Editor Greg Ettling explains that lots of people are asking questions about their water quality, giving you a unique opportunity to educate them.

In the most recent "Monthly Web Poll" on our Web site (www.drilleronline .com), we asked, "How often do your customers ask about the quality of water you produce for them?" The results:

Very often - 36 percent
Often - 45 percent
Sometimes - 12 percent
Seldom - 5 percent
Never - 2 percent

So we have lots of people asking questions about their water. That, of course, gives contractors the opportunity to answer them, thereby providing a valuable service that fosters business-building relationships. An educated consumer is your best prospect, and if you're the one providing the education, so much the better.

When we talked with several drilling contractors about the raw results of the poll, the near-unanimous response to the question, "Is this a good thing?" was, "Yes, but ¿ While all the contractors acknowledged the benefits of enlightened prospects and the importance of being recognized as someone who can offer quality solutions to fundamental needs, a discernable level of frustration was detected.

"It depends on the questions and where they're coming from," explains an Illinois well driller. "If a person moves from the city and doesn't know from a water well, you can go through everything with him or her and handle questions and concerns along the way. That's one scenario. The second scenario is in the case of a knowledgeable newcomer who calls and asks, 'Up North, we shocked our well every six months to keep the iron bacteria under control; what's the situation in this area?'" In both cases, there's a certain comfort level in knowing that you and the prospect are on the same page, albeit for reasons at opposite ends of the spectrum.

This driller finds difficulty in dealing with a third scenario that he describes as all too common. "It's the misinformation that people grab onto that makes it tough," he notes. "Some people get frenzied by gloom-and-doom extremists. I guess negativity is an easier sell and that makes it doubly hard. You first must refute the misinformation - diplomatically - and then give them the real story. You're starting at a real disadvantage. It's like they say, 'A little information is a dangerous thing.' People don't like to hear that they're wrong and will keep going until someone - often someone unscrupulous - tells them what they want to hear and takes them for a ride. And the entire industry suffers."

As for customers "seldom" or "never" asking about their water quality, a drilling contractor in South Dakota offers some perspective on that. "I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who don't know about or care about their water, so they would never think to inquire about it," he says. "But how about this: how many of those people who don't ask don't need to ask because they already know?"

Be enthusiastic about the good questions; be patient with the unfortunate questions; and after you've done your job educating every single prospect in your market, you then can take comfort in the lack of questions.