tires, lights, pump, PTO, and vacuum system to ensure they’re all operating effectively. “The last thing you want (is when) you drive out 45 minutes to your first stop and you get there and your pump isn’t working.”
Between midnight and 6 AM, the trucks are rolling out to get around the traffic issues that commonly arise in the area. The dispatch team comes in a 7 AM, customer service/sales at 8 AM, and then there are people in the office until about 7 PM. This creates a solid 12 hours of phone-answering capabilities and coverage to deliver strong customer service.

Handling Sales and Marketing in the Tri-State Area

But how does a company this successful manage sales and marketing? Social media, PPC, SEO, and great marketing staff are at the heart of this business. At the same time, management encourages employees to bring in pictures of the jobs they do, with 20 pictures earning them a $10 bonus, cap, shirt, or another reward.
Every question that comes in is answered, whether it’s via phone, email, social media, or the website contact forms, even if it’s to tell the person that it can’t be done. “It turns into appreciation by the actual customer, regardless of whether they become a customer or not.” Even more impressive is that every contact has a 3-hour maximum turnaround for a phone call or return contact, ensuring that the customers are getting answers quickly.
Because of the strong focus on customer service, the company grew faster year after year than was expected. This is probably the largest challenge Abe has faced with the company, the typical growing pains of a highly-successful business.

John To Go’s Approach to Sustainability and Green Business Practices

When two contracts in 2015-2016 were looking for a green company to do business with, Abe switched the business’ supplies to using recycled paper products and safer chemicals, keeping the entire business using these products since that point so that it doesn’t become an issue again.
At the same time, using new trucks and equipment means the vehicles have lower emissions, don’t leak, or otherwise cause pollution issues while in operation. That’s just another part of the process of being a top-notch, state-of-the-art company.

How Abe Approaches a Business Growth Strategy

Rather than focusing on what other businesses are doing in the area, Abe has a different approach. “We try to focus on ourselves and our customers. Our customers are considered family. We have a benchmark of trying to retain 98% of our customers. If we do retain 98% of our customers through good service, then we could continue to grow the way we have.”
In addition, the management team focuses on what they can do better and how the customer’s needs are changing. They explore new avenues of growth, underserved locations in the region, and potential acquisitions of other businesses that allow them to expand into existing markets.

Abe’s Advice for Newcomers in the Industry

“If you’re getting yourself into this or any other market, the one thing that you need to understand is that if you’re not a person that’s willing to live from one day $150,000 a year and the next day at maybe $10 a year, meaning maybe you don’t have the stomach to stomach that, you’re just not meant for it,” Abe mentions in our interview.
“But whatever you do, work very, very hard. A little sleep, work very hard, use your head overusing your hands and you’ll succeed. Be very committed, including the fact that you may live for weeks and months and maybe even years where you’re working for your employees and you’re the last one to get paid because that’s just a fact. If you know what you’re doing and you’ve got the prize in front of you, you work very hard to get to that prize and you will succeed.”

By prioritizing quality customer service, marketing, and standing out from the crowd, Abe Breuer has built a solid company that will see continued growth for many years to come. Explore John To Go and VIP To Go’s websites for more details. www.johntogo.com and viptogo.com

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