Let Your Voice Be Heard

The online Pumper Survey will show where the liquid waste industry stands on service diversification, human resource trends and building the bottom line.

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Just about four years ago, shortly after the collapse of the U.S. economy and the contentious fall elections of 2008, we conducted a survey of Pumper readers asking 10 questions aimed at providing a valuable snapshot of business conditions in the liquid waste industry.

It's time to take the pulse of the pumping industry again. A new 2012 Pumper Survey is found online at www.pumper.com/2012survey.

A seesaw economy, vast technology advances and major changes in the employment picture since the last survey have drastically changed the way pumpers operate their businesses. Gone are the days when it was next to impossible to find workers to add to the payroll. The construction industry has ground to a standstill in some regions, and switched from red-hot residential development to commercial work in others.

Both what you can charge for services and your costs of doing business have changed as well. And your ability to obtain capital for equipment and business expansion has changed, too. Just before the economic collapse, it seemed like banks were tripping over each other to loan you money. Now they might be pinching nickels together like your frugal old Uncle Ed.


And the menu of services you offer today might be far different than it was in 2008. In addition to pumping, residential septic system installation was a popular offering in the mid-2000s. So was portable sanitation for the construction market. Since the downturn started, I've heard of pumpers dropping construction-related portable sanitation service, and those who pursued onsite work during the housing boom have found an emerging market for system inspections and maintenance.

A large number of the questions in the 2012 study mirror those in the 2008 study, so we can compare industry changes over that period. In the online survey, we ask about your average costs for disposal, average price for a pump-out, and add-on charges for specific service offerings. We ask how many gallons you pump on a daily basis and how you most often dispose of your septage.

On the employee side, we want to know whether you pay workers by the hour or through salary, and ask you to elaborate on benefit packages you offer. But we've added a few wrinkles to the human resources questions. We want to know about your wage range for workers, whether or not you offer cellphones to your crew, and whether you plan to hire a new employee in 2013.


We believe data collected from the 2012 survey, compared to how septic service providers answered four years ago, will give valuable insights for small business planning moving forward. But simply formulating the questions and publishing them online doesn't make for a successful survey. We need the pumping community to make the survey results meaningful.

Please go to www.pumper.com/2012survey and take a few minutes to fill out the survey form. We will continue to tally the answers through Dec. 15 and publish the results and an analysis of industry trends in the March issue of Pumper and online.

Your participation is essential for a quality survey. Thanks in advance for your help.


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