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FAlter
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:40 PM
The barn just went through a major shakedown.

Started with the once-a-week riding instructor getting too big for her britches. BO knew she was talking and politely told her it was fine if she needed to talk herself up but talking anyone else down would not be tolerated.

First of the month comes, 2 show clients leave with once-a-week riding instructor. One of the clients were wealthy family who had just gotten into horses and wanted to start their own business. No biggie accept that they didn't give any notice and were just kind of sneaky about it.

Anyway, slowly but surely, clients start leaving to go to this new farm bought by wealthy family. Lost about 4 in total - all of whom were friends and whose kids were friends so really, it makes sense.

Thing is, once a week riding instructor wants to be chatty at the horseshows.

In this business, people come & go but once a week riding instructor definitely had her hand in this and got the ball rolling. Hard not to have hard feelings.

BO & her daughter, who is the assistant trainer/rider, want to be professional but understandably, don't want to have anything to do with once a week instructor. It doesn't help that BO kind of took the instructor under her wing and she lived with them for a while and whatnot.

So what would you do? Ignore riding instructor? Tell her off?

Calvincrowe
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:44 PM
Take the high road. As you said, it is a small world, and if she's flaky and does the same thing to these people when it all goes wrong, then you'll be justified. If, though, she goes on to be a success, you'll run into her again and again.

Be polite, if not overly friendly. Clients come, clients go, don't take it personally. Karma gets everyone in the end;)

Parrotnutz
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:45 PM
Seems to go on all the time unfortunately.

I would go by the motto "hold your friends close and your enemy closer" :D

gottagrey
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:48 PM
Take the high road... there's nothing the BO and daughter trainer can do. Clients are gone but they might decide the once a week trainer isn't all that -and want to come back - don't close the door on them. This kind of thing happens all the time. BO has to remember she doesn't own the clients so it's in the BO/Trainer daughter's best interest to be as gracious and kind about the situation as possible.. Sure chat up the once a weeker at shows or whatever - you never know what kind of stuff you'll hear

FAlter
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:54 PM
Don't think it's the clients - more the instructor.

All 4 clients that left had started at this barn so BO/daughter chalked it up to the grass is greener...no hard feelings (sad, but not angry).

I am a family member of BO/daughter and it's been very hard on them. BO has been in the business for over 30 years and never had anything like this (multiple clients leaving at the same time) happen...mind you, she's also never had any outside help until now, when the business was too big for just family to handle. Don't think she'll be hiring outside of family again ;)

Bogie
Oct. 4, 2010, 06:19 PM
You cannot control what clients do . . . only how you respond.

I agree about taking the high road. Those clients may want to come back and it's important for them to feel welcome.

If one of them did want to start their own barn and invited the instructor to come teach there, then they really instigated the move.

However, it's always best to be up front with where you are as it's a small world.

CHT
Oct. 4, 2010, 07:13 PM
Sounds like the barn owner feels betrayed and/or that the instructor/client is ungrateful.

I am guessing though, it is just that the one owner wanted their own facility and offered the instructor a position there, that would be more beneficial to her than the once a week instructor position she had.

It is a business decision and not a personal slight.

But I get that it still sucks/hurts. But holding a grudge against any of the ones that left just makes you seem petty and insecure. Wishing them luck comes across much better.

FAlter
Oct. 4, 2010, 07:33 PM
It is a business decision and not a personal slight.

But I get that it still sucks/hurts. But holding a grudge against any of the ones that left just makes you seem petty and insecure. Wishing them luck comes across much better.

You're exactly right and I'm sure it does still hurt.

I think the hardest part especially for the daughter who is obviously younger, is that there was obviously a lot of talking going on and she feels like she never had a chance to defend/say their side.

Such is life.

Monarch
Oct. 4, 2010, 08:15 PM
I will agree with what others have said. People forget that bottom line this is no different than any other buisness. You do not have clients because of friendships you have clients because of services and goods you offer. If some people have left ask yourself or them why they chose to change barns? There maybe somethings you could change or not. They may just want a change or think they do, as you said grass may seem greener. DON"T BURN THE BRIDGE you maybe surprised at who returns or wants to at some point but you may not have space:)
All one can do is do their best, as others have said you can't control them only yourself.
Glass is always half full or empty. Who knows they may have done you a favor.
M

mvp
Oct. 4, 2010, 09:03 PM
Well....everyone-- the once-a-week instructor in this case-- has to start somewhere. And they have to move on if they want to make a living at training horses. What would your BO have done if the shoe were on the other foot?

I know it "stings" but I don't see the room for being angry or being anything but professional to the instructor who has moved on.

We don't here the other side in the OP's post, of course, but it sounds like the OP and/or the BO and family don't see this as "just business." It is.

I also know there are better and worse ways to leave a job. But don't confuse the instructor with the clients. And please don't ever think of clients as people you own or who can be "poached." It's really consdescending.

Lucassb
Oct. 4, 2010, 09:06 PM
I can well imagine that having clients leave - especially a group of clients - is not a fun experience.

However, as CHT correctly pointed out, this was a business decision, not a personal slight. It goes without saying that BO and the daughter/assistant trainer should continue to be polite, and to wish the departing group well. The horse world is small and there is no point in burning bridges.

The question to ask is not whether everyone should continue to be civil (the answer to that one is ALWAYS yes.) The REAL question to ask in this circumstance is, "why did the customers choose to leave, and what could we have done/done better to prevent that?"

HINT: The answer is not, "Never hire another outside instructor."

The bottom line is, perfectly happy clients don't leave. Clients leave when they do, in fact, think the grass is greener in someone else's pasture. So the better exercise is to understand what it was about the new situation that was more attractive to these customers, and deciding whether or not your facility can offer that (or wants to.)

It is easy to blame the loss of customers on the inducement of the assistant trainer (see the title of this thread - "Poaching" is a strong word, and frankly, IMO, is fairly inappropriate when talking about customers, who are entitled to make the decisions that best suit themselves and their pocketbooks.)

So what was it about the new situation that attracted these customers? Certainly for the one customer who owns the new facility, it may simply that they wanted to have a place of their own/call the shots etc. It is worth asking why that is the case - though you may not get a straight answer, of course. (There is really nothing wrong with wanting to own your own place, right?) Maybe that owner's kid aspires to be a pro and the Dad figures he might as well buy the place now, while prices are down. But maybe... just maybe... they didn't get something at your place that they really wanted. And if that's the case, knowing what it is might help you retain the rest of your clients (and/or attract replacements for the ones that left.)

It is worth asking the others, too. Maybe it is just a case of friends all wanting to stay together. But maybe there are things that they wanted, too, which they didn't get at your place. Again, worth asking. You will get the most useful answers by being genuinely nice when you inquire. You respect their decision, wish them the best, but would certainly appreciate any suggestions they might have about what you could have done to retain their business and/or made them happier at your place.

49th_parallel
Oct. 4, 2010, 11:20 PM
Back to the original question - I would neither tell the (former) trainer off nor ignore her at shows. A conversation should take place between BO and (former) trainer. I don't understand the aversion to communicating with people when there is a problem (not you, OP, it's just a tangential statement in general). The BO should let (former) trainer know what her thoughts are about (former) trainer leaving with BO's clients and whether or not she suggested that the clients give BO the standard 30 day notice before moving, etc etc. They should have a civil conversation about what happened and then move on. The conversation won't change what happened but it will make it a little easier to smile and take the high road when BO and (former) trainer cross paths. Karma will take care of (former) trainer. Hopefully she'll learn from it.

