A&C Septic Services, LLC – Transformative Leadership

In June 2011, A&C Septic Services, LLC opened its doors and began providing a different kind of service business to serve the North Atlantic states. Seven years later, American Liquid Waste magazine was fortunate enough to meet Cheri Errico, owner, operator, and industry thought leadership phenom. 

Cheri Errico has built her New Jersey business by doing her own creative marketing, branding design, special event coordination, customer relations, and administrative management. This constantly productive entrepreneur talked with us back in mid-2018, when her family business was 7 years old and again recently as it now approaches its 13th anniversary. 

In our meeting with Errico 7 years ago, we discussed her sharp insights into the industry’s most costly and persistent problems and her bold ideas for progress. It was easy to see that this business owner was bringing something different to the national industry conversation. As we reported then, during the initial interview, “It became clear that we were talking to a unique individual in the industry, in any industry — a legitimate change agent.”

Finding Their Natural Entrepreneurial Niche

Cheri explained in our 2018 interview that her husband, the highly talented and experienced Jon Errico, shifted from his career of two decades with the Municipal Utilities Authority to partner with Cheri in the startup. It was Jon’s idea to open a local septic service. He reasoned that since so many service trucks were traveling a pretty long distance to customers’ locations in the area, there was apparently a shortage of providers nearby.

Jon’s knowledge related to the industry and excellent applicable skill set made it a natural transition to start a septic service. With Cheri’s extensive business administration skills, she was more than qualified to take on the entrepreneurial challenge. So, together, the couple rather quickly got A&C up and running profitably.

Traditional Great Service & Progressive Profit Principles 

Cheri Errico’s service model is a blend of friendly old-fashioned customer care and tenacious, practical pricing to defend profitability boundaries. Any time you call A&C for service, 24/7, she answers the phone personally. You don’t get voicemail or an automated system directing you to push various buttons for this or that kind of help. 

She explained that when customers have a problem or need anything, A&C responds comparatively quickly. She also emphasized that their customers know they receive more from A&C than they can get anywhere else in their NJ market area. Cheri says it’s a matter of genuinely caring about people.

For example, Jon’s ethics on reliability and quality require that every tank and surrounding area are left in pristine condition for customers. He uses tarps and takes all the time needed to prevent leaving residual waste on a property. No dirt from digging to access lines is ever left on a lawn. For Jon and Cheri, 9 to 5 schedules are not a thing. As Jon says, his schedule is however long it takes to get the work done.

Beauty and Porta-Potties – a Refreshing Fit

Take a tour through the A&C Septic Services online photo gallery to enjoy a veritable catalog of decorative ideas tailored for porta-potties. From lively seasonal themes to festive holiday motifs, to occasion-specific party decor, Cheri Errico’s creative imagination is boundless. 

The charming touches she features in the basic units elevate the value for rental customers in the experience for their guest users. The point for Cheri is to inspire a different impression of these interior spaces from what users expect based on their past experiences with them.

Far from merely adding a little vase with a silk flower or a tiny picture attached with removable wall adhesive, Cheri’s much more elaborate but unimposing decorative touches prove that the porta-potty interiors can be presented with greater appeal. For exterior aesthetics, she adds little awnings over the doors, places items around and near the units that keep with the event themes. 

Adding these pops of color and interest is unexpected and refreshing for users and exceeds rental customers’ expectations. Above all, it helps change the product image from a utility space that people typically would try to avoid.

A&C Septic Services, LLC Branding

Cheri bypasses much of the time and cost of conventional marketing and branding, opting instead to invest in enhancing services. She finds that that strategy facilitates social branding through powerful word of mouth from satisfied customers. 

A&C does invest in refreshing the company’s logos and contact info on the trucks more frequently than most businesses in this industry or most others. Cheri explained back in the original meeting, “We feel strongly about having the “constant billboard effect” of the truck signage. 

Cheri emphasized that they update those and modify the logo every few years or so to “keep it fresh.” She said they want the logo to stay recognizable as A&C, so they don’t completely redesign it, but they “want to make the image look new."

Errico Solution to the Industry’s Biggest Problem

Looking at the industry’s greatest and most stubborn impediments, Cheri sees the hiring and staff retention challenge as a problem, of course, but not industry-specific, since it’s a national issue pervading the entire U.S. employment market. She sees the biggest problem in the portable toilet rental industry as faulty vendor and customer perception of what the service is actually worth. And, she systematically applies her very effective solution.

She analyzes the problem as a case in which the customers see providing and maintaining the units “as a very rough job, but they want to pay peanuts. Contractors, for example, need the units but don’t want to pay enough for them. We set a rate for what we do, and we don’t really provide much wiggle room on it." The clarity, simplicity, and firmness of her approach combine to form a brilliant solution:

Just provide outstanding products and service, charge a fair price, and don’t undercut yourself even under market pressure. On the contrary, spread the friendly but direct message to motivate your competitors/peers to do the same thing! 

What Else in the Industry Needs an Errico Solution?

Cheri further explained in the original interview that contractors and other customers also don’t require their users to respect the product and treat the units in a reasonably careful way. So, she undertook to solve that issue, per her habit of facing big problems head-on and taking reasonable actions repeatedly until she and her team scale the solution region-wide.

