• 1-844-336-0611

ToiletTalk Episode 8: Empowering Story From NFL Veteran on Starting a Porta-Potty Business

For this episode of ToiletTalk, we sat down with eight-year NFL veteran Russell Shepherd. Russel shares his journey from playing for the New York Giants to launching Shep Boys Waste Management amidst a pandemic.


Matt: Hey Matt here in the ServiceCore studio and in today’s episode of Toilet Talk, we sit down with Russell Shepherd from Shep Boys Waste Management. Russell is an eight-year NFL veteran who left the NFL to start a portable sanitation business. His story is one that you don’t want to miss. So let’s get back in the booth and get this started.

All right. Well, Russell, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re happy to have you on this episode of ToiletTalk.

Russell: I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me, man. I’m extremely excited, man.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So today’s conversation is all about helping new pros and we thought you’d be the perfect person to come on and speak today because Shep Boys is a relatively new business and you have gone through this process of starting a portable sanitation business and you know a lot of what to do well, and I think that you’ll be able to share with our audience also some mistakes that they can avoid making if you are a new PRO starting business. So that’s what the conversation is about today. But first, I wanna hear more about your story because you have a really unique story of how you got started. So would you be kind enough to share that with our audience?

Russell: No, no, no problem at all. And again, thanks for having me, man. Any time we can talk, little pee and poop, you know, and piss, I’m all for it, man. But yeah, I have a background in professional sports. I just recently retired from an eight-year NFL career. You know, prior to that, I was a LSU grad from the Houston, from the Houston area. So, you know, just really throughout my journey, you know, I’ve seen these pieces of gold, liquid gold as I call it scattered throughout my city, you know, Houston, it has a really, you know, growing economy. It’s been growing probably the last, you know, about 15 years and I’m really about to grow at a record pace over the next 5 to 10 years with inflation and encourage affordable living here.

So, you know, when my last year in the NFL, I was getting a little burnt out. This was year eight. I was playing in New York. I was with the Giants and I reached out to a, a friend of mine’s, he started a company called and I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Zeit but is a third party you know, waste broker company. And, you know, he’s John John Farley, he’s the CEO and the president of the company. He started Zeiter in 2009. That was my last year of high school right before I went off to college to play ball. And, you know, he told me back in 2009, Russ, I’m about to retire. I’m about to spend my 41 K. I’m about to start a call center for waste, waste rental products and everybody thought he was crazy. And you know, fast forward now to 2023 you know, John employs almost 300 employees and he deals with about 5000 plus companies nationwide. So when I reached out to John in 2020 he said, Russ, I deal with companies all over the country from fencing to dumpsters you know, porta potty companies. And he says, I think from your background, your circle, I think you need to start a porta potty company. And I looked at him like he was crazy, you know, I was like John, you want me to deal with you know, pee and poop all day.

And I’m coming from, you know, this background, I got a little capital, I can do something. I was thinking roll off, I was thinking something along that lines and he told me Russell, I deal with, these companies nationwide and you gotta think about it. You say people pissing and pooping every day. And, that was, that was enough when he said that man, that got my attention and, you know, fast forward August 3rd, 2020 Shep Boys was open and ready to go.

Matt: That’s awesome. And, you know, that’s during the, you know, the, we’re at the height of the pandemic at that point in time. And, you know, so, like, how did you know that this, you know, yeah, people are gonna always have to go to the bathroom. But how do you know that starting something like that in the pandemic was the right time? Like, what were your thoughts about that?

Russell: Well, we really didn’t know, you know, what, what I did know is I, I knew that, I didn’t think we were gonna have a NFL season. It was a lot of things that weren’t going on, you know, restaurants, you know, just across the board, you know, people couldn’t make contact, people couldn’t be out in the open. So, you know, as we were, you know, building the company, we really started building the company that February in 2020. That was the start, of the kind of the pandemic and, throughout the pandemic, you know, as I’m seeing companies fold, I’m seeing companies go through. I was just doing my research, I just seen waste companies in particular, the weight, liquid waste that we deal with, they were growing, they were doing good. So, you know, once I didn’t think we were gonna have a season and, and once we kind of, you know, it took us about seven months once we got the company license per minute, you know, we got our first truck, we got about 100 and 25 toilets and some hand wash stations. Once we got all that going, you know, like I said, August around August 3rd, you know, you know, we went ahead and start the company. And what happened was, is, you know, probably a month, a month or two into the company, you know, we were covering our overhead, you know, we made, I wanna say the first month we made about almost 10 grand and, we thought that was crazy, you know, again and again, I’m coming from a million dollar job. I’m playing in the NFL.

