Indiana pumper emphasizes onsite system education for new customers.

Considering the changing demographics and diverse customer base for Johnson Johns & Septic Service, it’s important for the company to emphasize customer education about the workings and maintenance needs of a septic system.

Johnson Johns’ home base is the small town of Kingsbury, Indiana, but it is 80 miles from Chicago and just 30 miles outside of South Bend, Indiana, the hub of the northern part of the state. That rural atmosphere not far from major cities means there are two distinct types of customers — those very familiar with septic systems and newer residents who only have experience being part of a large municipal sewer system.

“We do a lot of explaining,” says Derek Johnson, who comanages the day-to-day operations of the business his father, Jeff, founded in 2001.

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“You have two sides to the equation,” adds Ted Knibbs, a longtime family friend and the company’s second manager. “There are your older customers who have been used to living on septic tanks all their lives and have a nice education on how it all works. On the other side of the coin, you have a lot of younger families moving out of the city, coming to the country, buying a 5-acre spread and building a house, and suddenly they have a septic tank. Once you explain the whole thing to them, you see the light go on and they get it.”

Johnson Johns has a list of septic system do’s and don’ts on its website, and also carries brochures that provide a crash course on septic systems. But ultimately, education is about simply spending time with a customer who lacks knowledge about septic system care, Johnson says.

“We make sure to take the time to explain to them how everything works,” he says. “We talk to them about maintenance, such as cleaning the filter every month or two, that bacon grease is not supposed to go down the sink, or that the so-called flushable wipes aren’t good for the system. Just some commonsense things.”

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The emphasis on customer education extends to the portable restroom side of the business. Johnson Johns provides information on its website for both construction and special event customers detailing how to determine the number of restrooms needed for a job. But again, what it really comes down to is spending time with customers.

“We give each client the time,” Johnson says. “We talk to them. We figure out what their needs are going to be instead of just giving a blanket answer.”

Read more about Johnson Johns in the October issue of Pumper.

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