Years ago, I was at a barn where this happened. Asst trainer came on board, taught well, bad mouthed every decision/lesson/etc Head Trainer/BO made, and after a year or so plotted a move with more than 1/2 the 50+ clientele. Some told Head Trainer/BO but there wasn't much that could be done. Asst trainer was moving and clients decided to follow. There was high drama the two weeks before the move (and after). BO was devastated but knew that client's need to do what's best for them and actually helped clients pack and load up their horses. BO was furious with asst. trainer who was on contract not to take clients (for x period of time) after leaving BO's facility. I'm sure there were threats of lawsuits initially. But, BO knew that the community is too small and having tension with another trainer would only make life more stressful than it needs to be. BO met with former asst trainer where they talked it out for a loooong time after which BO let it go - never bad-mouthing or even talking about it again. BO and former asst trainer (who went through hell trying unsuccessfully to earn a name back after all of this) are civil and even joke at the shows. By the way, some of the clients came back. So, the moral of the story is always take the high road. People will remember you for it and you will feel better because of it.

katydidn't
Oct. 4, 2010, 11:49 PM
Success is the best revenge.:yes:
The BO and her daughter/trainer need to keep doing what they're doing, and do it better than the new, young chickadee who thinks she's all that. The clients who left will see that the "tortoise" is continuing with their successes as they plod steadily along on their unswerving course, while the "hare" speeds ahead to territory she has very little experience negotiating.
.... Or Not.....
As was already said, perfectly contented boarders do not leave a barn where they are happy.
However..... Sometimes that green grass on the other side of that proverbial fence dies more quickly than the slightly-browned-around-the-edges variety.
Be courteous at shows when the other trainer is near. Otherwise, don't interact.
DO be kind and curious and supportive of the former clients and their exploits in the show arena! Let them know you're still around and always interested in the well being of them and their horses.
As a very very dear friend of mine advised me some years ago when I was going through this very thing.... "Smile and Wave, honey!! Smile..... and Wave!":cool:

Stormgsd
Oct. 4, 2010, 11:56 PM
It sort of sounds like this trainer got an amazing opportunity to work at a farm purchased by a wealthy family:) She wants to remain friendly and you want to be mad:lol: If you don't want to be friendly then ignore her you have no right to be telling her off in my opinion:eek:

FAlter
Oct. 5, 2010, 07:29 AM
Didn't mean anything condescending by "poached".

Should mention that instructor goes to school full time for non-horse related work & was also starting on a placement which was why she was only teaching once-a-week at this facility. She was doing a lot more (riding, coaching) but wanted to step down to concentrate on her schooling.

Again, don't think it was the leaving...more the way it was done.

Perhaps it was missed in the original post..instructor was talking - a lot. Other boarders started to mention what was being said and it wasn't nice. If you're going to move on..fine...but why trash your employer unless you were trying to lessen their value in the eyes of others?

None of these were "horse people". They were families from the city who rode as hobby and they had never been anywhere else. I do believe some thought they could do it cheaper (which is definitely possible but possibly not with as much success) and the original family just didn't like to be in a program. They were quite wealthy and I think they were used to calling the shots but they were completely new to horses and didn't know anything yet.

The wealthy family would have moved on eventually - that was obvious right from the beginning. But if the instructor hadn't started the talking; I don't think the others would have gone. Maybe that's just the way I see it; I could be completely wrong. The instructor seemed nice but was very insecure and often resorted to talking trash about others I guess to make herself feel better.

Sansena
Oct. 5, 2010, 07:34 AM
What Lucassb said.

Honestly, I hear stories like this and always wonder how a client can be 'stolen' from a previous trainer. Clients have free will, and if they can find a product that's superior in their mind, for a competitive price elsewhere... then where's the theft?

If the once-a-week trainer was truly badmouthing her employers, then she should have been reprimanded once, then fired if it happened again. Any employer who keeps someone on who's opinions are polar opposites of their own really isn't thinking.

Be nice at the shows. If your clients are happy with the new trainer they'll appreciate your professionalism and working toward alleviating any tension. And if they become unhappy one day, they WILL return.

Addison
Oct. 5, 2010, 07:49 AM
As someone posted above, you cannot control what the clients do.

Should you tell her off? No.

Your response should center on what you can do for your remaining clients and address any problems that may have contributed to the departure of the other clients.

It may not be just the fast talk of a once a week trainer that caused the other clients to leave.

theinstigator
Oct. 5, 2010, 07:50 AM
My philosophy on horse world/barn drama--Life is too short and the horse world is TOO SMALL for any petty trash talking or bad mouthing.

The BO should learn from the experience (as Lucassb said, try to get to the root of WHY these folks left and use that to constructively improve their program and business) and move on with her life. Don't let the other person's pettiness or trash talk suck you down to their level. Be a professional.

I read things like this and am reminded of the reasons I want my own place with my own horses and nothing more.

FineAlready
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:12 AM
I agree with MVP and Lucassb, particularly as to the poor word choice on "poached." In response to your question - you should neither ignore nor "tell off" the once-a-week riding instructor. You should behave as a rational business person, which means treating other professionals (which is what this once-a-week instructor is, despite what you may think of her) with respect and courtesy.

pds
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:42 AM
It is called "free market competition" and it happens all the time in all businesses.

Best advice is to take the high road as others have said. You never know, once the "bloom is off the rose" at this new place you may see some clients return. Much easier for them to do that if you don't make a big deal over this.

This is also a perfect time for BO to take an inventory of how they are running the current business and make changes/adjustments.

TalkIsCheap
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:42 AM
Does anybody see the real problem here?
Here's the equation : Wealthy Family + Just Getting Into Horses + Wanting To Start Their Own Business + Flighty Wannabe Professional = ?

You work it out and tell me what the sum of all that is. : )

S A McKee
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:54 AM
Does anybody see the real problem here?
Here's the equation : Wealthy Family + Just Getting Into Horses + Wanting To Start Their Own Business + Flighty Wannabe Professional = ?

You work it out and tell me what the sum of all that is. : )

For sure this is a problem in the making.

Falter said:
"Should mention that instructor goes to school full time for non-horse related work & was also starting on a placement which was why she was only teaching once-a-week at this facility. She was doing a lot more (riding, coaching) but wanted to step down to concentrate on her schooling."

If she is going to school full time how long do you think the trainer thing is going to last?
Just because someone teaches a few lessons hardly makes them a professional.

SonnysMom
Oct. 5, 2010, 09:28 AM
Contracts are everybody's friends. Maybe BO should have had a contract with instructor with a non-compete that specifies the penalty if they move barns and "take" clients with them.
Many industries have these. Hairdressers, insurance underwriters, salesman etc....

For the wealthy boarder then the 30 day clause in the boarding contract would help that.
I actually knew one BO that for a boarder with 2 or more horses she required 60 days notice since it would negatively impact her bottom line more if that one boarder left. She was a smallish facility with 10 or 12 stalls at the time.

