If you own a business, EVERY decision you make impacts your bottom line – whether it be how many employees you have, who designs your website or where your business is located. But one of the most important factors that contribute to the success of your business is your clients. Good clients = Good business! Basically, a good client adds to the process of earning money, helping you achieve your goals and making your job enjoyable for you. So you need to be able to identify and attract good clients. If you are the client, you need to understand that time is your trainer/instructor/barn owner’s livelihood and need to be respectful of that. Make your expectations clear from the beginning and ask if the professional is agreeable to them. If you need to discuss something with the professional, schedule a time to do so. Your professional will enjoy working with you if you make it easier for them to do their job successfully.
So what makes a good client?
A good client is a person who is looking for someone with skills that you have. A hunter jumper rider looking for an instructor is not a good client for a dressage instructor. That example may be obvious but there are some situations that are less obvious but the same principle holds true. Preferences such as working with adults vs. children, amateurs vs. professionals, show competitors vs. those who prefer not to show, focus on the horse vs. the rider, etc. are all factors that need to be considered when matching your skill set to the needs of a client.
Beyond your skills, you need to ask some questions of the client to see if your method of operating is a compatible with the clients’ wishes. Does your client need someone to be proactive for them in arranging their show schedule, vet visits and other details of owning a horse or do they like to do it themselves? If you are a trainer, does your client expect a progress report after each training session or is checking in just once a week OK with them?
Are your fees well within the reach of this client? If not, you will be struggling each month to collect what is due to you or your client may be resentful toward you for charging what they consider to be “expensive” rates.
There are many more dimensions that should be considered in this matching process, depending on the services you offer. But make sure you discuss with each client at least the following subjects - expectations about price, availability, level of service and level of personal involvement.
No one can be all things to all people and especially when you are just starting your business or times are tough, you may be tempted to take on a client who you think may not be a good fit for you. Don’t do it! You will be investing your time (which in many cases = your money) in a relationship that has little chance of succeeding. You run the risk of creating bad will with the client who feels dissatisfied that they didn’t get what they expected out of the relationship. And nothing travels faster in the horse world that someone’s bad opinion.
If you are the client, you need to understand that time is your trainer/instructor/barn owner’s livelihood and need to be respectful of that. Make your expectations clear from the beginning and ask if the professional is agreeable to them. If you need to discuss something with the professional, schedule a time to do so. Your professional will enjoy working with you if you make it easier for them to do their job successfully.
So how do you attract good clients? There are lots of avenues for marketing your business but whatever you choose, be clear about who you are and what you have to offer. When meeting with a prospective client, ask all the questions you need to find out if there is a high probability of success for the relationship or whether the client needs to look elsewhere. If the match doesn’t seem like it’s made in heaven, suggest other professionals that they can contact who you know might better suit their needs. In doing so, you are building good will with that person for the future and with the professional to whom you refer them.
Good clients = Good business!
Carol Gordon CPA, through her business Blue Ribbon Accounting, provides tax, accounting and consulting services to clients nationwide. Her clients encompass a wide variety of equestrian professionals including lesson and boarding barns, freelance instructors and non-profits and span many equine disciplines.