Maintaining Diversified Service Offerings Keeps Workflow Steady

Many companies respond to customer expectations that they’ll be able to handle a wide array of problems

Maintaining Diversified Service Offerings Keeps Workflow Steady

“Customers love the idea that we can do everything. When they have a problem, they hate having to figure out who to call,” says Jamie Miller, co-owner of Miller’s Services of Saluda, Virginia.

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The more kinds of work you can do, the better. That’s the basic philosophy of ESP&P Industrial Services of Jonesborough, Tennessee.

“Disney World has more than just one kind of roller-coaster ride, right?” says Ian Stewart, who established the company with his brother in 2011, branching off from their father’s plumbing and industrial cleaning business.

Industrial cleaning for the chemical, utility, papermaking and mining industries, to name a few, generates about 60% of the company’s revenue. The balance is provided by hydroexcavation work; applying industrial coatings; and cleaning and inspecting sewer lines for a range of customers, including municipalities, big-box retailers and apartment complexes.

“If you have only one tool in the box, you’re just not as useful to customers,” Stewart says. “We invest in different kinds of equipment that can play multiple roles in multiple markets.

“They all may be somewhat interconnected, but each of those markets can sustain itself as well. So if one sector of the market slows down, our employees are multifaceted and multitrained, so we can go work in another sector.”

Here’s a look at other reasons many companies pride themselves on having diversified service offerings and being a one-stop shop for customers.

A job in one service area can lead to work in another. Greenfield Services of Puyallup, Washington, started in 2013 as a company focused on excavation using only traditional techniques. Today it also uses techniques like hydroexcavation and does everything imaginable: land clearing, excavation work for laying water and sewer lines and installing grease traps, digging construction footings, exposing buried utility lines, remediation of contaminated soil, sewer line jetting and vacuuming, and cleaning car-wash sumps, to name a few.

“We go out and jet a line, for instance, and find a break in the line that needs repair or replacement. So then we can send out an excavation crew. That’s a good example of how two divisions can complement each other so well,” says owner Jacob Sabin.

Sweet Pea Sewer and Septic of Missoula, Montana, has had the same experience. The company’s varied service focus includes septic pumping/inspections, portable sanitation and drain cleaning.

“Our portable restroom customers, for instance, have clogged drainlines, too. And supplying restrooms to construction companies also got us into doing line locating for those same customers,” says co-owner Adam Bartels.

Even if one service doesn’t lead into another job immediately, you have an edge on the competition if that customer eventually needs something else done. Black Plumbing of Abilene, Texas, started in 1994 with a focus on drain cleaning, plumbing installations and plumbing service work. Today the company’s service offerings also include sewer inspections, water jetting, pipe lining, hydroexcavating and pipe bursting. Owner Darrin Black says that the more services he can offer, the more likely it is that he can get a foot in the door with customers. And if he provides great service along the way, those customers will call again when they need something else.  

“My philosophy is that if you don’t offer that one service that a certain customer might need, you won’t get your foot in the door — they’ll just call someone else,” Black says. “And if you don’t offer all those services, eventually someone else will. So why shouldn’t it be us?” 

As a case in point, Black points to a large pipe lining job his company performed at a local U.S. Air Force base, using CIPP technology. After the company proved its mettle, about $750,000 in additional work soon followed.

“Had we not offered CIPP, we wouldn’t have worked there at all,” he says. “But once we were on site, it was more convenient for them to let us do the additional work.” 

If your service area is sparsely populated, diversification keeps business steady. In addition to drain cleaning, Fayette Drain & Sewer in Fayette, Alabama, pumps out septic tanks, cleans grease traps, installs natural gas lines, and provides commercial and residential plumbing service.

“Fayette is a small town, so to survive you have to do a little bit of everything,” says Mark Vice, who co-owns the company with his wife, Melissa. “So if it’s got water running through it, we go after it. The thought of calling someone else to do something that I can provide to our customers is awful.”

Miller’s Services of Saluda, Virginia, started in 1972 purely as a septic services company, but in recent years it has naturally evolved into a well-diversified business for similar reasons, first adding plumbing services and more recently getting into HVAC and electrical services. 

“Our customers were asking for it,” Jamie Miller, who owns the company alongside his parents, says of adding more expansive plumbing offerings. “We already were doing drain cleaning and one thing led to another. It’s definitely a logical add-on service for septic companies. They’re both tied together. Everything that feeds into a septic system comes from the plumbing inside a house. So when we’d do septic and drain cleaning work, it often would lead to needing a plumber. It got to the point where that was happening every day. We’d try to outsource the plumbing work, but when you need it that often, it just isn’t feasible to keep outsourcing it.

“Customers love the idea that we can do everything. When they have a problem, they hate having to figure out who to call. We were leaving money on the table. Plus we can’t fully service our customers if we have to wait for a plumber. It’s a revenue thing, but it’s also a customer service and customer convenience thing, too.”


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