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TOPIC: Farrier Business in this econamy

Farrier Business in this econamy 29 Nov 2011 17:39 #1

Well I have a few questions that I was wondering if I could get some help with.
I was wondering how to help improve ones farrier business in todays economy? I have been shoeing for awhile and noticed a sharp decine in the need verse want element of the business. Also I just moved back to Montana and as anyone who knows this state there are only 7 major cities in this state and they are all about 2 to 3 hours from each other, so you have to drive a big circle to make any money.
The average gross for this state is 40 to 50,000 a year but I would really like to change this so I am not working 7 days a week either shoeing or working another job plus shoeing therefor putting in 12 to 15 hours a day. If you have any experiance with this state and its challanges for farriers please let me know, thank you for your time.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Remember setting on a wooden fence to long will put splinters in your backside.:eek:
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 29 Nov 2011 17:59 #2

  • cyber steve
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Being in a sparsely populated state is always going to be a challenge for any service job. If you want more business understand almost everyone is going to use the internet to find a farrier when they need to find a new one for whatever reason. If you do a search for Montana Farriers or Farriers in Montana or whatever you will see that Farriers.com comes up first, at least when I just did it on Google but most likely on most if not all of the lower tier search engines also. If you go to the page you will see only one ad (because I removed all the old obsolete ads). So for less than $50 you can be on the number one site people will use to find a farrier in your state. That is a lot of traffic for you (almost exclusively for you) for very, very little investment. I believe Farriers.com is the single best bang for the buck that any farrier can use to promote his business, that is why I bought it.
Steve Turpin

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses." Herman Melville[/color]
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 29 Nov 2011 18:58 #3

Thank you steve for your imput. I will look at it and go from there. I have to admit that I did not know about it so I will look into it, thanks again.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Remember setting on a wooden fence to long will put splinters in your backside.:eek:
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 30 Nov 2011 03:42 #4

  • vthorseshoe
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Look at what you have for a business...
I don't know what you have for equipment but let me make a comparisson for you.
Farrier box or trailer;
Fancy expensive farrier box for your truck verse's a cap and a small pickup .
Shiny buffed sides and gull wing doors used $8,000.to $40,000. new (estimated prices may vary with area or buying situation)
A cap- $100. to $500. used $1,000. to $3,000. new

Vehicles;
A dually or a heavy duty truck verses a ford Ranger or its equivalent. example; 10 mpg compared to 35 mpg
Intial vehicle cost, fuel cost, mileage cost. tires cost, maintinence cost.

Cut the weight you carry. you don't need to be a driving hardware store. You know who you have for customers and what the horses will need for the day. Carry what is needed and leave the rest at home.

Forges;
Top of the line like a Forge Master compared to a NC Whisper huge price difference. (over the years I have had a number of different brands and have always come back to Donald Jones's NC forges.

Shoeing stands.
Shop around they vary in price and they all accomplish the same task. and many a farrier has made his own for little to nothing as far as $'s. Using scrap material around their home.

Hoof stands.
In the past few years a plastic adjustable stand has come on the market and was bought by most of us. Wanted it so cost wasn't a consideration. I could have made a hoof stand for 1/8th of what this plastic one costs...
I won't be sucked into making this persion any richer when this one wears out. Good stand, but outlandish cost Over $100.00 for a friggin hoof stand ? come on !!!

Anvils;
do you need to buy the popular brand or can you make do with a less expensive one that will fill the bill.

Trimming and farrier tools;
I pick and choose today by not only cost but effectivness of tools and longevity.

Shop around for the best bang for your buck !!!
You can increase your bottom line by buying things that do the job and cost less. Don't follow the desire to compete with others who have all the fancy do dads... Yes it looks great and would make you feel good, but when payment time comes around will you stioll have that good feeling ?

Look how you schedule your customers. I covered Vermont, N.Y., Mass. and i had my customers scheduled so I could do each state in a full circle and end up home . I eliminated un-necessary mileage and doubling back.

Try to pick up stables or multiple horse customers.

Look for gas stations who give a substantial discount for paying with cash.
Here in Alvin one station discounts on an average 15 cents a gallon off the regular price for just paying with cash instead of a credit card.

Learn to sharpen your tools and do some forgeing so you aquire the skills to make certain shoe's.

Buy your supplies in bulk. Save up so you can do this. Meaders supply in NH each year has a huge savings when buying in bulk. Many farriers come in and some buy enough that it comes out on a pallet. This amounts to huge $'s in savings.

Cut out in between snacks. My wife pointed out to me one year on paper what I spent each week just on snacks and food.

