Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How to Find the Right Commercial Trash Hauler

By Kenzo Kawasaki

Image courtesy wikimedia
Having your company’s trash picked up shouldn’t be such a big deal.  You hire a service. They send a truck to empty your dumpster from time to time.  What’s the big deal?  The big deal is that unless you know the ins and outs of the trash hauling business, you could wind up paying through the nose to get your trash hauled off.  Why?  That’s because unless you want to pay to have half-empty loads hauled, or worse, you want your parking lot to be awash in blowing trash, you have to know a thing or two about the ways in which the industry works.  Then you have to make sure you contract with a hauler that is trustworthy, prompt and flexible.

How much wood can a woodchuck chuck?

Just like the rhyme, before you contract with a guy with a truck, you have to know how much stuff you’re going to chuck.  That’s because dumpsters come in a number of shapes and sizes.  Commercial haulers measure trash by the yard.  A typical 2-yard dumpster measures 3x3x6 feet.  This is a great size for a small office or retailer.  But it’s woefully inadequate for most service stations that usually produce about twice that amount of trash in any given week.  Multi-dwelling condos and apartment complexes can produce from 6-8 yards of trash week in and week out.  They’ll need either a 6x5x6-foot dumpster or a 6x6x7-foot one.  Manufacturers and warehouses will need 10+ yard dumpster and maybe even a commercial compactor to handle all the waste they produce.

Image courtesy USAF
To compact, or not to compact – Speaking of compactors, if you’re looking to economize on the amount of times a hauler trundles your trash back to the dump, sometimes it makes sense to invest in one.  Especially if the bulk of what you’re discarding are things like cardboard, plastic and lumber, a commercial compactor can crunch this stuff down so you can double or triple the amount of refuse you load into your dumpster.  There are even food-grade compactors for grocery stores and caterers that not only help them get more food into their receptacle, it keeps down the smell and vermin that food often attracts.

Finding the right trash hauler isn’t as tough a prospect as most business owners think.  In major metropolitan areas like Jacksonville, there are a number of companies from which to choose.  Many of their websites are set up to provide you with a free quote.  Just bear in mind that not all hauling companies are created alike.  If you run a small business, you are most likely going to find a small hauler to be a better fit, since their costs are a bit lower than the larger haulers and they are more likely to negotiate on everything from price to frequency.  Smaller haulers will generally give you a bit more personal attention to detail, since you will in all likelihood be dealing with the owner of the firm.  Larger haulers have larger staffs and more corporate infrastructure to deal with.  This means if you need to ask a question, make a change or request something other than what’s written in your contract, you could spend a lot of time just trying to get to speak to the right person in the right department. 

Is the lowest quote always the best deal? Just as with most other service industries, bidding is only the start of the process.  While every business owner always strives to get the biggest bang for their buck, be aware that the lowest bidder isn’t necessarily the best company to go with.  Always make sure you read the contract thoroughly, including the fine print.  Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.  What I mean by that is you need to make sure that everything from the terms and frequency of pickup to the penalties should your trash fail to adhere to the terms laid out are noted.  Also make sure the prices can’t suddenly be subject to change, or you could find out in short order that the deal you thought you were getting was in fact a raw deal that will cause you to gnash your teeth at night over for the rest of the year.

Image courtesy PxHere
Out of sight, out of mind. – If you’re new to the trash hauling game, one of the other things you will need to do is decide where to put the dumpster.  This may not be as simple as you think either since most municipalities have stringent rules about where to place a dumpster, as well as if it needs to be housed behind a protective fence.  You may also be required to pour a concrete pad below your dumpster, which could require you to pull a permit.  Before you sign up with a hauler, you need to first find out what the regulations are in your area.  If not, you could wind up being fined and even forced to move your dumpster to an approved location which will cost you even more time and money.

Make sure you check out any haulers before you sign on the dotted line.

Last but not least, you need to extensively research the reputation of every commercial trash hauler you are thinking about requesting a bid.  Due to the advent of the internet you will be amazed at how much information, including tons of online reviews you will find with a simple Internet search.  While company websites are a good first stop when you wish to find a top-notch hauler, it shouldn’t be the only place you look.  Checkout everything from the Better Business Bureau to Facebook and Google can unearth all kinds of things about a company.  Where in decades past, slipshod operators could hide their shenanigans, in this wired world the emperor wears no clothes.  While it’s obvious that you should beware of companies with complaints, you also need to be wary of haulers who have precious few positive or negative comments.  This usually means they are either brand new, or they changed their name to avoid the all too numerous bad reviews that were putting a kink in their cash-flow.

Once you get your short list of acceptable haulers, feel free to ask for a bid.  Just don’t stop there.  While you have the owner or a rep on the phone, also ask for a list of references of other similar sized businesses you can call to find out what their opinion is.  Sometimes you can learn more by speaking to a customer than you can by talking to a company representative.  Find out if they have ever had any problems with the quality of service, or the attitude of the company reps.  Inquire if they have ever been levied an added fee or whether the company has ever been late for a pickup.  Last but not least, ask an existing customer if they have been completely satisfied with their service.  After all, if you wind up with a lemon of a trash hauler, it’s going to be a long year before you’ll be able to make lemonade.

Kenzo Kawasaki is president of BC Hydraulic Services, a commercial trash compactor service company based in Jacksonville, Florida.


  1. While hiring a trash hauling company seems like a simple task, I can tell you it is anything but.

  2. I never knew you had a choice of trash haulers. Having choices is always best.


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