So, you know, you know, the second month into the company being open, you know, I was supposed to sign with the Baltimore Ravens. I was flying out that, that Monday to work out and, potentially, you know, be with them that upcoming season. And, what happened? I pulled our sales report that month and, I see that we covered our overhead was, you know, making a little profit. And that honestly was enough for me to, to call, I called my agent. I called the Baltimore Ravens. I told him I was going to make exit left. And you know, and they said, what are you doing? I said I’m starting a fight company. I’m about to hop in my pump truck. I’m about to learn the business and I’m about to take off and, you know, literally everybody besides my two partners, my mom and my dad, my mom is my COO and my dad is my head of outside operations. You know, everybody thought I was crazy.

And you know, when I retired, we had probably 15, you know, rentable items out and fast forward now, man, we have right at right under 600 rentable items out. And, you know, we’ve been labeled the fastest growing waste startup in the Harris County, the city of Houston area so far.

Matt: Wow, congratulations. That’s, that’s awesome. And I can only imagine the, your agent in the Baltimore Ravens going. What?

Russell: Right? It’s a unique business now, you know, you know, what attracted me to this business is outside of the recession proof, you know, business, you know, for us to start this business in a unique climate being COVID, you know, that was, that wasn’t the typical recession. That wasn’t a typical, you know, just supply and demand thing. That was, probably something that doesn’t come around but every 100 years, Spanish flu, pandemic, it was a very unique thing. So to see our industry, really, you know, grow, grow at record pace, doing such a unique and you know, a hard time for a lot of people throughout the world. That was enough for us to say, ok, we got something, you know, I don’t care if we sold, you know, 20 units, five units. The fact that we were, we were open for business and we were moving stuff doing really, you know, the shutdown, the world shutdown, global shutdown. We knew that we had enough.

And then like you said, the fact that we did our research, we went in 1000 portable toilets, we talked to a 1000 owner operators and people were doing little to no advertising, no marketing. People were, you know, their service was, was poor, was, it was horrible service. And we seen that you can grow in this business with poor service and little to no marketing because it’s such a need. So we’re excited what we can do with if we provide the service in the marketing.

Matt: Mhm Yeah, that, that’s great. What part, everything that you talked about there, it it goes back to in the beginning you had to get a solid business plan and I think that’s something that, if you’re a new portable restaurant operator that’s thinking about getting this or maybe you just started, how, how did you guys go about writing your business plan and can you maybe share a little bit of, of why that was so important?

Russell: No, 100%. I mean, in this business, a lot of people just in business in general, you know, they, they, when they put their plan together, they’re planning for, for failure, you know, and in the waste industry, you know, a lot of times the number one thing that, that, that tends to knock a lot of people out of business is, success. You know, they don’t plan for scaling, they don’t plan for running out of restrooms, they don’t plan for having to buy other pump trucks and, you know, being able to hire and train properly.

So with us, it, it really started off and saying, what was the things that we can, how can we disrupt the market, how can we solve problems? And the, the, the biggest thing that we’ve seen when we put together our business plan and our model, our foundation to the company, with service, whether we’re talking to an owner who has 20,000 rentable units out or we’re talking to a service technician driver who’s, who’s running our everyday route. Everybody says service is everything and everybody says is, it’s cleaning, it’s showing up on time it’s being able to brand your, your, your restrooms all four sides.

And, you know, that was the marketing piece we’ve seen, we, we’ve seen that the waste industry in general struggled with providing a, providing a consistent and dependable service and we’ve seen that they did little to no marketing, you know, companies doing 30 $40 million a year in revenue and they have, you know, they barely have a website. You know, they don’t have any type of, you know, marketing tools on their rentable items. You know, they don’t decal all four sides.

