Back in January 2013, Delaware, Ohio, farrier Dean Moshier was invited to be on an online radio show, Stable Scoop on Horse Radio Network. In it, he discussed a top 10 list of what most farriers wanted their clients to know. Over the last 3 years, these questions and answers have evolved, mainly influenced by client interactions within Moshier’s practice.
Although this presentation is clearly aimed at the horse owner — particularly those who don’t have a lengthy experience with horses. However, farriers can draw lessons from what his and your novice clients are asking and how to manage those clients.
Don’t overwhelm them with information. That’s a good lesson for any situation in which we want to teach and have the student retain. Education is complex, yet over the years, it has become commonly thought that students retain 10% of what is read and 20% of what is heard.
Moshier stresses the “what” and “why” when answering client questions, and will not over explain the “how.” By staying on topic with what the owner asked and needs to know, the important lessons are not diluted. Plus, by introducing the how, there never will be enough time to thoroughly discuss a subject — certainly within an hour presentation such as this lecture.
You’ll have to “unteach” their experiences. Often owners aren’t shy about condemning the farrier. Sometimes this blame is earned (not showing up for an appointment, but failing to call, for example). And of course, other times there is unwarranted criticism, which comes from a place of ignorance. This is certainly true when having to overcome erroneous misinformation disseminated by members of the barefoot movement, not barefoot practitioners, per se.
Moshier illustrates, though, that the inexperienced owner comes with a third option — blind acceptance. He explains that he often is asked the question, “How long do I have to wait until I can ride this horse after you trim or shoe it?”
Now there may be cases, such as therapeutic work, in which this is appropriate, but he finds this question can be asked at a normal interval appointment.
So these clients, not knowing any better, have come to expect their horse will be sore-footed after an appointment. In many cases, this was the consistent result of poor farriery.
Part of this educational process is managing their expectations. The owner should come to expect (in most cases) that a sound horse would be sound enough to ride after a footcare appointment.
Help them become involved. Moshier finds helping the client become proactive in their horse’s footcare is part of the educational process. When common questions arise, such as thrush, he’ll take the time to instruct the client on picking up and cleaning feet, while looking for telltale signs in the early stage. This client is more likely to head off problems, and keep a horse on its necessary trimming/shoeing schedule.
All of this advice is part of client management. It requires a time investment and budgeting this often-unexpected session within an already busy day. However, if executed correctly, the result will be client retention — and critical for your growth — helping them become the clients you want to keep.