By Mary Catona
Published in the September 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Retaining the services of a trash management company is critical for most businesses and, in fact, is becoming a necessity to stay in compliance with legal requirements in most states.
Many businesses are choosing to outsource this function to qualified waste management consultants. An efficient trash management company can devise a trash removal and management plan that saves time and money and eases the burden of the task on a business. A good consultant will also offer a range of waste and recycling services and will customize a plan for each client that includes specifics such as the necessary frequency of pickups, the types and number of containers needed, and the recycling regulations and protocols in effect.
Often, the task of finding the right waste consultant falls on the shoulders of facilities managers. It is not always easy to know where to begin the search. Consequently, facilities managers may start with the largest or most well known company as opposed to the vendor that will work best with them and their business. Or, they may try to get referrals from other business owners in different industries.
Choosing a company that is not familiar with businesses in a specific industry, however, or one that is too large to offer each business personal attention, can lead to frustration and inefficiencies. So where does a facilities manager begin when scouting out the perfect partner? Here is a list of things to look for and think about before inking a deal:
- Hire a company that works with a specific industry. If the company knows and understands the particular industry, the waste consultant will be familiar with protocols relating to that industry as well as the regulatory and compliance issues that can have a major impact on the way waste is handled.
- Hire a company with a clean regulatory record. One of the biggest concerns for businesses when it comes to waste removal is the looming threat of state or local fines for waste and recycling items that are not properly handled. Outsourcing waste management should guarantee compliance on all waste related issues. Therefore, it is important to check for regulatory violations before contracting with a company. A company with multiple infractions is probably less concerned—or is unfamiliar—with regulatory guidelines.
- Hire a company with experience in both single and multi-location businesses. Multi-location businesses definitely want to hire a company that is experienced in managing the trash management for more than one location. Single location businesses should look for someone who is experienced in dealing with (and understands the needs of) smaller businesses but who could handle the growing needs of a business in the future.
- Hire a company that provides its clients with one bill for all trash management needs. One of the headaches that prompts businesses to outsource its trash removal and management is the burden of writing different checks to many different vendors each month. When hiring a trash management company, the facilities manager should be sure to require the company to take one check for all the services it provides. Companies that expect a client to write multiple checks to multiple vendors are not operating efficiently or providing a major benefit to their clients.
- Hire a company that provides 24-hour service. Mishaps happen, and it’s important to have a contact that is reachable at any time to make the necessary adjustments in the event of a miscommunication. The facilities manager should be able to reach a person who can help rectify or investigate a situation that may not have been expected or planned.
- Hire a company that provides clients with designated customer service reps who know and understand each client specifically. Nothing is more frustrating to a business owner than the feeling of being “just a number” to a service provider. It’s exasperating to call the same service provider time after time only to have to explain the details of the business, the situation, and other details each time. The facilities manager should look for a trash management company that will provide a personal customer service representative for each of its clients. A designated service representative is more likely to develop a personal relationship with his or her clients, which fosters more customized and efficient service.
- Hire a company that knows trash management compliance regulations and monitors the changes in regulations. Different business lines have different requirements regarding recycling and the management of waste. Following the ever changing requirements can be time consuming and frustrating; yet, failing to keep on top of them can result in fines. The facilities manager should be sure to hire a company that works hard to keep clients in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and notifies its clients as soon as it learns of a change or a new regulation.
- Ask for references and testimonials. Any company worth its salt will be ready and willing to offer references and testimonials to a prospective client. A company who cannot or will not provide references should raise a red flag. This means either they don’t have any clients willing to tout their services, or they don’t care enough to pursue testimonials as a service to potential clients. Either way, it’s best to stick with a company that readily allows potential clients to contact current or former clients regarding the management company’s services.
- Hire a company that provides concrete contracts. Open ended contracts are often vague and may not provide the facilities manager with sufficient notice regarding renewals. The facilities manager should make sure the chosen company will negotiate a contract with clear start and end dates and give adequate notice about rate increases or service changes.
- Hire a company that carries the necessary licensing. Waste and recycling companies are required to be licensed in certain states and municipalities. A facilities manager should make sure the company has the proper licenses and permits to implement and conduct an effective waste plan.
Choosing the right trash management company can save time and money, but selecting one that isn’t right for a specific business can also lead to fines, frustrations, and even filth. Good places to start searching are industry trade publications, colleagues, and professional associations. For maximum success with any trash management company, be sure to keep these tips in mind and accept only top quality service and a customer representative that cares about the requests and needs of the facility manager.
Catona is the founder and president of Retriever Waste Management (formerly Environmental Waste Solutions) in Media, PA. To contact her, call (888) 841-4481 x211, or e-mail [email protected].