We sat down with the chief operating officer of our Cleveland hauling company, Rich Gersdorf, to get the details on our waste removal process in one of our top markets. Gersdorf, who works for our headquarters near the shores of Lake Erie, has almost 30 years of experience in the hauling industry, making him an expert not only on running a dumpster business, but also on the best ways to satisfy our customers.
A: We listen to our customers and cater to their needs. Our team also offers specific time windows for deliveries, switches and pickups and tries to work our schedule around theirs.
A: Our time windows can be as small as one hour all the way up to a specific day, depending on how immediate the customer’s needs are. We also factor in efficiency and try not to criss-cross around town all day long. We complete jobs located in the same vicinity whenever possible. The type of material that’s in the loads we’re hauling will also play into that as far as which disposal sites to utilize.
A: Yes, the first stops are always easiest because we know what the driver’s start time is and approximately how long it will take to get to the site. As the day progresses, so many things can pop up to take us off schedule – traffic, weather, truck breakdowns, a customer changing container sizes – just a lot of different variables that can come into play that we just have to basically adjust on the fly. Planning too far in advance causes us to lose flexibility, and we always want to be able to react anytime the phone rings.
“We’re constantly updating and trying to manipulate how the routes are being run to maximize our time and efficiency to get the customers what they need.”
A: Specifically, in Cleveland, we have dispatch software that helps us react to changes quickly. Real-time dispatching means you may call at any time in the day and we can sneak you into the route an hour later if that’s what it calls for. The drivers all have tablets that allow them to enter the specific information for the customer electronically – like box size, box number, material type, weight and disposal facilities. It’s a lot faster than doing it on paper. The less times you have to transfer information, the better off you are.
A: It’s probably a cliché or simple, but I just think our people care. We realize there’s only a couple things we can offer, and that’s service and pricing. One is really no good without the other.
“You need customers to know they matter. Listen to them and try to cater to some of their wants and needs within reason, and usually it’s a good experience.”
A: In Cleveland, our drivers place our boxes on wood to protect customers’ driveways, especially if they’re asphalt. A heavy container, specifically in the warmer months, can sink into asphalt and leave indentations or break up the asphalt, so we place them on boards to prevent that or minimize that exposure as best we can.
“Laying down wood is a little more work, but that’s just one of the little things that separates us from other haulers.”
A: I think the biggest thing is being on time. Our customers run on tight schedules. Timing is important on the job site. They’ve got different sub-contractors coming on and off the site daily, so they need to coordinate who’s coming when, how long they’ll be there, how much room they take up, stuff like that.
“If we can hit our marks and get in and out and not inconvenience anybody, that’s a huge deal. We work around whatever their needs are. Sometimes we lose a little efficiency, but that’s just one way that we put the customer first over what may be best for us operationally.”
A: Right now in this service area, we’re running close to 20 trucks and nearly 800 containers. And we are currently placing orders for additional trucks and containers to be ready by spring, because we plan to continue growing.
A: People see new trucks and new containers; they see that we do things a little differently than some of the traditional companies that have been in town for a while. And I think it’s just a reflection of everyone doing their jobs, from the sales side to the hauling side and the coordination we have between the two. So, it’s a lot of people doing a lot of the right things and it shows in the amount of work we’re doing.
A: It varies, but this time of year we’re doing about 150 services a day. That’s on the high side, but it’s doable.
A: The Akron-Canton market is a separate, stand-alone operation. It overlaps slightly with the Cleveland market since they’re so close, but we’re able to gain some efficiencies by maybe minimizing the amount of office staff down in Akron to help manage it. Right now, we have two drivers and trucks down there, but plan to have between five and seven by next spring.
A: It’s always people. People drive everything. You need to have quality people to have consistent service, and that in turn creates growth. It all starts with good people.
A: Experience is always nice but not necessary. We’ve hired people with no truck driving experience and helped them get their commercial license. We took the time to train them and teach them how to do the job. We have also hired guys on the other end of the spectrum with 20 years of driving in the industry. It’s a lot more about character. People that like what they do is obviously important, and we have to give them a good environment, we have to make sure they enjoy being here.
A: A lot of things, in no particular order. They’re driving brand new, state-of-the-art trucks and equipment. They have the latest and greatest technology at their fingertips. We pay, I think, above industry average. Our benefit plan is better than industry average. And we do that because we want to attract the best people. We go above and beyond to care about our employees, it isn’t just common practice. But we want to invest in our employees and we think we’ll get a good return on that.