Now just take the high road. When instructor graduates and moves on to an industry that she doesn't needed to work weekends and nights, has benefits and pays a steady paycheck the clients will come back if BO stays professional about the situation.

fordtraktor
Oct. 5, 2010, 09:52 AM
Be nice. If the lost clients are unhappy at the new barn and/or the new trainer leaves the profession to continue her schooling in another field and you continue to be pleasant and chatty at shows, they may come back.

If you tell off new trainer at the shows and then ignore her (read: be rude), then it will probably show them that whatever the new trainer supposedly said was true, and they will never come back. And will probably tell other people, and rightfully so, what drama llamas you made of yourselves.

Nice is free, and a wonderful long-term investment in your business.

Trixie
Oct. 5, 2010, 09:55 AM
Don't be ridiculous.

Because seriously, the BO is being ridiculous. And petty.

I get that it sucks to lose clients, it sucks to be "trash talked" but in business, that happens. If the "trash talking" happened while she was employed by BO, she should have been spoken to. If it didn't, there's nothing you can do. If the BO didn't directly hear the "trash talking" and is reacting after the fact, after this woman was no longer in her employ, she needs to realize she is reacting to nothing more than a rumor and the sanest thing to do would be to say simply "I'm sorry she feels that way."

The BO and her daughter need to remember that the horse industry is a business and frankly, has nothing to do with their emotions, and then they need to get over themselves and act like professionals. That means, being civil to the other trainer in public even if you disagree with the way that she acted, being civil to your formal clientele because you never know a) who will talk or b) who will come back. Burning bridges is idiotic in such a small industry, and acting like children is unbecoming to people that consider themselves professionals running a business.

mvp
Oct. 5, 2010, 10:28 AM
Should mention that instructor goes to school full time for non-horse related work & was also starting on a placement which was why she was only teaching once-a-week at this facility. She was doing a lot more (riding, coaching) but wanted to step down to concentrate on her schooling.

Again, don't think it was the leaving...more the way it was done.

Perhaps it was missed in the original post..instructor was talking - a lot. Other boarders started to mention what was being said and it wasn't nice. If you're going to move on..fine...but why trash your employer unless you were trying to lessen their value in the eyes of others?

None of these were "horse people". They were families from the city who rode as hobby and they had never been anywhere else. I do believe some thought they could do it cheaper (which is definitely possible but possibly not with as much success) and the original family just didn't like to be in a program. They were quite wealthy and I think they were used to calling the shots but they were completely new to horses and didn't know anything yet.

The wealthy family would have moved on eventually - that was obvious right from the beginning. But if the instructor hadn't started the talking; I don't think the others would have gone. Maybe that's just the way I see it; I could be completely wrong. The instructor seemed nice but was very insecure and often resorted to talking trash about others I guess to make herself feel better.

The instructor (who sounds young or at least not a "seasoned business person") did things the wrong way. That's for sure.

But there is a learning curve to this business and professionalism in general. *Stop* talking about how qualified or unqualified the instructor is.

First, it's none of your business. That's between instructor-cum-trainer and her clients and show ring judges.

Second, you are doing to her exactly what you didn't like seeing done to your BO and daughter. Reread your posts and think for sec.

Again, going to school or not, I ask you: What would you have a young wannabe pro in her situation do? She doesn't own a farm and 30 year reputation. As you say yourself, the BO *just* got to the point of hiring an assistant-- and now won't hire outside the family again. So what's a young, unbankrolled, not "to the manor born" pro to do except take the opportunity to work for family (perhaps with more money than sense)? This isn't the first young pro to take that kind of opportunity and it won't be the last.

Let her go with the BO's blessings (well, as much as she can muster and whenever that can happen). After all, if the instructor had been a savvy business person, she might have said to the BO: "Listen, I got this great offer. Can you match it in some way?" Of course the BO would have No.... and perhaps considered the instructor arrogant to boot. Again, I don't see where there's room for hard feelings or any trash-talking when this is all just business.

As to something like a non-compete clause in a contract? I wouldn't sign one, especially as an assistant trainer. If you establish a reputation in one area, and your clients aren't willing/able to move, what can you possibly do except try to attract customers from that area?

I know (now) that the OP doesn't mean to condescend by the term "poaching" applied to adult, check-writing human beings. But more to the point, I think anyone who thinks of clients as commodities to be owned or controlled is taking an unrealistic view of the situation. They are setting themselves up for drama because *they* seem to have forgotten that some of their clients also left another trainer to join their barn.

Pennywell Bay
Oct. 5, 2010, 11:42 AM
Professional courtesy will get the BO and her daughter farther in business ( and in life). People DO take notice of demeanor and how people act. Part of being successful is being able to put on the "work face" and smile and be polite. Not everyone does, and some people do seem to "get away" with being snarky but in general, not so much.
You have to perform (and act )at a consistently higher level than others. That's the mark of a true professional. ( Joe Paterno)

Bogie
Oct. 5, 2010, 12:55 PM
Again, don't think it was the leaving...more the way it was done.

Perhaps it was missed in the original post..instructor was talking - a lot. Other boarders started to mention what was being said and it wasn't nice. If you're going to move on..fine...but why trash your employer unless you were trying to lessen their value in the eyes of others?

None of these were "horse people". They were families from the city who rode as hobby and they had never been anywhere else. I do believe some thought they could do it cheaper (which is definitely possible but possibly not with as much success) and the original family just didn't like to be in a program. They were quite wealthy and I think they were used to calling the shots but they were completely new to horses and didn't know anything yet.

The wealthy family would have moved on eventually - that was obvious right from the beginning. But if the instructor hadn't started the talking; I don't think the others would have gone. Maybe that's just the way I see it; I could be completely wrong. The instructor seemed nice but was very insecure and often resorted to talking trash about others I guess to make herself feel better.

If an employee is bad mouthing her employer, she should have had the riot act read to her at the time.

As for the rest, it sounds like the wealthy family was always going to leave. It is much more likely that they suggested to the trainer that they were setting up their own barn and were looking for an instructor than that she suggested that they leave, by a farm and hire her ;). You mentioned in your other posts that the other families that left were all friends with the wealthy family so I can see where they might have thought it was a good idea to move over to their friend's new barn.

Whether it will work out is anyone's guess but the best thing for the original barn owners to do is put their game face on and move on. Whether or not the young instructor is going to school is neither here nor there. It's impossible to know if she's any good at teaching from a bulletin board.

Not every barn suits every rider. Heck, I've never wanted to be in a "program" either and if I had the money I would have happily bought my own place.

Yes, the young instructor handled it poorly. The polite way to leave the barn would have been to go to the BO and tell her she had this amazing opportunity to move to this new facility and thank her for the experience she got.

meaty ogre
Oct. 5, 2010, 02:04 PM
You can't take someone who doesn't want to be took.

If it were me, I'd be trying to find out the reason behind the mass exodus so I could improve my services.

merrygoround
Oct. 5, 2010, 02:09 PM
Take the high road!!! Smile, and be pleasant.
No one owns clients, boarders, students or trainers. Yes, their performance was less than a class act. But you can amuse yourself with the thought that when the wealthy family gets tired of paying, paying, paying bills:eek:, and folds out of the business, you will still be there. :yes: Because few outside of the business realize just how difficult a business it is.

FAlter
Oct. 5, 2010, 04:28 PM
Don't be ridiculous.

