Customer Relationships

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Volume 4, Issue 1 of The Natural Angle contained an article that addressed some of the issues of customer service. The initial discussion related to developing a good background and method of assimilating information about your customers. If you don't have useful information about your customers it will make it difficult to put together the communications that help establish and maintain good relationships. Be sure to review the ideas discussed in the previous article on customer service.

The idea of establishing the solid communications foundation is a part of the broader goal of educating your customers. This communication and education effort should lead to an improvement in your working conditions, the condition of the feet and relationship with your customer. If you have helped educate your customer to the fundamental issues of good hoof care they should now be able to understand the importance of regularly scheduled maintenance.

As you consider scheduling, you need to think about the variables you will confront:

  1. Geographic spread of your customer base
    a. Avoid a schedule that has you running from one end of your base to the other in the same day
    b. Make sure you allow adequate time for the traffic conditions or other factors that affect your timing (lunch anyone?)

  2. Number of horses
    a. How many can you can reasonably shoe in the time and days you set?
    b. How many horses does each customer have?

  3. Reasonable time frame - it may be that some customers need to be on a more frequent schedule than others. Make sure you are fair in your evaluation of the needs- don't schedule them on five weeks if six is workable.

  4. Customer's ability to be available on your proposed schedule - try to be flexible and understand the customer's needs. But once the schedule is set insist on meeting it or requiring advance notice of changes.

A good schedule has a number of benefits for you, your customer and the horse. First and foremost, the horse can be kept in more consistent condition, perhaps avoiding or at least detecting problems at an early stage. This is certainly a benefit to all involved.

For yourself, you will find that you have less uncertainty about your work, income and types of hoof problems you will run into. You should also be able to manage your inventory of shoeing supplies much easier. If you are keeping a good database on the horses and work, the schedule should help you plan purchases from your supplier. It may keep you from those last minute orders that can be difficult for your supplier and your nerves!

You need to establish firm, but fair policies regarding your scheduling. There will be unavoidable conflicts on both sides but if you have established good communications and relationship you should be able to overcome these conflicts. Talk to other farriers that have developed a scheduling program and see what works and what doesn't in their experience. And don't forget the element of professionalism this gives your business.


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