Drilling Managers: your clients' budgets are down! Here's what to do about it

Attention all exploration drilling professionals: your clients’ budgets are in freefall!

Yes, that’s right - despite global demand for battery metals, exploration budgets are down

As a decision-maker, it’s time to take action now to protect your business, stand out from the crowd and continue winning those drill contracts.

In this article, let me show you how you can do this using drilling operations software.

 

Showing your clients where their money is going

If your clients’ purse strings are getting tighter, what can, you, as a Drilling Manager, do to protect your drilling business’ bottom line and keep signing those contracts?

First, you need to demonstrate to your clients and prospects why they should trust you over your competitors. How? By showing them exactly where their money is going (or will go).

Your clients want to know how much time the drill bit is spending on the bottom and what’s standing in the way of progress if it's not on the bottom. Then, they want a clear breakdown of their costs and how this relates to the progress of your rig.

The right software package can help you do this with minimal effort.

A digital plod app, connected to a web portal, can help streamline how you collect data, generate invoices and present reports to your clients. And the best part? It can be done in minutes, not days or weeks after the fact.

How? The secret is collecting the data digitally in the first instance using a digital plod app. This means you can get the data from the rig back to the office right away, and there’s no double-handling in the office.

Instead, the office team checks the values and ensures there are no issues with the data. Then, with one click, the data is instantly pushed into a proforma and series of reports that provide you and your clients with actionable insights about the drill program. Insights like:

  • A rig activity breakdown report: so you can show your client how much time the rig spent drilling and why over a shift or multiple shifts. Use this report to suggest to the client how shift time could be optimised and who is responsible for taking action.
  • Cost summary report: calculates exactly how much that shift cost your client. It automatically processes the plod against the cost contract, including special conditions like minimum shift rate or slow pen rate.
  • Cost per metre report: helps you demonstrate how competitive your rates are. It calculates how much a metre costs to drill and precisely what goes into that cost (rig type, time, consumables, contract conditions etc).

Because all these reports are automated, you can spend less time on the paperwork and more time working with the client and chasing new business.

The result: you can provide your clients with a better service and more value - for the same price. Repeat business; here you come!

But it’s not just about the client. What about you?

Because you’ve gathered all of your data into one centralised web portal, you can dive deeper into your performance metrics and costs. Here, you can gain insights that can help protect your bottom line by decreasing expenses or increasing revenue.

A team that can spend less time building invoices, sending emails and locating missing data has more time to explore business problems like:

  • How can we improve our rig utilisation?
  • How can we reduce our consumable wastage?
  • What actions can we take to improve our lead indicators? 

Instead of:

  • Where are last week’s plods?
  • Why are these invoices going out late again?
  • What are my drillers up to?

Providing a better service to your clients

Here’s an inside tip: the number one gripe Exploration Managers have with their drill contractors? Getting the data late or in the wrong format (or both!). 

Why is this a problem?

Well, if they aren’t getting the data they need at the pace of the rig, their ability to make timely decisions decreases. This could result in missed opportunities to change the drill plan toward a more prospective hole or end a hole early, for example.

Plus, it adds an additional burden on their geos, who have to take your data and copy it to their own internal database. This can be a fiddly process, even if it’s a spreadsheet - but it’s 10 times worse if they’re trying to transcribe data from paper with messy driller handwriting!

It only gets worse if they’re getting the data late and now have to spend even longer trying to put everything all together in one sitting to catch up to the rig.  

Putting yourself in their shoes, how much more difficult would it be for them to try and chase up details and ask you questions days or even weeks after the fact? How irritated would you be as an Exploration Manager having to explain to the Board that a crucial detail was missed and it’s too late to do anything about it?

A digital plod app, paired with an operations database, can help stop this chaos and have your clients raving about you to their mates at the pub on Friday night. 

This is because it:

  1. Helps your clients save time by removing the manual copy-paste process from their workflow by delivering the data in the format they need.
  2. Assists in preventing mistakes in the first instance. It will alert the driller if data fields are missing or nudge them if a value looks incorrect, so they can resolve the error on the spot. 
  3. Makes it obvious if any errors do slip into the data by visually displaying the plod data in coloured graphs and charts, so anomalies stand out. Then, it’s easy to cross-check what happened by diving into the notes from that specific plod or set of plods. 

How does this help you? It means that fewer errors make it through to the client, and less of their time is spent doing manual paperwork or chasing up your drillers to query details in the plod. This means they’re paying their geologists to work on geology, not paperwork. That’s one happy client! 

 

Retain your high-performing drillers

Are you struggling to find talent right now, or are you scared that your high performers might accept opportunities elsewhere? You’re not alone. 

The job market is hot right now. As a Drilling Manager, it’s worth considering how you might position your business to attract high-quality talent in ways additional to financial compensation.

If you want to attract the best talent, providing your team with the best quality tools to match their skills may help give you a competitive edge.

Today’s drillers know there are better ways to work. Paper plods aren't going to cut it anymore.

Did you know that more than 65% of Australian drillers fall between the ages of 25-44, making them Gen Z or Millenials?

The drillers of today and tomorrow grew up with the internet, and they expect to operate in a digital environment. It just doesn’t make sense to them that they’re using equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars but recording the results on paper. Then, they go on their break and stream a sports game from across the world on their phones. It doesn’t add up!

And, let’s face it: who wants to spend time filling out their paperwork manually after a long day in 40-degree heat? 

A digital plod app helps reduce paperwork time to just a few minutes per day

By giving your drillers the tools to help them do a better job in less time, they can focus on getting those metres drilled and returning to camp sooner so they can freshen up for their next shift.

 

Tl;dr?

Drilling operations software can help you combat the threat of nose-diving exploration budgets. It can help you win your client’s trust by demonstrating how you can optimise every dollar spent, setting you apart from the competition.

Because the software involves using a digital plod app, your data gets returned from the rig quicker, which means you can get it to the client quicker, making for happier clients that can make decisions at the same rate as the rig.

Using a plod app not only slices through office and client’s time by delivering digital data in the first instance, but it’s also more appealing for the modern driller. Today’s drillers grew up in a digital environment and expect to be able to use digital tools that remove manual paperwork so they can focus on drilling. 

Finally, by connecting a digital plod app to a digital operations database, you’ll have your drilling data at your fingertips for quick and easy analysis. This means your team can spend less time doing manual paperwork and more time finding ways to decrease costs or increase revenue.

Interested? Learn more about drill program operations software and what it can help your team achieve on our drilling blog

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