Customer service has always been a popular business topic in the pages of AFJ. We’ve pulled 25 of the best tips on the subject, beginning in 2000 that will serve as solid advice for delivering your best customer service.

1. “Think about what both you and the client consider good customer relations. If you have a problem with a client, the most important thing is that you don’t want it to deteriorate to the point where one of you delivers an ultimatum.” 
— Jeff Rodriguez, Golden, Colo., 2000

2. “Develop a solid relationship with each barn owner or client so they know that you will take good care of them and that they can trust your judgment. We’ve had clients who wanted to move to another barn, but didn’t when they learned we don’t shoe there.”
— Tom Parris,Woodbine, Md., 2002

3. “Gain respect from customers one step at a time. Be knowledgeable, helpful and sincere. Don’t be intimidated by questions or curiosity. Keep your customer’s expectations in check. Don’t make claims that your experiences say can’t be accomplished. Walk away from super-bad animals. Don’t be jealous of your customers and their surroundings.”
— Walter and Lee Fuermann, Hearne, Texas, 2006

4. “You can’t successfully shoe for clients unless they have complete confidence in your abilities. If they have confidence in your shoeing skills, they’ll trust you with all kinds of foot problems.”
— Jeff Goodson, East Hampton, Conn., 2000

6. “Make sure customers know that there are consequences to whatever application, method or trimming method you use. If you can do this for a client without specifically talking about their horse, the customer is better able to see the ‘cause and effect’ of your shoeing work. 5. “When clients ask questions about the trimming or shoeing techniques you are using on their horse, explain what you’re doing and why.”
— George Graves, Lansdowne, Ontario, 2009

“It’s easier for them to understand shoeing procedures if they don’t get caught up in the emotion of talking about their own horse.”
— Ted Shanks, Lihue, Hawaii, 2003

7. “Show customers that you are more valuable than the competition. Let them know that you are aware of all of the new developments in shoeing and that you pay close attention to many things that other farriers don’t.”
— Pete Rosciglione, Defiance, Mo., 2009

8. “Avoid gossiping with clients, as this is very unprofessional. Even if you start out with, “Don’t tell anyone I said this, but ...” then you’ll cause your clients to wonder who you’ve used the same phrase with before passing on a juicy tidbit that involves them.”
— Meg Oliver, Acton, Calif., 2005

9. “Become the footcare source that your clients think of first. Make sure they come to you when they have a horseshoeing question rather than going to the internet, a book or TV.”
— Doug Butler, near Chadron, Neb., 2009

10. “Make sure customers know your first concern is the health and well-being of their horses. But also explain that you’re also concerned about their pocket book and are willing to try something less expensive if it will have the same impact as something costing more dollars.”
— Dean Moshier, Delaware, Ohio, 2009

11. “Listen carefully to specific client wants, desires and even some of those unsaid things they want, but don’t dare say.”
— Brian Robertson, Owosso, Mich., 2006

12. “If you communicate with horse owners before, during and after working on their horse, owner problems will be minimized. It may seem like it takes a lot of time to do this, but it immediately establishes a solid foundation for communication with new customers. After that, you have a client that trusts and respects you.” 
— Kenneth Stanfield, Metter, Ga., 2001

13. “Make sure your first impressions with a new client are good. Interact with them and return their phone calls right away.”
— Steve Stanley, Versailles, Ky., 2009

14. “Let your customers know that you keep up on what’s happening in the industry and always stay on the cutting edge with new ideas. The more you can offer your clients and their horses, the more money you can make.”
— Nigel Starkey, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., 2001

15. “Let clients know you’ll come through for them when there’s a serious shoeing footcare problem. For example, our clients know that if they call at 7 p.m., and tell me one of their horses has lost a shoe and they are leaving for a horse show tomorrow morning at 5 a.m., one of our crew will have that shoe tacked back on before 4 a.m.”
— Tom Parris, Woodbine, Md., 2002

16. “The biggest complaint I hear from clients is about other shoers showing up late or not at all. For 33 years, I’ve been as prompt as possible and will call and let them know when I’m running late. A client that feels appreciated tends to be more forgiving when something goes wrong.”
— Clark Adams, Batesville, Va., 2009

17. “Don’t let customers think you are in a hurry to finish the work. Be patient with uneasy horses, ask about the horse’s history and take the time to address the animal’s issues.”
— George Graves, Lansdowne, Ontario, 2009

18. “Keep your truck clean, provide a clean work area and wear a clean shirt. You’ll never get a second chance to make another favorable first impression.”
— Marshall Iles, Calgary, Alberta, 2004

19. “A client who cancels at the last minute due to a shortage of cash might not do so if he or she knows that you accept credit cards. Being able to accept credit cards can help you avoid cancelled appointments. 

“Nine times out of 10, the customer will discover that they have enough money after the footcare bill is tallied and will pay with a check or cash. But the ability of your business to accept credit cards eases the typical customer’s mind.”
— Bryan Hamilton, Grass, Minn., 2002

20. “When I want to do something different to a customer’s horse, I sketch out what I’m trying to get across to the customer to help them understand.”
— Bill Miller, Rochester, Wash., 2003

21. “The most useful thing I’ve found to help clients understand shoeing concerns is a small, white dry-erase board and erasable markers that I keep in my truck. It’s amazing what you can explain to a customer just by drawing a few diagrams.”
— Jim Woods, Ringwood, Ill., 2003

22. “It’s important to take a customer’s emotional attachment out of the mix when discussing a shoeing procedure. I carry a hoof and leg model as well as a very good book on the anatomy of the horse’s leg and hoof in my truck to explain various procedures.”
— Ted Shanks, Lihue, Hawaii, 2003

23. “Learning to accept constructive criticism is part of the job. You can’t afford to get upset and offended because someone suggests something different.”
— Jerry Mathews, Osawatomie, Kan., 2003

24.  “If you have a customer who is difficult to deal with, give them the benefit of the doubt and try to reach a resolution. If this doesn’t work and you feel you can’t work for them any longer, send them a letter. This indicates you’re handling the situation professionally and hopefully will avoid future conflicts.”
— Kenneth Stanfield, Metter, Ga., 2001

25.  “When things aren’t going right, remain composed and professional. Do not bad mouth the trainer or vet. Just tell the owner that the relationship with others is not working out and that, in the interest of the horse, he or she should find another farrier. 

"Be calm, professional and polite. Tell the horse owner that your door is always open if he or she ever needs your services again.”
— Bob Smith, Plymouth, Calif., 2009