If you have the attitude that you can’t be bothered selling hoof care products to shoeing customers, Tom Rupnow maintains you are passing up a golden opportunity.

“Selling these products is my retirement plan,” says the Monroe, Wis., farrier. “I put $2,200 into my retirement fund last year from simply selling Farrier’s Formula to my shoeing customers.”

Other farriers have paid for their kids’ college education by selling hoof care products along with their shoeing services. Some farriers fund vacations while other shoers stash more dollars into their retirement accounts from reselling hoof care products.

Handling these products also gives you the opportunity to expand your services to customers. If nothing else, you save them from making a trip to pick up products.

Expand Your Business?

Carl Roghan of Scottsville, Mich., says that since improving the foot is the shoer’s business, he doesn’t have any problem recommending and selling hoof care products.

“I’ve sold Farrier’s Formula and lots of Durasole for thrush control over the years to clients,” adds Jeff Engler of Walla Walla, Wash. “Most of us cheat ourselves in this resale area. We recommend products, but don’t want to be the middleman and make a profit.”

Peter Tichbourne doesn’t want to be known as a hoof care product salesman. “But if a client wants some product and I don’t have it on my truck, which is about 75 percent of the time, I call the local supplier in our area, order it and ship it directly to the customer who will receive it in two or three days,” says the London, Ontario, farrier.

“The supplier bills me at the wholesale rate. He charges the customer the full rate and credits my account with the difference. I operate like a just-intime warehouse on the resale of these products.”

Offer Product Variety

Mike DeLeonardo deals directly with suppliers of Farrier’s Formula, Easyboots, fly sprays, iodine and other products. He purchases other products for resale through vet supply catalogs.

Handling a variety of hoof care and nutritional products, the Salinas, Calif., farrier says reselling products is a valuable income source.

“Horse owners are more likely to buy needed products from farriers than other sources,” he says.

DeLeonardo is a Farrier’s Formula dealer. “I sell the product to tack stores and deliver it when I’m traveling through their area,” he says. “They sell it for the same price I do off my truck. They don’t have to carry a big inventory and they rely on me to deliver more product as needed.

“This is a big money-maker for me and also gives me the opportunity to be among the first to try new products. We need to teach other farriers how to effectively do this.”

Not For Everyone

Yet other farriers aren’t as enthused about selling products to clients.

“I don’t want to sell shoeing-related products to horse owners and trainers because I want to concentrate on selling my shoeing services,” says Tom Keith of Floyds Knobs, Ind.

Shawnee, Kan., farrier John Duckworth doesn’t sell products because he wants to be perceived as a horseshoer and not a salesperson.

On the other hand, Dr. Ric Redden believes farriers should sell hoof care products to owners and trainers. “You know the pros and cons of these products best and spend endless hours teaching their proper use and misuse,” says the equine veterinarian from the International Equine Podiatry Center in Versailles, Ky. “So why not get paid for your efforts?”

While it depends on volume, location and proximity to dealers, Redden feels farriers can earn as much as 40 percent gross profit through resale of some hoof care products.

“Not everyone is a natural salesman,” he says. “Yet most farriers can learn the lingo and improve their income picture.” 

Work On Better Feet 

Bob Peacock of the Farrier Science Clinic in Hamilton, Ohio, maintains there are several reasons why horseshoers should sell hoof care products. Not only can they make extra income, but foot quality on the animals you shoe will also improve.

“A farrier can make a few dollars on the sale of the product, but they make more on having good feet to nail shoes onto,” he says. “Plus, it increases your credibility with the owner by selling or recommending the best products.”

He says farriers can earn 20 to 50 percent gross margins by selling products. Some hoof care products can be added directly to your shoeing bills.

“It’s like getting a haircut from the same barber for 4 years,” adds Peacock. “They have products for sale if your hair needs a certain shampoo or spray. If they recommend it, the chances are good that you believe them and buy it. You seldom ask the price.

“Horse owners are the same way. As a result, farriers can provide a valuable service by offering hoof care products .”

Be The Expert!

