Setting up and growing a septic tank cleaning company or septic pumping business is challenging. Septic tank pumping companies require not only expertise in septic tank mechanics and the proper equipment to do the job, they also need good communication skills, efficient workflows, a marketing strategy, and a reliable tracking system for measuring specific field service metrics (such as lead conversions and ad campaign performance).
You must also pay proper attention to the administrative side of the business, such as job estimating, billing, invoicing, scheduling, dispatching, equipment purchases, inventory maintenance, along with recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.
Using modern software to help execute your marketing strategy and business processes helps septic tank businesses streamline workflows and grow. ServiceTitan’s software has helped thousands of residential and commercial services companies (including septic tank businesses) do just that. We provide a range of tools to help business owners manage their marketing and advertising activities as well as operational processes (such as dispatching and invoicing).
In this post, we’ll share 7 septic tank business tips with advice on how to set up and grow your own septic tank business.
Septic Tank Business Tips
How to Start a Septic Tank Business
How to Grow Your Septic Tank Business
Where relevant, we’ll discuss how ServiceTitan’s software can help with the tips above.
If you’d like a personalized demo to see how ServiceTitan can help your septic tank business specifically, you can schedule one here.
Tip #1: Create a Septic Tank Business Plan
Describe your septic business services
Identify your target market
Outline your specific service area
Analyze market trends
Know your competitors
Choose a business name
Select your business structure (e.g. sole proprietorship or limited liability company)
Set septic tank services pricing
Establish an organizational chart
Choose hourly or flat-rate labor rates
Brainstorm marketing ideas
Include financial projections
A septic tank business plan establishes your company’s goals and strategies for moving forward in the industry — just like following a roadmap to reach your desired destination or carefully locating a customer’s underground septic tank by knowing which signs to look for.
A solid business plan keeps your company on track for future growth.
A septic tank cleaning company or a septic tank pumping business makes money by charging customers to clean and maintain their septic systems (some may also offer septic tank installation). Most residential septic tanks need to be cleaned every two to four years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of people using it. Your septic pump company may also offer emergency services or specialize in cleaning grease traps for local restaurants, clearing municipal sewer lines, or maintaining portable toilets on job sites.
A septic pumping company business plan starts by describing the services your company offers, your geographic service area, and your target market audience. Analyze market trends and find out what your competitors charge, then set base pricing for your products and services.
Before finalizing your pricing, calculate how much it costs to dump waste at disposal locations in your area, the time and distance your team needs to travel to job sites, and how much it costs to maintain your equipment, such as septic pump trucks. This will help you determine how many tanks you need to pump per week to cover costs.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost for septic tank pumping ranges from $288 to $556. Charges may vary, but most companies charge a flat fee for emptying a septic tank. Depending on local competition and market demand, some septic tank businesses may struggle to make a 5% profit margin, while others easily maintain a 20% margin.
A plan for starting a septic pumping business also includes an organizational chart for all employees, with clearly defined job roles and expectations. A small business may prefer to pay employees an hourly rate, while larger companies may offer flat-rate pay. You can learn more about the advantages of flat-rate pay in this article.
Brainstorm marketing strategy ideas for your septic business, then commit a certain percentage of revenue (10% to 20% is a good start) for marketing those ideas.
Finally, include financial projections for future revenue and expenses, over the short-term and long-term. Break it down by month, so you can easily see projected revenue, overhead expenses, total income, taxes, etc., and then work toward increasing your septic pumping business profits.
Include an executive summary to summarize all of the above, along with your company’s mission statement or core values.
A septic tank business can also use ServiceTitan’s Service Business Valuation Calculator to estimate the current value of their business, or the Service Business Checkup tool to evaluate the health of a septic business in just 60 seconds.
Tip #2: Identify Septic Business Startup Costs
Starting a septic tank cleaning business can be expensive, especially when buying and maintaining a fleet of large septic pump trucks. Experts recommend starting a new business with at least a 3,500-gallon pump truck, which allows you to complete two or three jobs before needing to offload.
A nice, used pump truck — an essential septic business tool — may cost up to $50,000, but you’ll also need to pay for insurance, permits, outfitting the truck, and more. A new pumper truck with more power and greater capacity may cost upward of $150,000 (with some closer to $225,000).
