My Top 10 Wish List for Pumpers in 2022

It’s time to wipe the slate clean and make changes that will set up your septic service company for greater success.

It’s time to put 2021 in the rearview mirror and start fresh for 2022. Here are 10 things I wish for you and your pumping company this year:

1. Stability in the cost of doing business

As we start the new year we’re faced with rising fuel costs, which can create a lot of uncertainty when it comes to ensuring adequate profits. When diesel goes up $1 a gallon and your truck is getting 5 mpg running routes, that can take money out of your pockets. The bottom line is also seriously impacted when natural gas, oil and propane heating fuels rise and you still want your garage and office to be comfortable for your crew. Let’s hope fuel prices stabilize so we can better understand our costs of running the truck down the road and keeping it warm in the garage at night.

2. An understanding of routine maintenance

It’s a constant challenge to educate homeowners and commercial pumping customers about the importance of keeping up with routine inspections and pumping. No matter how many times you repeat your professional service recommendations every week, you’ll still encounter that one customer who hasn’t had their tank pumped in 20 years and doesn’t think your service is necessary — until there’s a backup and an emergency call. Sometimes you want to throw up your hands, but don’t give up. Continue to preach best practices guidelines for pumping tanks. Over time it will make a difference.

3. Grooming new industry leaders 

The pumping industry dearly needs a new generation of wastewater professionals to step up and fill an ever-growing demand for septic service. This year, identify a worker in your ranks who has the smarts and the drive to take on more responsibility. Encourage them to obtain more training and certifications and grow into a management position or allow you to add a new service offering. Despite our ongoing worker shortage, don’t give up looking for that great person who can enhance your team and build your business. Hardworking young folks are out there; it’s just more challenging to find and hire them with all the competition from other employers.

4. Safe working conditions for your crew

When you’re working with heavy equipment in environments with excavations, tanks and potential buildup of hydrogen sulfide gases, so many things can go wrong. Pumpers encounter dangerous working conditions on a daily basis, and regular safety training and effective use of personal protective equipment can make a huge difference in protecting your crew. Make sure they have all the appropriate safety tools at their disposal and require compliance with all rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This means gloves and goggles when they’re pumping tanks, hard hats and steel-toed shoes when necessary and reflective gear so they are seen at all times.  

5. Billing quickly and getting paid on time

Let’s clarify an important financial point. Cash is king, but cash flow is just as important to a small business that deals with high equipment and labor costs. Sometimes the difference between success and failure for a pumping company comes down to accounts receivable and timely bill-paying. You must stay on top of late-paying customers so you can pay your crew and cover other expenses, such as the bill for disposal of waste and payments on your trucks. To avoid cash flow catastrophes, utilize quality billing and accounting software and push those slow payers. Also consider changing your billing cycles or asking customers to pay on the spot via mobile pay and credit cards. 

6. That the answer is always “yes”

Good customers can be hard to find, so you want to take on as much paying work as possible from each one of them. So look for new services to provide that enhance those established customer relationships. Call it what you want — cradle to grave, one-stop shop — but look for ways to help when called upon. Maybe that means pumping a tank and completing repairs and new system installs when necessary. Or in the years between routine pumping calls, you can offer annual maintenance or time-of-sale inspections for homeowners on the move. It would be a shame to have a receptive and reliable customer and then only contact them for pumping every 3-5 years. 

7. Improving your disposal situation

Every year more pressure is coming to bear on pumpers to look for better disposal solutions. Faced with expansion costs or dwindling municipal budgets, treatment plants are raising the per-gallon fee for dumping or cutting out the septic waste stream all together. In developing areas where land application of septage was welcomed, pumpers are increasingly being turned away. At the same time, new septic systems are being built for greater capacity and have larger tanks to pump. Is it time to take the disposal end of the business into your own hands and build a processing or dewatering plant? A growing number of small-scale treatment options are available on the market to help pumpers close the loop on handling septage. If 2022 is the year you will consider making the investment in private treatment, you can look at information on past waste treatment symposiums posted at the website of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians,  

8. Become active in a trade organization

Pumpers are always busy. I know that from the many times I reach out by phone and find you in your truck or pumping a tank in the field. Though I know how precious your time is, I will still recommend joining a trade association to network with fellow pumpers in your state, province or across the nation. A consistent message I receive from these groups is that only a small percentage of pumpers join, and I think that is a missed opportunity. These groups provide a great value, membership costs are reasonable and the benefits can be great. Trade associations organize training opportunities to meet continuing education credits required by regulating agencies. They formulate opinions on proposed regulations and lobby for rules in their best interest. Joining allows pumpers to meet with others in the industry to exchange ideas, seek favorable partnerships and simply enjoy fellowship. If you aren’t a member, consider making the change in 2022.

9. To see you all on the Classy Truck page

The past few years, pumpers have been upgrading equipment at a faster pace. As they get busier, septic service companies are finding they need the most reliable equipment to stay on task. They are also buying bigger vacuum trucks to carry more capacity between runs to the dump. I’d like to see more of you send me photos of your trucks with a note explaining what you like best about them. Reach out to me at and we might feature your new or refurbished rig as a Classy Truck of the Month. And if we do, we’ll send you a Classy Truck vinyl to show that your truck was featured in a national magazine!

10. Health and happiness for all

The past year has been a challenging one for many reasons. We’ve endured a lingering pandemic. Customers spending more time at home needed increased septic services. Many of you are working shorthanded, putting in a lot of overtime hours. As we look ahead, I hope you find relief from some of these challenges, spend more time with the families you love and enjoy good health. I wish you the best for the new year.  


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