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Where is the focus of your hoofcare business?

On the client, the horse or both?


Where you place the focus of your hoofcare business is crucial to your business success, reputation and income.

The reason a client calls us is to provide hoofcare for their horses but, if you think that’s where the primary focus of our service lies, you’re in for a rude awakening.  Your reputation and income will be like entering a room with a low ceiling, you may have to duck to avoid hitting your head.
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Farrier business strategy for setting and meeting

an income goal


As farriers, we often under value what our service is worth and hesitant to talk about money in real terms. But our farrier business won’t be around for long if we don’t realistically set our prices and income goals to sustain the business. 

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Using the confidence — competence loop with the AFA Certification to build your farrier business


Understanding the experience – confidence – competence loop and using it to strategically grow your hoofcare skills will position your farrier business for growth by helping you gain the skills necessary to successfully compete in the future.

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Do You Know Why Your Clients Want You?


Ever wonder what keeps your hoofcare customers coming back for more?  
Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew what anchored them to you, staying for years and years so you could do more of that?

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If they don’t like it …


Your farrier business may be creating problems for your hoofcare clients with out even realizing it.  If you are, you may be limiting your success.
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John+Suttle+401+-+Version+2-2096060913-O 1Building a clientele you enjoy

Most of us choose to become farriers because we wanted the independence a life with horses brings. A business that offers a choice of location, environment, clientele, the hours we work and the income we earn. After all, what better way to earn a living than with horses. You started out giving your hoofcare business direction.

But even that dream has its drawbacks …

Eventually, we get tired, overworked or frustrated with our client’s foolishness and seek a change to get relief.

Or, as our expertise grows we see new challenges and possibilities to increase our income.

Or, as we get older and our physical ability changes, we need to slow down.

A change of business direction is an evolutionary process

Whether you’re just starting out or are a veteran hoofcare specialist, a change in businesses focus is something you can count on …

Every change comes with an adjustment in clientele …

and it can work to our advantage!

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Managing and scheduling hoofcare appointments to free up your time


Just home from work, about 30 minutes before dinner … My wife had a romantic dinner planned. Eagerly anticipating the evening, I went to the office to return the days calls. “Dinner in about 30 minutes” she said with a smile. Plenty of time …
About halfway through the calls, the “dinner bell rings” … “I’ll be right there” … and continued the calls, laughing with clients and making appointments. About thirty minutes later, I came out to a candlelit dinner on the table, a bottle of wine and soft music. But she wasn’t there. Wondering where she was, I sat down to have a taste.

Delicious, I poured a glass of wine and took a sip …

Yuck! …         It’s water …          I’m in trouble …

My priorities were in the wrong place; thinking business was most important  .. . And I was told differently …
In no uncertain terms!

I decided to be a farrier because it offered a lifestyle and the freedom to choose … to be able to align priorities with values …  
She was right!  This wasn’t part of the dream we were pursuing.

It took time to smooth that one over.  
But it started a quest for ways to make the business run more efficiently and effectively with out disrupting our at home time.

[gn_heading style=”1″]
Family is most important with the business supporting the family.[/gn_heading]

 Lessons learned:
  • Family is first, business second. We work to live, not live to work!
  • A poorly managed and run hoofcare business costs you and everyone you’re close to.
  • Excess time spent on the phone is not productive time, it comes from a lack of planning. 

[gn_heading style=”2″]Designing a procedure for scheduling appointments and answering calls will put you in the drivers seat.[/gn_heading]

  • Know and set your priorities.
  • Policies and procedures help a business run smoothly, without constant attention.
  • Don’t pick up calls that interrupt important tasks or time with clients. Let them go to voice mail.
  • Listen to the calls when convenient and doesn’t interrupt something important.
  • Plan your response and think of several options before returning the call.
  • Make the calls brief.
  • Have a regular time for returning calls. 
Let people know:
  • How to contact you, how you operate and when to expect a response.
  • Tell the client “To avoid the frustration and inconvenience of waiting for a return call, you would like to schedule their next appointment before leaving the barn”. Some clients will even welcome scheduling for the entire year!
  • Tell the client “It’s difficult to accommodate changes to the schedule and rescheduling may postpone the appointment 2 weeks. So let me know early if a change is necessary.”
  • Put every one on the same hoofcare cycle (the number of weeks between visits) to avoid scheduling nightmares, overloaded days and excessive driving.
  • Listen to calls during the day. If it’s a lost shoe, you may be nearby.

Instead of responding on someone else’s schedule, and putting significant events on hold … you can respond on your schedule, keeping the priorities you decided were important.
But …
Once your hoofcare appointment is set, make sure and show up. If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with more phone calls and schedule juggling.