Because seriously, the BO is being ridiculous. And petty.

I get that it sucks to lose clients, it sucks to be "trash talked" but in business, that happens. If the "trash talking" happened while she was employed by BO, she should have been spoken to. If it didn't, there's nothing you can do. If the BO didn't directly hear the "trash talking" and is reacting after the fact, after this woman was no longer in her employ, she needs to realize she is reacting to nothing more than a rumor and the sanest thing to do would be to say simply "I'm sorry she feels that way."

The BO and her daughter need to remember that the horse industry is a business and frankly, has nothing to do with their emotions, and then they need to get over themselves and act like professionals. That means, being civil to the other trainer in public even if you disagree with the way that she acted, being civil to your formal clientele because you never know a) who will talk or b) who will come back. Burning bridges is idiotic in such a small industry, and acting like children is unbecoming to people that consider themselves professionals running a business.

Wow. That was harsh.

I don't see how the BO is being ridiculous/petty...she hasn't done or said anything :confused:

I'm pretty sure I mentioned in my first post that the instructor was spoken to when it was found out she was running her mouth. It was along the lines of "Talk yourself up all you want but DON'T be talking others down".

Look, I am not in the business, but I don't agree that it is just like any other business. This will probably set a bunch of people's panties in a twist but being an close observer of the horse business for 20 or so years has led me to that conclusion. People are emotional about their animals & they spend a few hours of every day with a BO/trainer, waaaayy more in the summer with horseshows and whatnot. Some of these people went to the daughter's wedding, she had sleepovers with the kids, BO went on trips with the parents.

Like it or not, people DO get to be friends...especially when they have a passion, like horses, in common. It can be tricky to keep clients at an arm's length...and frankly, even clients don't like to be treated like they are in a simply business relationship.

I don't know - I don't see why BO should have to be chatty at the shows with someone who actually badmouthed her?? Just b/c she is a professional?..she's still human.

Trixie
Oct. 5, 2010, 04:44 PM
I don't think it's remotely harsh to tell people to behave like grown ups when they appear to be considering acting childish.


I don't know - I don't see why BO should have to be chatty at the shows with someone who actually badmouthed her?? Just b/c she is a professional?..she's still human.

Because on a very, very basic level, it's poor manners. It stoops the BO right down to the level of alleged behavior perpetrated by the other trainer. And if that isn't enough, it LOOKS REALLY BAD. She doesn't have to go out of her way to be nice to her, but she does need to be civil if she wants continued success.

And sorry - if you are running your barn for profit, that makes it a business. Good customer service skills and professionalism are paramount to a successful business. We have all been burned professionally, but acting like a child doesn't do anything except tell your existing clients and other potential clients that you're not professional and to watch their backs, regardless of how "close" they think they are with you.

theinstigator
Oct. 5, 2010, 04:44 PM
Wow. That was harsh.

I don't see how the BO is being ridiculous/petty...she hasn't done or said anything :confused:

I'm pretty sure I mentioned in my first post that the instructor was spoken to when it was found out she was running her mouth. It was along the lines of "Talk yourself up all you want but DON'T be talking others down".

Look, I am not in the business, but I don't agree that it is just like any other business. This will probably set a bunch of people's panties in a twist but being an close observer of the horse business for 20 or so years has led me to that conclusion. People are emotional about their animals & they spend a few hours of every day with a BO/trainer, waaaayy more in the summer with horseshows and whatnot. Some of these people went to the daughter's wedding, she had sleepovers with the kids, BO went on trips with the parents.

Like it or not, people DO get to be friends...especially when they have a passion, like horses, in common. It can be tricky to keep clients at an arm's length...and frankly, even clients don't like to be treated like they are in a simply business relationship.

I don't know - I don't see why BO should have to be chatty at the shows with someone who actually badmouthed her?? Just b/c she is a professional?..she's still human.
No one said she had to be chatty with the girl....just polite to the girl.

The fact that people are emotional about their horses has nothing to do with the fact that people who are professionals in the industry should be just that....professional. If the BO can't handle five minutes of niceties at the back gate of the horse show then she's got some growing up to do.

FAlter
Oct. 5, 2010, 05:23 PM
Please remember that the original question was "what would YOU do"...not "this is what the BO did, do you think it is right".

I would have a hard time being nice to someone that I knew said not nice & untrue things about me, especially to the detriment of my business. I'm not a confrontational person so I would just avoid the person. A return "hi" or a smile, sure, but I wouldn't want to chat.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how many people think BO should have to be nice and even act like it never happened. I don't see it as rude to not want to have anything to do with her. Makes sense to me but perhaps I'm not seeing it clearly??

Lucassb
Oct. 5, 2010, 05:40 PM
Please remember that the original question was "what would YOU do"...not "this is what the BO did, do you think it is right".

I would have a hard time being nice to someone that I knew said not nice & untrue things about me, especially to the detriment of my business. I'm not a confrontational person so I would just avoid the person. A return "hi" or a smile, sure, but I wouldn't want to chat.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how many people think BO should have to be nice and even act like it never happened. I don't see it as rude to not want to have anything to do with her. Makes sense to me but perhaps I'm not seeing it clearly??

I think your hurt feelings - personally or on behalf of your family members -are clouding your view of things.

No one is saying that BO and the former employee have to be best buddies. But these are PROFESSIONAL relationships, and the rules are different than for SOCIAL relationships.

Horse people mix the two up all the time, frequently to their detriment, as has happened here.

BO should be nice and make it clear that she wishes the new venture well. She should do this not because she likes how things went or because she wants to, but because doing so WILL BENEFIT HER BUSINESS in the long run.

If she can bring herself to do it, she should go out of her way to pull the former assistant aside and say something like, "I just want you to know that although the abrupt departure took me very much by surprise, I do wish you all the best and hope your new venture is successful. No hard feelings."

Then she should act like there really AREN'T any hard feelings. (Yes, even if there are some.)

Again she should do this because it is the best way to BENEFIT her business in the long run. The clients who left should also be assured that you wish them nothing but the best. Some will probably come back eventually, but even if they do not, you don't want them not to recommend you to others in the future.

It is a BIG error to mistake close professional relationships - which often look like social connections (attending weddings, going out to dinner, etc) for true friendship. That does not mean that there aren't often genuine feelings of like and regard for the people in question; it just means that the CORE of the relationship is a business arrangement, and those can and DO change as circumstances dictate. It is nice to be friendLY with clients. It is generally a mistake to be FRIENDS.

Pennywell Bay
Oct. 5, 2010, 06:14 PM
I get what your original question was, I think a lot of people who responded understand. I would be civil. I am civil with people in my corporate job that I don't "like" and maybe they have badmouthed me, who knows? Taking the high road is the best position the BO can put herself in. SO- when the original trainer badmouths her, people in the horse show world think "Hmmm- BO is such a class act. I can't see how she would ... blah blah". People's true colors always show.

Parrotnutz
Oct. 5, 2010, 06:31 PM
Please remember that the original question was "what would YOU do"...not "this is what the BO did, do you think it is right".

I would have a hard time being nice to someone that I knew said not nice & untrue things about me, especially to the detriment of my business. I'm not a confrontational person so I would just avoid the person. A return "hi" or a smile, sure, but I wouldn't want to chat.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how many people think BO should have to be nice and even act like it never happened. I don't see it as rude to not want to have anything to do with her. Makes sense to me but perhaps I'm not seeing it clearly??


