Turning professional conversations into business opportunities
So next time your client comes to you and says their riding instructor said their horse isn’t shod the way it should be let’s not lose our shit. At the end of the day this is a potential business opportunity.
It’s really frustrating when you turn up to shoe your client’s horse’s and you are suddenly bombarded with questions, you’re having a great day enjoying what you do and all of a sudden you feel you have to defend what you are doing. “it should me shod longer”, ”the feet look too upright”, ”why has your horse got side clips on?”, these are just a few of the remarks I’ve noted from other professionals relayed back to me by my clients. I’m not unapproachable and undergoing a 5-year Bsc (hons) degree I am able to have an intellectual conversation with regard to the hoof mechanics and the biomechanics of the horse. I am good at gait analysis and general lameness assessment so why doesn’t the professionals speak to me? do they feel threatened that I might question their opinions and they will feel dumb; no, not at all, they couldn’t care less what you know or most of the time have no idea who you are, I believe they don’t even realise they are running their mouth!
I scratch my head over this often because this could be a fantastic business opportunity for both professionals. From my perspective if I can work with a riding instructor, physiotherapist or veterinary surgeon on a professional level then I’m far more likely to recommend them to any person I come into contact with that could use their expert opinion and skills. So why is it that they feel the need to start telling the client that how the horse is shod is wrong? Do they believe that we shoe badly or even worse has their own farrier led them to believe the way they shoe is the only way horses should be shod and anything else is wrong? This is a very complicated area and the utter lack of communication multiplies the issue dramatically. Horse owner absolutely love their horses to bits and if a person with a position of responsibly or stature tells them there is a potential issue with the way the horse is, they go into panic mode.
Lets say their new riding instructor makes a little comment, which in their mind means nothing but what it actually does is cast doubt in my client’s mind about my ability to shoe horses. Despite running a successful farriery business and shoeing the client’s horses for the last 10 years without any issues I still come under scrutiny all because their new riding instructor mentions that the feet may benefit from being shod differently, more like her competition horses. What ‘Said’ riding instructor does not realise is that a small, insignificant comment would later come back and bite them on the arse! Once that doubt has been planted it’s just a matter of time before one of us is sacked. The client then has a conversation with me and if I handle it well it would then cast doubt on the riding instructor. If I fail to justify the way I’m shoeing the horse or get mad about it then that reflects bad on me. From this insignificant comment someone is going to lose a client, this could have all been avoided if; ‘said’ riding instructor asked who shoes their horse and could they have my number because they would like to introduce themselves to me and possibly work together. There is nothing wrong with that a quick 5-minute phone call to say hi and I would welcome that, something along the lines of: “hi, I just wanted to drop you a call as I’m now coaching your client”, “great that sounds wonderful” I reply, “can we can have a chat about how the horse is moving”, “sure, what are your thoughts” and probably agree it could benefit from some extra length behind but for practical reasons the fronts should remain the way they are. From that I would highly recommend this instructor and more than likely they would gain a couple of clients a year from me plus, they would feel that they have been able to have an influence on the horses shoeing, so it would stroke their ego too!
In business it’s very important before you open your mouth that what you are trying to say is as intended and what you say is not damaging to other professionals, I guarantee it will often be interpreted that way and what you say can lose someone a job, I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate it if you were on the receiving end of that. I get asked all the time my opinion of how a horse is shod and I’m at the top of my game when it comes to shoeing horses, all I say is I can’t comment, speak with your farrier, next question, would you shoe my horses? I have a couple questions and the first is why you are unhappy with your current farrier, question two is tell me all about your horse before I look at it, so I fully understand what the horse does. Two simple questions which could save yourself a lot of pain. Contacting the previous farrier will be incredibly valuable to you they will seldom be unset with you and appreciate the call.
Being a professional is my number one priority and if I am open with all other professionals then communication is easy. I alone am not going to make a huge difference but if we all try a little then maybe communication will be between professionals and not spending all my time trying to explain to my clients in laymen’s terms what complicated shoeing protocol I’ve chosen for various pathological and environmental variables. Remember communication is key and the person on the receiving end will be happy to talk I assure you.
“the effectiveness of communication is not defined by the communication but by the response” Milton Erickson