Let's talk about some creative ways to sell horses in these hard times.
I'm sort of thinking as I type here.
As we all know, in Europe buyers can easily see and try dozens of horses a day, but here a buyer may travel hundreds of miles just to see one. If that one is a bust, then they have spent a ton on travel for nothing.
I have a thought and wanted to get some input from you guys.
Someone contacted me last week and is interested in flying down to see a couple of horses I have for sale. After long conversation with her, we are not completely sure the horses will be a good fit, but because there is more than one and they sound CLOSE to what she wants, she is willing to make the trip.
Now, here is the idea about which I'd like input from you guys and maybe for all of us to consider:
I am thinking I might invite others who have horses for sale in the area (that closely fit the buyer's needs/wants) to bring their horses out here so the buyer can actually see several horses while she is here. That way, she has a better chance of finding a horse and someone gets to make a sale.
Of course, the risk is that she might like someone else's horse better than mine and I lose a sale. So, how do I make doing this fair to me? Require a commission if one of the horse's sells? Charge a small fee for each horse brought out?
Would you, as a seller, be interested in such a thing? Would you, as a buyer, find this attractive?
And if I arrange for a dozen or so horses to be here for HER to try, should I also put the word out to other potential buyers that there will be several sales horses of a certain type available on that day to try?
Or should this sort of small, impromptu sales gathering be better left to something formal, planned out and advertised - knowing you might not get ANY buyers at all to show up - as have happened at numerous "sport horse sales" lately.
At least setting something up around an actual REAL buyer would guarantee a serious person seeing the sales horses - even if's only one.
What does the buyer think? I personally might be a little overwhelmed if I thought I was going to see a few horses at a private farm, and was surprised by a dozen, all accompanied by owners wanting me to pick their own over the other horses.
As a seller, I would be more comfortable paying a barn use fee to bring my horse over to see the potential buyer than I would be with being charged a commission if it did sell.
When I was looking, one of the nicest sellers I met did exactly this -- contacted some other people she knew had horses for sale that might fit my needs. I flew down from MA to VA and when I arrived I had 5 to look at! Not only that, this seller arranged for it all to happen at a farm that was only about 10 miles from the airport, rather than 80+ up in the hills where she lived.
I was a bit overwhelmed but felt very "cared for". As it turned out, the seller's horse was too green for me. There was one with a different owner I could have gotten if I'd bought her on the spot, but I wanted a more experienced person to check her out, and before I could do that, the horse was sold
What a great idea! I would clear it with the buyer first but I can't see her having a problem. More horses to look at - great! Maybe I wouldn't invite other buyers to be on the grounds at the same time as this buyer. Let her see the horses without the pressure of others possibly "stealing her horse". But when you invite other potential buyers you can tell them what you are doing.
Another alternative is to have a barn tour, where instead of the sellers coming to your farm, the buyers get a list of people with horses for sale in the area, a map, and a schedule and visit everyone's farms.
Most professionals around here have several horses to show, some they call someone else to bring over, so a buyer that travels from far away has several to try.
It is done as a friendship perk and if yours is not bought today, maybe next time.
It is rather informal.
Those are higher end barrel racing or roping horses.
I might pay a small fee to bring a horse (and I do have one for sale right now so thought about what you said). However, in terms of a commission, I'm already having to pay a commission to the trainer who is selling her for me so probably wouldn't do it in that case. I would ask what she is seeking as I wouldn't want to pay a fee to bring a horse if it isn't close to her description of what she is seeking.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe
As a buyer, I'd love it. For the sellers, I'd look at it as a professional networking effort on your part. If the sellers bring up a fee/commission, I'd tell them that if the buyer ends up getting one of their horses, all they owe you is a drink at the next show/event so you can toast their success.
Since you haven't set the precedent of a fee, you can keep all the sellers updated on your sales stock and know that that one of them is likely to return the favor eventually and won't be looking for a fee from you.
I thought I'd add that if a seller (with my prior knowlege) sourced some other suitable horses for me to try I'd be thrilled. Even if I didn't find something or bought someone elses horse, it's very likely I'd recommend the seller to others or return to them the next time I was looking for something. So you might take the short term chance of losing your sale, but you also might gain even more business in the long term.
So here is an odd thought- what would your liability be as the person hosting and coordinating this if in fact the buyer tries someone else's horse on your property and either the seller or the horse becomes injured?
I actually had someone do something similar for me when I was looking for an OTTB. Trainer at the track put the word out that there was a buyer coming up, with a trainer in tow, and they arranged for me to have 5 suitable horses for me to see from 3 different trainsers, as well as 2 that were suitable for my trainer.
I bought one, and seriously considered buying a 2nd one for my trainer as a jumper prospect, but she decided she wanted a mare.
I've been on three US buying trips. Each time, I'd find a couple of horses myself in a geographic area, then my trainer and I would work hard to hunt down more to see within a reasonable radius. Set up a schedule and fly there, in one case for 3 days, in another for nearly a week (had a friend to bunk with that time.) It worked great.
In fact, for the long trip, my non-horsey friend came with us and took videos of all the rides, which was invaluable when I made my decision. I would sit in bed and watch them every night, could compare the horses I'd just ridden that day.
That said, I'd be glad if a seller offered to bring other seller's horses to one place, but I would not want to feel this placed me under any obligations whatsoever to try those horses. I don't want to feel bad because someone trailered in 2 hours and I don't even want to get on their horse. (Although I probably would if it appeared safe, because frankly each one of those trips, getting on and off so many different horses in a limited time,was worth 6 months of lessons.)
I would also want to be informed of any commission the host was receiving, as this could affect the purchase price. I have a feeling there might even be a legal issue there, so be sure to look into it. In any case it would best to be upfront about that with the buyer.
Basically what you are talking about would be very similar to going to big sale barn, in a way, where there are a number of horses to try.
West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
I think it's a great idea.
I'd nix any fees or commissions for yourself, for sellers bringing in horses for your client to try, though. Think of it as a good networking deed, and opportunity for not just your client to look at other horses besides yours, but for those other sellers to look at what you have for sale. Maybe sometime in the future, they'll think of you when they have a client looking.
I say this as the beneficiary of your largesse in just such a situation, several years ago. The effort did not result in a sale, but it was a valuable experience and marketing tool. Thank you, again.
I think arranging additional suitable horses for a long-distance buyer to see would be greatly appreciated.
I would certainly be willing to either bring a suitable horse I have to your place OR pick the buyer up and bring her to my area to try horses here. Guess I have mixed feelings about paying a fee or commission. When I have people call about my horses, I always try to tell them about other horses in the area that might fit their criteria. I figure if my horse is the one for them, then it is the one for them. If not, I will be happy they were able to find a horse that works for them and even happier if I was able to help a fellow breeder sell a horse. I figure that good karma will come back my way eventually.