So being able to realize what our foundation was and that was service and then being able to build off our service with a strong marketing campaign, buying restrooms that are or that were you know, they, they kind of, they talk to our customers or they talk to our construction guys, you know, we bought, we bought bright orange restrooms. I got the idea from my owner of orange theory. He’s a franchise owner and he said the, the reason they use orange is its energetic, it promotes safety. It gives, you know, what you need, what you’re trying to appeal to with your customers.

So we said being in the construction, being in the industrial industry, we want to be able to cater, speak safety, speak awareness. So being able to know our product, know what our service is gonna be, we had the foundation to what we were gonna build and everything else came, was just learning, you know, learning on the move, you know, just, you know, learn how to properly finance your vehicles, learning how to properly find your manufacturers of your portable toilets, things that you want to add to your units so they can have a different, you know, twist to them. You know, we use solar lights, we use solar vents, you know, we use anything that we can to get a on our competitors and just be different.

So being able to create our product, figure out what our foundation of success is going to be, and having a consistent service. That was the most important thing and everything else just came as we just kind of just just went along.

Matt: That, that’s awesome. The part, you know, when you’re describing you wanted to be based on customer service and you want, you knew that marketing was something that others weren’t doing and you’re building it into your plan. I think what’s so cool about that is you’re, you’re almost creating your core values right there. We want to be known for customer service, right? You’re putting the customer first, we want to be the best-looking and the cleanest. And so that way when people see our brand, they know it’s clean, they’re associating with that. So I think that was super smart.

Russell: No. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, and, and once you got a good brand and you have, you know, you have a culture, a culture of cleaning, a culture of being consistent dependable. Then that’s when, you know, like I said, being able to properly, you know, know what your capital is gonna be when it comes to investing, being able to price things out, right? We think that’s, that’s a big problem in a lot of markets.

You know, a lot of people that have this equipment on their properties, on this, on their yards and they just want to get it off their yard. And, what they quickly realized is once you get 100 units out, if it’s not price, right, you’re not gonna be able to, to, to, you know, pay yourself, pay your drivers, you’re not gonna be able to properly scale, you know, you’re gonna always be dipping in, in your savings and in your, your, your merging to see funds. So being able to price these things out and again, pricing things outright is not just good for your business, it’s good for the market. You don’t want to mess up the market by being, you know, being too low because again, you know, it’s going to disrupt, you know, you know, the flow of things, you know, there’s ways to be a friendly competitor and what we see in our short existence, being able to price things out, right? Helps you, it helps your competitors, it helps the overall market and then it just, it does, it, it’s so our way of doing good business.

So from creating a product, creating the culture, the service, being able to price things out, right? Being able to know how and what’s our scaling pace knowing? Ok, we want to grow 100% every year. Ok. Well, look, we just need to, you know, this is our price because if you underprice things, sometimes you grow too fast and you can’t afford the growth. So, you know, pricing product culture, those have been really our, our, our ingredients to success. And the reason why we’ve been approached three times already in our short existence to be acquired because we got a good, we’ve built like a big company. We’re a smaller company in terms of the the bigger companies, but we’re setting this up to be a bigger company and we’re selling up to be a key turn company. You know, for whoever chooses to acquire down the road

Matt: That’s great. Everything you’re doing like I’m always, I’m a marketer, so I’m super impressed by your marketing. I think you guys are doing it right on socials and the way that you set up your brand and also super, super impressed by that. One of the things that you touched on though, I wanna dig into, you were talking about, you know, aligning with the right financing and also about your manufacturer, who you’re picking. How did you go about it? I think that’s one area where a lot of new pros are intimidated. Like how do I know how much I need? And, and did you partner with anyone to help you make those decisions from, you know, someone that would help you with the financial aspect?

Russell: Yeah, so, you know, I think finding mentors, finding people along the way who, who are in the waste industry, they, they understand the the the hurdles you have to kind of get over at times because again, you’re gonna have more hurdles with when you’re having success, you know, these companies grow like crazy. I mean, outside of tech, you know, and tech is so, you know, volatile up and down waste is the fastest growing companies, the fastest growing industry I’ve ever seen from the, the, the solid waste side to the liquid waste like we do.

