Collect Feedback to Feedforward

If you haven’t noticed yet, most customers are pretty quiet about what they’re thinking about your business and you. Unless there is a very significant problem, they let complaints slide just like you do when you get bad service somewhere.

And when they have a thought about what they’d like to have more of from you or an improvement to your business, they keep quiet about that, too. It’s like having a thought about packaging M&M’s in a resealable zip-loc bag to eliminate spillage.  You wonder if anyone at Mars, Inc. would read your e-mail or take your call about the idea. Ah, forget about it, nobody listens.

Soliciting feedback is important. Ask a lot of questions. Questions start conversations and idea exchange.

How do you feel about the extra balance work we did in your lesson today?

Is the training work we did with your horse last month helping you feel better about your ride?

Is your horse happier and more relaxed in the stall we moved him to last week?

Equally important is soliciting feedforward. Feedback is about the past. It’s a score card for what happened. The additional challenge is getting the ideas and thoughts from your customer on how to improve what your business offers in the future.

I mean collecting thoughts like:

I wish I knew more about stretching exercises that will help my riding.

I’d love to see a video of my riding lesson with you adding additional comments as you watch it-Like football players review game films.

My horse takes advantage of me on the ground with bad manners all the time. Is it possible to do a mini class in how to correct bad manners?

Customer thoughts about the present are your feedforward for more offerings.

Ask, listen, act.

Dealing With Family In The Family Business

Never hire your relatives”, advised one of my business mentors who owned a small business. He said it frequently, but did not follow his own advice as the business was filled with family members. He loved his family and hated the special problems having family involved brought about.

The  family business is commonplace and has its advantages of the work force sharing a common bond. Family businesses are also some of the most challenging to run because the family stuff can really get in the way of progress. There are enough emotion charged challenges in a non-family business, add all of the family drama and you end up with a reality TV show that’s only missing the cameras and commercials.

Most conflicts exist in family businesses because of a lack of honest communication. In an attempt to minimize conflict, problems go unresolved until one party can no longer look the other way or bite a tongue to keep from speaking.

The solution to minimize job dissatisfaction and conflict is good leadership.

  1. Everyone needs an opportunity to be heard and understood.
  2. Everyone needs to know their boundaries within the business.
  3. Everyone needs to know what the business vision is and the strategy to get there.

Will Facebook Always Be Your Friend?

 I remember when algorithm was a tough word on my spelling test. I knew back then it was a formula, too, and was another boring part of math class. It’s not so boring now, because algorithms dictate many of the workings of the internet and that includes Facebook feeds. 

Algorithm is defined as a step-by-step procedure for calculations.  You may already know Facebook doesn’t include all your posts in the feeds of everyone who has liked your business page because algorithms make the decisions. Facebook decides who gets to see your posts and you can’t do anything about it because it makes the rules. Put another way, Facebook is a dictator. A benevolent dictator most of the time, but still a dictator.

Since you can count on ongoing change with Facebook policies, don’t get lulled into believing Facebook will be your primary marketing channel forever. It’s a publicly traded company and stockholders like dividends which means Facebook has to make a profit. And that profit comes from sales to users like you and me.  Banks offer free checking for a while to build business and then they take it away.  You get the idea.

Don’t ignore your own business website, blogs, newsletters, videos and direct mail as other marketing tools.  You control those marketing tools. Not so with Facebook.

Horse Business Cha-Cha-One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

An excerpt from my newsletter, Thursday Morning Gallop, published via email today. Sign up for the newsletter at
 “Let’s get back to the basics!” No doubt you hear it every time you participate in a riding clinic or audit one. That’s because the basic fundamentals of any skill, sport or   activity are often ignored as you become more experienced.  As your   comfort level rises, time saving short cuts and bad habits creep into your   routine and draw you away from the always-important basics. 

I know you YOU know these, but here is a refresher.  

Horse   Business Basics 

Return phone calls and e-mails promptly

Dress like an owner

Keep your books up to date

Treat prospects politely

Refrain from complaining about business problems with customers

Market your business daily

Take at least one day off each week

Be lavish with praise  for customers and employees

Put your goals in writing and review them regularly

Look people in the eye

Applaud your successes

Get enough sleep each night

Quote pricing confidently from your standard rate sheet

Show up on time

Learn from your mistakes

Deliver what you promised

Keep the office neat and  the barn neater

Tell the truth   

Now, get those boots on and get to work practicing the basics! 







Bad Manners Are An Unnecessary Toleration With Horses and Humans

A policy of being non-confrontational shouldn’t be confused with a policy of toleration.  When problems exist with employees or customers, they seldom solve themselves.  You must take the action to resolve a problem and you can do it without anger and excessive emotion.

Tolerating tardiness for work, unpleasant attitudes with customers and co-workers and disrespect for you as the boss is no solution.  Toleration prolongs and promotes bad behavior when left unchecked and creates an unnecessary emotional burden for you as the boss.

Likewise, customers who are excessively demanding, self centered and abusive and rude to other customers, grind everyone around them.

What to do:

  1. Admit to yourself there is a problem.
  2. Take action and discuss with the individual what needs to change or the resulting consequences.
  3. Act now, not later when the timing is just right because the timing is NEVER just right.

David Ogilvy On Captions Under Your Horse Business Photos

Most likely you’re posting photos on Facebook and your website. Are you putting captions under the photos?

Here’s what advertising genius David Ogilvy wrote about captions in an article titled “How To Create Advertising That Sells.”

“On the average, twice as many people read the captions under photographs as read the body copies.

It follows that you should never use a photograph without putting a caption under it; and each caption should be a miniature advertisement for the product – complete with the brand name and promise.”

When not creating award winning advertising,Ogilvy was  a gentleman farmer at his farm in Pennsylvania. He owned six workhorses and a pony according to the book, “The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising”  By Kenneth Roman.



Get Clear On What Your Customer Expects From The Start

When you and your riding student or your horse training client discuss  expectations from the very start, your relationship will be much smoother.  Make pencil notes of what you discuss and hand a copy to the client, too.  The notes are not intended to be a stiff contract, but a memory refresher.

No doubt you have experienced when memory can be very selective for both parties when things aren’t going perfectly.


Staff Meetings In 12 Minutes

When you’re holding your general staff meeting each week, make brevity a goal. Whatever can be said in 20 minutes can be discussed in 12 minutes.

If a topic needs more time, schedule a specific meeting with those involved for a different time.

Your staff will love you for not wasting time and you will love the improved focus and concentration from those attending the meeting.

Blah, blah, blah, while extremely popular, is never a good agenda item for your team.