You have to take the good with the bad when it comes to technological advances making our lives easier. Take the smartphone. It allows a farrier to call back a client, send a text message to another client letting them know about a late arrival and receive immediate traffic updates from the GPS on the best route to the next barn.
On the negative side, SPAM email and text messages, expensive instrument fragility, alerts 24-7 and adverse effects of dependency.
I recently spoke with two farriers independently who each bemoaned a string of poor client interactions. That’s not a new subject, but what struck me was how technology has changed the client-farrier interaction.
In each case, the clients fired this farrier using email or texting, despite having recent face-to-face interactions at the barn. Clients firing farriers isn’t a new subject, but notice how an important message, once delivered in-person or over the phone, is now perfectly acceptable for many to deliver through keystrokes.
In some of these client firings, comparison pricing was the motivation. The client, using that same handheld technology, quickly was able to find another farrier who would do the job cheaper.
That’s the world we live in. Technology allows for immediate comparison shopping — there are phone apps devoted to it. But the mistake some will make is treating all of the goods and services they purchase solely on an instantaneous price-based comparison. The modern consumer will hand your phone to the clerk at a big box store to show that the competitor sells the same model television for 10% less. The store will match it and the consumer leaves happy with the same product purchased for several dollars less. That’s smart economics when all things are equal.
But things certainly aren’t equal with the work of trained professionals such as farriers. Who can better address the horse’s needs should be paramount, not the pricing of that service. That’s tough for many clients to judge and is impossible to evaluate through dollar signs. It can prove to be a disastrous mistake to conduct hiring and retaining a professional’s service as one would make with buying a television.
But again, we take the good with the bad with technology. And with these two farriers, the clients may have fired them regardless. Clients considering price isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, because if one farrier is less expensive than the other, it doesn’t mean their work will be less quality from the other.
Yes, farriers will be replaced and many clients will always shop for lower rates. But now it can be done more quickly and hidden behind a screen.