Keep track of where your money goes, you will unconciously cut back on wasted spending.

Pay cash for as much as you can and leave the credit card in your desk drawer.
The money you save on interest payments along can add up to a big savings.

Take time on each horse and make each job the best you can. This will keep regular customers and bring in new customers.

Figure out a mileage charge. When fuel prices went through the roof a few years back, I eventually charged 95 cents a mile (one way) but at the end of the month that payed for my $1,000. a month gas bill and some of my tires at the end of the year.

Tires. I had studded tires for winter I made it through icy roads and i got in and out of driveways all winter long. Having to cancel a customer due to poor road conditions can be costly when the right tires could make the difference in your getting a paycheck. Summer tires when spring came around. I could get two years out of each set.

This is what I did to cut expenses and to build my profit zone.

Doing drafts I traveled 50 to 250 miles a day. (horses are on each street corner, drafts are spread out)
I also had to go over the Vermont mtns or drive north or south to go around them. Summer and winter.

Hope this helps...
my 2 cents worth ;)
"you may not like what I say" !
-but-
"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 30 Nov 2011 11:51 #5

  • tbloomer
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Chris Logan wrote:
Well I have a few questions that I was wondering if I could get some help with.
I was wondering how to help improve ones farrier business in todays economy?
Set up an appointment with your local Small Business Administration and have them review your business plan and marketing plan.

It won't cost you a dime, but you will be assigned a mentor and you will get "business homework" assignments.
Tom Bloomer
http://blackburnforge.com
302-222-6404


Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 30 Nov 2011 16:06 #6

Thank you for your replys. Well I am guilty of not having a business plan. Never heard of a farrier having one. Guess I better look at it and learn about how to do one.
I have never knew that a farrier hneeded a business plan. Sorry to say but i am ignorant in that area. When I was in shoeing school and doing my aprentacship there was never any mention of this need. Guess i better wise up if I really want this to be a business. Hell I have been shoeing for 18 years without one. Thanks for the imput.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Remember setting on a wooden fence to long will put splinters in your backside.:eek:
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 30 Nov 2011 17:19 #7

  • cyber steve
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There are two primary ways to increase income in any business, increase top line revenue (gross) or decrease expenses. Either will increase your bottom line (net). I think Bruce gave you a fantastic summary of how to decrease expenses but I suspect there are even more opportunities there. You have to understand your costs, both your variable costs (what goes into each shoeing) and your overhead costs (truck and tools, etc). If you don't already know that you are shooting in the dark.

After you figure out what you can get your costs down to you need to decide how much you need to make and how much the market will bear (for pricing) and back into how many customers (horses) it's going to take to get there.

If you don't have that number of customers already then you have to work on top line growth through marketing. IF I were a farrier I would put ads in www.Farriers.com and probably every other online listing I could find because online is where people go to find anything now. I would get a website and create an image of professionalism there too, put your website URL in your forum signature, post positive and helpful comments on horse forums (helping not beating up horse owners), then I would use social marketing (facebook and twitter) to promote your work. Then I would go around to every horse show in the state and put up flyers, nice professional looking color flyers, advertising your experience, training, and skills. "Specialize" in what they are looking for at whatever show you are at, if you have the skill set to do it, always tell the truth. You can't market to the western pleasure crowd like you market to the dressage crowd or the racing crowd, etc. Always tweak your image to your target audience.

DON'T ever compete on price, don't chase lowballers. Believe you are worth what you need to charge and project that confidence 100% of the time without being cocky. That means you need to be able to communicate your worth and explain to the horse owner why a cheap inferior job is a bad investment for them, they will get what they pay for with you. Always ratchet pricing up (not gouging, not taking advantage, but reasonable cost of living increases every year) because your life is always getting more expensive for you and let go of those customers who won't accept a price that allows you to make an acceptable margin. Remember, you have to cover more than the set of shoes you are putting on. Expensive tools are being worn out and trucks are being used up and clothing is being ruined and you are being consumed. You only have so many horses in you, you need a plan for retirement too but that is a whole other story but I hope you guys are thinking about this, you're probably not going to want to be shoeing when you are 85.

Don't underestimate your ability to differentiate yourself from the competition because that is what you have to do if you are trying to gain market share. I can already tell you 18 years of experience gives you a lot of credibility in the eyes of horse owners and you will instantly have a leg up over the younger guys, even if not deserved by your skills. Market that. Show up on time, return phone calls, look professional at every stop, put your name on your truck (skip the magnetic sign, put the vinyl decals on there so it looks like you don't just slap it on there one day and the next stop you slap on your plumber sign), keep your truck and rig as clean and professional as possible. The above will immediately differentiate you from all the farriers that don't act professionally and it will help the customer justify your price, professionals cost more than amateurs. Hand out business cards, always more than one, give people an easy way to help you network into their circles.

