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6 min read

3 Things I Wish I Knew About Growing A Hydrovac Business

Is your hydrovac business as profitable as you'd hoped, or do you feel like you're in over your head? 

Vacuum truck businesses can be fantastic revenue generators, but they also come with challenges, including: 

  • Generating leads
  • Maintaining customer loyalty
  • Hiring trustworthy operators
  • Meeting health and safety standards
  • Managing fleets efficiently
  • Staying up to date with insurance claims and driver certifications

It's also a competitive industry, with a growth rate of around 7% each year, meaning even minor oversights could result in one of your customers jumping ship for a competitor. That's why preparation is the key to overcoming the industry's struggles.

Preparation starts with awareness. So, if you're looking for quality, no-nonsense advice, we've got three tips to keep top-of-mind as you work to grow your hydrovac business. 

1. Customer retention is even more important than you think. 

Customers are the lifeblood of any company, but managing a hydrovac business and keeping your customers satisfied takes extra finesse. Providing exceptional customer service comes down to two things: 

  1. Agility to take on new work as soon as it comes in, which often depends on the availability and readiness of your trucks and operators.
  2. Consistency in the quality of your work and customer communications.

To start, you need to be able to route new work to your trucks and operators at the drop of a hat, which requires wise management of your scheduling, maintenance, and operators.

Using a centralized job management software like RapidWorks can help dispatchers quickly see which trucks and operators are available so you can confidently and quickly  book new business. 

When it comes to being consistent, perhaps the most important element is communication. This means every interaction — booking the job, confirming the job the day before, on-the-job communication from operators, signing off on job tickets, and billing — must be clear and consistent. To impress customers enough to beat the competition you need a process that's smooth from start to finish.

So what can you do to lock in processes that keep customers satisfied? Here are a few tactics: 

  • Prioritize speed and accuracy. Especially during the invoicing and billing phase, don’t drag your feet; give quick, helpful responses and always double-check work to provide accurate prices, documents, and receipts. This will give you an edge over competitors.
  • Use thorough documentation. An organized paper trail shows customers you're serious and ready to back up all claims. 
  • Leverage technology. Use a job management service like RapidWorks that automates job confirmation and invoicing so you can stay organized, on schedule, and communicative.

The key to successful customer retention in the hydro excavation business is balancing consistency with agility. It's not easy to predict when new jobs will pop up, so you must keep a fleet that's maintained and ready to go. Remember, even small delays can lead to customers crossing over to a competitor. 

2. Your operators are the face of your company — don't forget it! 

Success in the hydrovac industry means completing jobs safely, correctly, and on time — every time. To achieve this, you need operators you can trust. 

There's no easier way to lose clients than sending out team members who are sloppy, lazy, or inexperienced. Building a team of all-stars begins with effective hiring practices. You want your team to have a record that reflects safety, cooperation, and strong communication skills. 

Bringing aboard the right people requires thorough vetting and background checks. To start, build a detailed hiring questionnaire to vet potential operators during the hiring process. 

These questions can include: 

  • How would you handle a customer who’s unhappy with your work?
  • Can you share an example of a time you made a mistake and how you made it right?
  • How do you make sure clients remain aware of progress and setbacks throughout the job?

Additionally, while hiring always ask for references and work history. This allows you to review the candidate’s performance objectively and get a sense of their ability to handle customers and follow safety protocols. If they refuse to provide references, it can indicate a poor track record. 

But hiring good people is only the first step. You also have to invest in your staff so they can actively improve at handling customers and adding value. Here are a few tips for making customer service part of the work culture for your crew:

  • Give your operators access to customer service seminars and resources that coach them on forming valued, trust-based relationships.
  • Create incentive structures that reward lead generation and positive customer feedback.
  • Give your customers a voice by creating a follow-up protocol where they can answer survey questions about your operators' professionalism and attentiveness.

3. It pays to sweat the small stuff.  

The hydrovac business can be lucrative, but overhead isn't cheap. In addition to equipment maintenance and basic operational costs, there are many smaller pieces to the organizational — and financial — puzzle that are easy to overlook, including: 

  • Insurance protects your equipment, staff, and customers' property.
  • Licenses and certifications ensure that your operators meet all job requirements and that your dispatchers know who is qualified for each job.
  • Safety documentation — like daily vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) and job safety analyses (JSAs) — must be appropriately managed in case you get audited.

Managing all this requires time and money, but staying on top of these parts of the business will help keep your business afloat if something goes wrong.

Let's focus on insurance, as too many businesses skimp in this department. For vacuum truck businesses with significant safety risks, it's essential to research and invest in a good umbrella coverage plan that goes beyond general liability and includes the following:

  • Commercial property insurance: Covers property from loss, theft, damage, vandalism, extreme weather, and other accidents
  • Professional liability insurance: Covers instances of negligence, errors, and omissions
  • Workers' compensation: Covers employees in the event of a work-related injury
  • Pollution liability insurance: Covers the damage and cleanup of any spills or leaks that occur on the job site

Whether you're researching insurance policies or reviewing licenses, the little things help prevent massive financial hits later on. However, keeping track of it all can be challenging. That’s where it's helpful to use a system for filling out and logging digital safety forms required by insurance providers and regulators. Digital tools like RapidWorks can make managing safety forms easier. By requiring your crew to submit digital DVIRs and JSAs before every job, you can be sure you always have access to your safety documentation should you need it.

How you can grow faster with RapidWorks

The hydrovac business is as demanding as it is rewarding. With so many moving parts, the right technology is critical to locking in agility and communication as your pillars of success. 

RapidWorks lets you provide your operators with the best tools for handling every client with the utmost care. Our digital solutions help minimize the mountains of safety paperwork and documents needed to track certifications, insurance claims, and licensing. 

Our dynamic hydrovac management tools modernize workforces, streamlining the following processes:

  • Dispatching
  • Creating electronic job tickets
  • Handling customer queries, billing, and invoices
  • Tracking safety forms and insurance claims
  • Managing audits and timesheets
  • Enabling real-time job tracking

RapidWorks is the ultimate solution for removing communication barriers and keeping your hydrovac businesses on track and organized for success. Our software gives you more control over each stage of a job’s lifecycle, allowing you to provide a truly unmatched experience for each customer. 

The best part? You don't have to take our word for it. Check out how it works for yourself and schedule a demo to see RapidWorks in action.


RapidWorks Team

RapidWorks is on a mission to help heavy equipment service teams maximize profit and utilization by simplifying everything from quote to cash.