Alternatives to Septic Service: How to Stay in Business When Your Customers Have Other Options

If you’ve looked at more than a few of the local-level septic service companies we’ve featured, you’ll notice they have something in common. They all excel in certain customer service-related areas. In the septic business, going the extra mile for the customer is what it’s all about. That’s because everyone needs septic service, and when they have trouble with their system, they start looking for solutions pretty fast.

But what happens when the average customer, desperate for working facilities, finds septic technology that is cheaper, faster and works as well or better than traditional systems? Well, it could mean the sudden termination of your bottom line.

Here, we’re going to look at some of the current alternatives out there. This should allow you to better educate your customers, or to retool your product/service offerings.

7 Septic System Alternatives That Could Threaten Your Septic Business

One of the greatest vulnerabilities of the septic service industry is the perception that traditional systems are dirty or otherwise unpleasant. As a septic professional, you probably think of standard septic tech as proven, reliable, and well-understood. But to many people, all of those things are presumably equal to “primitive.” These septic systems may fail in one way or another. But in addition to being billed as “cleaner,” they have the PR benefit of being new as well.

The key to making sure your customer base gets quality equipment is to know how these non-traditional systems are likely to fail. If you’re successful, you’ll protect your business, and you’ll probably save your local community the heartache of a string of catastrophic failures.

1. DIY Systems

In order to build one’s own system requires the acquisition of relevant permits, project planning, site prep, system connection, and a load of detailed work.

How it fails: If it turns out that the customer is ready to go through all of that, they might as well start their own septic installation company. If not, they would be better off hiring you.

2. Aerobic Treatment Septic Systems

These small-scale systems are increasingly common in rural settings and single-family residences.

How it fails: They cost between $10, 000 to $20,000. That’s at least $1,000 more than a traditional system. What’s more, these tend to be very high, maintenance, which is usually the last thing people want.

3. Waterless Septic Systems

Billed as “eco-friendly,” waterless systems are about using human waste as a composting resource. They are inexpensive at around $2,200 and save a lot of water.

How it fails: The downside is, once again, high maintenance. If the customer is ready and willing to put in a lot of work, these systems can be great. If not, they are in for an unpleasant surprise. Another dark side to these is that if the users are on medications or don’t eat strictly organic diets, then their composting plans may be bad for their gardens.

4. Plastic Leach Field Chamber Systems

These systems use a standard tank but replace the standard leach field with one made of interwoven polyethylene arches. The primary benefit is cost-effectiveness.

How it fails: At the lower end, these systems are quite affordable, but only if cheap gravel is available. If not, they are just as or more expensive than a traditional system.

5. Sand Filter Systems

Sand filter systems are pretty common and are becoming increasingly so, especially in coastal locations. In areas where there isn’t enough soil for ordinary systems, they are pretty effective.

How it fails: Some people may want a sand system just because they are novel. But if the location is better suited for a traditional system, they should go the traditional route. Further, these are more expensive at the high and low ends of the price range.

6. Drip Distribution Septic

The difference between a traditional system and a drip system is the inclusion of an aerobic holding chamber and filtering treatment system.

How it fails: While these systems work well, they are more expensive at the lower end, are more complex, meaning more maintenance, and don’t work well on smaller properties.

7. Wetland Septic Construction

Wetland septic systems can work well in the right environment. Their components must be carefully selected and they should be used only in locations where they are optimal.

How it fails: Locations where the organic components of these systems are likely to die should receive traditional systems. Urban and arid locations are not right for these systems.


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