These days we all use our fingers to shop or at least I know I do. When I want to find something, I use my favorite search engine to find what I want. That doesn't mean I always order online. Some things I want to see in person before I buy, like cars. I want to drive them first, gotta see how fast they go, ha!
Most people don't want or need to see a portable toilet in person before renting one. But before you start securing one through a local porta potty company, there is something important to know. You really need to make sure the company you are ordering from is an actual rental company with a "brick and mortar" location and has a real physical presence.
Why is this important? For one thing, you want to make sure you are getting exactly what you see online when ordering. There are nationwide brokers that setup fancy websites that lead online shoppers to believe they are legitimate companies. But they are just a 3rd party. You don't need a middleman. You need a licensed/insured & qualified portable sanitation provider. You will receive the equipment you were originally shopping for, the service you need (and are required to have by law), and you'll pay normal rates (not inflated rates) for the rental and service.
To the untrained eye, it's difficult to spot a broker. But I'm gonna teach you how. So put on your private investigator hat and let's begin.
First and foremost, I recommend using Google Maps because of the street view that this search engine provides. Search for something like "porta potty rentals near me" or "portable toilet rentals Naples", but substitute Naples for the city in which you need the toilet stationed.
If the company has an address listed, do two things:
First, look at the street view photo. This is a picture taken by Google's very own Street View car. Look for a warehouse, shop, or a large yard because legitimate portable restroom companies need these to store their equipment.
But if the street view shows a house, virtual office, UPS Pack and Ship store, vacant lot, or a shopping center, that's a good indication it belongs to a broker. All of these tactics are against Googles guidelines for business owners representing their business. Yet brokers knowingly continue to break the rules.
The reason is because they don't typically have brick and mortar locations. So if they are headquartered in Atlanta (as an example), but you're searching for porta potty providers in Naples, their company won't show up unless they create a bogus listing on Google Maps (or purchase Google Ads which is the proper way to advertise). They'll create a keyword-stuffed, bogus listing such as "Naples Porta Potty Rental Company".
Secondly, open Google.com on another tab in your browser, copy and paste that address, and click search. Many times you'll find that the address or suite is occupied by another company already. We've discovered brokers who've listed their company addresses at dry cleaners, nail salons, construction sites, kitchen & bath showrooms, private residences, virtual offices, and condo complexes. These are all red flags of shady business practices.
If the company does not have an address listed (in other words they consider themselves a Service Area Business), then they will not have any street view photos on Google Maps. But you can still learn more about them in the following ways.
1. Call the phone number listed. Most times you'll get a recording from a company that goes by a different name. I'm not going to name names. But you'll quickly find out that many porta potty brokers are also in the business of dumpster rentals and other site services.
2. On their Google Maps listing and their website, look for generic pictures that don't have a company logo on any of the toilets. There isn't a logo because they "broker" with local suppliers to provide you, the customer, with porta potties. If they do have their logo pictured on a toilet, it has most likely been photo shopped. If you hire a broker, don't be surprised if when the porta potty shows up, it has another company's name on it.
3. Look for service trucks with logos on their Google listing and website. If there are none, it's because brokers typically don't own their toilets, nor do they service them. Again, they hire local providers to take care of the work, while they take their cut of the profit.
4. Does their website have an "About Us" page? Do they openly list key team members within the company? If not, maybe there's a reason why they want to remain faceless.
There may be times when you get a more attractive quote from a broker than from a local provider. Obviously it happens, otherwise they wouldn’t still be in business. If this is the case, make sure you do your homework. When you call, get their company name and the city in which they are headquartered.
Then search for the company on the Better Business Bureau. On bbb.org, you can see the broker’s rating, read positive and negative reviews, and customer complaints. If a customer has filed a formal complaint, it’s because they haven’t had a good experience with the broker and are seeking a resolution with the help of the BBB. Pay close attention to how the broker responds. Do they try to resolve the problem or play the blame game? Or do they just remain silent? At JW Craft, we love praise but we also love the opportunity to right a wrong if a problem occurs.
I hope these tactics have taught you how to discern brokers from local service providers. But if you still have questions, post them below in the comments. And if you have an event or a large project coming up, you need a qualified portable toilet provider working with you. I always encourage customers to choose a portable restroom provider that is a PSAI member.
About the author: Jennifer Corrigan is the vice president of JW Craft Portable Restrooms in Naples, a provider of porta potties and restroom trailer rentals in South Florida, especially Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. She is also the president of Sanitation Solutions, Inc. a retailer of brand new sanitation equipment in the U.S., Guam, Caribbean Islands, and South America.