Adding Services Adds to Your Customer Base and the Bottom Line

Diversifying can help your onsite business reach additional customers looking for other services

Adding Services Adds to Your Customer Base and the Bottom Line

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The tools and skills we have as onsite installers enable us to efficiently add other services to offer customers. This diversification adds to both the bottom line and customer base. When adding additional services to your company's offerings, you are reaching more customers looking for those services.

Mound systems and in-ground systems, pretreatment systems and other installation projects are a great foundation for any onsite company. Here are some of the other services similar companies offer:

Evaluation of onsite systems for home sales

You have the expertise. You most likely have the tools. So without adding much, if anything, in the way of tools and materials, this one is a fast ROI. This is a great way to add a service that there is always a market for. 

I’m partial to this one because I was on a committee who spent years developing a curriculum to teach best practices for evaluation of existing systems. The Wisconsin Onsite Water Recycling Association teaches this class for the purpose of uniform methods, best practices and reducing liability.

Sewer inspection

This one I cannot stress enough. If I could only pick one to start with it would be this. I do realize that sewer inspection cameras are expensive. But this is the most important tool you will use to grow your business and be better at it. There are a lot of companies out there selling sewer cleaning services. There is an unfortunate percentage of them that do not use a camera (and those that charge extra for the camera, which makes the customer reconsider having the job done right). 

I get many calls from customers who have already had a sewer cleaner make a service call (in most cases several times) but still have a recurring problem. The contractor in those instances never used a camera to determine why the issue was recurring. If they did use a camera they either didn’t record it, nor located the issue. Get an inspection camera. 

Sewer cleaning / root removal

When you add sewer cleaning and root removal to your list of services offered, you move from the limitation of onsite customers only to an advantage where the potential customer base increases to everyone. And the percentage of persons with sewer blockages is unfortunately (for them) quite high.  

To do this right, you’ll need a sewer cleaning machine with the right cutting tools, and an inspection camera. Also make sure you have other essentials: shoe covers, floor covers (tarps), 5-gallon bucket or garbage bag, good spray cleaner to clean tools off as they come out of the sewer and a collection of different clean-out cap types and sizes — the old brass ones in the cast iron rarely come out in one piece. 

Pumping septic tanks 

I realize this is the most expensive diversifying idea of the list, but if you can swing it, you’ll never go back. Not only do you hire pumpers when you are working on an existing system replacement, there are a lot of customers out there that need either routine maintenance or emergency service. There is no better way to handle those emergency service calls than being able to pump the tank to both troubleshoot the issue and buy the customer time while they use their tank as a temporary holding tank. 

Even routine maintenance leads to repairs and replacement systems. Most pump trucks have a good jetter on them. The jetter is a great tool to unclog pipes, and one you can charge for. This is not an inexpensive way to diversify, but it’s one of the best ways to grow your business.

Sewer lining

People having sewer problems love the term "trenchless sewer repair." Sounds like magic to them. But if your sewer camera shows that all the joints are lined up (no offset joints) and the issue is a hole, or root intrusion at joints, lining could possibly be the way to go. Lining equipment can be relatively inexpensive if you’re just offering sectional liners, or way more expensive if you are considering longer full pipe liners. This field is definitely growing and an entire industry of its own. 

I had a person call who was having recurring sewer backups. A camera inspection showed that at the end of their driveway right at the street there was a hole in the pipe letting in a large root mass. The bids this person received to dig up the driveway and a portion of the street, plus all the restoration, were quite expensive. We offered to try to line that hole from the clean-out in their basement with no open cut. Our proposal was a small fraction of the other bids. Our liner was successful, which saved the customer a lot of money because we had no excavation nor restoration in a street and concrete drive. That customer was extremely happy and gave us great reviews saying that our company did the right thing instead of the expensive alternative. It was years ago and they have not had a problem since.

There’s nothing wrong at all with only doing installations of onsite systems. But as you build your reputation as the go-to company for everything onsite, being prepared to help customers with all facets of onsite systems and sanitary sewers is a great way to grow your business.

About the author
Todd Stair is vice president of Herr Construction, Inc., with 34 years’ experience designing, installing, repairing, replacing and evaluating septic and mound systems in southeast Wisconsin. He is the author of The Book on Septics and Mounds and a former president of the Wisconsin Onsite Water Recycling Association.


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