Survey: How is COVID-19 affecting site services?

Over the last week we’ve reached out to our vendors to find out what they’re seeing on the ground. Specifically, how is COVID-19 affecting site services in the construction, events, and waste industries? Will hand washing supplies last through the crisis? With vendors in 35 states responding to our survey, here’s what we’ve discovered.

Like much of the country (and the world), most vendors viewed toilet paper and hand sanitizer stock issues as a top concern. About 40% of vendors said they expect to run out of one or both at some point before the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Anecdotally, we have heard from one vendor that hand sanitizer is being stolen from porta potties at an “alarming rate.” Because this has become such a major problem, the vendor had to begin charging restocking fees of $30 plus a $60 trip fee for each time they need to come out and replace hand sanitizer. Vendors, just like the general public, have limited supply and have asked customers to keep an eye on supplies to avoid theft.

Despite concerns over stock issues, most vendors reported feeling prepared for the situation. Less than 10% of vendors stated they felt unprepared. In addition, less than 10% of vendors said they expected layoffs. Another 15-20% reported being unsure whether or not layoffs would be expected as the situation goes on.

Across product lines, portable toilet vendors reported the highest likelihood of service delays. Roughly 24% of portable toilet vendors expect some service delays of some sort, and of course they are also the group experiencing stock supply concerns.

Only 15% of roll-off dumpster vendors anticipated service delays, with most responding they expect to see little to no impact from COVID-19. Front-load dumpster vendors responded similarly with only 11% expecting to see service delays. Storage container vendors seemed to meet in the middle at 13% expecting to experience delays.

While these numbers are low, there could be pockets of the country where delays and higher pricing due to demand are possible. Our account managers have been talking with vendors across the country to get a sense of where delivery times may be longer. We’re also keeping an eye out for vendors in neighboring cities where additional products such as hand-washing stations, for example, might be called in to fill rental orders.

To that end, three states stood out as being the most concerned about potential long-term impact. Vendors in Ohio, Oklahoma, and New York seemed particularly concerned about COVID-19 affecting site services, and we’ll continue to monitor those areas to find out what’s happening and what can be done.

In one case of short supply vs. demand, we were given a quote of $50,000 for a restroom trailer! Needless to say, we helped the customer find another solution. (And in fairness, that may have been a glitch from a vendor’s pricing system.) No matter what comes our way, our account managers are staying on the ball to find solutions that work for everyone.

With changes related to COVID-19 happening so quickly, we’re committed to staying in constant contact with our vendor partners and our customers to make sure we’re adjusting to meet the needs of everyone on the ground.

We’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with thousands of companies nationwide, so we’re working with them to make sure you can still seamlessly order, schedule, and manage your products and services.

Current customers can continue using myZTERS.com to manage their accounts. And to protect the safety of our account managers, we upgraded our technology so they can continue working from home.

Things will continue to change in the coming weeks and months. This is just a quick snapshot of COVID-19 affecting site services. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we’ll be here to answer any questions and help you keep your jobsites working. Have questions? Reach out to your account manager or contact us here.

Industry Insights: Budgeting for a Roll-Off Dumpster

Budgeting for a Roll-Off Dumpster

There are a few factors that might be overlooked when determining a budget for a dumpster rental. Generally, the most important factors are the type of debris and amount. Are you throwing away cardboard, construction debris, or concrete? Obviously, the scale at the landfill is going to be friendlier with a dumpster full of cardboard, than it will be with a load of concrete. Looking at data from thousands of roll-off hauls, I identified two factors which clearly affect the tonnage and the final price. First, are you a contractor or a DIY adventurer? Second, how long do you plan on taking to finish the project? Budgeting for a Roll-Off Dumpster

First, when a homeowner pays for a dumpster for construction debris, the average dumpster weighs half a ton more than the average construction roll-off. The DIY homeowner may be more price conscious and determined to get the most value out of the dumpster as possible. It is impossible to say the exact reason but our data clearly indicates that there is a measurable difference.

Budgeting for a Roll-Off Dumpster

As seen above, the amount of time a dumpster is on site before being hauled away can play a factor in the weight of the dumpster. It could be that individuals who rent a 30-yard roll-off for 21-50 days spend more time making sure that the dumpster is packed tightly before having it hauled away. In contrast, an individual who has a dumpster on site one day only may have decided that the benefit of compacting the trash is less valuable than the need to get the waste out of the way.

Whatever the reason for the differences above, it is necessary to take into consideration your habits and behaviors when determining your needs. Are you going to make sure that every square inch of space is occupied in the dumpster or is your priority speed? In either case, Zters is here to work with you to provide a dumpster that fits your needs.

