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TOPIC: number one customer complaint

number one customer complaint 10 Apr 2005 18:07 #1

  • Mike Ferrara
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As you may recall, I recently started taking customers in a new area where until recenty I didn't know a sole in the equine community.

Every call I get is obviously from some one who until now has used another farrier. I've tried to listen closely to why they are looking for some one else and I think what I'm hearing is interesting. Keep in mind that lots of these feet are in bad shape and though some of them have gone a while I tend to think some of the previous work was poor. Yet no one complained about poor work.

If we ignore the people who are looking for cheap and end up going to the omish...I have to ignore them because I might talk to them on the phone but I never see their horses, LOL, the number one complaint BY FAR is the way the farrier treats the horses. I realize that people don't always see to a horses training needs but I haven't found any of these folks unreasonable in their expectations. By that I mean that they realize that the horse must be controles for all our sakes and they seem completely receptive to professional and reasonable means.

The number 2 complaint is not being able to get the farrier out. I've heard everything from not showing up to not answering the phone for weeks at a time.

It seems to be that a lousy shoer could make a good business around here buy showing up and behaving when they do. Being a talented farrier seems a distant third cuz few seem to know the difference.

I know what it's like to have a tight schedule on a hot day and to have horses who don't respect your schedule but...getting mad doesn't fix it.
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RE:number one customer complaint 10 Apr 2005 22:19 #2

  • mwmyersdvm
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"Many moons ago a very wise veterinarian taught me the three "A's" of the successful practice": (These work for any business)

They are in order of importance

The first "A" is "Availability" - you have to be there. Show up, call back, be interested - Be There.

The second "A" is Affability - they have to like you.

The third "A" is Ability.

If you show up and they like you, you really don't have to know much
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RE:number one customer complaint 11 Apr 2005 02:56 #3

  • NHFarrier
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I had a teacher who said as long as the left front looks good, the other feet don't count, because it is rare that an owner will get past the LF when checking the farrier's work!

I think returning calls and treating horses well is the best business plan for a farrier who does everyday-horses (when you get up to shoeing Grand Prix and Olympic level horses, skill may be required!). Most owners will also appreciate intelligent horse knowledgable conversation. I am amazed at how happy people are when I explain the things I am doing to their horse.
Unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes.
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RE:number one customer complaint 11 Apr 2005 21:40 #4

  • jamesrooney
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mwmyersdvm wrote:
"Many moons ago a very wise veterinarian taught me the three "A's" of the successful practice": (These work for any business)

They are in order of importance

The first "A" is "Availability" - you have to be there. Show up, call back, be interested - Be There.

The second "A" is Affability - they have to like you.

The third "A" is Ability.

If you show up and they like you, you really don't have to know much

Beautiful! The recipe for life.
James Rooney
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 03:45 #5

I will give you the recipe for life and it is not always welcome. "Open and Honest" I do not know any other way. Some like me some do not. I am buisy and very thankfull for it. I do not care what the other guy is doing, just what I am doing.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 08:04 #6

  • Red Amor
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Shut ya mouth and do the job , and do what ya say your going to
dont try to educate the client unless they indicate they want to be
and then adopted the KISS system as youll only comfuse them
dont preach to them cause they'll resent that
and if they are slackers look em straight in the eye and charge them more for your efforts , make shore you put in the effort
and you the same thing when they eventually come back after the other jokers let them down or theyve let them down ;)
Mark Anthony Amor
If we want anymore excrement like that outta you we'll squeese ya head :eek:
Mind how ya go now ;)
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 10:52 #7

Communitcate, communicate communicate. It is the lack of proper communications that get us into trouble. I see people who do not speak up when they should and spout off when they shouldnt. Like anthing it is a skill and it takes practice. Keeping your mouth shut when you should have spoke up will get you into trouble. Simple rules to communications, be open and honest. Seek to understand then to be understood. Be a good listener, respectfull and professional. One thing is for sure, we cannot make everyone happy and there are times to just walk away.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 13:50 #8

  • Peggy Dolan
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I like to use simple ideas, some of my favorites for horseshoeing are:

Get up, clean up, show up
Never argue with an *****, some folks can't tell the difference
If you tell the truth it only hurts for a minute
The second liar never wins

I took the Dale Carnegie course for public speaking and his book is great.
Every situation is different, but I try to give each client as much of my time, energy and information as they can process.
I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 15:42 #9

  • Greg Thomas
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When I see talk on here about shoeing the horse "correctly" instead of what the customer told you to do it certainly makes me think. Particularly when "correctly" is so abitrary in this field. I believe you can probaly get by with it on unknowledgable owners but if you try to pull this in a training barn then the courteous customers will just never hire you again and the not so courteous might be throwing rocks at your truck as you are trying to escape alive. I would certainly rather swallow my "all-knowing" wisdom and pride to shoe in barns with trained horses that try to make a living shoeing often spoiled, either under-cared for or over-cared horses at the 1 or 2 horse, 6 month(if you're lucky) appointments.

