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2023 kicked off with talk of an economic downturn looming over the horizon, and it sparked a wave of caution. Many portable restroom operators pulled back on the reins, holding off on major investments. New johns, trucks, trailers—these big-ticket items took a backseat as operators looked ahead with a wary eye.
But you know what? In spite of all that caution, the winds of fortune blew favorably for our industry in Q1 and Q2 (so far). And we’re not just talking about keeping the ship steady. We’re seeing numbers that are good. In fact some operators are saying that for the first time in what feels like an eternity, they are starting to see this as the first “normal” year post-Covid.
However, every silver lining has a cloud. There’s a potential storm brewing for the operators who opted for caution over expansion. The summer season is typically our Super Bowl, packed with events and construction projects. Operators might find it tough to meet this onslaught without the necessary units.
Why? Well, suppliers felt the pinch in April with less than anticipated orders, but are starting to see a wave of demand in May. The good news is that supply chain issues are not what they were last year, so portable toilet suppliers should be able to react quickly to an uptick in demand.
So how do you know if you’ll have enough inventory to handle the demand of a “normal” busy season? A quick and easy way is to use a tool that shows you how much inventory you’ll have for any future date based on what you’ve sold so far (like ServiceCore). For example, how much inventory will you have available for the 4th of July festivities? If your answer is “I don’t know,” Houston we have a problem.
If you don’t have an easy way to see how much inventory you’ll have in the future, there’s still time to figure it out. Have someone in your office look at all of the jobs you’ve sold so far for the summer months and map that out on a Google calendar. Now compare that with the inventory in your yard, and what will be coming available from existing jobs. Do you have enough inventory to get you through the busy season?
So, if you’re an operator that’s taken a conservative approach to 2023, now’s the time to take a good look at your business and determine if you’re ready to crush it during the upcoming busy season.
What does the second half of 2023 have in store for the portable restroom rental industry?
According to the 2022 Portable Sanitation Benchmark Report the majority of business for the most profitable PROs came from the home builder category. So how’s the home builder industry doing so far in 2023?
In the first few months of 2023, major U.S. builders, including D.R. Horton and PulteGroup from the Fortune 500 list, are experiencing improved business conditions as buyer demand stabilizes. They reported a substantial decrease in cancellation rates. D.R. Horton’s rate dropped from 27% to 18%, while PulteGroup saw a decline from 32% to 13% in the first quarter of 2023.
Two main factors are driving this improvement to the housing market.
First, the U.S. housing market has stabilized in 2023, mainly due to lower mortgage rates (now under 7%) and a lack of existing home inventory, restoring equilibrium in the market.
Secondly, homebuilders have recently gained a competitive edge over the resale market. During the Pandemic Housing Boom, when the demand for housing seemed limitless, builders managed to achieve high profit margins by quickly increasing new house prices. These high margins have provided builders with the flexibility to reduce prices or implement aggressive rate buydowns to revive buyer demand as mortgage rates instigated a housing slump last year. Consequently, these builders now have a competitive advantage over individuals trying to sell their houses.
The resurgence in the home building industry is good news for portable restroom rental businesses!
As construction sites pick up the pace, there will be increased demand for portable restrooms, leading to potentially higher revenues for these companies. However, the increase in construction may also result in higher demand during busy seasons, leading to potential challenges in servicing all customers effectively, especially for those businesses that were cautious in expanding their inventory due to earlier economic uncertainty.
Additionally, as builders pivot to constructing more townhomes, new types of construction sites could emerge, possibly leading to different demands and opportunities for portable restroom rental businesses.
In essence, the success of the home building industry has a direct, positive effect on the portable toilet rental industry. It creates more opportunities, but also emphasizes the need for these businesses to adapt to changing demands and ensure they have the capacity to meet the needs of home builders and construction companies.
The portable restroom industry isn’t merely getting by, it’s thriving. One thing’s for sure—the portable restroom industry isn’t going anywhere. We’re resilient, we’re adaptable, and we’re ready for whatever comes our way. Here’s to holding steady through the rest of 2023!