The editors at American Farriers Journal are busy working on the sixth edition of Getting Started in Hoof Care, our career guide for new farriers. This is a free publication sent to all farrier school students and to anyone who requests a copy. The purpose of this magazine is to emphasize the business side of farriery.

I came across an interesting tip that will be part of an article on invoicing and records. One farrier who uses a computer-based program for managing his business maintains detailed client records. When he needs new or updated records, he either provides clients with access to input their personal information and the horse’s details in the program, or gives them a sheet that mimics the program database. He inputs that handwritten information later that day.

Pen-and-paper invoicing still works for many farriers, and a variation of this farrier’s idea can work for those who use this style for records and invoicing. The best method is the one that fits your practice. However, there are several advantages I find in adapting to digital records and utilizing this farrier’s idea.

First, it gets the owner invested in the hoof-team concept. It is a tangible demonstration that the farrier wants their input. The farrier told me that his clients are appreciative and enthusiastic for the opportunity. Keeping the client involved as a participating team member improves client loyalty.

Secondly, it is visual evidence that you are a professional practitioner. You may already have records, but is the client aware of this? Clients also aren’t aware of a farrier’s photographic memory. Get credit for all of the work you do. Helping horses stay sound or overcome lamenesses is the name of the game, but farriery is still a business and you have to distinguish yourself from the competition.

Finally, it improves efficiency. The farrier doesn't need to write the information when the client supplies it. There may be a need to enter some information, but the client supplies all of the necessary detail. Plus, clients are trained to update information and supply new information in case a horse is purchased or sold. I have yet to meet a farrier who enjoys data entry or handwriting extensive details.

Keeping records isn’t a new concept. But here is one farrier who added a wrinkle to it. Whether one accepts the advice, the real lesson is avoiding complacency and looking for new ways to improve old ideas can pay huge rewards.