Disposal fees make up another important expense for your septic tank business. Fees vary in every municipality, but could range anywhere from $25 to $100 or more per load. Explore options in your community for approved waste treatment plants or private companies that specialize in sewer systems.
Other expenses for a septic tank business may include:
Rent for office space
Insurance policies (business insurance and general liability insurance)
Vehicle maintenance and repair
Fuel for pump trucks
Software tools and digital devices
Use ServiceTitan’s Labor Rate Calculator tool to help you calculate employee costs.
Tip #3: Hire, Train, and Retain Septic Workers
Build a strong company foundation
Create clear job descriptions
Provide extensive training
Incentivize workers with performance pay
Value your employees (your company’s #1 asset!)
Septic companies succeed by building a strong company foundation with a fully developed organizational chart and operating manuals. Create clear job descriptions and expectations for every position, provide extensive training to set up every employee for success, and use performance pay as an incentive to help septic tank workers grow with your business.
Some septic pumping companies also offer hiring bonuses to new employees or give current employees a bonus for referring a new hire. The average hourly rate for septic workers is $19 per hour, but those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) could earn more.
Salaries vary for owning a septic pumping business, depending on the number of trucks in your fleet and how many jobs you do, but many septic owners say offering pumping and cleaning services often leads to higher-paying installation jobs.
Invest as much time in recruiting and training your septic workers as you do on marketing your septic tank business. An investment in your employees pays off in the end for any company working in the trades, says Chad Peterman, President of Peterman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Indianapolis.
As a keynote speaker at Pantheon 2020, Peterman shared his vivid vision for changing the way society views people working in the trades. His company believes in instilling hope, care, and compassion to help employees dream again, set and accomplish goals, and then recognizes them for it. His strategy resulted in 300% growth for the company in just five years.
“It has been the continual investment in our people that has really been the driving force behind our growth,” Peterman says. “We have worked very, very hard to create a place where people want to come to work and grow into the best versions of themselves.”
Tip #4: Develop Laser-Focused Marketing Strategies
Identify your target audience with specific demographics
Send septic service flyers to reach your specific audience
Automate marketing campaigns for better efficiency
Save cost per lead with targeted email marketing
As we mentioned above, a septic tank business that offers pumping and cleaning services can generate more job leads for septic system installations and repairs, which leads to more revenue for your company. The same philosophy applies to pumping restaurants’ grease traps every few months or securing higher-paying commercial septic tank pumping accounts.
No matter which audience your company markets services to, it’s important to target the right audience at the right time. Let potential customers know they can depend on your septic tank business for emergency services — and offer a warranty on any work performed.
Another good marketing practice for septic companies involves educating customers about the importance of maintaining their septic systems. Show them how they can:
Protect home value: Septic systems in need of repair drastically reduce property values and may introduce legal liability.
Keep drinking water pure: Proper maintenance of septic systems prevents harmful pollutants from contaminating groundwater and nearby water wells.
Marketing ideas include:
Promoting Maintenance Agreements
Sell septic service maintenance agreements to residential and commercial customers to maintain steady revenue throughout the year.
Advise against letting septic tanks back up into the house or flooding the drain field before they call for service.
Advocate for routine maintenance and automate with digital reminders to notify customers when their tanks are due for service.
Modern software will help you sell more maintenance agreements.
With an intuitive mobile app like ServiceTitan Mobile 2.0, your septic workers can access service agreements while in the field with just a few quick taps on a tablet instead of needing to rummage through files to find physical copies of an agreement. You can also make the membership forms a mandatory part of certain service calls, ensuring your techs always know the right time and situation to pitch a septic maintenance contract to a customer.
ServiceTitan lets you select agreements from a wide range of templates and set up and store as many as needed to suit different membership types — septic tank cleaning or routine maintenance, for example.
Each template is fully customizable with a menu of recurring services, including the number of visits for specific services on each call. You can record all the key details for each contract, including:
Duration of agreement
Recurring service types and frequency (monthly, annually, etc.)