This has worked so well through the years that it usually takes about two calls a week to maintain a very full schedule with very few problems. The calls that do come are mostly from prospective clients.

Use this idea for managing and scheduling hoofcare appointments!
It works, adapt it to your business and use the time saved to build a more profitable practice or spend time with your family.  

You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s to your successful business!


Are you in management or an employee in your hoofcare business?


As farriers, most of us own our hoofcare business. We’re the captain of the ship and crew as well. We have two roles to play.

As the owner of the business, we’re in management, and as the person working on the horse we’re an employee. Two very different roles.


As a hoofcare business owner and manager, the responsibility falls on us for:

  • Deciding on the purpose of the business and the service it provides.
  • Giving the business direction and deciding how will it earn its income.
  • Deciding on the specifics of delivering the service.
  • Giving the business an image and deciding how to present it to the public.
  • Designing policies and procedures so all the elements of the business work together.
  • Creating a cohesive image to attract clientele and provide the services that generate revenue.
  • Paying the employees a fair wage, covering the operating and administrative costs and earnings a profit.
  • Ensuring a steady flow of clients, keeping employees engaged and money coming in.
  • Making sure the employees are well trained and equipped to provide the service and represent the company as management intends.
  • Tracking the progress of the business and making adjustments so it sails smoothly towards its destination.
  • Building assets.

The management job is strategy and tactics. The role doesn’t directly earn income, but has a direct effect on how much income it’s possible to earn.


As an employee, our role is to:

  • Implement the decisions of management and represent the company while providing an exemplary service.
  • Performing the service that generates revenue for the company while meeting the clients needs.
  • Providing an experience for the horse and client that the client wants us to return and manage their horses hoofcare with them.
  • Faithfully represent the company’s mission in all activities forming a cohesive image for the public.

The employees job is to follow the strategy and tactics while delivering the service that earns revenue for the business.

These are two very different roles and skill sets. One requiring thought and planning, the other physical activity. But both must work together to build a thriving, profitable business.

In most of our hoofcare business, one person plays both roles with the focus on providing hoofcare for the horse since that generates income and pays the bills … Without the skills to perform the service, the business will fail … However, the business will run smoother and be more profitable when time is spent directing the business.


Both skill sets are essential.

Without managerial skills, a farrier is working for a wage and the business gets tossed about like a boat on a choppy sea; we’re constantly pulling in sail and changing course. We work longer hours with less income and more expense.

However, combine the two, take the time to become good at both and you can have a very profitable practice that clients love and are willing to pay a premium for. One where you earn a wage and the business earns a profit. One where you have benefits, business hours and a life after work.

We’re lucky, the farrier trade offers an attractive lifestyle. One where we are the captain of the ship.

The combination of management skills with the practical skills of being an excellent farrier can help us sail the seas of the hoofcare  business and bring us safely into port.

Here’s to your successful farrier business!

3 Hoofcare Business Mistakes

Farriers Make When Scheduling Appointments


Planning your appointment schedule to accomodate your needs, the horse’s needs and the client’s is a crucial component of a smoothly  running hoofcare business.  Recognizing problem areas and finding ways to avoid them can save hours of time over the course of a year and save a lot of headaches too.  Here are 3 common mistakes and what to do about them.


Hoofcare Business Mistake #1      
Trying to accommodate horses on different shoeing cycles into your business.

Having some horses on a 5 week hoofcare cycle, others on 6 weeks and still others on 8 creates havoc when trying to plan a workable schedule. An efficient and profitable business strives for a consistent number of horses and income each day. Having horses on different shoeing cycles creates some weeks where two cycles overlap leading to very busy weeks with too much to do and lean weeks with minimized income. That also means some weeks you push your endurance and then have to recover detracting from your life outside of business.

What to do instead:      Take charge of your business. Choose the number of weeks in a cycle you want to work, how many days you’ll work and how may horses you can comfortably work on each day. Decide what type of horses you want to see, the length of hoofcare cycle you want to see them on and begin converting your clients to that schedule.  Start seeking new clients who want what you offer. Stick to the schedule.  The transition will take time but you’ll find that the quality of your business goes up and the number of headaches diminishes.


Hoofcare Business Mistake #2      
Not having an overview of your schedule for the coming two cycles.

John+Suttle+488+-+Version+2-2096097501-OIt’s a pain trying to schedule appointments when you don’t know the up coming major events. Things like truck maintenance, clinics, family commitments and time off. You schedule clients and then must either call to reschedule or move the conflicting important event. Either way it’s extra work and the time could be spent doing something else.

What to do instead:      Use a month view calendar and plan six months ahead for all the important business and personal events. Mark these days in the appointment book you use to schedule. (Be sure and make an appointment for truck maintenance.) Take this with you and schedule your clients around the important events.


