The Ins and Outs of Grease Pumping

The Ins and Outs of Grease PumpingHow Grease Trap Pumping Can Power Your Business

Cleaning grease traps is a great way to increase your revenue stream. Whether you have been doing it for awhile, or are looking to expand your business, you’ll find some great tips and best practices.

When Dave Kline took over Kline’s Services from his father Marshall 30 years ago, he began expanding the business to include grease trap pumping. Throughout the state, they service 2,000 restaurant clients—giving them 71 percent market share in their home county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Gaining Market Share

“It begins with our sales effort,” explains Brad Brubaker vice president of sales and marketing for Kline’s Services. “Carol Dale is our full-time account manager who’s sole focus is restaurants and grease traps. She provides the upfront customer service. Then the environmental service technicians deliver on her promises. It’s a two-sided coin. If one didn’t deliver, it wouldn’t work. We also get a lot of referrals.”

Dale returned to Kline’s Services in 2007 after a brief stint selling yellow book ads. Capitalizing on what she had learned selling ads, they began offering three different service packages to clients. Before Dale’s return, the company serviced between 650 and 700 restaurants.

Service packages include the basic package—the restaurant agrees to call Kline’s Services when they need their trap pumped, giving them priority service over a non-contracted client. This works well for those that need cleanings once per year.

The silver package is a quarterly service agreement which includes one hour of free jetting services.

The gold package is a monthly service agreement or for restaurant’s who have specific requirements like a day of the week or a special time in the middle of the night. Fast food places that stay open late or have their trap in the drive-through lane typically fall into this category.

Training Restaurant Staff

Good housekeeping is key in a maintenance program. “What is going down the drain is what really drives it,” says Brubaker. “If a certain restaurant has to use chemicals to clean the floor, it effects the grease trap.”

Good communication with the customer is also key. “Making sure food products aren’t getting dumped into the trap and routinely pumping the trap will help prevent a backup,” says Brubaker. “The last thing a restaurant wants is to have that during a key service time. It creates an awful smell when it’s pumped out. So, we help them upfront with their staff and service program. Determining how much business volume a customer has as well as how large the trap is are key factors in the maintenance program.”

The company offers a laminated static cling to clients to post near drains. “It works really well,” says Brubaker. “We get calls from customers asking for new ones when they fall down. It’s just a great reminder in an industry where turnover is typically high and tend to have younger kids for the kitchen staff.”

Clean It Like It’s Yours

“We clean that grease trap like it’s our own trap,” says Brubaker. “Some companies overlook the true value in that but we feel that it’s important. We make sure that the sides are scraped, remove the baffle, and clean the edges and the grate that it sits in. When you’re cleaning a box with grease, make sure you get it all. If you hold that as a practice, then you are leaving the customer with a clean trap and not something that will cause a problem down the road.”

Vehicles have cameras to televise the lines giving clients a look at what they look like. They jet the lines at least once a year and check for cracks and breaks. “We also want to make sure that ground water isn’t getting in there,” says Brubaker.

Equipment

For pumping out grease traps, Kline’s Services has seven Mitsubishi and Peterbilt pumper trucks that have a 35,000 to 505,000 gallon capacity. They also run 6,000 gallon trailers. They own a jet truck with 4,000 psi and 500 gallons of water that can hook up to an ancillary water supply to open up clogged lines. They drop the hose down and clean off grease around the tanks.

Stewards of the Environment

Kline’s Services wanted to reduce their carbon footprint. To do that, they developed the Food 2 Fuel program to convert that pumped grease into an alternative heating source.

Frank Burt created an SV2 unit that removes solids upfront (napkins, utensils, straw, etc.). That waste still goes to the landfill, but not as much. After that, the leftover water and brown grease mixture goes through a separation process which results in water in one tank and grease in another. The grease can then be used as fuel.

The company uses that fuel to heat outer buildings and boilers, saving $30,000 per year. “We are now creating more than we can consume,” says Brubaker. “We sell the excess to other renderers. Some use it overseas, while others refine it and turn it into regular fuel for cars.”

The realized savings of reduced landfill and heating costs are good, because it cost $2 million to build the facility and get it up and running. Two full-time staff work there and they have even increased capacity as they add more accounts.

“We did this because the environment is our first priority,” says Brubaker. “It’s a home run because we reduced our carbon footprint, found an alternative use for the fuel, and saved on our heating bills.”

Another benefit is that the process removes odor. “On a strong windy day, the smell of food waste could carry,” says Brubaker. “But, a year ago, I ran into the guy whose property is behind ours. He thought business had slowed down for us because he hadn’t smelled anything coming from the plant when in fact, we had increased our business.”

Whether you are looking for a diverse revenue stream, to grow your business, or help the environment, grease trap pumping and hauling can be a smooth business.

For more information on Kline’s Service, visit www.klinesservices.com

Story by Jennifer Taylor

Resources

For More Information:
• Mitsubishi: www.mitfuso.com
• Peter Built: www.peterbilt.com

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