Especially early on in a farrier’s business, reputation-building is a major part of success. Winning a client’s confidence can mean the client opts to leave everything up to your judgment and just lets you work. But that’s not necessarily the goal. Winning the best kind of confidence means the horse’s owner feels comfortable taking an interest in your work. A client who’s on your wavelength feels comfortable asking you questions. That kind of rapport is often what keeps a client for life.
It may take time, but the foundations are laid the moment you start work. As in most relationships, it’s the normal, everyday approach to the work that builds a reputation.
We might note four basic factors (besides your skill as a farrier) in winning the lasting confidence of horse owners:
- Keeping hoof care on schedule.
- Keeping good care records.
- Accurately keeping track of all the clients’ balances.
So, here are some tips and talk on each, for our readers’ consideration. As the saying goes: Take what you need and leave the rest.
Have a simple way to stick to a consistent schedule
Showing up on schedule is a sign of a well-run business — and it’s a key factor in keeping clients over the long term.
Granted, there are good reasons a farrier might run late. Shoeing is physically demanding, not always precisely predictable, and fitting everyone in like clockwork is a challenge in itself.
A heads-up to the owner ahead of time is generally the best practice when time gets a little too tight. Digital devices are so common now that owners will expect it. We designed the Best Farrier app to make regularly scheduled visits, reminders, follow-up calls or scheduling adjustments simple and organized. It all comes down to making sure your scheduling is solid, the horse is sound, and the client is satisfied.
Keep top-shape hoof care records
A farrier who keeps careful records — one who knows not just when to recommend a vet call, but who can inform that call with helpful records — stands out. We’ve designed our app so that organizing records, and connecting notes with smartphone photos in a client’s file, is push-button simple.
When hoof care becomes a medical issue, the farrier can be a crucial source of information. The farrier’s knowledge and records can help everyone involved share updates, working together for the best possible outcome in the horse’s health.
And, of course, the professional farrier with a reputation for excellent recordkeeping is unlikely to be considered responsible for events, issues, and conditions that are simply out of the farrier’s control.
Keep a constant handle on the clients’ balances
It might sound obvious, but in real life it’s not so easy. To run a business at optimal effectiveness, a farrier has to keep on top of reconciling payments. It’s great, for example, when a farrier is able to clearly show a client their balance due and point out exactly which invoices are unpaid.
This is one of the most important reasons I needed to develop the Best Farrier app. I wanted to be sure that no matter when an outstanding balance question crops up, I can trace the history, and show that history, making it simple to grasp on the spot. Each client’s history has a running record of invoices, showing the form of payment used in each case. So, without being near a computer, the idea is that a farrier with the right tool can bring up a full client’s record, with each invoice and every payment, partial or full.
Good tracking averts a lot of confusion and saves a lot of time. And it’s a real confidence booster when a client can see on the spot that the farrier knows exactly what is due, and will never accidentally double-charge for a service. There are few things that give a client a better sense of ease than never having to worry if a charge is right.
Communicate a Little More Than Necessary
The farrier’s work isn’t easily understood by many horse owners, and many might feel the best thing to do is keep out of the way during hoof care. But that keeps the owner in the dark, and the farrier might wonder if the client can tell the job is really done right. Plus, it’s best to have the client learn about shoeing and trimming, so they can sense when there’s an issue needing your attention and nip any problems in the bud.
Frank Lessiter, the publisher of the American Farrier’s Journal, says a horse owner who knows what’s going on with the horse’s shoes is a real benefit to the farrier, because that’s the person who won’t procrastinate when something needs your attention. A farrier can tell by a shoe’s wear patterns whether a horse is balanced and well supported, yet it’s the owner who interacts most with the horse—and where, when and on what gait uneven wear may have occurred.
Word of mouth is the strongest recommendation. Being known for doing a number of things right, and doing farriery very well, leads to many such recommendations. And as always, the ultimate winners are their horses.
If you’d like to speak with me about how the app can help with your needs, you’re welcome to do so and I’d be glad to hear from you. If you’re ready to subscribe, you can start your free trial and see how it works for yourself.
Thanks for reading,
Farrier and Owner