But you know, I really encourage startups to use third-party companies brokers, you know, using Zeiters is one of the biggest national broker, waste brokers in the country. They’ve been able to help us, you know, to, to get our product out there, you know, they, they, you know, waste is such a need, you know, you, you can have solid partnerships and be able to move product so you then can save money, you can be able to, you know, you know, spend your own money and reinvest in yourself and then on the other hand, you know, being able to, there are, there are banks, there are financial institutions that understand waste companies and you can have a little to no experience.

But if you’re in the right industry and your financials, your PNL sheets are set up, right. You know, your, your books are, are being closed at the end and in the end of every month, you know, they’ll give you financing, they’ll give you a line of credit to go out there and buy you, you know, two or three trucks to go buy you 100 200 portable, you know, rental equipment. So being able to, being able to be set up, right, being able to be organized, then you’ll be able to find financing, you know, for the first year, year and a half. I was financing everything myself. And, I had a unique background being in professional sports. So there were a lot of mistakes I was able to overcome. I was able to overcome because of my prior history, but, you know, being able to find the right financing relationship, we use now whether it’s a bank, we use some banks for line of credits and we just simply provide them, you know, our balance sheet, our PNLs, you know, our history, our accounts receivable. You know, being able to be organized and present that to a bank. You can get a pretty good line of credit to go out there and buy you some equipment to finance some, some, trucks or pumps or whatever you need and on the other hand, you know, being able to, you know, be organized and be set up, then you can walk into any manufacturer that makes any pump truck, they make anything, you know, you just have to pick up the phone, make the relation, make the calls, you know, you know, take care of the relationships and that’s what we did, you know, before we bought any truck, we, we took a, a hour and a half flight to the North Carolina and then from there, we took another two hour drive to Grinton, Virginia and we went inside Amthor International’s manufacturer and they’re the biggest tank developer, manufacturer of pump trucks, vacuum trucks on the East coast.

And us being a young company, me sharing my story just saying we just want to learn, they allowed us in the warehouse, the factory, they watched us, we watched them make trucks, we, we talked to them and you know, they gave us the experience. So I really think just calling people communicating, telling your story being very transparent. Look, I have little to no experience. This is what we’re doing. People will figure out ways to work with you because again, waste is such a need, man. These banks, these, these lending companies, they’ll work with you because they understand the industry.

Matt: Mhm. I love what you said there about, you know, picking up the phone and calling because one of the things that I hear over and over is hey, you should make a relationship with your bank and get to know them and as your business grows, they’re gonna, you’re gonna get things faster, they’re gonna understand. And like you said, keep your books super clean and making sure that your business looks great, they’re gonna keep investing in you and then you have a partner versus just walking in places you don’t know. So I think that’s a great tip for PROs, especially new ones getting started.

I want to talk a little bit about a mix of business. Like if you’re new and starting out, how, where do I go to look to, to find potential customers? And we put out a benchmark report recently that said, if we surveyed folks and 300 portable restroom operators came back and gave us information and what it showed was the majority of profitable PROs get their business from two categories, home builders and the commercial space. There’s, you know, of course, a mix of events and residential and things like that. But for you guys, how did you establish relationships with maybe a particular homebuilder or in the commercial space or, or were you able to do that up?

Russell: Yeah. So we went at it from all different angles, you know, that was, that’s a great question. Like I said, the very first thing we did was we utilized third party companies. Like Zeiters had a decade of relationships, customers that they use. So within the first two or three months of us being in business, we were dealing with national accounts with, you know, Walmart Home Depot because again, you know, they hold those accounts. So third parties has been a great asset for us.

Also to, getting out there me driving, you know I took the humble approach, I didn’t have to drive, but, I wanted to learn, I had no experience. So the best way for me to learn was drive and I was able to affect our service, build a, build a, a reputation for being consistent, dependable. And then, you know, from being on the sites, cleaning, cleaning and doing those things, I was able to, to talk to the GCs, I was able to talk to the superintendents on site. I was able to share my story. So whether you’re, you’re in the actual service truck or you’re just doing site checks, talking to the GCs having personal conversations, being able to develop personal relationships with these people. Like I said, you don’t have to have a unique story or a crazy story. Like me, you could just be a guy coming from a whole different industry and just taking a chance. Like people want to hear your story, they want to see how committed you are to whatever you’re trying to build.

