Grow with strategic service
June 14, 2016 By Colleen Cross
I’m hearing from the industry about a general decline in the number of water wells being drilled compared with the volume of yesteryear.
Residential growth appears to be happening largely in subdivisions and one notable trend is nearby rural residents choosing to connect to town water.
Well driller Jordan Rogers of Waterville, N.S., for one, told us he is seeing a decline in well numbers and prices remaining flat, a situation he finds a bit troubling for the future. Rogers, whose company, Valley Well Drillers, is profiled on page 12, believes the time has come to place a higher value on ground water and the work that goes into providing it.
When work becomes scarcer, one response is to raise prices not only to compensate for the shortfall but also to reflect the real costs of safely and efficiently accessing an essential resource. Customers aren’t necessarily aware – and it’s one of your jobs to remind them! – of the impact on your business of volatile gas prices, the costs of updating your drill rigs and the premium pay level often required to hire qualified, long-term staff.
Another response is to diversify your business. Larson’s Water Well Drilling and Servicing has made itself a household name in Lougheed, Alta., in part by selling everything from cattle waterers to water conditioning equipment to hot tub supplies. They even issue hunting and fishing licences.
But diversifying is not the answer for everyone: not every driller can afford to put in the time, training and regular practice that go into becoming a qualified water treatment professional, for example.
Also, it’s about more than just making money, although that’s the obvious goal. “I don’t think we get rich doing all this but it’s a service,” John Larson told us when profiled last year.
Here he hits on a basic idea, but one that enters most conversations I have with those in the industry: good service. I’ve yet to meet a well driller who isn’t keen to provide it. After all, it’s their name on the truck. But if market conditions won’t let you offer more service, maybe it’s time to focus on providing better service.
It’s a concept well known to Jim Clark, a well driller with decades of service under his belt. In this issue, Clark presents a deeper (pardon the pun) concept of a water well that takes into account both quantity and quality. He suggests we think of a well as having a life of its own. If all partners – be they well drillers, pump installers, water quality experts or well owners – put the health and effectiveness of the well above all else at each stage in its life, that well is more likely to be in good shape for many years to come.
Clark’s model also hints at business opportunities, among them, carrying out monitoring work for clients. If business isn’t growing horizontally, maybe you can expand it vertically. Keep tabs on the wells after they’ve been drilled – asking after them like a concerned family doctor. Educate well owners, let them know you’re a phone call (or email) away to answer questions, perform other services or refer them to more specialized tradespeople.
Providing extended service and referrals won’t solve the issue of declining work, but it may secure the repeat business that is so important when your customer base is limited.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a theme taken seriously in this industry. Incidentally, it sounds a lot like the idea behind our associations and one of many reasons they are important. As Jordan Rogers puts it, “We should be working together, and if one company does well, they all will.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
On that note, I wish you all an enjoyable and profitable summer!
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