I think your emotions are clouding the issue.
I am not a trainer nor do I play one on TV<G> I am a Client.
From my point of view......the people who left are not saavy horse people. Were it me...any Pro who bad mouths another Pro I am very ,very wary of. Probably one of the reasons I hardly participate in showing any more, because more bad mouth than not at the middle levels were I live. Only the very top are careful of their "opinions".
So, no, your barn owners do not have to "chat up" the trainer, but be polite. *I* would go out of my way to say hello and how are you to the clients that left. I changed barns because I changed disciplines and it always makes me feel great when the former trainer gives me a Hi and a Hug. I do appreciate it.

It IS a Buisness, even though it is a "strange" one because one has to spend a lot of time with clients, but you still cannot confuse the fact that it should be run as a Business which many barns are not. It will pay off for your barn owners to "take the high road" and be a class act. Because in the long run the "pro" or girl playing pro will not make it by bad mouthing.....people get very tired of that.

Cita
Oct. 5, 2010, 07:18 PM
You don't have to tell her off or be rude, but you don't have to chit-chat forever, either. "Oh hi, trainer who just left. Yes, good to see you too. Good luck to you and your clients today. Well, would you look at the time, I'd better be going! See you around!"

Trixie
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:19 PM
I would have a hard time being nice to someone that I knew said not nice & untrue things about me, especially to the detriment of my business. I'm not a confrontational person so I would just avoid the person. A return "hi" or a smile, sure, but I wouldn't want to chat.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how many people think BO should have to be nice and even act like it never happened. I don't see it as rude to not want to have anything to do with her. Makes sense to me but perhaps I'm not seeing it clearly??

I don't think you're seeing it clearly. Horses have a tendency to cloud our emotions.

That being said, in a business, your "emotions" don't really get to count. I'm regularly polite to people in my workplace that have done things that I've found to be horribly inappropriate on a professional or a personal level. I'm polite, because it doesn't behoove me or help my career to be petty in the workplace. It isn't fun, but at least I don't garner a reputation for being uncooperative or difficult to deal with. Because then, their problem becomes MY problem.

No one is suggesting the BO act as though she's this trainer's best friend. Most have only suggested civility, because it's a small industry, and would reflect very poorly on the BO, NOT the new trainer, to any bystanders.

You'll find that in the long run, even if it sucks to bite your tongue, it will benefit you in the long run in the business world.

Bogie
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:50 PM
What would I do? I'd be polite to the person and keep my mouth shut about her.

One of the biggest issues that I see in the horse business -- again and again -- is that people don't treat it as a business. Part of being a professional (in any business) is acting like one.

I've had a hard time being nice to people in business that I've known said not nice or untrue things about me. But I hope they couldn't tell.


Please remember that the original question was "what would YOU do"...not "this is what the BO did, do you think it is right".

I would have a hard time being nice to someone that I knew said not nice & untrue things about me, especially to the detriment of my business. I'm not a confrontational person so I would just avoid the person. A return "hi" or a smile, sure, but I wouldn't want to chat.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at how many people think BO should have to be nice and even act like it never happened. I don't see it as rude to not want to have anything to do with her. Makes sense to me but perhaps I'm not seeing it clearly??

Midge
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:15 PM
First off, I don't see how, after 30 years in the business, the BO hasn't had clients leave before. Also, after 30 years in the business, hasn't watched this scenario play out with other professionals in the area.

Also, it seems you have two problems:

You feel betrayed by the clients who left and

You blame the new trainer.


Yeah, it all could have been handled better, but clients come and go. Especially clients who haven't been too far around the block. By being the bigger person, you will be the first person thy think of when they realize things didn't go as planned when they left.

Hopefully, you let the clients know they were welcome to come back anytime when they left.

Business acquaintances attend social events together all the time. Do not mistake it for true friendship.

bizbachfan
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:39 PM
This is a tough one because we are getting one person's view of what happened and as well all know on boards like this its really hard to fully understand what transpired. On top of that the horse industry really does seem to have some strange characters that think that sneaking around, bad mouthing, gossiping, etc is perfectly acceptable.

I think that it was a shame if the young trainer in question advised her new clients to leave w/o notice. If they were the "right" kind of people they would have not agreed, however at the same time do we know if there have been issues in the past if someone gave notice? Who knows, we don't. So many scenarios, so many factors. My gut is the "trainer" should have been open and honest with BO and told everyone ahead of time what was happening, but perhaps she was afraid of backlash, who knows?

I do think that there are wealthy people out there who like the idea of having their "own" trainer and so I can see how this all happened.

I agree that the only thing for the BO and family members to do is move on and be civil and pleasant as need be when at shows. etc. Surely if they have a nice facility and program those 4 stalls will fill up in no time. If not they may need to look at why the events unfolded the way they did.

It is hard to separate business and friends in the horsey world, but hey even non horsey non business "friends" can disappoint you. Sorry fact of life.

tidy rabbit
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:46 PM
I totally agree that it's just business and you should take the high road.

However, just for fun, what would you say to her if you "told her off"?

You can tell us. We wont tell. :lol:

fordtraktor
Oct. 7, 2010, 02:50 PM
However, just for fun, what would you say to her if you "told her off"?

You can tell us. We wont tell. :lol:

Yes, yes, we can keep a secret!

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 07:49 AM
First off, I don't see how, after 30 years in the business, the BO hasn't had clients leave before. Also, after 30 years in the business, hasn't watched this scenario play out with other professionals in the area.



I think I mentioned earlier that it's never happened in a mass exodus before ;)

TD and fordtraktor...no baiting :lol:

If it were me, I'd probably want to say something along the lines of "I wish you all the best but I'm sure you can understand why I think it's best if we just go our separate ways." I think the BO will probably just avoid having to talk with her.

The BO would never say anything about the situation to other people - the other boarders in the barn didn't even know.

lauriep
Oct. 8, 2010, 08:00 AM
I can well imagine that having clients leave - especially a group of clients - is not a fun experience.

However, as CHT correctly pointed out, this was a business decision, not a personal slight. It goes without saying that BO and the daughter/assistant trainer should continue to be polite, and to wish the departing group well. The horse world is small and there is no point in burning bridges.

The question to ask is not whether everyone should continue to be civil (the answer to that one is ALWAYS yes.) The REAL question to ask in this circumstance is, "why did the customers choose to leave, and what could we have done/done better to prevent that?"

HINT: The answer is not, "Never hire another outside instructor."

The bottom line is, perfectly happy clients don't leave. Clients leave when they do, in fact, think the grass is greener in someone else's pasture. So the better exercise is to understand what it was about the new situation that was more attractive to these customers, and deciding whether or not your facility can offer that (or wants to.)

It is easy to blame the loss of customers on the inducement of the assistant trainer (see the title of this thread - "Poaching" is a strong word, and frankly, IMO, is fairly inappropriate when talking about customers, who are entitled to make the decisions that best suit themselves and their pocketbooks.)