So, you know, that personal one on one touch. I think that’s huge, whether it’s face to face, you’re writing a hand handwritten letter, thanking the customer for their service, you know, just trying to make your customer feel priority. So, you know, that’s how we went on that aspect.

I think another, a few other good things or associations we wanted to get into the apartment, the multifamily association. So we looked at every apartment Multifamily Association in the Houston area and we joined them and throughout the, throughout the last two years, we, we’ve kind of found some that we didn’t need some that we do need. But finding associations in the different industries that you wanna be in. There’s an association for everything, retail, retail, banking, I mean, I mean, strip centers, you know, multifamily, I mean, with Amazon development. So finding these different associations signing up with them, it’s an investment, you know, and with the investment, you have a network, you have shows you have events you can attend to, you can sell your product, your event.

So I, I think like I said, outside of the, the broker, the third parties, you know, the hand, the, the, the personal, you know, I think the associations have been really, really big for us, you know, associations allow you to get in the door with the people that are making the decisions. It’s allowing you to get in the door with the people that are cutting the check, you know, people that you are, you’re servicing that, you know, that you typically that are, you’re not able to meet because they’re not, they’re in the buildings, they’re not on the site.

So associations, man, you know, personal and then like I said, you know, just being able to, you know, utilize third parties, a lot of waste companies don’t like third parties. But to me, if you use them, right, if you price right and you know, you don’t, it doesn’t affect your business. Third parties just becomes another sales rep on your team.

Matt: That’s great. But I think you can also start as small as everyone’s got a rotary club, you know, and just, just going there or everyone ha you may be in a region where they have wineries and, or, or events where you can partner with a wedding planner. And then, and then as long as you know, if you’re doing a great job, they’re gonna, you’re gonna be make it easier for them to use you over and over again, they’re gonna call, they’re gonna call like with us, we, you know, we, we just got into the restroom trailer business about a year ago and you know, we looked at the type of customer we want to you know, scout, look at you know, we, we quickly realized we need to go to wedding events, we need to go to Pinterest, we need to go to wherever, you know, different wedding shops, you know, and, and advertise our product, our luxury restaurant trailers for their events.

So like you’re right, you know, after finding the, the industry or the actual, you know, area you wanna go in, you need to see, ok, how can we best attack this? Where can we get, you know, get the most, you know, share our product to the most people because that’s where a sales rep having a strong sales team and having a so a strong marketing campaign does it allows you to be more efficient and allow more people to experience your product, your brand?

And that’s where I think we’ve seen that a lot of waste companies, they tend to, they drop the ball and is that, you know, a lot of people don’t, they simply don’t know their brand. You know, the more people that, you know, shares your brand, your product, the better your sales is gonna be, it’s not gonna go backwards. It never happens like that. So being able to find unique ways to not have somebody on on, on payroll every week and be able to utilize the internet. Like with us, you know, we have around almost 40 reviews on our website. And, you know, we, we’re just two years old, the, the closest company in our area that has 30 plus reviews on that website. They’re 20 years old. And we think it’s crazy. We think how in the heck do you have a service-first business as sensitive as waste is human waste, why don’t people utilize reviews? And it’s because their service is bad, they don’t want to put their self out subject themselves to get bad reviews.

So as long as we deliver in our core, our structure, our foundation is built off service, maintaining that service being dependable, then we can utilize reviews and things like that, the internet.

Matt: You just shared a pro tip, you know, it’s for whatever reason in this business and maybe it is what you said that people are, they don’t want to get bad reviews. But if you’re providing the best service, you better. You know, if the, the generation has changed where people are first searching and if they see one star, I don’t wanna use that business, especially if it is a wedding or something, right. There’s no way I’m using that one.

