5 Reasons Oilfield Service Companies Make Great Customers
Should we diversify? Should we “pivot” out of the energy services sector?
I have to admit. Since lower energy prices became the new normal, these questions have bubbled up from time to time. It wouldn’t be that hard to do. We have innovative technology that could be adapted to other spaces, we have a great team and we know how to market and sell.
So why haven’t we?
Because great customers are rare and something you can build a great life around. And oilfield services companies are GREAT CUSTOMERS!
Here are 5 reasons why we think that.
1. Oilfield workers are kind, fun and down-to-earth people
Sounds touchy-feely doesn’t it? Well it’s not.
Our business is high touch. We can’t deliver high value without developing intimate relationships with our customers. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to understand their needs and help them get where they want to go. We know we will be supporting them for many years. These are long-term relationships.
Fortunately for us, people in the oilfield business are really fun to work with. Even when things get challenging they will laugh and joke with us. They never seem to take anything too seriously and always seem to look on the bright side. And no matter what’s happening, even when we mess up, they are always kind to us.
Oilfield customers are fun to work with. They even pose for these goofy launch pictures that we have hanging in our office.
Perhaps this is an energy industry thing. With its ups and downs a happy, optimistic nature is a real advantage. It’s also fast moving so maybe by default the industry weeds out the angry, negative types because they slow everything down. Or maybe (and my money’s on this one) the industry attracts a certain type of person who loves working in a team environment and lives for a challenge. Is it a coincidence that so many people in the industry have a history with team sports like football and hockey?
2. Oilfield workers understand real value
When we do demos of our software for new customers I am always amazed by how little “selling” we have to do. Over time we have learned to just show them what our software does and then zip it because once they see how it works they basically take over. They ask smart, hyper-specific questions about how certain features will help their staff and fit with their existing work flow.
Oilfield workers are like bears – they can smell BS a mile away. If you don’t add obvious value you won’t even get close enough to talk in the first place.
This is unique. In most sales processes you have to hammer away at benefits to get the customers attention and then earn the chance to get into the what and how. But we never seem to be doing that and I think it’s because by the time we are talking to them our customers they are way ahead of us. We don’t need to explain the value to them because they already have a crazy fine-tuned value detecting radar. Oilfield workers are like bears – they can smell BS a mile away. If you don’t add obvious value you wont even get close enough to talk in the first place.
3. Oilfield workers appreciate hard work
We’re all familiar with the software/IT company stereotype – they can make cool stuff, but being responsive or engaging… not so much.
Our customers say the opposite about us and we think it’s pretty cool. They often tell us that what they appreciate most is that we are always available, answer the phone, own our mistakes and try to do whatever it takes to get it right. This speaks volumes. They appreciate our software and its features, but what they really connect with is an honest effort and a high level of give-a-sh*t.
Oilfield workers are a lot like farmers. They appreciate an honest effort whether it works out or not and they judge you on your actions not your words.
I think they appreciate that we go the extra mile because that is what they do. Sure, they do it because they operate in hyper-competitive markets where anything less just won’t cut it. But honestly, I think there is more to it than that. I think many oilfield workers are internally hard-wired to appreciate hard work. For lack of a better description, there seems to be a bedrock of small-town, blue-collar like values in most of the people we get to work with. They remind me of the farmers I have known in my life in the way that they appreciate an honest effort whether it works out or not and judge you on your actions not your words.
The reality is that we are not perfect. Far from it. We screw up all the time. But no matter what happens we always “show up” and we go the extra mile to make things right. And that seems to make all the difference for our customers. At the end of the day that seems to be what really matters to them.
4. Oilfield workers are humble
An interesting (and super-cool) thing I have observed after years of serving oilfield companies is that no matter how successful they are they always have a real humble vibe. Regardless of the stage of growth they are at, they always seem to operate like the scrappy underdog. Even some of our largest customers, big companies operating all over the world, still have the entrepreneurial hum of a start-up and intimacy of a family business. They never seem to develop the flat, generic, corporate vibes that can often come with extended growth and time.
I think this is because in oilfield companies people are always close to the actual work being done for their customers. This applies to staff from the field workers to the admin staff, managers and execs/owners. Quite often the founders/owners/execs started small and grew the business “one truck at a time”. They started in the field and know the roles and challenges for every person in the company. That creates a lot of humility and empathy.
5. Oilfield workers don’t sweat the small stuff
Oilfield companies are good at prioritizing. It they weren’t it would take forever to get our customers live and using our software – and it doesn’t.
Because our software is modular and highly configurable it can solve many, if not all, of the problems customers come to us with. The answer to the “can it do…” questions is almost always yes. In some industries this could lead to serious problems of scope creep and complexity but it doesn’t for us. Oilfield workers seem to be particularly good at focusing on the high value targets and ignoring the noise and clutter so they can get to the value faster and move on.
We encourage customers to focus only on the big time killers at the start, the areas we know will get huge wins with a little streamlining and automation. We may encourage them to do tickets only and leave other things like purchase orders, safety forms etc. for a later phase. And you know what? They almost never push back. They listen to us and we cut the list down and we go forward. Why is that? Is it because they trust us? At this point they hardly know us.
I think the real answer is that they operate in similar environments to ours – where KEEP IT SIMPLE is important. The focus on “doing less things better”. It really seams to be an oilfield thing. And that’s great for us because that is exactly how we approach software and our services.
That is why they make such great customers.
Oh, and one last thing.. I think it is also worth noting that
Oilfield Customers Always Pay Their Bills
In all the years that we have been working in this industry we have always been paid for the work we have done. We spend very little time making A/R calls and chasing down payments. And we have had to write-off very, very few unpaid invoices. I could literally count them on one hand. Anyone who runs a business or works in billing will tell you this is very rare.
I think oilfield workers have a high level integrity that paying their bills is a big part of that.
We could take some of the credit I think, for building strong relationships and delivering on our value proposition. But as always I think there is more to it than that. I think oilfield workers have a high level integrity and that paying their bills is a big part of that. I think they often get “strung along” by their customers and they know what that feels like. They treat us the way they want to be treated. They don’t pass that on to us with any kind of “sh*t runs downhill” attitude or rationalization.
They have too much character for that.
Written By FieldCap President Brad Peterson
FieldCap has reduced our error rate, increased our efficiency, and the guys in the field love it! Paul Poscente, CEO & Executive Chairman, Backwoods Energy Services