A container management company that leverages technology, employs proven processes, and repairs as well as manages a hauler’s inventory, distinguishes itself as an emerging asset to any hauler’s operations.
Managing residential container systems for public and private waste and recycling companies has been a challenge since companies first began providing residential containers to their customers. These challenges include maintaining the container, managing the container inventory, processing warranty claims, delivering, removing and exchanging containers on time, and proof of service. Outside of truck expense, containers represent one of the largest capital investments a hauler can make. To track and manage container assets is an ongoing challenge for any waste and recycling hauler.
The Core Problems
At the core of the problem is the lack of focus placed on managing the container department. This department is a cost center, not a revenue generating operation for a hauler, and it is not given the needed attention to manage it properly. The primary focus for a hauler is always the collection operations. Trash and recycling must be picked up, which is given the highest operational priority.
Many haulers pull from their container delivery drivers to fill in gaps due to absenteeism. Management prioritizes the route operations instead of the pending container delivery and exchanges. This attitude towards the container operations trickles down to the yard operations. Without effective management of yard operations, proper container maintenance and tracking are compromised.
Inventory control, warranty containers, washing and repairing containers are not key competencies of most haulers. The lack of focus in the yard operations translates into container assets not being fully used, which results in the hauler purchasing more container assets than necessary.
Container Management Services
Outside container management service companies have been providing these services for more than 20 years, but they have not been widely adopted across the country. This situation has persisted because one of the primary providers of these type of services has traditionally been cart manufacturers themselves, or small locally owned independent companies. Cart manufactures started providing container management services to their clients to capture additional cart sales and maintain the relationship with their customers.
Cart manufacturers are motivated to sell more carts and this results in the existing container inventory not being managed properly. Another issue is that container management contracts represent a very small portion of a cart manufacturer’s revenue, and container management service is not a core strength of these type of companies. If the hauler does not see an improvement in customer service or a reduction in capital costs, they do not see the value in container management services.
In areas with large installed cart populations, some national haulers have seen marked improvements in customer service and reduction in cart capital expenses by using regional container management companies that focus on providing container management services. These large regional companies can provide container management services in multiple states and have a large enough footprint to leverage professional management and technology. As a result, real operational improvements are made and can be verified by the haulers that they service.
For a container management program to be successful, the on-street delivery, exchange and removal services should be tracked with GPS or onboard computer technology, which can provide the hauler with real-time photographic service verification. This use of technology will provide the hauler with solid data that can be used to track proof-of-service and can be provided to the hauler’s customer to easily resolve customer service issues. This type of information validates and ensures excellent customer service from the contracted container management company.
Another key component to a successful container management program is for the container management company to have a strong process for maintaining all the container assets. Companies that thoroughly wash, poly weld and use old container components for repairs provide haulers with the most cost savings by reducing the number of new containers that need to be purchased.
Container asset cost reduction can also be accomplished by a container management company that not only is able manage the inventory effectively, but also can submit and manage all warranty claims. The warranty process is cumbersome; the company submitting the claims must understand what qualifies as warranty and must document all the claims for the cart manufacturer. Many haulers do not take the time to submit warranty claims, which is a missed opportunity for cost reduction.
An Emerging Asset
If a hauler chooses a professional container management company that is solely focused on service (not selling containers or other products), then the hauler can see improvements in service standards and reduction in capital asset expenses. A container management company that leverages technology, employs proven processes, and repairs as well as manages a hauler’s inventory, distinguishes itself as an emerging asset to any hauler’s operations.
James J. Philipps is Executive Vice President Business Development of CDSRVS, LLC dba Can Do! (Orange, CA). James is a key member of the Executive Management team at CDSRVS. He is responsible for all business development activities and provides senior leadership and strategic management to all the operating locations within the company. He has been in the solid waste industry for more than 27 years and has more than nine years of solid waste operations and sales experience as well as over 18 years of solid waste scales, computer software and technology experience. James is an expert in the application of technology to the waste and service industries and brings professional management and leadership skills to the CDSRVS organization. James can be reached at (619) 726-2140, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cdsrvs.com.