Billing frequency and pricing
Agreements are easy to set up and, once up and running, can be integrated with other ServiceTitan tools such as scheduling, executing jobs, and estimates. You can even tie agreements to individual pieces of equipment (e.g. septic system) so there’s no confusion about what needs servicing.
Learn more about how to use maintenance agreements to maximize profit in this post.
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Utilize Printed Business Cards & Direct Mail Locally
Eat lunch at local restaurants and leave your septic pumping business cards with the manager to make them aware of your grease-trap cleaning services.
Capture local customers’ attention with creative direct mail marketing offering incentives or coupons.
Combining traditional marketing materials like business cards and postcards with social media posts and other digital marketing can work well for many septic tank businesses.
ServiceTitan has a library of postcards that septic businesses can use to execute their direct mail campaigns. Setup takes minutes. Simply choose your design, adjust the text, then print and mail your postcards to your chosen audience.
Optimize Your Septic Business Website
Optimize your septic business website with popular, locally relevant keywords people use when searching online for companies to hire, such as “Charlotte septic cleaning” or “septic pumping near me.”
Claim your Google Business Profile page with a locator map so your website ranks higher when customers search for “local septic tank cleaning services” or "septic tank business near me”.
Make Your Septic Brand Sticky & Disruptive
Use branding on your tech uniforms and the company trucks as mobile billboards for your septic tank business.
Be sure to include a clearly visible company logo, phone number, and website.
According to Dan Antonelli, President and Creative Director of KickCharge Creative, branding can make or break a small business, so in times of economic uncertainty, it’s imperative to set your brand apart from the herd.
“By sticky, we mean it stands out in their mind, they can remember who you are when they need to,” Antonelli says. “As contractors, we're trying to counter the fact that a lot of homeowners are scared about who's coming to their home, right? They want to figure out, ‘who can I trust to be inside my home and fixing something of mine?’”
Be disruptive by standing out from the crowd. Your septic brand should be unique so it doesn’t get missed in the crowd.
Learn more about logos and branding in the ServiceTitan Playbook.
Send Targeted Email Campaigns
Targeted email marketing also works as a cost-effective strategy for keeping your brand top of mind with customers, says Megan Bedford, who runs Mugyver Consulting to help small companies in the trades.
Not only is the cost cheaper for targeted email marketing — $12 or less per lead — it’s the type of communication customers prefer, as opposed to direct mail or a promotional text.
ServiceTitan's Marketing Pro allows you to segment your email audience by ZIP code, age of equipment, date of last service, new homeowner, and more. Using data already collected in ServiceTitan, you can target previous customers with a “We Miss You!” email campaign, follow up with existing customers on unsold maintenance agreements, or offer a discount to new homeowners who might be considering a septic tank installation or maintenance check.
Sending targeted emails is simple. Choose from our huge range of email templates, adjust the text to fit your campaign, and deliver to your chosen audience.
Targeted emails mean higher open rates and more calls coming in.
With ServiceTitan, you can also monitor the exact ROI for each campaign by tracking the email performance and the revenue attribution within the ServiceTitan dashboard.
Tip #5: Market Septic Tank Cleaning Services Online
Trade experts suggest company owners spend half of their marketing dollars on digital platforms, since today’s consumers find 70% of all services online through Google searches.
Some customers find your septic tank company online because they need your services today, whereas others may remember your company the next time they need septic services because they noticed a pump truck with your logo in their neighborhood or those business cards you left with local restaurant managers.
For the best digital septic service marketing, focus on doing the following:
Post Content Regularly
Post regular, helpful septic tank maintenance content to boost SEO (search engine optimization).
Target high-ranking keywords.
Writing helpful content for your target audience, posting it on your website and sharing it via social media, builds authority and lets your septic tank customers get to know you.
Target high-ranking keywords such as, “septic tank disposal” or “replace septic hoses” and offer helpful information and tips. Sharing content on social media pages will drive more traffic to your website, and regularly updated websites rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Read more here on how to get more leads for your business.
Invest in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising & Google Local Services Ads
Invest in PPC (pay-per-click) advertising to increase brand awareness and target online leads.
Expand your service area in conjunction with Google’s Local Services Ads.
Investing in PPC ads and Google Local Services Ads will guarantee your septic business appears at the top of Google search results.
