Columinst Wayne Nash claims there are NO silly questions from the customer. If a customer asks the question, it is worth an answer.

How we deal with our customers on a one-to-one basis, is key to the success or failure of our business. We've all seen articles, and been to seminars that stress the "right" approach to bidding, or proper telephone technique. What I'd like to talk about is the relationship between the driller and the customer, when he brings the rig to the site and drills the well. I've heard several customers say, "The owner treated me very well, and answered all my questions, but when the driller got there, he just ignored my questions and concerns, and acted like I was just something in the way!" I've seen drillers so frustrated at the customer that they rigged down in mid-job and left the location, usually leaving a big mess.

If any of my people ever did this, they'd be looking for a new job, like bill collector, or IRS agent. There are NO silly questions from the customer. He might not have any idea what we're doing, or how we do it, but if he asks the question, it is worth an answer. One reason is: This may be the first well this person ever had drilled. He's probably heard all kinds of stories about wells and well drillers, some good, and some not-so-good. When we leave, about all he sees for his investment is a foot or so of casing sticking out of the ground, some pipe, and some wires. He's got a right to wonder where the value is. It's up to us to explain it to him, until he is satisfied. (I know, there are some that are NEVER satisfied, but we've still got to do our best.) Some questions, like, "How deep are you?" Or, "Have you hit water yet?" are pretty easy to answer, but since we hear them all the time, we tend to sometimes give a quick answer without any thought to why the customer asked. It may be the 10-millionth time you've heard it, but it's probably the first time he's asked it. He probably really is interested, and anyway, he's paying the bill. I had a customer the other day that stayed with me the whole process, from rig-up to completion. He was 82 years old, but sharp as a tack. He asked about the mud, as we were filling the pit, and mixing.

When we got ready to start drilling, he simply asked how long each joint of pipe was. He watched every connection, and when we got to t.d., I turned to him and asked him (just for fun), "How deep are we?" He said, "Well, you made 6 joints, so that's 120 feet, and you are about 15 feet down on that thing, (pointing to the kelly) so I figure we're about 135 feet." I said, "Not bad, but you forgot a 4-foot bit sub & bit." He looked a bit embarrassed but laughed about it. I have a few "stock" speeches that I make to most of my customers, outlining what we are doing, and why, and all he wanted to do was know more. We had fun on that job. He was interested enough in his well, and the aquifer, that during development, I ran a sieve analysis for him and showed him how it worked and why, and demonstrated a permeometer test for him. It was all quite unnecessary, as the well was making over 100 gpm, and only needed to produce about 2.

The point is: he asked good questions, and I was happy to give answers He's retired, and has plenty of time, and I know he's telling all his neighbors all about it! I figure that now if I tell him a hog will pick cotton, he'll tote the sack! Just kidding. What I'm trying to say is it builds confidence with the customer to answer their questions with a smile. If they feel they have contracted a knowledgeable driller that can explain the process, they feel much better when they write the check, and are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and neighbors than the guy that just says, "Don't worry about it," and shuffles them out of the way. This is better advertising than all the fancy paint and yellow pages ads put together.

There are occasionally questions that come up that we can't answer. This happens to all of us from time to time, and it sorta embarrasses me when it happens. I feel a little bit like I'm letting the customer down if I can't give a decent answer to his questions. When this happens, I don't lie, or give him a cock-and-bull story, I tell him straight, "I don't know, but I'll find out." And then I do.

A USGS hydrologist questioned me the other day on a job exploring a deep aquifer, about one of the more shallow sands I am very familiar with. I didn't take long before his questions passed an "ol' country boy," and I had to tell him I didn't know. When I got to my office, I resumed my education, and next time he asks me, I hope to have an answer! If we all try to stay one step ahead of the questions, and have an answer, with a smile, we can go a long ways toward building our business and our industry.