So what was it about the new situation that attracted these customers? Certainly for the one customer who owns the new facility, it may simply that they wanted to have a place of their own/call the shots etc. It is worth asking why that is the case - though you may not get a straight answer, of course. (There is really nothing wrong with wanting to own your own place, right?) Maybe that owner's kid aspires to be a pro and the Dad figures he might as well buy the place now, while prices are down. But maybe... just maybe... they didn't get something at your place that they really wanted. And if that's the case, knowing what it is might help you retain the rest of your clients (and/or attract replacements for the ones that left.)

It is worth asking the others, too. Maybe it is just a case of friends all wanting to stay together. But maybe there are things that they wanted, too, which they didn't get at your place. Again, worth asking. You will get the most useful answers by being genuinely nice when you inquire. You respect their decision, wish them the best, but would certainly appreciate any suggestions they might have about what you could have done to retain their business and/or made them happier at your place.

Exactly!

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 08:49 AM
Yes, but happy customers can be lied to and pot stirrers are called that for a reason.

And I have to respectfully disagree...you cannot make everyone happy.

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 09:09 AM
Again, going to school or not, I ask you: What would you have a young wannabe pro in her situation do? She doesn't own a farm and 30 year reputation. As you say yourself, the BO *just* got to the point of hiring an assistant-- and now won't hire outside the family again. So what's a young, unbankrolled, not "to the manor born" pro to do except take the opportunity to work for family (perhaps with more money than sense)? This isn't the first young pro to take that kind of opportunity and it won't be the last.



Just had to reply to this.

How is a young pro to make it?? Like their predecessors..through hard work & building a reputation. I hope you're not suggesting that you have to get clients however you can b/c everyone is right; it IS a small world and that kind of reputation won't get you too far.

onelanerode
Oct. 8, 2010, 09:21 AM
Exactly what Lucassb said.

If former trainer truly is going around badmouthing people, she's digging her own hole. No need to help her make it bigger--you might fall in too.

Be polite and gracious, as such behavior always reflects well on you. You can tell her off in the bathroom mirror. ;)

2bayboys
Oct. 8, 2010, 10:10 AM
OP, why don't you try this? Send a form letter to each of your clients saying something along the lines of:
"We're sorry to lose your business and we value you as a customer! Please tell us what products or services you would like us to add or change....."
Then have a list of things that you could offer.

Kicking myself back into reality, horse "businesses" never do this. In my experience, most barns (my present situation is an exception) are run by a trainer or BO who basically say "It's MY way or the highway!" And then they wonder why clients sneak away, after they have fostered the attitude that service options are not available to their paying customers.

Cloverbarley
Oct. 8, 2010, 10:46 AM
Kicking myself back into reality, horse "businesses" never do this. In my experience, most barns (my present situation is an exception) are run by a trainer or BO who basically say "It's MY way or the highway!" And then they wonder why clients sneak away, after they have fostered the attitude that service options are not available to their paying customers.
Oh no I don't agree with this at all. Maybe for 5-minute-wonder-fly-by-night barns but not for barns who have been in business for 20 or 30 years. There is a reason barns are still in business 20/30 years later because we DO cater to our customers and we DO try to keep them happy.

OP, no way would I be rude to this young trainer. I can't imagine being in the situation of your BO and I do feel a little sorry for her but you can't keep people where they don't want to be. Communication is the key to any business such as this where you have daily or weekly friendly contact with people. If BO had kept abreast of how her clients were feeling perhaps she could have avoided this? Who knows, we don't know the full story.

cyberbay
Oct. 8, 2010, 10:51 AM
Well, if the wealthy client was interested in having their own barn, that's a perfectly good reason to leave the current barn.

The thing I see here, and this is not a slam -- I totally see the frustration of having clients leave, trainer leave and both leave in such a discourteous manner -- is that this wealthy client's connection to the business was mostly through this beginner instructor. And, I am may be reading btwn the lines here, but that this beg. instructor was not brought that much into the fold of the barn, and therefore hadn't built a loyalty to the barn. There are a ton of 'all about me' people in the horse biz, and she may just be one of them, but I'm guessing if she had been made more 'involved' adn enfranchised, she would have thought twice about such actions or the BO would have figured out what she was up to and maybe have found a way to get the wealthy client to continue to board there for the foreseeable future.

And this wealthy client must be so naive... to follow the advice of someone who had no proof she could train them/manage them, using bad-mouth tactics ? Wow, sucker born every minute...

Lucassb
Oct. 8, 2010, 11:06 AM
OP, why don't you try this? Send a form letter to each of your clients saying something along the lines of:
"We're sorry to lose your business and we value you as a customer! Please tell us what products or services you would like us to add or change....."
Then have a list of things that you could offer.

Kicking myself back into reality, horse "businesses" never do this. In my experience, most barns (my present situation is an exception) are run by a trainer or BO who basically say "It's MY way or the highway!" And then they wonder why clients sneak away, after they have fostered the attitude that service options are not available to their paying customers.


Oh no I don't agree with this at all. Maybe for 5-minute-wonder-fly-by-night barns but not for barns who have been in business for 20 or 30 years. There is a reason barns are still in business 20/30 years later because we DO cater to our customers and we DO try to keep them happy.

Gotta agree with 2Bays here, I'm afraid. I have been a boarding client for several decades now and while there ARE definitely some good (even great) barns out there... MOST don't have the first clue about good customer service practices. The "my way or the highway" attitude is quite prevalent - just look at the zillions of posts on this board where you see the "my barn, my rules" line trotted out.

And of course that is true... the owners can make any rules that they like. But then they have to live with the consequences.

I have never, in all my years of boarding, been asked by a barn owner what new or different services I might like for them to offer. I have never, in all my years of boarding, had an "exit interview" when I left the barn to go elsewhere. And I'm not talking about high drama barn departures, either (not that there haven't been a few of those.) I figure the barn owner who left the metal screws in my horse's bucket and just dumped evening feed on top of it should have been able to figure that one out for herself, for example.

But I've left other places where the care or training just wasn't what I wanted, and never got a single question about it. And like most clients, I know better than to volunteer info like that - because I've seen what happens to the people who, however gently, try to suggest changes or improvements.

As I say, I know there are very well run barns out there... but the majority would benefit enormously from adopting the customer service practices that are routinely utilized in other service businesses. Because you might find that surveying your CURRENT customers leads to a lot of good information that will help you retain them. And then you don't have to worry so much about conducting exit interviews... because the customers will tend to stay!

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:01 PM
Exactly what Lucassb said.

If former trainer truly is going around badmouthing people, she's digging her own hole. No need to help her make it bigger--you might fall in too.

Be polite and gracious, as such behavior always reflects well on you. You can tell her off in the bathroom mirror. ;)


:lol:

This situation aside - I don't know if I agree with you Lucassb.

Does someone go into their mechanic's & tell them what they want done? Not usually...b/c they don't know. You pay someone for their expertise & experience.

I don't think you can compare the horse business to other service businesses unless it's only a boarding stable with no training involved.

I think it makes more sense to compare it to other sports where there is a coach involved...like skating or gymnastics. I'm pretty sure those coaches that have developed a winning program through years of blood, sweat, & tears are not going to change it whenever they get a client that wants to do things differently.

Now don't get me wrong - there is DEFINITELY room for making your customers happy in this business and it is VERY important but like I said earlier...you can't make everyone happy and there has to come a point where you have to stick to your guns.