If I pull into McDonalds and order a Big Mac then that is what I want. I don't want person working the window to decide my overweight butt is better off with a pile of lettuce and then force me to eat it. Even if they do claim a PhD in dietary whatever.

You are the service provider-discussions and opinions are great but the decision should be -and ultimately, will be-made by the one paying the bill.

Greg
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 16:07 #10

  • Gary_Miller
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Greg, I agree with the thought that the customer is always right so we should do job they way they want. After all they are paying the bill.

But as a professional you have the responsability to do the job properly and correctly. If what you are being asked to do will cause harm to the horse you have the responsabilty to the profession to refuse the job.

Gary
Gary Miller, PF

Ride hard, shoot straight, and always speak the truth.
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"Our level of quality is how well our eye can see it." (Eric Russell, Oct 2008, Horseshoes.com)

"Discover what it is that makes you passionate then grab a firm...
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 19:44 #11

  • Greg Thomas
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Amen, Gary

But about anything you do there is someone, somewhere saying that it is wrong and harmful to the horse(most often trying to sell something or to persuade owners that they are the only person in the world that can properly care for their horse- at a ridiculous price). Most-not all- trainers have a pretty good idea of the horses shoeing/hoof care needs or they won't be trainers long. These needs change drastically with breeds, disiplines, confirmations, past injuries, etc, etc, and ect . I do not buy the "one size fits all" thinking. I believe it is nieve to believe this. It may keep a horse good for a pasture ornament but sound, good footed performance horses, including show horses, even trail horses often need fine tuning to reach their potential. Educated, intuitive trial and error is the only way I see to accomplish this.

Open, frank, maybe heated discussion is beneficial. If everyone agrees then somebody ain't thinkin'. Egos in this business is very detrimental to the individual, the horse and the profession.

Greg
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 21:54 #12

Greg Thomas wrote:
Amen, Gary

But about anything you do there is someone, somewhere saying that it is wrong and harmful to the horse(most often trying to sell something or to persuade owners that they are the only person in the world that can properly care for their horse- at a ridiculous price). Most-not all- trainers have a pretty good idea of the horses shoeing/hoof care needs or they won't be trainers long. These needs change drastically with breeds, disiplines, confirmations, past injuries, etc, etc, and ect . I do not buy the "one size fits all" thinking. I believe it is nieve to believe this. It may keep a horse good for a pasture ornament but sound, good footed performance horses, including show horses, even trail horses often need fine tuning to reach their potential. Educated, intuitive trial and error is the only way I see to accomplish this.

Open, frank, maybe heated discussion is beneficial. If everyone agrees then somebody ain't thinkin'. Egos in this business is very detrimental to the individual, the horse and the profession.

Greg

Greg I agree with many of the things you said however I highly doubt if you or any other self respecting professional Farrier is going to let a Trainer keep higher heels when they should be trimmed down or let a Trainer tell you that both front feet on a clubbed footed horse need to be the same length and angle or let a Trainer tell everyone your the one that caused the low heel and long toe on some horses. I know a little about Training, however I am not going to step in and tell my client how there Professional Trainer should be training there horse. A Vet is a Vet, Trainer is a Trainer and a Farrier is a Farrier. Your a professional it is your obligation to command your owne ship. I definately take in all the ideas and observations from others, but ultimately I make the final decision. We will be blamed if things go wrong no matter who told you to do it, so you might as well be the final say. You call it a big ego I call it being responsible and putting the horse first. Funny thing, I am shoeing competitive horses that are not spoiled and most of the Trainers and horsepeople I know like what they see. We must be doing things differently.
Phil Armitage, CF
AFA member 7480

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it." Albert Schweitzer
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RE:number one customer complaint 12 Apr 2005 21:59 #13

Meeting customer expectations can be a slipery slope.
The customer around here expects. The farrier to be show up late or not at all usually because of the demands of his "real" job because he/she does not charge enough to be a professional full time farrier.

Expects the horse to act up and the farrier to just tough it out because the last 3 or 4 farriers attempted to wrestle the horse into submission. Hitting the horse with tools is acceptable.

Expects the shoer to leave pleanty of heel and "get the angles right".

Expects not to pay much.


So instead I run my practice on meeting the horse's expectations/needs and work to tactfully educate customers/trainers/vets when there may be a differance of opinon.

The horse needs to be balanced and shod properly to prevent lameness or treat lameness if its a theraputic case.

The horse deserves to be attended to by a trained professional who has a commitment to exellence in hoofcare. IMO that means a full time farrier who attends continuing education clincs, participates on these boards, subscribes to journals, and in a myriad of other ways pursues getting the job done right. Needless to say this is not going to be the cheapest farrier available.

