David the Goliath: How small waste management businesses take on the nationals—and win

roll-off dumpster placed at a residential home renovation site

Wondering if starting a roll-off business is a smart move? Questioning whether a small waste management operator can go up against the unlimited resources of the nationals?

The answer is a resounding yes. We see it every day.

Now, you may have to work hard to get your fledgling business off the ground, but we’ve seen scrappy little startups go head-to-head with the enterprise businesses and win time and time again.

Your powerful slingshot: Superior customer service

This certainly won’t come as a shock to you. Those big national corporations? Their customer service delivery is often sorely lacking. Too large and profit-driven to deliver responsive service, customers are often viewed as numbers, not people—and their service reflects that.

This is their massive liability.

So, do your research. Is your area serviced by a single, major hauler? If so, small construction businesses and landscaping contractors are looking to work with you—and, if you’re successful, it could mean big bucks. Turn a strong business and that national competitor could come to you with a juicy offer to buy.

It’s a pretty predictable cycle. When one company sells, another starts up and grows until it, too, gets an irresistible offer.

Brian is finding success a second time around

Not his first rodeo, Brian had already sold his Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin business once before. When the non-compete expired, though, he started right back up as Johnson Roll-Off Service

He was able to deliver the personal touch only a small business can deliver, and he won back customers.

In fact, Rebecca Houde, wrote, “Always fast, friendly and affordable. You will ALWAYS get a great person to chat with and NOT a recording.”

Think that’s happening with the nationals?

Lance broke up a monopoly

Lance found similar success in Belgrade, Montana.

When he first started, only a single, national service could take garbage cans; they’d created a monopoly. Well, Lance took them to court and got his permit—he fought the big guy and won.

Then, thanks to outstanding customer service, his business, L&L Site Services, took off. Today, he’s operating with lots of roll-off trucks and hundreds—hundreds—of roll-offs.

Customer, Orville Bach probably sums it up best. “Before when I used [national service], they twice did not empty my trash can even though I had it out on the street early. I called to report it but getting through to a human was almost impossible. This was the main reason I switched to L&L. I immediately found out that they offered discounts for seniors or veterans, so my fee is actually lower.

“However, the other day we had a pretty big snow and I had to make an early doctor’s appointment. When I drove out I realized that I had forgotten to put out the trash can on the street and just chalked it up since it was not that full. But when I returned home I saw that the L&L truck driver had actually GOTTEN OUT OF HIS TRUCK and walked up to get my trash can. Now I tell you what, that’s customer service over the top. I didn’t expect that and I hope I never forget to put it out again. But this just demonstrates the difference between a locally owned firm and a huge national corporation.”

At the end of the day, the message is simple. You have something to offer that the nationals just can’t—outstanding service. Do that well, and watch your waste management services operation grow.

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