Note: Google Local Services Ads will appear above PPC ads and organic listings.
Local customers looking for septic tank services will be able to view a snapshot of your business — such as the company name, Google review rating, and years in business — to determine whether your business fits their needs.
Costs for Google Services Ads vary, but you only pay when a customer contacts your business through the ad, so this can be really cost-effective.
ServiceTitan integrates with Google Local Services Ads to allow homeowners to directly schedule online appointments with your company. It also provides business owners with ROI metrics on every campaign.
Learn more about marketing with Google Local Services.
Track Your Marketing Efforts with ServiceTitan
Sales: Track your ratio of leads to sales.
Production: Track non-billable hours when you pay your employees but aren’t making any profit, such as when driving or completing paperwork, weather delays, and equipment failure.
Balance sheets: Track outstanding account receivables (AR = money owed).
Cash flow: Track monthly or weekly cash flow, operating expenses, and profits.
ServiceTitan lets you create a marketing scorecard of all current campaigns, then tie all new customers to the specific marketing campaign that brought them to you (such as Google Local Services Ads). This way, you can increase spending on campaigns with higher returns and drop channels with poor performance.
Just don’t make the rookie mistake of focusing only on digital platforms for your septic pumping business advertising. Personal relationship-building tactics still work (such as knocking on doors and introducing yourself to new homeowners or leaving septic service flyers for future maintenance or repairs). In fact, most customers often appreciate the personalized effort in today’s digital world.
Tip #6: Use Rave Reviews to Pump Up Profits
Online reviews prove extremely important when managing your septic company’s reputation. One survey found that nearly 90% of customers factor reviews into their buying decisions.
To get good reviews and keep them flowing, your techs must deliver outstanding customer service and always exceed the customer’s expectations. Good reviews must be earned, but they’re a proven way to grow any home services business.
Does your company make it easy for customers to leave a review? Do your techs ask for feedback once they complete a job? Does your office staff make follow-up customer service calls or send emails with a specific link to leave a review?
Travis Ringe co-owns ProSkill Services, a full-service air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, water heater, and water treatment home services company in Arizona. It’s a $14 million operation with more than 3,000 5-star Google reviews.
Ringe says he focused ProSkill’s marketing on getting more 5-star Google reviews by using ServiceTitan’s built-in survey tool to customize a personal message and ask customers to leave a Google review.
“If you want to drive reviews,” Ringe says, “you have to deliver a full experience worthy of writing a review.” Additionally, you need to make it easy for customers to leave a review. “We get between 5 and 15 Google reviews per day, on average,” Ringe says.
ServiceTitan’s customer experience software automatically sends survey requests to customers after a job has been completed. This makes it easy for customers to share their experience on an online review site (Google, Yelp, etc) while it’s still fresh in their minds.
We also offer a reputation management tool that automates sending review requests to customers, lets you reply to reviews, and gain insights into which techs they relate to.
Septic service customers value their money and time, so don’t make them waste either. Soon, they’ll be raving about your company, and you’ll be pumping up net profits.
Learn more about how to ask for customer reviews in this post.
Tip #7: Increase Efficiency with Septic Business Software
Still wondering if septic tank pumping is a profitable business? Owning a septic tank business requires hard work, but digging yourself into debt doesn’t need to figure into the equation. The industry offers fantastic opportunities, with annual revenues reaching $6.5 billion in 2022.
Work smarter, not harder, with septic tank cleaning business software to flush away your company’s operating inefficiencies, increase your average tickets, and grow profits.
Septic business software allows clear communication with customers using automated scheduling, GPS-based dispatching and tracking, and online booking. Use customized data reporting to monitor and boost your techs’ productivity, track marketing campaigns, and understand which KPIs (key performance indicators) matter the most for growing your septic tank business.
ServiceTitan’s all-in-one septic business software offers features that help you manage the entire septic business, including:
Tools for pricebook management
Estimate and proposal templates and builders
All of these features fully integrate together to make running your own septic tank business a seamless process.
To learn how ServiceTitan’s software can help you grow your septic tank business, schedule a free personalized demo here.
ServiceTitan Septic Business Software