By Cheri’s measures, by 2018 she summed up the level of success of the effort by that time, "We have made progress in building respect for the units and the company, by reinforcing what we expect from the customers.” She explained her unique straightforward solution, “We have a necessary motto: There’s no humorous aspect to "portable restrooms". We’ve found that sharing it opens the way to helping customers understand the financial challenges for this kind of company."

The Erricos had discovered that this small alteration in the way of communicating about the portable toilet units was helping change the way people perceived and treated the rentals.

But, the amusing image of the product was pervasive. She explained that kids even enjoyed tipping the units over. She joked, “It’s been almost like the units have a stamp on them. But we’re getting it done.” She was referring to getting the job of educating the public done. That’s for anyone who thinks that society can’t be changed by a couple of folks on a farm in upstate Jersey.

She pointed out in 2018 what is at stake for vendors, "The trucks cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s no joke what we have to do to provide the service. A lot of my friends on social networks are fighting for this respect, and we deserve it.”

A&C Septic Services and Portable Toilets – THEN

When we spoke to Cheri six years ago, A&C had 140 portable toilet units. They had just bought their first luxury trailer. Jon was doing all the septic pumping during that time. And, they were looking to hire their first employee to help with septic services. Their goals were to expand by buying and renting more luxury toilets. 

They were clearing septic lines and doing grease trap cleaning, trying to keep up with the workloads they had. Cheri hoped to hire one or two more employees in the next year and buy a larger truck. We had purchased a new toilet truck earlier that year. Portable toilet rentals were in high demand, so they had elected to pursue growth in that direction. It had been their best year up to that point.

Today, in 2024, A&C has grown to become a prominent provider throughout New Jersey and greater New England. The company’s service area includes Stone Harbor, Cape May, Ocean City, Avalon, and many other cities along the south Jersey coast and inland, throughout Egg Harbor Township. 

Results of the Errico Operations Philosophy – NOW

Today, in 2024, A&C has expanded to over 300 rental toilet units (more than double the number the company’s inventory in 2018). We’ve expanded to new areas and customers have welcomed us and asked us to move beyond our more normal services. We do have two of the luxury trailers now. We’ve also invested in the fresh flush models. We have about 6 of those. We’ve found those to be a middle price point for customers who do not want the expense of trailers, so we’ve expanded that line. 

COVID kind of set us off in that growth trajectory. Things have calmed down now, but with all the restrictions that were put in place, restaurants opened up to us, because COVID made everyone go outside. We also expanded into poolside service. We really grew from people wanting a toilet by their pool. They now regularly reserve units from season to season.

We’re a travel destination here at the Jersey shore. There’s Atlantic City, the beach, etc. It’s a destination vacation spot. All the restaurants and other tourism services had to invest in outside spaces because they weren’t allowed to go inside. So, they needed toilets outside. When things went back to normal, they liked the outside dining, and the socializing feature, so they kept the restroom service outside. 

We currently have another dozen portable toilet units coming to us right now because we’ve added the upgraded flush models instead of just standard construction units and have regular seasonal renters for them. 

During COVID, our septic services were also in high demand because people were home all the time. They had to stay in, so there was an additional load on their system. Things lightened up as restrictions were lifted. 

We have added 2 more employees. We’re still a small, tight-knit family business. But, we did bring in a professional with the same level of owner skills and reliability that we have. We were able to afford to match his existing job and benefits. We’ve invested in him and my husband’s brother, and it’s paid off well for us in our ability to expand and maintain quality. 

We have been awarded the Best of the Jersey Shore designation under the Septic Services category. We’ve been First Place for the past 3 years in a row. 

Updated Advice from Cheri Errico, Business Thought Leader

"Be fair to yourself — Get Paid!" That was Cheri’s imperative 6 years ago. We had heard that message many times from other successful restroom rental business owners from around the country. But she had the delivery to make it a rallying cry. 

She really meant, literally, tell everyone! Customers, competitors, trade magazine editorialists, and anyone else who can help get the word out! That did not seem un-doable at all to her. And, she’s been methodically accomplishing it throughout her career.

Today, Cheri Errico reiterates her steady message from 6 years ago, “I guess the biggest point we still stress to our industry is not to allow the market to undervalue us. We had a price and we stuck to it. And, we just stuck to trying to put more value into our units. As an industry, we need to claim our value. We’ve raised our prices at A&C and stood by that. We need to stand behind the value of our industry.” 

That’s what has proven Cheri Errico as an effective industry change agent. She is educating all the involved parties about what needs to be done to their own long-term advantage and imploring them to do it. 

That consistent and tenacious reasoning drives market perceptions and gives users something actually of more value by helping them understand that it is of more value than they had believed it was. That shift in thinking gives vendors a reasonable task and profit and customers a higher level of appreciation for the value of the product they’re receiving. Win win!

Customers have many demands and want to pay very little. That’s our driving message, to be aggressive with pricing. The customers that believe in your value will stick with you anyway, and the others — they need to go.

What we try to work hard to create is an image for what we do. What our team does, what they tolerate, is difficult. They’re exposed to waste. We need to stick together as an industry and help people across the national culture understand that and respect what we do.

For more information about A&C Septic Services, LLC, you can call (609) 463-4600 or visit acrestrooms.com.

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