Ace Sanitation is a locally owned and operated sanitation company based out of Columbus, Nebraska.
They’ve been operating since 1985 and recently, Mitch (one of the owners) has begun evolving the ways in which he and his employees communicate with customers.
Sanitation services, or more commonly, “trash hauling” isn’t as simple as it may seem. It requires a lot of organization, planning, and logistics, and sometimes it can get messy.
Mitch specifically identified that he was having trouble with:
For Mitch’s business to run smoothly, he and his employees need open lines of communication with their customers.
“The funny thing about our business is, if you're doing a good job and you're doing your job right, you don't hear from your customers. But, you always disproportionately hear from your bad customers.”
Customer service challenges in any business vary from day to day. But there are a couple of things that Mitch could always count on getting phone calls about.
The most costly of which being missed trash pickups.
Every missed trash pickup costs Ace Sanitation. Logistically, it puts trucks off of their carefully planned routes and delays additional trash pickups throughout the day.
“Your cheapest missed pickup probably only costs you maybe $5 to $10 to get picked up. But it can go as far as $20, $25.”
Given the costs, each missed pickup can sometimes cost Mitch more than what he would normally charge his customers in a given month - putting him upside down.
“You're getting north of what they pay per month for service - just for one pickup. But people don't realize that's how garbage works. We're picking up 80 stops an hour. When we have to hop off our route and get an extra pickup, we're not doing 80 an hour. We're down to five an hour.”
And every missed pickup adds time and leads to significant revenue loss for Mitch.
“It adds time at the end of the week, a missed pickup costs us 5, 10, 15 minutes. And 5, 10, 15 minutes and when you're talking about a $200,000 truck with a guy making $40,000 a year driving the truck - your costs per minute get very high.”
However, unpaid invoices were also hurting ACE Sanitation’s bottom line.
But Mitch didn't have time to spend all day on the phone calling customers to remind them of overdue payments.
And Mitch had no way to record phone calls. For someone who spends his day-to-day running operations, Mitch found it hard to remember conversations from one day to the next.
And sending reminders in the mail hadn’t historically worked well either.
“Whereas the traditional route, we’d maybe get half our customers to pay us. And then the other half, they don't look at their mail. Sure, they get it, but they throw it to the side and say they'll pay it later. There's just no call to action with mail. Everyone hates mail.”
As Mitch continued to battle his daily operational issues, he was also in the process of acquiring another trash hauling business.
It would increase his customer base by three times, which would lead to significant profits. But it would also compound his existing trash reminder and payments issues.
So Mitch began looking for communications solutions that he could easily scale without too much effort.
After researching his options, he found that other business owners had begun using business text messaging software to send reminders, get paid faster, and collect more Google Reviews.
“They were racking up five-star reviews. So initially, I got into business texting to build my Google reviews… But once I got texting, I obviously knew I was going to use it for communicating with customers, and it just kind of snowballed.”
And Ace Sanitation’s use of text messaging certainly did snowball.
“The next thing we realized was, well, hey - we've got accounts receivable issues with customers. We send them bills, they move, they're in the wrong name, or they throw them away. So then we started texting, for accounts receivable.”
Now Mitch uses text messaging to:
Mitch used MessageDesk’s business text messaging and text payment reminders to reduce his monthly accounts receivable by around 80%.
“After we sent text messages, we got under 10 late payments and we're probably three times the size we were back in the day. So if we had maybe 50 people that didn’t pay before, now we text them and we can shrink that number to under 10.”
After acquiring a new company, ACE Sanitation grew nearly three times in size. Simultaneously, Mitch was able to reduce his accounts receivable to under 10 unpaid invoices at any given time.
Before, he would have around 30 unpaid invoices per each of the three garbage trucks he was running.
“As far as the dollar amount, once you start texting your accounts receivable, your accounts receivable completely shrink. That's just how simple it is.”
Apart from getting more of his invoices paid on time, Mitch experienced added relief from fewer phone calls and missed pickups.
“I do hear when I go out and I talk to customers, ‘Oh, yeah, my parents, they have you set up for garbage.’ They love getting their text message reminder.”
Text messages work great as a reminder, but they’re also a way for Mitch to improve his customers’ overall experience.
“Nobody calls us up and goes, ‘Oh, you guys missed my garbage, come back and get it.’ They just can't even do that, we're covering everything on our end.”
“You look at all these problems we solve over text messages. They’d have to be solved over the phone if we didn't text. We handle so much of servicing our clients over those text messages. And if that avenue wasn't there, it would have to be over the phone.”
In the future, Mitch is looking to expand his use of text messaging.
“We're going to be bringing recycling on in a couple of months. So I'm going to need that reminder every other week. That's going to be great.”
Mitch anticipates that using text messaging to deliver bi-weekly reminders to his customers will generate significant revenue.
Most of Mitch’s competitors use physical calendars that customers put on their fridges.
“They'll literally give out calendars color-coded for a year in advance for people to hang on their refrigerator.”
Text messaging gives Mitch a considerable lead over his competition.
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