A common problem amongst horse stables is the struggle to allocate time out of their busy schedules to maintain relationships with horse owners. Horse owners tend to battle with themselves. Wondering are they really putting their horse in the right place for training and potential selling. Is there even space in a trainer’s schedule to communicate with owners on these uncertainties? Knowing that it’s important, I would have said no until I discovered Equine Customer Relationship Management (ECRM).
Stables need to survive. They can do this if they can attract and keep clients, satisfy them and build trust and loyalty. Stables do have time for this in a way that you wouldn’t believe! The conventional technology available for stable management is not helping you improve the relationship with your owners. These tools help you plan, organise and evaluate the horses without the connection to the owner of the horse. In the long run, the exclusion of horse owners can have high consequences for the relationship.
The easy exchange of information such as email invoicing, sharing horse media files or evaluating the horse’s performance between one another allows you to accomplish relational goals. Interpersonal communication is a vector of quality and performance and is perceived by the horse owner ¹. Although many SME’s are using CRM software solutions, very few manage both the horses and the clients together. Here are 5 Tips to build a stronger relationship with your clients, with or without technology.
Working with horses is not the only responsibility the stable has to carry out. It’s difficult for trainers to involve owners or keep them updated about their horses with the long working hours. If you have not listened to the owners needs recently and allowed them to be involved in some way. How can you help your clients learn about their horse and develop their perspective of the horse’s worth? Horse owners expect you to be able to communicate with them as part of the service that you offer.
Involve your clients as soon as possible. Owners must feel that they are receiving value for the service you are offering. Take up the responsibility of your service and provide horse owners with regular insights into how their horse is doing. Whether or not you have performance results to communicate, you have the responsibility to satisfy the client either way. General involvement through any of your available networking channels such as call, message, email can all make a big difference in gaining trust back from your horse owners. Share some news with them, evaluate the horse’s performance, align common goals or communicate the plan for the coming months. For long term continuity of your business, having a good relationship with clients can keep them for longer. Horse owners don’t need to feel disconnected anymore.
The correct movement of information between trainer and client is important to avoid miscommunication. Your horse owners may be wondering about the horse’s competition plan and where to find it? Will there be videos and pictures coming through from their performance? Or what has the vet been saying after a recent health check? Stables will normally infrequently send information over different communication channels with videos, pictures, invoices and reports to get information to the owners. This often results in human error, forgetfulness and a massive drainer of time.
With digital stable management tools, stables can communicate the right information through a self-service channel to the right client. It’s easy access and provides a communication flow that doesn’t waste anybody’s time. When more horses come to your stable, you often have more owners and sometimes even multiple owners for one horse. With these circumstances, digital solutions are your best friend for many reasons. Improving your relationship with owners is often about providing transparent information in an organised manner, in this case accessible via a centralised system.
If you have a growing stable and it’s hard to keep on top of communications with your clients, choose an online digital solution such as equicty. In no time, you can get all your horse’s profiles in there with their owners added and control access permissions to protect your own data. Let’s open the communication flow, provide owners with updates of schedule changes and get the right information to the horse owners. By choosing the right communication tools for your stable, you can massively improve the information flow. Rather than individually contacting and using different tools, you can try effective stable management solutions online.
One of the biggest relational problems between horse owners and stables is lack of a clear financial agreement from the beginning. All too often, the horse owner and stable jump into a poorly planned arrangement that ends up in arguments about the cost involved. The price the horse can be sold for, the commission for the stables, the splitting of bills and the allocation of prize money. Multiple owners involved makes the situation more complex. The last thing we want to happen is to be taken to court over the next poorly formulated financial agreement?
Avoid these issues by setting a clear financial agreement with the owner of the horse. Decide early on what the livery fee will be and the general expenses that will be associated with the horse. Recur the expenses that are fixed to avoid wasting time. Discuss the variable costs that will vary regarding the horse’s health, the competitions it will attend and how much travelling is involved. There will be opportunities to sell the horse so ensure both parties have agreed on a potential selling price and discuss the commission involved for the sale of the horse during this discussion. All these agreements laid out clearly from the start will keep the relationship between stable and owner healthy. The use of digital stable management tools is a helpful tip for recording, implementing and reviewing these financial agreements. Start managing your entire billing of products, subscriptions and invoices in one tool.
Goal setting is a powerful process that allows horse owners to turn their vision into reality. Quite often a roadmap is not set out between the trainer and owner. This makes it difficult to set a direction for the horse’s training. Equestrian sports have several different disciplines with different goals. Qualifying for the 6-year-old national championship final in show jumping, dressage and eventing is a different goal than aiming to win every race the horse attends on the track. It’s the stables responsibility to understand the goals of the owner so they can decide SMART goals that will build an achievable roadmap. Setting a direction early on such as agreeing a potential sales price for the horse can help improve the relationship.
If you are going to set goals, then know how to measure them! The stable should know how the horse performed in its last competition and what training schedule it must go through to reach the next goal of the owner. Start recording the horse’s performance and noting details of its daily routine, health and expenses. Digital tools can provide you with a centralised tool accessible on your desktop, phone or as a smart stable board replacement for your whiteboard. With a digital management system, information can be easily stored, modified and reviewed. Start helping your owner achieve their goals.
We just discussed how important it is to measure goals, this is so evaluation can occur. Evaluations are useful for reviewing the performance of goals, but they just don’t happen. Stables continue training the horses with no direction and after months or years there has never been an evaluation of the goals set. Macro-economic factors such as global market conditions are the reason why evaluation needs to occur. If an owner has a goal of selling a horse for a certain price, then recessions and pandemics like COVID-19 will greatly impact the goal.
Regular assessment of owner’s goals is an important management activity that allows a stable to evaluate the health of its market position. Stables can put this process of evaluation in place by choosing a solution to record the data of the horse’s activities. Their activities may include their health, training schedule and competition performance or expenses. With recorded and easily accessible data, it’s very easy to draw conclusions on the expenses incurred by the horse as well as its performance and health and compare it in accordance with current global market conditions. Software available allows you to formulate reports instantly through the stored data in the horse’s individual profiles, making it easy to read, share and evaluate.
If you have read this blog it’s clear that there are several management activities that lead to a healthy relationship. If you can’t implement them all, I hope you can still take something from this article. When you feel that something is not right between you and the horse owner, address it immediately. Sometimes, we have to communicate difficult situations such as bad performance results or an accident that has caused an injury. At the end of the day, It’s better to try to communicate then to ignore the issue. This will mean a lot for the long term relationship you will grow with your horse owners.
If you require a digital solution to help you improve your relationship with clients, try equicty. Save time, money and your relationship with clients by finding the best way to manage your stable. Try equicty’s 21 day free trial today and receive expert support during set up.
1. Florea, N. V., & Duica, A. (2017). Improving communication and relationship with customers using models to measure their value. Valahian Journal of Economic Studies, 8(1), 47-56.
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