The other day, a gentleman called to inquire about the GreaseBook pumper app.
Basically, this guy — we’ll call him Dave — had spent the better part of his professional career in the oilfield, had sold his service company, and is now retired. However, after a few years on the sidelines, he was now sick of sitting around.
Dave wanted back in, and he wanted to open up a well servicing company.
That said, Dave had one minor issue: he was a transplant from Texas, and therefore had no wells to service and very few contacts to call upon here in Oklahoma…
Dave told us he’d printed up 4500 flyers to pass out and bought ads in an industry trade mag. He’d even knocked on a few operator’s doors around town (and in the process said that he found a new respect for people he saw going door to door during his professional tenure while on the other side of the desk…)
At GreaseBook, we speak to dozens of operators and pumpers every week. And, not too long ago, we were the new kid on the block.
We tried the cold calling. We tried the dropping by of offices of operators.
And to tell you the truth, the word ‘No’ still rings clearly in my mind…
Now, how many times have you heard the oil & gas industry is a network of ‘Good ‘ol Boys’?
Sure, there’s a lot of inner mixing of operators in different parts of the country and the industry is a small world (even smaller for those with a weak moral compass or questionable business practices… ;-P)
However, Dave — someone who was very much apart of this “Network” in his younger years — now, may have found himself on the outside.
That said, something about this guy resonated. He was probably twice my age (I’m 33 FYI), and he was getting back out there and starting from zero. And it wasn’t for lack of money — this guy simply loved the oilfield (which makes him really freakin’ cool in our book :-D)
Side note: if you’ve never read it, check out the Lease Pumper’s Handbook. (Get your free download by clicking here!) Basically, It’s 500 some-odd pages on the topic of “oil lease pumping”, a great resource for new and veteran pumpers alike.
Anyways, we wanted to help.
We work with a lot of data. And while we focus on kick-ass oil production software for operators and pumpers (and eliminating human error in the oilfield!), we have a lot of other very helpful data sources cross our desk, too.
So, armed with this task, we asked ourselves, “if we were a contract pumper or service company (or company pumper trying to tend a few wells on the side ;-P), how would we go about landing our first few clients?”
The first thing that came to mind is that the proximity of one well to another would be very important to me. Besides pay, drive-time and wear-and-tear on your truck may be just as important of factors to consider when taking on a new well.
During this search, another thing we kept at the forefront of our mind is the idea that you may be able to pump — and receive payment(!) — for 50 wells in close proximity, but maybe only 20-30 if they’re spaced further apart.
Side note: here in Oklahoma, most batteries aren’t commingled. There are exceptions, but the general rule is one well to one battery. That said, Okie pumpers can probably command higher monthly fees per wells than their commingled pumping counterparts.
Of course, starting out you may not be able to be so choosy. But, as you begin to establish a name for yourself, you’ll probably have the ability to be more selective about the wells you take on.
Our friend Dave was living just outside of Oklahoma City. Therefore, keeping our focus on tight knit group of wells, we think Oklahoma County is where he would want to concentrate his efforts.
That said, we tapped a friend of ours on the shoulder and asked if she’d poll IHS for some data. Basically, we told her we were looking for all the active wells in Oklahoma County AND the operators who owned those wells.
Side note 1: Most operators have some sort of subscription to IHS. If you’re like a lot of pumpers we know, you come to know some of your operators pretty well (at least over the phone!)
Most your clients will have a subscription to IHS can poll this operator/well info for you in about 8-10 minutes. If you don’t have any connections — hang tight, we’ve got an alternative for you!!
Anyways, within 20 minutes our friend had shot us an Excel document of every operator with production assets in Oklahoma County — bingo! From a pumper’s perspective, things were starting to heat up…
After a little sorting and a little manipulating of the Excel sheet, we found there are 120 operators and 1505 active producing wells in Oklahoma County (we’ve attached this Excel spreadsheet at the bottom of this post…)
We figured for Dave to get started and start building a good name for himself, all he needed was about 10 wells (that’s less than <1% of the wells in Oklahoma County — .0066 to be exact).
Dave used to run a fleet of pumpers, and my guess is he had more knowledge of wells than about 95% of the guys out there pumping. He’d be a hell of an asset for any operator lucky enough to find him — Dave just needed to get his name out there…
Don’t be just another Oil field Pumper…
Most pumpers hold onto their wells with an iron grip. However, as in any business, there will always be folks who are disengaged, disinterested, apathetic, or simply spread too thin to give their job the attentiveness it requires.
