By Cindy Eldstrom
In today’s world of credit, many people have come to expect a “charge account” procedure. In the farrier industry, client credit is becoming rare. Farriers are receiving bounced cheques, and other clients ignore billing terms, paying at their own convenience. Clients have even blatantly refused to pay for services they contracted or disappear from boarding barns with their horses, and can’t be traced for collection.
The results are obvious: losses increase farrier costs. Carrying charges increase farrier costs. Some farriers discontinue service until payment is made-many farriers now demand payment upon service, or will only work for cash payment. I have experienced all of the above billing problems, and each client pays in increased fees for losses, administration, paperwork and legal fees.
Since billing is becoming more of a nuisance than a benefit, I am giving serious consideration to payment upon service, or cash service only. If you find billing a convenience, there are some things you can do to ensure that the service continues:
1. Be aware of your horse’s six-week schedule, and budget for it.
2. Leave a cheque or cash ahead, when you can.
3. Mail payment when you receive the bill. All billing terms are: Payable upon Receipt.
Most horses need their feet attended to every six weeks, and in a few cases, more often. The average, well-established farrier regularly attends to about 200 horses and services approximately 100 horse owners. It is not uncommon to receive 30 to 40 phone calls per day during the busiest season, which is April to October. This is before factoring in time considerations for emergency services (pulled shoes or lameness), public interest service (lectures or show farrier) and educational upgrading (conferences, certification testing, etc.).
It is easy for anyone to see that routine scheduling is a must, or a farrier would be running helter-skelter day and night, without a moment’s peace.
The average horse needs its hooves attended to on a six-week basis, so I run a six- week schedule. After one appointment, I book my clients for their next appointment six weeks later. A very limited number of horses need to be done more often and I try to do everything possible to accommodate them. Any horse owners who do not wish to follow the six-week scheduling have the option of phoning one or two weeks in advance to see if there are available openings. If you choose this option, you must understand that there may not be available time, since all clients who follow six-week scheduling are given priority.
“The best-laid plans of horseshoers and horse owners…” There are rare times when you may need to change an appointment. Except in cases of extreme urgency, changes should be made NO LESS than 24 hours in advance. This allows me to adjust my scheduling by contacting clients who may be waiting for service. Calling the night before, or worse yet, waiting until I arrive to change an appointment, leaves large gaps in my scheduling and therefore directly affects my ability to earn a living. Although your horse is your hobby, farrier work is my business, and mutual consideration of one another is a necessity for everyone to feel satisfied. If you cancel an appointment in advance, your appointment will be rescheduled at the first available opening.
ONE JOB DOES NOT EQUAL ANOTHER
To trim a horse and put four shoes on can take between an hour or two hours. A trim only requires 1/3 of that time, and costs much less. Please give advance notice if you wish to change the amount of work required at your next appointment.