Chris Rice is a new farrier, fresh out of shoeing school. Based in central Ohio, he is looking for advice on getting his career launched. He is new to his area and has few equine connections. His approach to advertising hasn't provided many clients, either.
He posted this concern about his lack of experience in the AFJ Farriers' Forum.
Since I am just starting out, I need every horse to try and pay my monthly bills. I saw someone say in an earlier conversation to make a Facebook page for my business which is a good idea, but other than that I am kind of at a loss for what to do
— Chris Rice
Since you are new & just beginning - don't charge the same rate as someone who has more experience and has been around awhile. Lower your rates as a beginner special and as you gain experience & clients then up your rates accordingly. The one thing that really irritates me with new farriers in the area - they charge just as much as someone who has been doing it for years and the jobs never seem to be as good or as neat. Until you learn about your clients - treat them fairly as to your experience.
Chris: I read the other posts and most are concentrating on what you don't have yet. Stop focusing on what you don't have and start focusing on what you do have. As the scriptures tell us to give thanks to God in all things. Rig your truck up with what you have, tools, tool box, anvil, hoof stand, etc. Find or build yourself a nice metal or wood box to keep things locked up in and to store your shoes. For starters you can use a 2x6 edgewise to rack shoes on. Next go for it and make it happen. Stop advertising and start networking with horse people. Have a business card that stands out from the others, not some standard issue card you order with your name added but a logo you design or better yet, your picture on it. Go to the local horse events, join the local trail riders club or start one if you don't have one in your area. Put your cards up on any bulletin board you can find and make regular trips to replace cards that have been taken down. Leave a card anyplace you see a horse in the corral or pasture. Always have a dozen or so cards in your pocket to give out, always give away two or three cards and tell them to pass them on to their horse friends. Don't turn down those who only have one horse, often times they get another horse or refer you to others. Don't be afraid to put a magnetic sign on your truck with your name and number along with your horseshoeing logo. Hit up the local boarding facilities and leave cards there. Make appointments as soon as possible, don't try to impress people with how far behind you are in your work. Never show up on time; always show up 5-10 mins. early and keep your appointments rain or shine. Horseshoers give themselves a bad reputation by treating customers like they don't matter. Be that one shoer in your area who has the reputation of keeping his appointments, returning calls and going the extra mile forhis clients. Keep a notebook with all your customers, names, addresses, phone numbers, email address, and horse/shoeing information on each horse. Call and remind them it is time to schedule an appointment and even better, put their email addresses in your computer and email them. Most email services have a calander you can keep all your shoeing appointments and income information on but don't count on the computer, always keep a written back up in case you loose it on the computer. Hope this helps a bit Chris. If you want to talk and discuss some options you can get my contact information from my web site. www.RideForTheCross.com
—Jolly Roger Holman
I guess there is really no substitute for getting to know horse people in your area, but I once placed an ad on Craigslist and got about 5 new accounts in about three weeks time from that. Go where the horses are, stop for farm visits where you see horses and just introduce yourself, give them a card, and tell them that if they ever need help to let you know. Never indicate you are trying to compete with their regular farrier. Just offer help when needed, and maybe they will pass along your name to someone else later who is needing your services.
Get to know the farriers in your area, and ask if you can ride along. Help in any way possible. This will introduce you to the horse community with a farrier's blessing.
At one time or another we all have been where you are and it will take time but it will happen. There are some important things to remember and they are 1) always return phone calls. 2) When you make an appointment show up and show up early. You would not believe how many do not show up or even call. If you are running behind call and let them know. 3) When you leave a new customer make up another appointment at this time with the day and time that you will return. This way they can plan and not have to worry about getting in touch with you. 4) Look professional (clean and tidy) and most important treat each and every customer as you would want to be treated.
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