Hoofcare Business Mistake #3      
Not scheduling the next appointment while you’re still with the client or at the barn.

John+Suttle+schedulingIf you wait for the client to call, it’s usually because the feet need attention. They want you now … which throws the schedule off leaving you with lean days and busy days. If you call them later, it takes time after the work day is finished. You loose out on family time.

What to do instead:      Take the initiative and ask to plan the next appointment. The client will appreciate it and begin expecting to schedule like this in the future. For larger accounts where you spend all day, several times a cycle, it helps to schedule six months to a year in advance. The only caveat is … you have to show up or they loose confidence in you.

Planning makes a huge difference in how smoothly your business runs. This is your business, take charge and make it what you want and need it to be.

Here’s to your Sucessful Hoofcare business!

How to begin managing your hoofcare income and workload.


Are you running your hoofcare business, or is it running you?  Are your clients dictating your schedule, making some days too full and others not full enough?  Do you find you’re driving more than working?  Do you have a difficult time knowing how much income your business will generate?

If your farrier business is running you, it’s time to make a change.

Tracking where the business is now and using that to plan where it can grow to has been one of the most valuable exercises I’ve ever done.  This is the first step of the method I used to tripple my income while maintaining a very manageable work schedule.

There are many advantages gained from planning to average your workload on a day to day basis. Among them are the ability to project your income for the month, hoofcare cycle and year … to limit the amount of work each day to a manageable level … to have a consistent amount of work and income each workday … not becoming over tired and knowing you’re going to meet your income goals.

Another benefit is you can work towards your educational goals, planning time when you’re mentally fresh … opening the door to specialization and the possibilities of a significant boost in income.

You’re also able to spend time with clients without rushing, improving client relations and increasing your perceived value.

Here’s how I set it up.

Designing your business so it runs the way you want always begins with planning.  Here are some of the questions to answer.

  • Decide how many days you want to work each week and each cycle (4 wks, 6 wks, 8 wks).
  • Decide how much gross income you want to earn each cycle and for the year.
  • Decide how many horses can be seen each day with out your becoming exhausted.
  • How many horses are needed to fit this plan.  Is it workable?  (Adjust it if not.)
  • Decide on the types of client you want to work with.
  • Decide on the types of horse you want to work on and the type of work you enjoy most.
  • Figure out what’s needed to to make it work?

This will set up the projected work load to meet the desired income for the hoof care cycle and begin to identify the type of horse and client your business is moving toward.

Preparation and implementation
Begin scheduling future appointments to match the desired plan. Rearrange each days schedule seeking to average the work load. If horses are needed, plan how to find them, If there are too many, plan how to let them go gracefully or replace them with clients who move the business in the direction desired.

Tracking progress
Set up a calendar to track the difficulty of each day, income generated and the amount of work done.  (I like a blank, generic monthly calendar.)

At the end of each day, record the days work on the calendar.

  • List the total number of horses shod, reset and trimmed. 
  • Record the total income for the day. 
  • Mark the great days you’d like to repeat and the most difficult days in terms of income, time and exhaustion. 
  • Mark the easier, high income days as an example of what to replicate in the future. 
  • Mark the time consuming, difficult, tiring and lower income days as days to change so they fit the model of the average day you envision. 
  • Use a color coded system for ease.   Green = a great day.  Red = don’t do this again.
  • Refer back to your daily log in your appointment book as a reference.

At the end of each week add the totals and average them.

  • Add the totals for the week and average them.
  • Add the number of days worked this week and average them.
  • Add the total income generated this week and average it. 

At the end of the month add all the averages from the week and average them.

  • Record the average of the averages at the end of the month.
  • To find the average income generated each work day, divide the number of days worked into the income generated.
  • Record these numbers on the calendar.

At the end of the hoofcare cycle.

  • Total the average numbers recorded at the end of each week.
  • List the totals at the end of the calendar.
  • Divide the number of days worked this cycle into the total income generated this hoofcare cycle.
  • Record these numbers on the calendar.

You now have easy access to how much you earned this cycle, the number of days you worked, the average income generated each day, which were the best days and which were not desirable.

You know at a glance where your hoofcare business is now.

Use the calendar to compare how you’re actually doing with the projection of how you’d like to be doing. This gives information on how to adjust the number of horses in the schedule, how to even the work load out to avoid overload and inefficient days and what types of days were enjoyable, profitable and easy (worth planning to have more of in the future).

Save these calendar worksheets in a three ring binder along with notes about what made the great days great, and ideas on how to have more of them.
And …
What happened on the worst days and to how to avoid them in the future. Record the types of accounts that are very profitable and enjoyable. List ideas for finding more accounts like this.

You now have some very concrete information to plan for your business success and future growth.

Here’s to you becoming a very Successful Farrier!