Grease partners are companies that pick up your used cooking oil (UCO) to recycle it into biodiesel fuel, a cleaner burning fuel. These partners can range from industry giants with nationwide reach to the next door neighbor with a recently-acquired pickup truck. Our goal is to highlight some of the things you should think about when looking for a partner to handle your used cooking oil. Here are some of the questions you should ask when evaluating potential grease recycling companies.
Questions to ask Grease Disposal Companies
Not all grease partners are the same. The first difference is size. The industry giants do a credible job for a few very large customers. But if you aren’t a large producer, you might not get the attention, response, timely pickups and emergency response that you are looking for. In order to serve large customers, those companies rely on subcontractors and giant call centers.
Medium sized grease disposal companies have owners or employees who are accessible 24/7 for emergencies. At D&W for example, anytime you call, you’ll reach an owner. Not a call center, but an owner who knows who you are. Medium sized companies rarely use subcontractors. Our equipment is all company owned and all staff are employees. Medium sized companies like D&W can manage high quality service and maintain it. At the other end of the spectrum is the opportunistic guy next door with a pick-up truck who appears when oil prices are high. He won’t have the insurance coverage to protect you nor the expertise to deal with issues like clogged grease traps, spills or automation.
Does your potential grease partner provide or offer alternatives to store used cooking oil?
The best grease partners offer multiple automated solutions, enclosed containers and anti-theft protection systems. Automated solutions for UCO collection are great for businesses with space and large volumes. Some companies will only offer these options when you sign draconian long-term contracts and then they’ll require that restaurants buy new oil from them at high prices. This means you pay premium prices for both pickup and deliveries for the life of the contract. Contact your attorney if you are stuck in this situation.
Make sure you ask about contracts. There are companies, like D&W, that provide automated solutions without forcing you into punishing contracts. That keeps you in charge and getting the best service and price.
Can your potential grease partner properly maintain your trap and keep you in compliance with local regulations?
Grease traps are the #1 cause of fire in restaurants. Having a partner with the ability to clean your grease traps regularly keeps your restaurant safe. Having expertise in grease trap regulations keeps your business in compliance and helps avoid fines. Grease trap maintenance is extremely important. If your grease disposal company can’t do this you need to make a change to one who can.
Rebates are a part of the industry. When volumes merit them, any grease partner should offer you rebates in exchange for your used cooking oil.
Do they have liability insurance?
Insurance is critical. Liability insurance for at lease $1MM per event is very important. The opportunistic fly-by-nighters won’t have insurance. This is a must-ask question.
That is extremely important. You need to know who you’ll be able to reach and how quickly they’ll be able to respond to your emergency. Will you be reaching a customer service rep who has to pass your request up a chain of command and hope someone gets back to you? Will you be calling a sales rep? Or will you have access to someone who can make decisions right away?
Lastly, aside from talking to representatives, what’s a good way to check out potential UCO partners?
See what other clients are saying online. Read Google business reviews. Check the company’s Facebook comments. Note if they respond to public requests for help. If your facility is near other restaurants, ask them who their grease partners are and how they’d rate the service.