Russell: Not at all, not at all. Like you said, you know, I mean, you can, you know, it’s just be doing it the right way you know, outside of, like I said, the marketing, the, the undependable service, we just seen that man like these companies, man. And again, it’s a part of marketing but utilizing the internet is, has been the, the waste industry is so behind when it comes to that. And again, a big part of it is they don’t have to, you know, was of such a need. People are gonna call you anyway and people don’t want to overexpose themselves knowing that they have too much equipment out and not enough manpower or equipment. So as long as you don’t get too greedy and you maintain your true principles, your values, your core values, then you’ll be able to utilize the internet because I think it’s insane to not have a company in today’s time and not utilize, you know, the social medias, the internet, the websites. I think it’s, it’s crazy.

Matt: We totally agree. And that’s, that’s what we try to help pros with. It’s like, hey, if your site, if you show up to a site that looks like 1990 that’s, you know, you’re just not setting yourself up for success. But one of the things you touched on here though, when you say brand, you know, your brand is every, it’s not a logo, your brand is how you show up. It’s how clean your trailers are. It’s how it’s how your drivers interact with people and to get your brand to be consistent, you have to have consistent processes that you set up. And if you’re a new PRO, it’s the best time to set those processes up. How did you go about that?

Russell: You know, with us. We’re family started. So like I said, you know, we utilize communicate, we overcommunicate, I tell my guys every day, let’s overcommunicate because shit is gonna happen as they say, you know, literally. So, you know, AAA big part of us is like I said, we built this, you know, I’m really good friends with, excuse me, the smooth moves, they’re a company out of Houston. They’re about seven years old and you know, I talk to them all the time and like I said, you gotta set yourself up to be a bigger company. So the biggest thing with us, for example, ServiceCore, we said, once we get over 400 units, we’re gonna use ServiceCore, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna pay that and we’re going to figure out a way where, you know, once we got to the point the first two years, we just worry about making money, let’s just make money, let’s just get money and let’s just figure out the rest as we go and now we’re making money, we have rentable items out, we have a staff. Now it’s about putting those things in line. Like you said, you know, having the technology, the software is to keep up with all of our stuff, having the training staff, we have a training, a training course every quarter, a driving training course to, to make sure that we’re promoting, we’re teaching, giving our guys all the, all the tools they need to be successful here.

So, you know, you once you get it going and not just getting satisfied because of the most portable toilet pro operators, they just, once they get to generate money, they have residual, they got enough projects they don’t look to perfect it. And again, you know, our margins in the waste industry are anywhere from, you know, 10. So I’ve heard they get up to 45% if you’re doing well, you know, so utilizing service core, utilizing GPS, utilizing cameras outside facing camera trucks. You know, all those things are going to help get you to the next level. They’re gonna perfect your, your processes, they’re gonna protect you because I’ve seen once I got out of the truck and I’m managing five, you know, drivers, you know, plus a yard man, plus inside sales team and trying to, you know, oversee a company, you gotta have the proper Softwares, the proper things in place so you can run efficiently because you can’t do everything by yourself.

And I think a lot of pro companies, they’re set up like mom and pops and there’s nothing wrong with it. But again, at some point whether it’s you or it’s the person that inherits the company at some point, companies get sold and the way you get the most out of a company, the way you effectively run a company, you gotta use the resources that come with it. And so like I said, being able to, you know, take on, we took on a large, a large overhead at first because we use ServiceCore, you know, we were using GPS systems, we were doing daily maintenance to our trucks. And like I said, all these things now have turned into our success because now we’re efficient, you know, we’re margining close to 50%. And like I said, our staff is, is competitive, our staff is good, they train properly.

But again, you got to do the steps first, you know, the smart things as they were saying.

Matt: You are like everything we’ve talked about so far, you’re like the perfect example of what you should do with the business. And so I, I really hope that folks that are watching this, that are trying to figure this out, really learn from you because you’ve done so many things, right? And one of those, what I’m hearing here is you built a culture that you wouldn’t be able to do repeatable processes if your people didn’t buy into your vision as a company to provide the best customer service. How did you create that culture?