Pumpers allowing tanks to spillover, pumpers who are a month behind on their paperwork, and pumper’s who are hard to get a hold of are all “Prime-Time” targets from which to snipe wells.
I know for a fact that if you contact an operator at the right time with the right approach (the manner of approach is crucial!), you’ve got a damned good shot at snagging a few wells.
So, what is the “right approach”?
Being different is a fundamental differentiator. Different is better when it’s more effective or more fun. If everyone is defining a problem and solving it one way and the results are subpar (ie knocking on doors, taking out ads, or waiting for the wells to come to them), this is time to ask, “What if I did something else?”
Don’t follow the model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.
And, Dave was right: cold calling ain’t gonna work.
In my mind, my fundamental differentiator would be to spend 2-3 days driving by 20-30 wells in Olahoma County. If you’re too busy with the wells you already got, make a stop by one or two wells on your way home. Walk around the premises of each lease, take photos with your smart phone, and make notes of what you would change or simply clean-up if you were the pumper there…
Side note: a great FREE app for determining the operator of just about any well. Basically, the map interface shows all the wells within a 5-8 mile view radius of your location.
iPhone App can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/di-wellspot/id562174037?mt=8
Android can be found here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.drillinginfo.baytown&hl=en
Look for things that are amiss, ways in which you think you could better rock the well, etc. — basically, stuff that the lazy or inexperienced guys (ie ‘windshield pumpers’) might overlook.
Do a quick internet search to find the operators telephone number and address. If the operator is close by, print out and drop the 2-3 page write-up w/ your findings and photos by the operator’s office with your business card.
If the operator resides further away, call his office and tell whomever answers the phone that you’d like the contact info (name and email address) for the production or well supervisor in charge.
When she asks why (which she inevitably will), simply state “I have some important information I need to forward in regards to XYZ Well in _______ County”.
Fire off your report via email telling him what you found, and tell him how you think you can help his business and his operations. You don’t necessarily have to be right. From a business owner’s standpoint, the simple fact that you’re engaged and putting your head to use for their company is very refreshing.
Extra Credit: For an added umph, open an account on LinkedIn, add a photo, and fill out the pertinent fields about your professional experience (where you worked, for whom you worked, what you did there…). Be sure to link to this profile in your email and tell the operator to check it out! Linkedin offers you a place to demonstrate your experience and showcase your personality.
Seem like an overkill?
Maybe so. But by doing so, no longer are you just an interruption or an email. You’re a name with a face. Or, in Dave’s case, a guy with a hell of a lot of experience who wants a shot at upping your production.
Notice, Dave doesn’t get stopped by the admin before he gets access to the decision maker. Dave provides value right out of the gun…
First, the owner would say to himself “who the hell is this guy?”
Then, 5 minutes later he’d be thinking of how he can get you on some of his wells.
If he isn’t, he’s:
- somehow managed to hire nothing but A players in his operations (which anyone who has ever run a business knows how hard this is to do),
- he’s too snowed under to respond because he’s hired too many B and C players and can’t see the forest through the trees (remedy: fire B/C players, hire A player who is knocking on the door – YOU!), or
- he’s apathetic in the management of his wells (unfortunately, this is sometimes the case…)
If anyone ever approached my business in a similar manner, told me how I could improve my app, showed me a way to better run aspects of my operations, I’d hire the guy in a freakin’ minute.
‘Cause nobody does this. And that right there folks, is what we call “differentiation”.
It’s a very targeted approach to winning wells. You offer value. And, i’d bet you’d do better than winning 1 in 5 wells you visited. If nothing else, you’ll be top of mind when they’re replacing one of their pumpers at another site.
Look, the fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective thought train of your competition (other pumpers!!) makes it easy for people like you to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
Getting more wells begins with asking for them properly.
You’ll find the Excel list we used attached below.
By the way, how do you normally land your wells? Any good tips you’d like to add to the article. I promise you, folks wanna see this in the comments below!!
Hey, Operators! Got any tips for pumpers? What you’d like to see? Who you’re looking for to pump your wells?? Put it in the comments below!!