— Interview with Michael Hess —
R&R: Where are you based?
Michael Hess: Waste Harmonics is based in Victor, New York.
R&R: How long have you been with the company?
Hess: I acquired Waste Harmonics from Capital Environment in 2001 and my team and I have grown the business from a solely Northeastern U.S. focus to serving customers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
R&R: What trades/services do you offer retailers and restaurants?
Hess: We are a managed waste service provider. We act as a single point of contact, helping retailers or restaurants manage all of their waste and recycling needs.
We thoroughly assess waste and recycling needs, using advanced analytics to create a solution that is the most efficient and cost-effective — not just at the start of the partnership, but every day for every store and restaurant, and at every location.
R&R: Retailers and restaurants had to spin on a dime when COVID-19 hit in the spring. How did your company adapt/pivot?
Hess: Within the retail and restaurant industries, there was a wide range of impacts from COVID-19 — from slight modifications to how business could continue to complete shutdowns and everything in between. We were there every step of the way facilitating stop services for those who needed to shut down and adjusting frequency of pickups for those who did not have their typical staff and patrons, and therefore had less waste and recycling output.
We are still very much continuing to navigate this pandemic. Those who had complete shutdowns are now reopening and those who had restrictions lifted are all adjusting to this next phase. Being in constant communication with our customers and having laid the groundwork of trust very early on in our partnerships, we have been able to continue to provide the type of service and responsiveness our customers have always come to expect.
One of our customers said: “Your team has been amazing during this time. Always quick to help and respond. Thank you for your willingness to continue to serve your customer, especially during these crucial times.”
R&R: What makes your company’s “signature service” stand out?
Hess: We view ourselves as a managed services organization. We take ownership of waste programs. We look at overall program costs and different ways to achieve savings for our customers. With Waste Harmonics, customers have one vendor, one point of contact, one bill and one less thing to worry about.
We have a motto displayed throughout our offices: “Acknowledge. Respond. Follow up. It’s what we do.” If we say we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it. We’re successful because we challenge ourselves every day to answer two basic questions: What can we do to better service our customers, and how can we improve the bottom line of our customers’ businesses?
We also offer our proprietary technology, iWaste, a secure cloud-based dashboard that provides real-time fullness status, activity data and equipment health for retail and restaurant businesses that have compactors and front-load containers. With this technology, we give customers more visibility and live data at their fingertips, uncover opportunities for cost reductions and improve overall operations — all with no upfront costs to the customer.
R&R: What kind of feedback do you receive from clients?
Hess: We have a 99% customer retention rate and received a 100% net promoter score in our latest survey. Here is what our customers have to say:
“Waste Harmonics was able to systematize our waste management strategy across all our regions. They quickly identified locations that were underperforming and gave us the tools to track performance of each store. They quickly identified our 10 poorest-performing locations, and we developed an improvement plan, which has been extremely effective. What stands out about Waste Harmonics is they make a genuine effort to improve our business. They are interested in our long term business relationship, not the per-pickup charge.”
“Waste Harmonics is truly one of my favorite vendors to work with. You all continue to provide top-notch customer service and support our locations and me when I reach out with an issue. The level of support you provide us is very hard to find.”
R&R: Why should owner/operators choose your company to be their next vendor partner?
Hess: Every retail and restaurant business has unique waste needs. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Waste Harmonics tailors waste management programs to fit the exact needs of its customers. We provide a truly customized approach to all our clients, with state-of-the-art reporting and advanced waste management analytics, our proprietary iWaste technology and guaranteed rapid-response customer service.
By applying our industry expertise and vendor partnerships, our customers can focus on their business and let us handle their solid waste and recycling.
R&R: How many retail/restaurant clients do you have, and is that sector growing for you?
Hess: Yes, whether a franchise, regional or national chain, the retail and restaurant industries are an ever-expanding sector for our business.
R&R: Where do you see 2021 taking the industry? Do you see any positives to come out of 2020 that we can learn from/apply to next year?
Hess: As we look to 2021, we see our customers demanding more and more information about what’s happening with their waste and recycling programs. We’ve been able to deploy technology to help us collect the data, but we’ve also been able to develop a customizable business intelligence reporting platform for our customers. Through that platform, we can customize a set of reporting tools and allow customers to log in and see all the relevant data for a particular location, district, region or their overall program. Having a partner who can provide monitoring technology, as well as a robust reporting platform to deliver the data back to the customer, is the future of our industry.
As far as positives to come out of 2020, I think now, more than ever, retail and restaurant businesses are realizing the importance of finding a true partner when it comes to the management of their waste and recycling programs. Often, waste is just another line item in a business’s budget; however, the right partner waste and recycling management can reveal some major cost-saving benefits and efficiencies.
Also, this year has showcased the importance of having an emergency plan in place for waste management programs. Having established lines of communication with your waste management provider can ease the stress of having to make timely decisions and adjustments based off these types of disruptors to your waste and recycling program.
— Michael Hess is CEO, president and founder of Waste Harmonics, which improves the way the world manages and recycles waste to benefit businesses and the environment.