I wrote the following
newsletter article in September of 2008 before the recession stormed into our
lives. No doubt some of your customers were pinched by the recession and
stopped taking lessons, reduced the amount of training they hired you for or got out of horses completely.
The faltering economy created substantial difficulty and pain for many, but it didn't hurt everyone.
In fact, most people didn't lose a
job or take a cut in pay. You and I saw
people buying new cars, dining out at restaurants and taking vacations. When
clients tell you they can't afford something, you'll be wise to explore where
the affordability judgment is coming
You just got in the horse business
yesterday if you haven't heard the cry, "I can't afford that!"
From a non-horseman mom inquiring about her child's riding lessons to a ten
year horse owner considering investing in a competitive level show horse, the confusion
over price and value never ends.
Ranging from one hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars and more, every buyer
has a different price threshold or I.C.A.T. ( I Can't Afford
And once the I.C.A.T level is
surpassed, any price is too much.
Price threshold is an involuntary reflex. Programmed early in life, it's a knee
jerk, neck spasm and tic all rolled into one. It's a customer's emergency
brake for a screeching, sudden stop for financial safety.
Disengaging the I.C.A.T. response is possible with a good sales strategy. Part of
a good sales strategy includes having the money talk early about
the difference in investments vs. costs.
You might explain a cup of coffee, a cell phone bill and a parking ticket
Education, recreation and happiness are investments.
As examples in connection with horses, money is invested in:
In your money talks with
prospects and customers, re-frame their thinking about spending money to include
value in the present and future as they become better horsemen matched with the right horse for them. Here are some things to say that
will help with prospects and customers.
To be profitable in this industry, it's impossible to charge less and offer more.
question your customer must answer is, "With the limited amount of time I have
to spend with my horse, do I want to tolerate inferior facilities, put my
horse at risk with sub standard care and jeopardize my ability to ride a
healthy horse whenever I visit just to save comparatively few dollars each month?
A forty five dollar riding lesson once a week may sound like a self indulgent
luxury. But, without coaching on a regular basis, the best professional
athletes admit their performances begin to deteriorate. At an amateur
level, your investment in riding lessons will create personal joy and yield
Purchasing a New Horse
A horse with poor behavior, an aloof attitude or that has plateaued for
advancement is a draining experience. An owner with the wrong horse pays
a huge emotional price in the form of disappointment, frustration and a
damaged ego. The board, health care and farrier expense are about the same for
all horses. The question that screams for an answer is, "If horse
ownership is for my fun, recreation and personal growth, why don't I make the
right investment to put the joy back into my experience?"
Work on your responses to I.C.A.T. price challenges.
value instead of price.
Let your competitors be the