Monthly Archives: July 2014

If You’re Not Using Contact Forms On Your Website, You’ll Want To Read This

If your website has a contact page and it says “e-mail us at info@ourfarmdotcom”, for more information, you may be getting a few e-mails trickling in but you’re missing out on an opportunity to get many more sales inquiries.

Experience has taught me that most prospects are busy, dislike composing the wording for an e-mail and as a result won’t bother e-mailing you for more information or with a question.

Try adding a simple contact form to your website to solve this problem.

A form can be on more than one page and serve more than one purpose. Try a form for general information, a form for lessons or a form for training. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for a prospect to engage in a discussion that will lead to a sale for you.

I’ve used a form for MAG Flakes, a dust control product I sell, for years with great results.

stoparenadust form

Forms work!

How to Remove Fear From Making Changes in Your Business

Change doesn’t come easily in the horse business. Critics and skeptics are everywhere in an industry built on tradition. Ideas for doing things differently take huge amounts of energy to put into practice.

One of the reasons professional horsemen are reluctant to make changes in their businesses is that some changes just “don’t feel right.” They are uncomfortable and go against the grain of what is routine and predictable.

For example, as a youth I learned to ride in a western saddle. Over time, the contact points of my body with the saddle became my points of reference for posture and balance. It all “felt right” every time I sat in the saddle.

Later, my first experiences riding in an English hunt seat saddle felt awkward, out of balance and generally uncomfortable. My traditional frame of reference had been altered and I was in the “uncomfort zone”. With practice though, I managed to regain my composure and balance and the English saddle started feeling better every time I rode in it. Comfort returned.

Familiarity and status quo create comfort and no doubt about it, human nature is to be comfortable. But, being comfortable means trading off a potentially better business and personal life for safety and security.

In your horse business do you:

• Tolerate employees who don’t have the skills to carry out the tasks required of them because they have been around a long time, are friendly with clients and have no other place to work?
• Resist delegating business tasks like, filing, scheduling or bookkeeping because you have become comfortable with the notion that these activities are your job?
• Avoid discussions with boarders about their horse’s bad manners or their own unacceptable behavior at the farm?

Making a business decision to act on the types of things listed above is never easy. At first, moving from a comfort zone to potentially stressful situations might feel like you have put your boots on the wrong feet just to make sure it hurts. But, you will soon find out that a better analogy is that change in your business is more like sitting in a strange saddle for the first time. It feels uncomfortable, you’re out of balance and have to question again why you are doing this.

Let your experience with your positive major decisions in the past help you through the stressful parts of initiating change for improvement.
It worked out before, it will work out again.

 

5 Tips On How To Get Paid What You’re Worth

If establishing prices in your horse business is a struggle, you’re not alone. There is no book for setting pricing on the services you offer. Often, professional horsemen are uncertain what to charge and opt for a low price to attract and keep customers. A low price strategy works for WalMart, but it will never work for you; you’re not a high volume-low price business.

Horse trainers, from colt starters to show-ring ready finishers, have no blue book reference guide for easy pricing. Often, customers don’t know the amount of work it takes to train a horse and most trainers lack a convincing sales strategy to help the buyer understand.

Boarding Barn Owners study competitors’ rates and assume boarders will not pay more than the place down the road charges.

Riding Instructors, with decades of experience resulting in hundreds of accomplished students, struggle with establishing their value over less experienced instructors.

No doubt that you’ve found naming your price is a challenge at times. (maybe all the time)  It may be because of the following reasons: You are uncomfortable talking about, you know, shhh . . money.

  • You worry that the customer may object to the fee and you won’t know what to say.
  • You feel you don’t have the experience or correct qualifications to charge that kind of fee.
  • You have a fear of rejection over price.
  • You think your fees are too high compared to your perceived competition.

Don’t feel like you are only person challenged with naming your price. Everyone has tripped over naming the price at one time or another. And everyone includes me.

Here are some tips for getting through the money talk with your customers:

1. Have a pricing strategy. Know what the competition charges. Raise your fee if you have more to offer.

2. Make a “Standard Fees and Prices Sheet.” Start with a single sheet of paper. At the top, print your business name and directly underneath print “Standard Fees and Prices.” Then list all of the services and products you offer and the fee you ought to charge. Congratulations. You now can say, “My standard fee for a private one hour lesson is____, My standard fee for trucking horses is____, My standard fee for schooling at a horse show is___”

Once you have standard fees on your price sheet, it will be much more professional than saying, “How does one hundred bucks sound, is that fair?”

3. Talk with your customer or prospect about what her expectations are before quoting your fee. Suggest to the customer that before you talk about money, the two of you should see if you can deliver what she needs. This allows you to more fully understand what the customer wants and needs. Then, charge appropriately.

Answering the question, How much do you charge for . . .? without knowing the details can be a nightmare.

4. Be confident. Deliver the price, and then stop talking. That means don’t talk even if there is a long uncomfortable period of “dead air”. As the seasoned salesperson knows, he who speaks first, loses.

5. Avoid discounts, they just lead to more negotiation. Instead, offer different levels of service if possible.

These tips will help you get through the money talk easily and cause your customers to respect you even more for being the professional that you are.

If the money talk and your standard fees scare off some prospects, don’t be discouraged. Be thankful that those prospects were quickly culled allowing you to concentrate on your real customers.

“Forgive Me If I’m Speaking To You Like You’re A Dummy…”

One of my business partners was fond of starting a conversation with a new employee with this phrase due to his making too many assumptions in the past about what the other person in the conversation knew about a subject or task.

He’d continue with, “but I don’t want to send you off to do a job you’re not experienced at doing.” The other party never felt insulted, but instead, appreciative of the consideration for the potential for not knowing everything about a task.

I started using the phrase too and still use it. The results are good. The employees are relieved that they won’t be in an assignment over their heads and feel free to ask questions. If they are experienced, it shows up quickly in what they say in response and the conversation can advance to a higher level.

The only dummy in a conversation where you have more knowledge than the other party is you. Help the other party understand in simple terms first and build knowledge.

 

You Need To Quit Today to Win Tomorrow

As an employee, it’s generally easy to know when the work day is over. At quitting time, most people leave the work place and require no encouragement to go home. After all, everyone knows it’s quitting time.

If you’re self employed and running a horse business, there is often no clear end to the work day. Evening lessons, injured or sick horses, undone chores or feeding to do, catching up with bookkeeping, calls and e-mails to return can prolong the work day well beyond a reasonable quitting time. Which means that you have to compress your non-work activities and your sleep time to make everything fit in 24 hours.

If you’re stuck in this loop, it’s time to tell yourself and your world that you have an official quitting time.

You’re not a “we-never-close” 24 hour convenience store. Others will begin to respect your quitting time and most important, you will too. When you know you’re going to be done at a certain time, you’ll get more productive and skilled at saying no to everything that can wait.

Granted, a colic case, a rain threatened load of hay or a water leak will dictate a bending of the rules, but wouldn’t your quality of life improve if your work day ended at the quitting time you assigned?

The Customer Isn’t Always Right. Tell Them, “This Is How I Work…”

As a horse business owner, you have the right to decide with whom and how you’ll work. Not everyone you meet is a good fit as a customer.

There is nothing wrong and possibly everything right about explaining to a prospect your program for boarding, lessons and training before she becomes a customer.

Do so in a gentle, but firm way. You already work with your horses that way, do the same with your customers. You don’t allow horses to walk all over you; the same should apply to customers.