For Drilling Contractors, Uncertainty is Certain
Stop and think for a moment about the weather, gas prices and the moods of a young child. What do these things have in common? Uncertainty.
How many times have you checked the weather on your phone in the morning only to have thunderstorms rain on your jobsite in the afternoon, setting back the project? Or, worse yet, derailing best-laid plans for a weekend away from work?
Gas prices have proved surprisingly stable here in the Midwest over the last few years. But how many times have you forgotten to fill up on a Wednesday, only to hear some refinery interruption two states away has spiked prices 50 cents a gallon by Thursday drive time?
Now, think about your child or grandchild playing. It could be a board game or a simple game of catch, but kids can often go from happy-go-lucky to I’m-going-to-throw-myself-on-the-ground-kicking-and-screaming in just a few seconds. If you’re a parent, you know this to be true.
These examples all point to a certainty in life: uncertainty. It applies to everything from where a boulder tumbled a million years ago (in the path of the bit on today’s drilling job, of course) to what might happen to the cost of the consumables that keep you in business (hint: likely trending upward). Given that uncertainty is such a certainty, the question is, what do you do about it?
This is the take-an-umbrella approach to a sunny day. You know your business better than anyone, and each business’ approach to a cloudy day differs. Arm yourself with data and forethought.
For a contractor, that cloudy day could actually be a cloudy day. Drilling contractors are a hardy bunch who work in just about any conditions. But if it’s spring and you know a typical May in your area of Florida gets 10 days of rain for a total of 6.5 inches, you can build that data into jobs you quote out that month. With forethought, this data can help you add a little time buffer for major weather events.
Maybe you’re a distributor and you know from all that sales data you have been keeping that February is usually your slowest month. Knowing that, you can plan to discount products to move inventory or, better yet, take your vacation and fly to the Caribbean that month. Just be sure to share that data with the folks you supply so they can have the forethought to stock up beforehand.
How you approach a problem is about as important as how you plan for the solution. Do you know people who, when the unexpected happens, pitch a fit? We all have anger issues occasionally. But how many problems has throwing a pipe wrench to the ground ever solved? Unless the problem is “this ground isn’t dented enough,” I’d say none. Attitude bridges the gap that sometimes opens up between planning and a solved problem.
Look, some days having a positive attitude is hard. Maybe uncertainty started kicking you in the teeth from the moment you woke up. Murphy said there’d be days like that. But if you plan ahead as best you can and keep your head when those plans fall a bit short, most problems can be fixed with a little time (and that gritty resourcefulness drillers are famous for).
What do you think? What are the most uncertain aspects of working in the drilling trades? What do you do about them? Send an email to email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, drillers.