For example, some people don't like to care for their horses the same way others do. Those people need to be reminded to wash the sand off their horses legs, curry their saddle area, or take them for a walk if at an away show. Sometimes they get annoyed at being told that they have to do these things. If the barn isn't full service...what should a BO do? Wash the legs themselves? Change to full service?

This issue that we have stumbled onto here causes a lot of problems in the horse world. I guess the answer is to find a program (or lack thereof) that works for you so you are not annoyed when things don't go the way you want.

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:16 PM
here, but that this beg. instructor was not brought that much into the fold of the barn, and therefore hadn't built a loyalty to the barn.

Hmm..don't know about that...instructor lived with BO & only stepped down to do the once-a-week stuff b/c she was doing a placement for her schooling & didn't have the time to ride & show anymore.

Wealthy family wanted to start a business...not just have their own farm. Methinks that was why they suddenly started hanging around the shows after their division to cheer "our" (not possessively - just had to describe them somehow :lol:) riders on. At the beginning of the year; they were out of there the minute they were done but when they decided to buy their own place; they needed customers from somewhere.

Lucassb
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:19 PM
:lol:

This situation aside - I don't know if I agree with you Lucassb.

Does someone go into their mechanic's & tell them what they want done? Not usually...b/c they don't know. You pay someone for their expertise & experience.

I don't think you can compare the horse business to other service businesses unless it's only a boarding stable with no training involved.

I think it makes more sense to compare it to other sports where there is a coach involved...like skating or gymnastics. I'm pretty sure those coaches that have developed a winning program through years of blood, sweat, & tears are not going to change it whenever they get a client that wants to do things differently.

Now don't get me wrong - there is DEFINITELY room for making your customers happy in this business and it is VERY important but like I said earlier...you can't make everyone happy and there has to come a point where you have to stick to your guns.

For example, some people don't like to care for their horses the same way others do. Those people need to be reminded to wash the sand off their horses legs, curry their saddle area, or take them for a walk if at an away show. Sometimes they get annoyed at being told that they have to do these things. If the barn isn't full service...what should a BO do? Wash the legs themselves? Change to full service?

This issue that we have stumbled onto here causes a lot of problems in the horse world. I guess the answer is to find a program (or lack thereof) that works for you so you are not annoyed when things don't go the way you want.

Well, that's the beauty of a free country, LOL, you don't have to agree with me!

FWIW, I have certainly had productive discussions with my mechanic - about adding a chip to my F250, whether to do the Dinan modifications on my BMW (yes to exhaust & intake, no to the suspension changes) but I know what you are saying.

I guess my view is, it is one thing to offer expertise and advice, and another to be dictatorial about things.

I take the position that it is my horse, my money and my decision when it comes to care and training issues, but that does NOT mean I don't welcome advice/guidance from my professional. It *does* mean I will make the final decision, after gathering all the information. Sometimes that means that I determine a particular facility is no longer a good fit, and sometimes I balance what I don't care for with overall satisfaction with the facility, and decide to tolerate it rather than leave. That is the risk a BO takes when making policy decisions.

Particularly in this economy, I believe it is just good business practice to accommodate your customers when possible.

It's obviously perfectly fine to have standards, particularly for horse care. In your examples, I would certainly at least CONSIDER offering a full service option for customers who didn't want to bathe or groom their horses. That way, they aren't annoyed, the horses still get properly cared for, and the barn makes a bit of extra $$$.

There are plenty of other things that a BO can do to accommodate clients, or not. Surveying the customers is one way to find out what those things might be.

A lot of barns are closed on Mondays, which also happens to be a day that fairly frequently ends up being a holiday when working adult clients would really like to ride. So, a BO might consider having the barn open, even if for limited hours, on Columbus Day, for example, rather that rigidly "sticking to their guns" with a closed-on-Monday policy. Or they might have extended hours a few nights a week, to enable working adults to be able to ride more often.

These types of things tend to be viewed as impositions on the barn/staff... but they are also client retention strategies.

My current barn does not permit clients to show up before 9 am. That means no one can ride before work. (It's a leased facility and that is the farm owner's rule, nothing the trainer can do about it.) Trainer has lost quite a few clients when their work or family schedules changed, and she could not accommodate their desire to ride early in the day.

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:31 PM
I take the position that it is my horse, my money and my decision when it comes to care and training issues, but that does NOT mean I don't welcome advice/guidance from my professional. It *does* mean I will make the final decision, after gathering all the information. Sometimes that means that I determine a particular facility is no longer a good fit, and sometimes I balance what I don't care for with overall satisfaction with the facility, and decide to tolerate it rather than leave. That is the risk a BO takes when making policy decisions.



I hear what you are saying; I guess it becomes more difficult when owner/rider is inexperienced.

It reminds me of a story from long ago when one of the barn moms wanted their kid to do cross country on their large pony but still wanted to show in the hunters as well. Pony was not particularly quiet in the first place and the cross country stuff made it wild - it was not transitioning well into the hunter ring. The trainer at the time told pony mom that it wasn't going to work out & that the pony was not going to be successful in the hunters if they kept eventing it. Pony mom was ticked & moved.

Sure, it was the owner's decision to event the pony if they wanted but I don't think it was fair to expect trainer to keep it winning in the hunters if they weren't going to follow her program.

Lucassb
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:34 PM
I hear what you are saying; I guess it becomes more difficult when owner/rider is inexperienced.

It reminds me of a story from long ago when one of the barn moms wanted their kid to do cross country on their large pony but still wanted to show in the hunters as well. Pony was not particularly quiet in the first place and the cross country stuff made it wild - it was not transitioning well into the hunter ring. The trainer at the time told pony mom that it wasn't going to work out & that the pony was not going to be successful in the hunters if they kept eventing it. Pony mom was ticked & moved.

Sure, it was the owner's decision to event the pony if they wanted but I don't think it was fair to expect trainer to keep it winning in the hunters if they weren't going to follow her program.

Sounds to me like the owners made the right decision to move, in that case. There is nothing about eventing that should make a properly schooled pony "wild" ...

Now, I grant you that in the old days, when steeplechasing was part of the eventing format, it was possible to get a horse (pony) standing way off their fences and jumping a bit flat. THAT I would say is a legit concern about "ruining" an animal's chances in the hunter ring. But otherwise? A well trained hunter pony *should* be able to go out of the ring, gallop some natural jumps, and still stay manageable.

Just my $.02.

2bayboys
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:36 PM
but happy customers can be lied to and pot stirrers are called that for a reason.



But do you really know WHY these customers left? Has anybody ASKED them? There has been speculation about the evil young inexperienced once-a-week instructor and how she poached (stole) clients awayy, but did you actually ask the clients?

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 01:39 PM
Sounds to me like the owners made the right decision to move, in that case. There is nothing about eventing that should make a properly schooled pony "wild" ...

Now, I grant you that in the old days, when steeplechasing was part of the eventing format, it was possible to get a horse (pony) standing way off their fences and jumping a bit flat. THAT I would say is a legit concern about "ruining" an animal's chances in the hunter ring. But otherwise? A well trained hunter pony *should* be able to go out of the ring, gallop some natural jumps, and still stay manageable.

Just my $.02.

It wasn't a well trained hunter pony - it was a youngster with a kid on it. Pony already liked to build & the "gallop" in the cross country encouraged it to run at the jumps.

