Caring for Customers

Shoeing horses is not just about taking care of horses. We need to take care of the owners too. Sometimes we forget that the customer is the owner and not the horse! On occasion, someone will call and say, “I want to change my career. I think I’d like to get into the farrier business because I’m sick of people! I just want to work with horses and never have to talk to people again.” At times, the prospect of “not dealing with people” may seem tempting (especially if you’ve been burned in the past). But it’s a bad idea. Some practicing farriers may even be guilty of this. They enjoy certain aspects of the craft while neglecting clients’ needs. Some ignore their clients or worse, ridicule them for their supposed ignorance. There are plenty of aspects about this craft that are clearly enjoyable: working with horses, being outdoors and laboring at the forge to make custom shoes.

As farriers, our priority should be for the horse owner as much as it is for the horse. As farriers, we have a unique position in that we will see the horse more often than other equine professionals since we need to come back every six to eight weeks. Because of this, horse owners can potentially see us as a trusted resource for information and assurance. Owners should have an enjoyable experience when the farrier comes to work on their horses. They shouldn’t fear the farrier or even just have to tolerate them!

In order for the owner to trust you, what are you doing to insure that they have a positive experience when you come to their barn? Do you talk to them? Are you genuinely interested in their needs? Have you put their fears (founded or not) to rest by being informed and being able to communicate your ideas without sounding arrogant? Do they feel that you care about their horses? Do they know how much you appreciate their business?

Recently, in talking to a graduate of Butler Professional Farrier School, we asked what she learned in horseshoeing school that has impacted her bottom line in her business more than anything else. She didn’t mention level trimming, horsemanship or even making shoes! She said, “Understanding people skill is very important. It’s not just you and the horse. Working with people and having good communication has made my business better.”

If this is an area in which you need to improve, take heart and know that you aren’t alone. Many who seem to have a natural inclination towards people skills have had to work hard at the talent of relating to people. Like any other skill it takes practice. A good way to practice is by striking up conversations with people in line at the grocery store or at the gas pump. Today, the skill of face-to-face interaction is becoming a lost art because people are becoming more reliant on internet and social media outlets. It is a necessity in our profession to be able to relate and interact with people. The better we are able to do this, the better our business will be. Some farriers have this concept so mastered that the owners actually can’t wait for the next appointment!

We must take care of our horse owners as well as the horses. Customers appreciate relying on a competent professional. We appreciate customers that value what we do. Though the physical rewards of the job can be fun, make no mistake about where your earnings come from. Horses don’t write the checks!

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