Customers Benefit from Reminder Plan

Experienced pumpers go out of their way to make scheduling grease trap and septic pumpouts easy for their customers
Customers Benefit from Reminder Plan

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A decade on the other side of losing its owner and primary operator, Mark Southwick, A 1st Rate Pumping Service continues to pump only nonhazardous waste. Its commercial business consists of servicing about 300 restaurant grease traps annually. Industrial sludge pumpouts from car washes and food processing plants number about one location a day with two or three loads per call. Residential business is about 125 septic systems pumped yearly. Percentage-wise, this breaks out to grease traps comprising about 50 percent of annual gross billings, processing sludge about 26 percent, mud/grit pumping about 12 percent, and septic also 12 percent.

As for service frequency, most grease traps are pumped every eight weeks. As customers change their activities — such as keeping FOG out of the lines and scraping most solids before rinsing dishes in response to First Rate’s education efforts — their service may be moved to quarterly. “We’ll do that if it better serves them,” explains Julie Southwick, Mark Southwick’s widow and now CEO and general manager. “We’re there to service the client, and it makes us look a lot better, not like we’re trying to cheat or over-service just to charge more.”

Jobs are mainly scheduled on a maintenance basis: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or yearly, as needed. A 1st Rate doesn’t use a contract unless a situation seems to call for it, except with the service brokers. Most of their business is still conducted with “just a gentleman’s handshake,” Southwick says.

For residential septic tanks, Southwick uses a “Septic Reminder Plan,” in which she sends out reminders when pumping service is due. “I have a huge spreadsheet of customers, and I’ll print out the ones that need to be done this year and send out a postcard to each, along with those who should have been done the previous couple years but missed service for whatever reason. 

“I have new clients who call and want to get on the plan, but may not need service for another two or three years. They’re afraid they’ll forget and have heard we send out reminders. We educate them enough that they know how often they need to get pumped, based on their individual usage. This is at no cost, it’s just good customer service on our part.”

Learn more about A 1st Rate Pumping Service in a full profile.


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