Find a Pricing Policy That Maximizes Your Profits

Here’s a look at a few basic models you’ll want to consider as you’re developing your business’ preferred pricing strategy

Find a Pricing Policy That Maximizes Your Profits

Interested in Business?

Get Business articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business + Get Alerts

One of the biggest challenges pumpers face is correctly pricing their services. You want to price competitively so you don’t lose all your business to other companies, but at the same time, you want to make a profit and avoid becoming “the cheapest option.”

There are a number of pricing models to consider, and it’s worth taking a look at some of them as you consider how you might price strategically, keeping your costs and overhead under control.

Fixed prices

One of the simplest options is to offer a fixed price. For example, you’d tell your customers on the phone exactly what it costs to get their tank pumped.

Consumers typically like this approach, as they know up front exactly what they’re going to pay. For the contractor, it can be a gamble. If you need more time or more supplies than you first thought, you could lose money. But if you end up completing the project more easily than anticipated, you could increase your profits.

In this scenario, the contractor assumes all risks and all benefits. So if you pursue fixed pricing, it’s vital to run the calculations and to factor in possible surprises or overages. Make sure you’ll come out on top even if things don’t quite go according to plan.


A variant on fixed pricing is the not-to-exceed model, in which you tell your customers they’ll pay no more than X amount for a project or pumpout. If it comes in under that amount, that’s great news for the customer. If it comes in over that amount, it’s still good news for the customer because they aren’t paying extra.

Again, the contractor bears the risk, so the same advice applies: Your pricing must encompass any plausible surprises or hindrances.

Time and materials

In this pricing model, the consumer agrees to pay you a flat hourly rate for your labor, plus the cost of any materials that you are required to purchase to finish the job.

This shifts the risk to the consumer, which is why some contractors hesitate to choose this approach. If you do select a time-and-materials pricing method, make sure you check in regularly with the customer to keep them apprised of the amount of their invoice. 

A multifaceted approach

These basic pricing methods all have their pros and cons, but for many contractors, the best approach may be to combine them.

For example, there’s no reason you can’t give yourself an allowance for fixtures, a not-to-exceed limit on labor, and a straight time-and-materials approach to any raw supplies you need to complete the project. An integrative structure can help you offer the consumer some peace of mind while also putting some cost controls in place for you and your team — the best of both worlds.

However you choose to price each job, it’s important to factor in some flexibility. You never know what you’ll find once you’re on a job site, and even the best estimators overlook potential issues. Make sure you pick a pricing model that allows you to walk away from each project with a profit.

About the author: Amanda Clark is president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.