Russell: You know, I would probably say just doing whatever I ask my team, I don’t ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t do. You know, if I have a guy who’s overworked, you know, because a lot of time the, the turnover ratio and, and waste the waste industry, whether it’s, you know, physical trash, liquid, trash, the reason for the high turnover is overworked, people don’t feel priority. So for example, I had a guy who worked pretty hard for two weeks straight and, I told him, you know, I said, go home, he showed up to work one day. I said go home. I said you’re still on the clock and I jumped in the truck and I drove it. I did his route that day. You know, find out ways to motivate our guys, our, our ladies, you know, with our sales reps, you know, you know, if they go out there and they earn a strong contract, you know, we give them a percentage, a residual percentage of the of the sale on a monthly basis you know, with our service guys, you know, we get to know them where when they come, they work a lot of hours.

We got some guys that come in at 3, 4 o’clock in the morning and they getting off at dark at 78 o’clock. So what we do with them is we make sure they got breakfast, we make sure we give them a stipend so they can get lunch. We make sure when they come home, you know, when they come to the yard at the end of the day, there’s lunch, there’s ribs, there’s some. So, you know, people just wanna feel prioritized. People want to feel like they important, people want to feel like, ok, I’m not doing all this just for somebody else. They wanna feel like this is something in it for them.

So like I said, we, we get to know our staff, we, we’re not scared to get dirty. My lead driver is also too my partner, my father, you know, he’s, you know, outside of overseeing operations. He’s our clean-up guy. We, if a truck misses a site or if for whatever reason, we couldn’t get to a restroom because of the conditions, the weather, you know, my dad is the next guy who comes up, he cleans up the routes. So, you know, being able to show our guys our team that we’re gonna do whatever we ask you to do, being able to show them that we care, we care, we invest in them not just on the business standpoint, their personal lives. So, you know, just being, you know, that’s how we’ve created. Just being good people doing good business is it’s really nothing too complex to it.

And then as time goes on, we continue to add different resources, different tools that they can put in that bag. Like I said, the ServiceCore, you know, we had three or four drivers, the first two, the first year, they just utilize pen and paper that right the routes down, we’re going over the routes, we’re texting it. We have a text chain. So as time goes on being able to add to their tool bag and making their job a lot easier, it shows them that we’re not taking the money and we’re not just going on trips and doing whatever, you know, we’re, we’re putting it back in the business. So, you know, your, your team is gonna know how committed you are. And, that’s what we noticed me being a team guy coming from a team background, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to, you know, BS my team. So whether it’s the labor, it’s investing in them, it’s been a listening ear for them. We go all out for our team because again, you can’t build anything special if you don’t invest in your staff and your team.

Matt: I love that. It’s, it’s human first, right? At ServiceCore, we feel that way. It’s, you know, it’s like, hey, we’re human beings. We want to invest in you as well. So I’m so, so happy to hear you guys have a similar sentiment there.

Russell: 100 percent, 100% you know, I, I played a million dollar job and I didn’t feel prioritized and I didn’t feel like I was important. And so even with me making the money I was making and having the notoriety and being a part of that NFL, I had enough. So if I me, myself living the American dream, you know, living, you know, the dream of so many, you know, young men and women, if I didn’t feel prioritizing that, you know, that was enough for me to walk away.

So I knew at the end day if I wanted to keep a low turn turnover, you know, just keep my staff be consistent with my team. I have to treat them right. I had to.

Matt: Nice. All right. So here’s the juicy part. So tell everyone, maybe you can share a few things that what to avoid. What are the mistakes that you don’t want a new PRO to fall into that maybe you experienced?

Russell: I would say like I, I mentioned earlier, but, you know, I really say plan for success, you know, very few people out here hop into this industry and they don’t have success. You know, a lot of them just get stuck and they get stuck in a certain, they’re not, they’re not, they’re not able to take the next step because they didn’t plan for that, that next level of success. So I just really encourage, you gotta have a capital plan, how you gonna, how you gonna spend your money?

Because, again, you never know when you’re going to, you could have 20, 30 porter cans on the yard one day. And because of phone calls, a special event, industrial plan, an Amazon warehouse, it could be gone. And now you have to figure out a way, how do I keep up with the demand that’s gonna continue to keep going.