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Providing Real Value: Saving Time, Money, and Stress

Every company that has ever thrived either provided value to their customers or, at the very least, convinced their customers that they did. Microsoft and Apple are prime examples of companies that provided value to customers. Computers and their operating systems have rearranged the way people think, work, and play. They both have made people more efficient and valuable. On the other end are products like HeadOn, a wax stick that is marketed for headaches. A bizarre commercial and claims of relief convinced many people to buy the product. The only problem, according to headache experts, is that the makers have been unable to provide evidence that it works.

At Zters we put the value at the forefront of what we do. We felt that it was so crucial that our logos read: “Zters Waste Value” (take a look at the top of the page). We would not exist and would not want to exist if we did not provide value to our customers. Our value is largely created through our specialization in the waste industry allowing us to leverage our expertise and save our customers time and money while reducing stress. We have developed relationships with thousands of companies across the country and maintain a database evaluating industry services based on hundreds of thousands of transactions over nearly a decade in business. For example: “Always email this vendor to support service requests. The vendor has a habit of denying that service was scheduled and refusing to honor it.” A working history with so many service providers allows us to avoid potentially costly service problems for our customers by shoring up the deficiencies of the company.

We also add value by working diligently to learn the business of our customers. Zters maintains a database of every customer and how often they need service on dumpsters, toilets, or any other service. We can analyze your needs over time, so we are providing the right level of service for you rather than charging for services you don’t use.

Instead of going on and on about the value we provide, I will let a customer do the talking:

This group is different.

Zters – has been with us for roughly a year and it has been wonderful. Dan is our one point of contact for every waste company now, he handles billing, tenant complaints, dumping issues, and everything in between.

Outside of negotiating down rates with the service providers and making sure we are in URO compliance – Dan is my one contact. I call him anytime I need anything done waste-related.

We’ve used waste hauling savers before but they only try to get us discounts on service and I still have the remaining issues; Zters is different.

I don’t know what you guys use for waste vendor management but its freed up at least 5-10 hours a month for me and there isn’t an additional cost for the tenants.

 

We like to tackle our customers’ problems head-on so that we are continuously giving value, but we have no desire to emulate the business model of HeadOn, convincing customers to spend money on a hope that there might be value. Our goal is to provide tangible value to all our customers whether that value is from saving time, reducing stress, or saving money.

pricing

Transparency in Pricing

At Zters we pride ourselves on the transparency of our pricing. Our customers should always know exactly what they are paying for and how we calculate those charges. However, not all companies share our desire for transparency.

In the Waste Industry, many companies try to obscure the true cost of using their services. A salesperson might inform a new customer “your dumpster will be $350 for the first week. The price includes 4 tons of disposal fees, fuel and environmental fees, and applicable taxes.” A careful customer would ask “how much are the fuel and environmental fees?” The sales person would not be able to give an exact answer.

The method of calculating fuel and environment fees is a black box, a proprietary formula, a trade secret. The salesperson will try to convince the customer that it is a method of directly tying the costs of providing service to the customer’s cost. If fuel prices go up, the cost of a dumpster goes up and if the fuel prices go down, so do the customer’s cost. The reality is, the fees are potentially arbitrary and rarely if ever, go down.

WCA Waste Corporation was recently sued precisely because their fees appeared arbitrary. The plaintiffs, representatives in a class action lawsuit, argue that the fees are “arbitrary and unconnected to either the fuel or environmental costs associated with local waste disposal.” Importantly, while disputing the plaintiff’s argument, WCA does not dispute (the link has been removed) that the fees are not intended to tie the expense of service to the customer’s cost. WCA’s website states that the fees are “intended to address the overall fuel costs and expenses incurred by WCA and its affiliates and to achieve an operating margin acceptable to WCA.” In simple terms, the only purpose is to ensure they make sufficient profit.

On June 13, a Federal Court listened to arguments on whether a class action settlement, obligating WCA Waste Corporation to pay $5,250,000 to class participants, should be approved. Soon, if the settlement agreement is approved, thousands of WCA customers will be eligible to claim a portion of the pool of money. Like the fuel and environmental fees themselves, the division of the pool of money is somewhat arbitrary. Customers who spend the time to file a claim will be reimbursed pro-rata (proportional to the number/value of claims filed). If many people file, the reimbursement will be small. If a few people file, the reimbursement could be large. A careful customer would ask “how much am I going to be reimbursed.” However, nobody will be able to answer.

At Zters Waste Value, our motto is Fair. Simple. Reliable. Fair: we want our customers to know that when they work with us, they will be quoted a price directly tied to our costs. Simple: our customers do not need to consult a fuel and environmental fee table and cross-reference Department of Energy diesel price projections to find out what they will be spending. We break down our costs into easy to understand categories: Rental, Disposal Fees, Pick-up, Delivery, and of course Taxes. The costs are explained up front at the time of the order. Reliable: we work with the best in the business to make sure that your business, home remodels, or job site receives the same excellent service this week, next week, and all the weeks that follow.