In every Farrier Business Practices Survey that we have conducted (including the upcoming 2018 edition), more than 90% of working farriers have at least one backyard horse client. Because of this, backyard horses are called the backbone of the industry.
We often include practical advice in the magazine on managing backyard horses and their clients, including this issue’s exclusive survey of farriers work with backyard clients. You can find great takeaway information in “Trimming, Shoeing Backyard Horses Critical To Farrier Success,” in the September/October 2018 issue of American Farriers Journal. The most consistent answer addressed in this survey is what’s required to keep a client for more than 10 years. A majority of respondents answered “professionalism.” Things like showing up on time, returning phone calls and communicating with the owner on the horse’s foot health.
Each breed and discipline has idiosyncrasies, but all share this trait: keeping horses sound is never enough — you have to exhibit professionalism to retain clients. And isn’t it also true that being a professional requires little investment?
Affordable Ways To Improve Professionalism
Pat Broadus thinks so. I recently spoke with the Shelbyville, Ky., farrier. He is known by clients for his skills with keeping their Thoroughbreds on the track. But many of his shoeing colleagues recognize his sensible business advice.
He reminds that being a farrier is a business, so professionalism is mandatory. A big part of this for Broadus is the impression you make on clients.
“It doesn’t cost much to buy a collared shirt,” Broadus notes. “And it costs nothing to tuck it in. Show up with a smile on your face and interact with the client in a professional manner.”
He adds that Lafayette, Ind., farrier Danvers Child gave him a tip for saving money on collared shirts: buy shirts for $2 to $3 at second-hand stores. Often these are seldom- or never-worn name brand shirts. When you burn a shirt forging shoes or spill adhesive on it, you haven’t ruined a $30 shirt.
Use an embroidery service to place your name and/or logo on your collared shirts.
“You can go to Goodwill, buy a shirt for each day of the week for $15 and then have them embroidered. Your total investment in this is less than $50,” he says.
Broadus says business cards remain effective. He pays a little extra to the online vendor Vista Print for more distinguishable business cards. They are double the thickness of typical cards and are sized to fit in wallets. The cost is a few pennies more per card to make them stand out.
Clean your truck frequently, Broadus also recommends. Many car washes offer a monthly membership that will allow the member to use it once a day.
“For $300 a year, my truck will look clean. That is part of my brand. If you want to get in the bigger barns, if you can appear professional and behave as such, that contributes to whom you will be known as.
“Be who you are, but be professional. Keep putting good work on the ground and the clients will know who you are.”