First Impressions Count
Thursday 19 January 2012
When a client is coming out to look at a horse that is for sale, it is very important to make a good first impression. Often the first impression is what makes or breaks a sale.
Before a client comes to your farm, consider the general upkeep of your property. Has the lawn been mowed? Are your fences in good repair? Is there a decent place to park? A farm that has been maintained immediately speaks of a place that offers quality care for its animals.
Take a look inside your barn. Are the lights working? Are the crossties in good repair? Are the stalls clean and the aisle raked or swept? Is the tack room tidy? All these little things add up to make your barn look like a nice facility. It isn’t how fancy a place is that counts. It is how clean and tidy things are kept.
Now look out into the paddocks at your horses. Are the horses in reasonable flesh? Have they been groomed recently, or are they covered in mud and sweat? Is there junk lying around your fields? Are the fences well maintained? All of this and more will catch your buyers’ eye as they arrive.
When preparing the horse for inspection, consider his appearance. If at all possible give him a bath. Make sure that his feet have been trimmed, and that his mane is pulled. Clip off his whiskers and tidy his bridle path. Give him a clean halter that is in good repair, even if you need to temporarily steal it off another horse.
You tack should be clean. The saddle pad should be fresh, and any boots or bandages mud and dirt-free. Everything should be near-at-hand and fitted to your horse before the clients arrive.
When you clients arrive, greet them pleasantly, and take them to see you horse in his stall. Halter him in front of them, and bring him out to the crossties so that they can see what he is like to tack up. While he should have been groomed ahead of time, you might want to dust him off in front of the client so that they see what he is like to groom.
Tack up your horse, and take him to the arena to work. If he needs to be longed, go ahead and longe him, but if he’s high energy and needs a long longe session, finish it before the clients arrive, telling them that you have done so. Be sure that either you or someone you know gets on the horse first. The client will want to see him go, and will be thankful to know that he will not explode or otherwise be dangerous to ride. When the client rides, be quiet and respectful, assisting with jumps or other equipment as needed.
Finally, when finished, give the client the opportunity to ask any questions. If your horse is hot, and needs cooling out, you might want to have someone you know help out and walk the horse for you, so that you are free to talk with the clients.
The better their experience at your farm is, the higher the chance that they will want to come back. While your horse might not be quite what they are looking for, they will likely be happy to come again to look at another horse, should you have something else for sale. They will also likely pass on the information about your horse to others they know.
No matter the final result, keep things positive and finish things off on a good note. The horse world is a very small place, and word travels fast.