Can a company provide TOO MANY services?
Would you like fries with that?
That’s the punchline to an old joke from the 80’s about geologists, but recently I’ve come to the conclusion it works just as well when talking about marketing and branding issues, so unless my boss, Nicole, overrides me, that is the subject of this quarters’ ERD Magazine President’s Message. Hey, I was told I have to come up with something actually interesting this time, with some actual insight into our outfit, but this is the best I can do, okay?
This issue of branding came up hard the other day when I was talking with a woman who owns a consulting company, and she told me a client had told her, “We don’t want a service company, we want a consultant”. It got me thinking – how do you make the distinction? And why does there need to be a distinction? For example, the first thing most clients ask us, after that we do and how we do it, is WHO will do the work. That makes sense – I’d want to know too. So we send out resumes, and I can proudly say we’ve never had anyone turned down by any size client; we have great people. But they work for a service company… Does that make them any less expert in their fields? And what makes up a “service company” anyway? When HXR was just the “Joe and Chris Show” as we like to joke, were we considered “Consultants” or a “Service Company”? Inquiring mind (just one, anyway) needs to know… I kind of have to know – as the President, I’m told I am, like, supposed to run things around here, so…
Is HXR a Service Company that provides Engineering and Geomechanics, or an Engineering and Geomechanics Company that provides Services? You’re probably thinking, in a very sardonic fashion, “Yeah, you two dudes probably should have thought of that before you got things rolling, there, Ace…”, but honestly it never occurred to us. We just wanted to do our thing, from a technical standpoint – Joe designs and manages billion-dollar projects, and I stand around on the rig floor at 2 am with a clipboard dipping Copenhagen and making squiggly lines (we all have dreams…). Apparently, his billion dollar engineering and my studied “casual cool” look with a clipboard in hand got noticed, because we soon got more calls for work than we could handle, so we brought on more experts who just wanted to do their thing technically. At that point, since we offered engineering services, well, why not say we were a company that offered services? It made sense at the time, but now I guess we have to take another hard look at it… If you called up myself or Joe or our boss, Nicole, or one of our salesmen around the globe, and told them you wanted one specialist, in your office, on Tuesday, and don’t be late – okay, we can do that. Here’s the resumes of who would be available – which expert would you like that has the required area and specific technical experience you need for your particular well? That person is likely a consultant, since I hate all that tax stuff and I’m not smart enough to figure it out anyway… But that SAME person, next year, might be part of a team of people in that same client’s office or on their rig – are they now “service hands”, now that there are two or more of them? That’s an honest question, because the people are the same, the “services” are the same, and the client may be the same – but is the PERCEPTION the same? Would a client be more likely to call HXR Drilling Services for their ERD/Geomechanics needs, or HXR ERD & Geomechanics for their Drilling Service needs? Maybe some of you reading this, clients and other “service companies”, have thought about the same issues – do you want a service person, or a person who provides services, and realized there is an implicit difference not reflected in the naming conventions of the English language?
So that brings us back to whether or not you’d like “fries with that”. Can a company provide TOO MANY services? At what point does that stop being an issue? If you call the “Big Three” service companies, you expect them to have fishing and directional and ERD and cementing and rigs and MWD and project management and software. That is a given – “They BETTER have that, or I’ll use so and so…”. But is that ever a BAD thing, particularly for a smaller company? HXR Drilling Services is an ERD/Complex/Horizontal Drilling Engineering and Geomechanics/Geopressure company. In the future, we may add additional but related drilling services, such as wellsite geologists (who fit right in to our model) and possibly geosteering. But we also do ERD Project Management, and have several high-visibility, highly successful projects under our belt. That itself progressed to exploration wells, under Joe’s expert guidance, and when that went well, in the normal course of things, we’ve been asked to do even more. Recently, we’ve begun to offer full engineering design and equipment setup for cuttings reinjection, which we market under the trade name I.R.I.S. We’ve also successfully P&A’d 70 year old wells in Alaska, and provided a myriad of consultants on drilling projects. That begs the question:
Would you like fries with that?
How “niche” does a niche company have to be? Should it ever break out of its niche? How does that effect branding and marketing? Can an ERD company do plugging? Can a pore pressure outfit offer cuttings reinjection? We believe it can, but… It has to have the right structure, it has to have the right branding, and it has to keep the “niche” quality that made the company successful in the first place – put the experts in charge of Product X ONLY in charge of Product X. HXR may offer extended services, we may even be the operator on some wells, but we’ll never be some conglomerate, with MBA’s who have never seen a rig and who we hired away from the widget factory down the street. Technical people run HXR. Period. Whether that be HXR Drilling Services or HXR Project Management, each division or “product line” will always be focused on that specific service. In the coming months, as we roll out www.hxrprojectmanagement.com as its own brand, realize that the partners run their own divisions day to day, and the same quality of service you have gotten from HXR in the past will continue. Because we haven’t changed, we’re the same people – we’re just adding more people, better people, who are experts in their own right on various new services, to run the new divisions. That’s what a good company should do; in this market, it is what any company HAS to do. So folks, if you trusted us to design you a 42,000’ well in the Middle East, or a 20,000’ lateral in the Lower 48, or an 8000’ ultra-High Pressure well in AK, or provide you with a variety of Geomechanics services around the globe this quarter, you can trust us to design you a state of the art cuttings reinjection system, or to operate your well, or to plug it if you have to.
But you can’t get fries with that.