The horse expects kindness when scared, consideration when in discomfort and to be treated firmly just as the bossmare of the herd would be when he shows a lack of respect to the farrier. Accordingly I am a proponet that all farriers should become good horseman before they attempt to become good farriers. I hate the word "natural" when applied to horsemanship. There is good horsemanship and there is bad horsemanship. There ain't nothing natural about a predator putting the skin of a prey animal on the back of another prey animal and climbing on. Time spent training a horse is not free.

You will build up accounts faster if you do what everyone expects. You will build up better accounts and have much more satisfaction in a job well done if you do what the horse expects. I will tell people frankly that I consider the horse to be my customer and the owner to be the guy/gal that writes the check.

As emerson said (paraphrasing) "The greatest satisfaction of a job done well is that is was well done" I frankly love getting up and going to work in the morning and strive to do each horse wheather brood mare or high level perfomance horse with the same attention to detail. I feel if I was to comprimise my values and not do the best work possible that this would become just a job instead of a calling. Sure it hurts to pass on accounts like the 100 QH barn that someone mentioned earlier in this thread. But cranking up the heels on 100 horses and setting them up for navicular has got to do great damage to the spirit of the farrier who puts money before the welfare of the horses.

George
George Spear
CNBBT, CNBF, CLS


".....and I said to the horse: Trust no man in whose eyes you do not see yourself reflected as an equal."
Don Vincenzo Giobbe
CA. 1700

"What people do not appreciate is that every time a horse submits to...
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RE:number one customer complaint 13 Apr 2005 00:01 #14

And let's not forget that not all trainers are "trainers". They are no more trainers than I am a plumber. The number of "self-proclaimed trainers" at least in my area is huge.
if you ever rode a horse, You might be a trainer
if you ever saw a horse being ridden, you might be a trainer
if your great, great, great grandpa had a mule, you might be trainer
if you've ever gone to a horse show, you might be a trainer.

These people have no idea, they breed for whatever the last judge decided should win, and then by the time the horse is old enough to compete the style has changed so we need to change the shoeing to win. I've had trainers tell me what to do and in response I handed them my shoeing chaps and said, "you do one and I'll make the other one match it" They always respond with "I'm not a farrier" Then what the hell are you talking about? Do I need to give you riding lessons, so you can understand what flexion and collection are? I have great relationships with the "trainers" that I work with, they tell me if there is a problem and I try to deal with it, if and when I can. If I can't, I call another farrier or 10 other farriers, if we can't figure it out, then the horse gets sold and we start on a new one. I want feedback from my owners, trainers and riders, I can't get the horse to it's peek without it, but I do not need some 4H queen to tell me how to shoe a horse.
Dave
"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." Will Rogers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBimQu6Pxxs
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RE:number one customer complaint 13 Apr 2005 13:03 #15

  • Greg Thomas
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On first impression it looks like I am at odds with several of you. I bet in actuality we would be close to agreeing on most everything. I agree that there are plenty of times to walk away form a shoeing/trimming job for various reasons. I have done it more than once myself.

I do not agree that the vet takes care of his part, farrier his part and trainer his part. I think it would be like trying to build a building without a general contractor to oversee the entire structurer and makeing sure everything jives with the other and that everyone is on the same page. More often than not it will be the trainer because they are ultimately responsible to the owner and are physically with the horse more. I do agree that all trainers are not equal in talent and knowledge-but the same can be said for farriers and vets also. Good open communication between competent profesionals is essential in any field but it can't be a one way street for any one profession. Often the smartest, wisest, most knowledeable one is the one asking the questions.

The equal feet on a (truely)club fotted horse example-
I agree there is danger in trying to make the fronts match but I feel it is my responsibility to tell the owner that the horse pretty much usless as anything but a pet. Often such a horse is in too much pain to misbehave badly and some people mistake this for "love". I will probably go as far as to suggest putting it down because it is a waste of feed, time and money to keep it alive and also because the horse will never be able to be used for what it was put on this earth to do. I know there are plenty to disagree with that statement. If someone feels the inner desire to lavish over an unsound animal they at least need to find something smaller than a horse,IMO. The "club footed SB" currently on another topic might be a prime example. There is probably a reason as to why that horse is a rescue-someone discarded it because it can't or ever will be able to perform. Sad but true-nature is harsh sometimes. So far it suffers nearly every time it is used as a horse from what I understand. (Although I am not 100% convinced it could not be fixed on that particular horse).

I do see the judges perks and fads as a problem. This more often than not has a finacially dirty deal driving it, from what I have seen over the past 30 years.

The big lick Walkers and (from what I understand) the Strasser method are a prime examples to me. The extremes one way or another are harmful or they wouldn't be called extremes. But there is a fairly wide window for angles , heels, shoes, etc across the breeds and uses where one thing might be detrimental to one horse but exactly what another one needs.I sure don't want my gaited horses shoed like trail quarter horses.

Rambling- so I will quite. This stuff has got to be a mental problem but I love it.

Thanks,
Greg
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