Do favors, help people, go above and beyond, in my experience trying to always doing the right thing and helping someone with problems that really had nothing to do with you are good investments in building long term positive customer relationships. Trust your gut, are you doing what makes you feel good and proud. If so, keep it up, you are going to sleep well at night, if not, rethink what you are doing and why you are doing it. Never betray a customer's trust or a fellow farrier's trust. Always ere on the side of the customer unless they are just being an arse and then let them go. It's an amazingly small industry, treat people right or it's going to bite you.

Good farriers are always in demand, the problem is the people that are looking for a good farrier in your state right at this very moment either don't know about you or don't understand what you bring to the table, you have to put yourself out there and promote yourself just like any other business. My impression is you have what horse owners are looking for so help them find you.
Steve Turpin

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses." Herman Melville[/color]
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 30 Nov 2011 17:38 #8

  • vthorseshoe
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Absoluetly great follow up Steve.
Words of wisdom for all farriers are within the lines of your post...:D

my 2 cents worth ;)
"you may not like what I say" !
-but-
"you'll never have any doubts where I stand
quote Cindy Matthews 1948-2006


I thought my life had come to a close with Cindy's passing, but there is life after death Thankyou Sharon !

Bruce Matthews
Southeast...
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 00:20 #9

  • Rick Talbert
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The golden rule + field of dreams mentality = :D
Rick Talbert
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 01:30 #10

  • Gary Hill
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We got to quit at 85!!??? They will be kicking dirt on me when I quit...these lowball horseshoers are killing me right now!!!:mad::mad:
"As I see it, winners get the money - while losers talk of "individual goals" and similar stuff." Tom Stovall
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 10:44 #11

  • Rachael Kane
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Sure is a cr@ppy economy to be working in, but didn't you say in that first post that you have recently moved back to the area? It takes a few years to build up any business and shoeing is no different, you just have to hang in there. Do good work, treat people right and promote youself...love the field of dreams angle :). You have been givien some of the best advice i have see in any thread on business advice, re read this every other week and you will find another jem you didnt get out of it before. And dont forget to enjoy the ride.
Rachael :)
CF

'Motivation gets you going, discipline keeps you going.' (Jim Ryan).
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 10:44 #12

  • Rachael Kane
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Btw, what golden rule?:D
Rachael :)
CF

'Motivation gets you going, discipline keeps you going.' (Jim Ryan).
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 14:08 #13

  • Rick Burten
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Rachael Kane wrote:
Btw, what golden rule?
Its about ethics and reciprocity and exists in many forms across time and cultures.

"Do unto others before they do it to you".........:rolleyes: ;)

Wait a minute, that's not it. Close, but no cigar.

Oh yeah, its "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". :)

That's better, right? :)
Rick Burten PF

In the immortal words of Ron White: "But let me tell you something, folks: You can't fix S-tupid. There's not a pill you can take; there's not a class you can go to. S-tupid is forever."
."


Je pense donc je suis
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 18:57 #14

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Chris Logan wrote:
. . . I have never knew that a farrier hneeded a business plan.
LOL! Your competition is counting on you believing that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_plan



Steve (a bonafied business man) just gave you a great list of stuff to put into your;
  • business plan
  • marketing plan
  • service policy
Figure out "The Dream" where you want to be with your business in 5 years. A business plan is an outline of what you need to do to get there.

For example, acquiring skills and knowledge, equipment purchases, and the type of clients you want to serve are all goals that you should set and come up with a plan for how you are going to achieve each objective.

Even if you don't write it down, having a mental list to follow, review, update . . . something to assess and check your progress against your objectives. REVIEW at least every 6 months - you may want to change your plan based on how things are working.

Without a plan, you won't know where you are going or how you're going to get there. Nobody is going to hand you a road map, and you can't just follow what somebody else did - because you aren't "that guy," and what worked for him might not work for you.

Seriously, you don't want to be the "man without a plan," you'll wind up managing a national farrier association or worse.
Tom Bloomer
http://blackburnforge.com
302-222-6404


Here's the deal. I'm trying to keep it simple.
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RE:Farrier Business in this econamy 01 Dec 2011 22:28 #15

  • Steve Swain
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Rick, I always thought it was, he who has the gold rules:rolleyes:
I stink, therefore I am.............a farrier.
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