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I hate when that happens: Losing a paying client

Dan Leer Published on 24 June 2011

It doesn’t matter how you explain it away, it just comes back as the most irritating thing about the business of hoof trimming. Whether the farmer decides to retire and sell out or the young man ran out of financial options and his path out of the dairy business is chosen for him by his banker, it still personally bothers me way too much.

However, if Dairyman Smith decides to switch to another younger, faster trimmer with a new chute – LOOK OUT! – I will be out to lunch (so to speak) for a week and a half. My mood will be less than positive (to say the least) and I will always be looking for something sweet to eat.

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I won’t mention the dog or cat scenario. But slowly my mood will improve and I will return to my jovial self when bam! Something will trigger those thoughts again and I will be in that foul mood all over again.

Fortunately for my family and friends and myself, this does not happen too often and for this article I might have exaggerated just a bit, but I am willing to wager that for most hoof trimmers, this is the most irritating thing that can happen to you, when the herd owner or herdsman says, “We are going to make a change.”

Usually the next comment will be “It’s not your work” and yes that does soften the blow some, but not much. You know you are still losing a valued client and future income for this farm is most likely gone long term.

So what to do next? Assure yourself that this happens in the dairy business and as long as it occurs a minute percentage of the time, you should be able to deal with it as a normal part of the dairy business (your temper should return to a calm state in about a month or two).

However, if it is a common occurrence and you feel like more and more of your dairy clients are jumping ship to your competition, you may have to re-evaluate your work, your equipment, or the way you do business.

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Maybe it is time to ask a fellow trimmer to evaluate how you trim. I would suggest an HTA member out of your area to watch or help you trim (Note: they don’t have to be 500 miles away; just not a competitor). Then ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do I show up to the farm on time?

2. Am I well prepared when I arrive at the farm?

3. Is my equipment clean and in good repair?

4. Are my prices competitive with the market?

5. Am I meeting the needs of the dairy?

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6. What are my competitors doing that I am not?

7. Do I do a good job of trimming feet for the dairy?

More than likely, the dairy’s decision is one of economics – either being forced to cut costs or secondly a strong possibility is personality. We are not all easy to get along with, or a combination of these two and possibly new competition offering lower pricing could be a real possibility.

Whatever the reason you come up with (if you can ever figure it out), that you lose a dairy account, do not despair. Remember, we are not in control of the big plan of dairy farming. So I would encourage you to keep your temper in check and go on, but never deliberately go out to take another hoof trimmer’s work.

Always let the dairyman come to you. When and if it is time to make sales calls to let dairymen know about your services, don’t lower yourself to being a pushy salesman with a foot in the door, or in this case, your truck in the gate. Keep your character as your primary asset and keep up with your abilities and additional business prospects should return. PD

—Excerpts from Hoof Health Connection Issue No. 66, April 2011

Dan Leer
Hoof trimmer
Dan Leer Hoof Trimming

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