Angela Schlinger says hoof care product selling represents a great opportunity for a farrier to take advantage of a solid reputation as an authority on the hoof. The president of Grand Meadows Nutritional Products in Anaheim, Calif., says farrier recommendations are listened to readily by horse owners and offer tremendous potential for product sales.

“The sale of packaged goods can be a previously unrealized income stream that can provide an added level of services to a farrier’s clients,” she says.

As an example, let’s say a farrier can buy a product for $25 and resell it for $40. If the farrier sold four containers of the product a day, 5 days a week, an additional $1,200 a month could be generated in gross profit. 

“The big benefit is it requires very little extra work,” she says. “Your clients are a captive audience and will appreciate being able to purchase a quality product without having to go to the store or waiting days for a catalog order.”

Schlinger sees no negatives other than the initial risk of buying the products and the fact that some companies may have fairly large order requirements.

“The only extra time involved is during the first sale,” she says. “If the client likes the product, they will continue to order and all the farrier has to do is have the product available for sale, maybe deliver it and collect the money.” 

Pricing Is Critical

“If the product costs $21 and the suggested retail price is $34, I price a container at $36,” adds Wisconsin farrier Rupnow. “I charge more since I have it right on my truck, so there’s no handling and shipping cost to the client.

“All farriers should start doing this. It’s a great way to build up your retirement fund and boost the profit in your business.”

When it comes to pricing hoof care products for sale to clients, Jerry Trapani takes a different approach. If he pays $45 for a product, he marks it up 66 percent and sells it for $75. This is still $10 less than clients can purchase the product for in tack shops.

“I own horses and recommend and sell products to owners and trainers,” says the East Islip, N.Y., farrier. “It makes my job easier to offer several products as a convenience for the customer. Plus, it lets me work on a better quality foot.” 

Know Your Costs

Officials at Life Data Labs encourage farriers to offer products at the suggested retail price. “Some farriers have told us they don’t feel good about making a profit on products they offer to clients for resale,” says Dr. Frank Gravlee of the Cherokee, Ala., based firm which developed Farrier’s Formula.

“However, we encourage farriers to act as professional business people and realize their expertise in recommending good products that have value. There are also real costs in stocking and maintaining an inventory of product.

“Time spent learning about new procedures and new products is time taken away from shoeing horses. This has a financial cost to the farrier, as well.

“Clients look to their farriers for professional expertise and most clients appreciate and are willing to compensate the farrier for his or her efforts.”

Gravlee sees substantial earnings available to farriers who sell hoof care products. “The profit potential on any product depends on the specific product, the amount sold and the retail price,” he says. “In general, a farrier dealer should expect to realize a 30 to 33 percent profit on large items and a bit more on smaller items.

“If a farrier sells at the retail price some $3,000 of our product each month or $36,000 per year, this would translate into a gross profit of about $12,000 per year, depending on the exact sizes of products and quantities sold.”

Farriers Can Sell Products

Life Data Labs was the first manufacturer of hoof care products to place professional farriers in the same dealer category as veterinarians, tack stores and feed stores when it came to pricing products.

“We’ve always valued the support and expertise of our qualified farrier dealers and treated farriers as professionals and dealers rather than retail customers for our products,” says Gravlee.

He sees a number of reasons why farriers should become dealers for hoof care and nutritional products.

“As any professional knows, if they use their expertise and experience to recommend products that work, they improve their professional standing,” he explains. “Like any good business person, you should be careful in selecting products to sell or recommend.”

The firm’s products are backed by independent university research and clinical trials. Educational tools for farriers and their clients include research reports, a hoof care booklet and toll free hotline.

“We also help farriers build their reputation and professional standing with clients by showing them ways to recommend hoof care products with confidence,” Gravlee says. “We offer farriers the opportunity to use products prior to recommending them and add to their overall business savvy by sponsoring workshops dealing with business management techniques and retail business practices.

“Many farriers have expressed a reluctance to carry and maintain an inventory of products for resale or worry that selling products will damage their credibility with clients,” says Gravlee. “But if the professional recommends a product that works, credibility can only be enhanced.”