Referring hoof-care clients to a specialist is proving extremely advantageous for customers, farriers and horses.

Strasburg, Pa., farrier Patrick Meck and Lebanon, Pa., shoer Conrad Smoker worked together on a number of horses. After learning about Meck’s work with glue-on shoes, Smoker approached Meck with a proposition.

“I can do glue-ons, but I don’t like to do them and I don’t like to keep the inventory,” Smoker says. “It takes me longer to do it, which costs me money. So, I refer my client to him.”

Before establishing their working relationship, it’s important to understand who you’re referring.

“You should learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the farriers in your area,” Smoker says. “Patrick and I have a good, trusting working relationship. He’s not trying to take my client and he can charge specialist rates because he’s being referred by the regular hoof-care provider.”

Although a client hasn’t suggested a permanent switch, Meck believes the onus is on the specialist.

“It’s all about professional integrity,” Meck says. “If a client approached me, I’m not working. The long-term game is, if I want to glue more horses, farriers in my area need to trust that I’m not going to run them down and I’m returning their horses to them.”

Detailing the plan of action with the client before work begins is ideal to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

“We’re upfront with the customer,” he says. “We tell them, ‘This is an in-and-out patient situation where we keep this horse going until your horseshoer can take it back. We’re going to consult with your farrier. We’re going to work on this horse, and this is how we’re going to do it.”

Maintaining an open and proactive line of communication is critical to success.

“We discuss the horse after each shoeing,” he says. “He tells me when it’s scheduled, its progress and what the timeline looks like for returning the horse.”

It’s equally important to have a strong working relationship with the client.

“Some clients don’t want anybody else working on their horses,” Smoker says. “But, if I tell them that having a specialist come in to glue on the shoes is a better option, they are more open to it. They have confidence in the job that he’s going to do and are more willing to pay the going rate for that kind of work. Patrick gets to do more of what he enjoys doing and I don’t have to do what I don’t enjoy doing.”

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