On January 25th I stepped out of the Johnny On The Spot office and into truck #114. I rode with Jeff Risner to see exactly what it is the drivers do on their routes. This was an eye-opening experience! When someone asks, I know to tell them we service the restrooms once a week on our routes and fully clean them… but what does that mean??
First, let’s talk about my thoughts before the ride along. I see the routes on the computer and on paper all day long. I see the work orders assigned to the drivers and know exactly what they need to accomplish from my perspective. Before leaving with Jeff I printed a copy of his route and it only had a few stops. “This will be a breeze,” I thought. It wasn’t. I know what his route looks like on a map and on the computer, but I didn’t take into account the time it takes to get to each of these stops.
In the winter months, Jeff will check the weather in the mornings. He is in charge of mixing the brine we use in the winter instead of fresh water to help prevent the restroom from freezing. He will mix the proper amount of Calcium Chloride to water for the predicted weather. If it will be colder, it is a stronger mix than if it will be milder conditions. Although this brine doesn’t always totally keep the freezing at bay, it is a big help!
The first thing the drivers do every morning, no matter the season or day, is inspect their trucks per Department of Transportation regulations and safety inspections. They check that everything is in working order, lights are not out, tires are the proper pressure, the oil levels are right and much more!
They also check that the vehicle is fully stocked for the day. Some of the items that have to be stocked include jugs of the blue chemical, toilet paper, plenty of towels and cleaners, sanitizer cartridges and dispensers, safety equipment, tools, first aid kit, and extra parts for the restrooms. This is a LOT of equipment to keep track of in a day!
Once the truck is stocked and checked over, the driver will double check his tablet to make sure there haven’t been any orders added since the night before. If needed, the driver will load restrooms on the truck for deliveries. Once the truck is stocked, warmed up, and ready, we hit the road!
This particular day we went to Bourbon, Warsaw, Syracuse, Goshen, Nappanee, and a few local stops on the way back to the shop. The routes change daily based on the orders that come in for deliveries, pickups, special events, and weekend events. The routes also change with the seasons. In the winter the service area isn’t as extensive as in the busier months. We also don’t have the parks, sports teams, and events in the winter that you see all summer long.
Our first stop was in Bourbon, Indiana. This was it! I was going to finally understand what “once a week service” meant. The first thing I noticed was the speed! Efficiency is key on the routes and Jeff is no stranger to efficiency! The first thing he did was removed the waste from the tank with a hose. I knew we had, what we call, “smell good oil” in the pump on the trucks but I was highly impressed at how well it worked. I never experienced a bad smell, even while the restroom was being pumped! Once the waste is removed, the blue chemical and the brine water was added to the tank.
Next, the inside of the restroom was sprayed down with cleaner and wiped clean. The floors were also scrubbed which I would have never thought about! In the winter, the drivers are unable to spray down the restrooms like they do in the summer months, so they do the best they possibly can with the cleaner and towels. A bucket is also used to splash water where needed. Also in the winter, salt is added to the urinal to prevent freezing.
Lastly, the restroom is dried off and toilet paper and sanitizers are restocked if needed. Before leaving the jobsite he also inspected the restroom for any damage that needs repaired or noted for the office. And there you have it! One restroom serviced and off to Warsaw!
Since we had some time in the truck between stops I asked Jeff what it was like to be on the road all the time.
“In the winter, it is very spread out,” he said. “Sometimes you have a lot of drive time between your stops. The days can be very long in the winter. In the summer, it isn’t as much time in between stops but the routes have many more stops on them so the hours are longer.”
Jeff has been with Johnny On The Spot for just over 7 years so it was nice to hear his thoughts on the exponential growth the company has experienced in the last few years.
“We have a much larger service area!” Jeff explained. “Our service area used to be very local and now it stretches into Illinois and all the way across northern Indiana to the Ohio border. We also have made a lot of equipment upgrades which help the job run much smoother! I also appreciate the communication lines that have been established between management, the office staff, and the drivers. Everyone is much more informed!”
I also wondered, with all of the growth he has seen, where did he think we would expand next?
Jeff replied, “I would like to see more special events within our current area. I think we can really expand fully into our current areas and make our brand known. We have a really great start but we could expand on it even more.”
Once we were done with the stops on the route we went to the Wastewater Treatment Plant to empty the waste tank. This was much different than I expected. I was more picturing just emptying the waste into a giant container and leaving. Actually the driver hooks up his truck to the hose provided and empties the tank into a container that has grates. This helps prevent any larger items, that shouldn’t be in the wastewater, to be sifted out. I had no idea!
The last thing on the drivers’ daily list is to clean their truck. That is right! The Johnny On The Spot trucks are washed every single day! This ensures that our equipment looks presentable every time it leaves our shop.
And there you have it! A day in the life of a Johnny On The Spot driver. I can honestly say that this ride along made me appreciate the drivers so much more! They are out every day facing the weather, road conditions, and a lot of windshield time to make sure our customers have the most sanitary restroom conditions possible! A portable restroom may not be like home, but our drivers strive to make the experience as pleasant as it can be.