So I would really encourage, you know, anybody that’s hopped into this industry is to have a plan on how you gonna, you know, spend your cash when I first hopped into the industry. Being, you know, I’m still a fairly young man but just not having a strong entrepreneur background. I was buying $100,000 trucks outright and just spending the cash on trucks. And what I really found out throughout the years is why tie all of my cash into a truck. You know, allow my customers, allow our service to pay for that truck, finance it, you know, and like I said, if you have the setup, like we said, if you’re organized, if, if you, if you make sense on paper, which most mom and pop companies don’t make sense. But if you make sense on paper, the banks, the financial institutions, they will help you. Like you said, they will be a partner and they will help you scale. I don’t like to see a lot of young PRO operators give up equity because that’s what tends to happen. A lot of them tend to, they, they get in cash, areas in their business or within their journey and they need cash and a lot of them tend to just go run and give it up to a private equity firm or some, or they just sell the company and go to someone else.

But you know, banks, if you, if you, if you’re set up from the start and you keep track of all your transactions and you, you have a stronger accounting. If you yourself don’t have an accounting background, you find somebody that you can consult with or you find somebody that can help you. If you can keep track and organize your books, a bank will help you grow this to however big you want to be.

And like I said, you could be a company like Texas Outhouse. Texas Outhouse is in our, in our industry, our market again, they have about 20,000 restrooms from what I was told that they service on a weekly basis and they’re able to do that because they’re built right. Texas outhouse, they rent trucks, they lease them, they don’t lease all, they don’t own all their trucks. Texas outhouse, you know, they consult, they, they have tons of accountants on staff, they have tons of banks that they deal with to help them scale and they’ve done little to know acquisitions in the last 20 years. They haven’t bought anybody out so you can organically grow this and do it the right way. You just gotta be organized.

And I think, you know, having a plan allows you to properly stay organized because again, if you’re not organized and if you don’t have a plan on how you’re going to spend your cash and you know, ok, look, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna spend this $100,000 on just rentable equipment. We’re gonna spend this fit. Like if you don’t have a plan, then it’s just gonna go crazy because like I said, people are, are, are shitting and pissing every day and sometimes you don’t have time to figure out, you know, at that moment what you’re gonna do, you need to have a plan, you need to follow the plan.

Matt: Yeah, but what something interesting there is also with Texas outhouse. They are what I find in this industry, and one of the main reasons I love this industry is people are really helpful with each other. They’re not, you know, you might be a competitor with someone, but they’re willing to help. And if I think sometimes if you’re new, you could go to the larger person that or, you know, maybe at a trade show, you meet some larger, they will sit with you. I guarantee you and tell you some of the things that could help you or help like you just shared, help you avoid some of the mistakes of, you know, I’m gonna pay cash for a track instead of financing it and the reasons why he would do that, you know, and just understanding that. So I think it’s great.

Russell: Very, very humble business, you know, very humble business. Like I said, you’re dealing with shit, anybody that’s dealing with human waste, you gotta be someone, a humble guy from top to bottom, from your service, your yard, man, all the way up to your president and your CEO, like I said, very humble business.

So I’ve talked to every owner in the Houston market and they’ve ranged, they’ve ranged from people doing, you know, to a quarter of a million dollars a year in revenue to, like I said, it’s supposedly $100 million a year in revenue and everybody is just a good person. Overall, good person. You don’t last in this business and not be a pretty decent person. You know, if anything, you’re gonna always have some, you know, you’re not perfect. So you’re gonna have some people that are unhappy about situations, service or whatever. But for the most part, you gotta, you know, everybody I’ve come across is a pretty genuine person. Good people.

Matt: Yeah, I totally agree. I love this industry for that. So, I think that’s a good place to land our plane. But Russell, I can’t thank you enough. I think what you shared today, if you’re a new pro, they’re, they’re probably gonna watch this more than once just to get some of those pearls. But thank you so much for coming on today and we really appreciate it having you.

Russell: No, man, I really appreciate it, man. I, I get to go off and rant so hopefully you can clean it up and make both of us look good, man. I appreciate that.

Matt: Absolutely.

About the Author: Liam Sabot

Liam is an author of over 70 articles about portable toilet rental, septic pumping, and dumpster business management. He is dedicated to providing important information to help sanitation businesses succeed.
Go to Top