When David Knight got back into the pumping business in 2011, he brought a customer service philosophy that had been instilled into him many years prior while working for his father’s pumping and install company.
“He told me, ‘Son, you don’t make any money when you go back a second time,’” recalls Knight, owner of Knight Environmental Services in Caledonia, Mississippi. “The idea is you spend a little bit extra time — and a little bit extra money if you have to — and do the job right and be done with it. People will appreciate you for it and even be willing to pay a little bit more for your work. A few don’t, but the benefit is most of the customers will come back to you.”
That’s been the case so far for the company. Knight started as a one-man operation focused on only pumping tanks, and now boasts a full-service company with four employees doing installs and maintenance as well. New installs and repairs make up most of the workload.
“I would say half the tanks that get called in for pumping have a problem of some sort. Sometimes pumping will fix it, but a lot of times it won’t and a repair is needed,” Knight says. “You don’t get rich pumping tanks, but it uncovers repairs, and that’s where you find your profit.”
But Knight’s desire to run a profitable business is still about keeping customers’ interests at the forefront. And it’s a good feeling when Knight can recommend an affordable repair option when a full system replacement isn’t necessary.
“We’re out there to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with making money, but at the same time, we want these people to feel when they call us that we’ll be their hero,” Knight adds. “I want our customers to feel blessed because we’re on the job.”
Knight says there are times where he does recommend a customer replace the entire system, but only if it is indeed the best long-term solution.
“If it takes a new system of $4,000 or $5,000, then it takes it, but we never go in with that approach,’’ he says. “We always try to repair if we can, and if that’s going to work for the long term, we take that approach.”