Pennywell Bay
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:00 PM
One thing I got when I re-read the thread is that it appears that it was also a bunch of kids whose parents left? I think that is kind of natural since, for a lot of kids-not all, the social aspect of it makes it fun. Maybe the new place is more kid friendly? Pony friendly? Set up different. I don't think I would send a letter the clients who left and I would be nice to the trainer. You never know who you may end up working for, who may end back up working for you, who may be a judge someday - who knows? People remember a class act ( they remember trash too, but not in the same way!) Why give the trainer anything else bad to say? Plus- remember how everything CAN get exaggerated by whisper down the lane. I had a boarder who left. She had 2 horses and moved to a fancier place but she leases w/ some help from another person. She did it to may it more possible to get a pony for her DD. Then another boarder said how board X had left for a fancier barn. I could have gotten my britches in a twist, but why? Whisper down the lane...

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:02 PM
But do you really know WHY these customers left? Has anybody ASKED them? There has been speculation about the evil young inexperienced once-a-week instructor and how she poached (stole) clients awayy, but did you actually ask the clients?

What everyone said is correct, happy customers don't leave so what's the point in trying to talk to them once they've decided to go even if you suspect that the reason they are unhappy is because they've been lied to?

I see that more of turning into a "he said, she said" kind of deal.

I know for a fact that part of the reason a few left was b/c they didn't like being told what to do (see my post above regarding washing legs, brushing properly etc...). They went to a barn that is less structured but I don't think the BO is about to change that.

gottagrey
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:09 PM
Lucassb I think you are my new BF.. well stated and totally agree.

FAlter
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:11 PM
One thing I got when I re-read the thread is that it appears that it was also a bunch of kids whose parents left? I think that is kind of natural since, for a lot of kids-not all, the social aspect of it makes it fun. Maybe the new place is more kid friendly? Pony friendly? Set up different. I don't think I would send a letter the clients who left and I would be nice to the trainer. You never know who you may end up working for, who may end back up working for you, who may be a judge someday - who knows? People remember a class act ( they remember trash too, but not in the same way!) Why give the trainer anything else bad to say? Plus- remember how everything CAN get exaggerated by whisper down the lane. I had a boarder who left. She had 2 horses and moved to a fancier place but she leases w/ some help from another person. She did it to may it more possible to get a pony for her DD. Then another boarder said how board X had left for a fancier barn. I could have gotten my britches in a twist, but why? Whisper down the lane...

I do think a lot of it was b/c all of the people that left had kids who were friends and it is a very social thing for kids. Most of the other clients are adults or have older teenaged kids.

I do believe, perhaps falsely, that had not once-a-week instructor got the ball rolling, this would not have happened. One of the families were so distraught that they were crying and hugging BO's daughter and the kids keep calling her :lol: But all of their friends left so I can see how it made sense for them.

Linny
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:24 PM
Completely happy clients usually cannot be easily lured away, particularly those of long standing and experience. Novices tend to see the grass as greener over every fence. Offer a pretty new set up or a newer arena and newbies tend to assume it must be better. For some newbies, the new place being 10 minutes closer might be what seals the deal. They don't know enough to be discerning.
While it can be very tough to lose a number of clients all at once, I agree that maybe a look in the mirror at how you run the business might be at hand.
Being civil and decent when you see them out and about is the best policy. Maintain the higher ground. First off, if they learn that the grass is not greener, they may want to return. Second by demonstrating professionalism and class you look better to others and feel better about yourself.

The best you can do is be polite and hope that if they are gone for good that you might replace them with good clients who will stay longer.

I agree with Lucassb. Barns don't tend to be introspective on losses. When 3 clients leave because trainer X speaks rudely to them or because their horse doesn't get the turnout promised or because calls are not returned, the BO/BM should take the hint. (Not saying this is the case for OP, just an example.)
I also agree that we tend to blur the lines of business and friendship in this sport. It's hard not to when we spend so much time at the barn. When we travel to shows with trainers and eat out with them and get to know their families etc. I've dealt with the same plumber for 20 years but have spent collectively less than 5 hrs in his company over that span. I'm likely to spend 5 hours at the barn this weekend. This makes it hard not to take it personally when clients leave, but it's best not to.

Lucassb
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:33 PM
What everyone said is correct, happy customers don't leave so what's the point in trying to talk to them once they've decided to go even if you suspect that the reason they are unhappy is because they've been lied to?

I see that more of turning into a "he said, she said" kind of deal.

I know for a fact that part of the reason a few left was b/c they didn't like being told what to do (see my post above regarding washing legs, brushing properly etc...). They went to a barn that is less structured but I don't think the BO is about to change that.

*sigh*

You don't ask in order to change their minds or counter any of what might have been said by the other party.

You ask, after politely thanking them for their prior business and wishing them well, if they have any suggestions about how you might improve your service offering to make your facility more attractive to other, similar customers.

"Well, Mrs Former Customer, we truly enjoyed having you with us this past year and we are sad to see you go, but of course we wish you all the best! I wonder if I could ask, is there anything that we could have done differently or better for you while you were here? As you know, we are always anxious to do what we can to provide a great experience, so if you have any suggestions for us, now or in the future, we'd greatly appreciate it."

Then shut up and listen.

You may decide not to take the suggestions/advice you get, but you might be surprised to find that there ARE things you could easily do that would make your customers happy(er).

Who knows, maybe they really *didn't* like having to brush their horses, and would gladly have paid handsomely to have a groom do it.

Lucassb
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:35 PM
Lucassb I think you are my new BF.. well stated and totally agree.

:D Always happy to have new friends, Grey :)

2bayboys
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:42 PM
*sigh*

You don't ask in order to change their minds or counter any of what might have been said by the other party.

You ask, after politely thanking them for their prior business and wishing them well, if they have any suggestions about how you might improve your service offering to make your facility more attractive to other, similar customers.

"Well, Mrs Former Customer, we truly enjoyed having you with us this past year and we are sad to see you go, but of course we wish you all the best! I wonder if I could ask, is there anything that we could have done differently or better for you while you were here? As you know, we are always anxious to do what we can to provide a great experience, so if you have any suggestions for us, now or in the future, we'd greatly appreciate it."

Then shut up and listen.

You may decide not to take the suggestions/advice you get, but you might be surprised to find that there ARE things you could easily do that would make your customers happy(er).

Who knows, maybe they really *didn't* like having to brush their horses, and would gladly have paid handsomely to have a groom do it.

DING DING DING!!!

You ask because you VALUE their opinion as a customer!

Trixie
Oct. 8, 2010, 02:48 PM
What everyone said is correct, happy customers don't leave so what's the point in trying to talk to them once they've decided to go even if you suspect that the reason they are unhappy is because they've been lied to?

Perhaps to learn what you could have done better.

It's perfectly possible to ask them, civilly, why they chose to leave. If their response is "Because you gossiped about me and lied to me" (and I imagine it won't be), you can use that time to quietly and politely set the record straight. If they want to leave because they'd prefer to be somewhere less structured, that isn't and shouldn't be taken as an insult.

Graciously thank them for their patronage of the business and wish them well. Then lose words like "lying" and "backstabbing" from your vocabulary in a business setting. It's petty.