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  1. #1
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    May. 17, 2013
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    Default Am I horrible for being exactly what I disliked about my previous trainers?

    *Posting Under an Alternate

    Okay, so here's the story. I'll admit that I do have a favorite client... who pays the most
    Before I started my own barn, I would find my self jealous when the BO would treat the wealthiest boarder with more privileges, and show favoritism, compared to the others.

    Since I was an adult when I experienced that, it didn't bother me much, but in my current situation I am dealing with juniors, and I feel very guilty about this.

    My question is, what are your experiences with barn favoritism, and if you are in my position, did you feel guilty?



  2. #2
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    Nov. 28, 2006
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    ON, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alt View Post
    *Posting Under an Alternate

    Okay, so here's the story. I'll admit that I do have a favorite client... who pays the most
    Before I started my own barn, I would find my self jealous when the BO would treat the wealthiest boarder with more privileges, and show favoritism, compared to the others.

    Since I was an adult when I experienced that, it didn't bother me much, but in my current situation I am dealing with juniors, and I feel very guilty about this.

    My question is, what are your experiences with barn favoritism, and if you are in my position, did you feel guilty?
    No, you're just human and you're making a living. Wouldn't kill kids these days to learn life isn't fair, that sometimes you're not going to be the apple of the eye, there will always be someone richer and prettier and more popular than you, and that no, we can't all be winners every day. As long as you're giving everyone the service they've paid for, doing a quality job and treating everyone kindly, then I don't see the big deal. The fact of the matter is the person with more horses is paying you more because they're using more of your time - so realistically, they are entitled to more of your attention anyways.
    Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 20's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    4 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Apr. 10, 2006
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    Default

    Well, I dunno. From a business perspective, if you have a client that is spending $$ regularly, you are bound to pay that person a little more attention.

    I work in a service-based industry and while I do try to treat all my clients with the same respect, timeliness, and attention, I do go the extra mile sometimes for the client who is regularly contracting me.

    As long as you are not blatantly favoring said client, to the detriment of your other clients/students, and do not make your favoritism known, I don't see the problem. Just keep it to yourself, and try to be conscious of the fact that you need to give the same attention to everyone else when it is their turn/lesson/show etc.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Jan. 28, 2004
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    Default

    Being on the other side of the coin, I have never been the "favourite client", always leased horses until I could afford my own, and even now, being a grad student makes my time and finances quite limited. I understand that clients that show more and spend more will get more attention, but be careful that you don't "shun" other clients in favour for them. I have come to accept my lot, except when it comes to compromising the services that I pay. If I pay for a service and get shunned in favour of a $$ client, I get pissed because I pay the same amount for that service, and I'm sure as hell not paying with monopoly money so I expect to get what I pay for!

    Now, I totally understand that crap happens sometimes with scheduling and whatever, but that should be once in a blue moon, not every time! So just be sure that you aren't shortchanging your loyal, but not wealthiest clients that likely sacrifice a lot more to be there and to afford your services vs your $$$ clients.


    21 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Feb. 19, 2009
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    I think its human nature to have favorites. There is no way to feel the same about everyone. You end up liking or disliking people for various reasons and in this case, it is money. Next time it could be the person who has zero dollars but is easy to coach and is willing to ride anything, so you go out of your way to give them every opportunity available. Like I wouldn't say I'm a favorite, but I do get some opportunites that a lot of people question. I don't show a lot, I only have one horse in full training and I'm not the most experienced rider in the world (far from, actually) However, I show up on time, I work hard, I listen, I TRY, I'm coachable, and I will ride anything without complaint if given the opportunity. I know my trainer appreciates that (because not everyone at the barn has the same attitude) and will let me ride certain horses so I can continue to learn.

    And yes, it does affect kids more than adults but I think as long as all your clients are receiving the services that they PAY for, anything else is extra that is at your perogative. Kids included. And you can always do things to make the other kids feel special like a pizza party, or kids only sleepover, little appreciation gifts, etc. I think because of the close relationships that develop in a barn its often forgotten that what we're paying for is essentially x amount of lessons and x amount of training rides and that when we have scheduled time with you, its OUR time, not anyone elses. You as a business person do not owe anyone more than that unless you want to.

    I say all this as an adult client, btw. Have never been in the trainers shoes, but have seen plenty of this go on in other areas of life, as well as at my barn



  6. #6
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    Dec. 28, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlashGordon View Post
    Well, I dunno. From a business perspective, if you have a client that is spending $$ regularly, you are bound to pay that person a little more attention.

    I work in a service-based industry and while I do try to treat all my clients with the same respect, timeliness, and attention, I do go the extra mile sometimes for the client who is regularly contracting me.

    As long as you are not blatantly favoring said client, to the detriment of your other clients/students, and do not make your favoritism known, I don't see the problem. Just keep it to yourself, and try to be conscious of the fact that you need to give the same attention to everyone else when it is their turn/lesson/show etc.

    I agree with the above.

    It can be good business to offer some perks to the $$$ clients, however, this should be handled privately and does not need to be something that other clients are aware of.

    All clients, no matter the $$$ they are spending with you should be treated as if they are valued.
    Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Dec. 9, 2012
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    Default

    I was the poor kid who felt very neglected at shows when my trainer clearly spent more time with her favorite client (the one with 3 in full training..) My advice with that is if you're helping warmups, try to make it even! That's what upset me the most. The rest of the in-barn stuff I could deal with.

    However, I also learned that I wasn't magically going to be any less poor so I started working my tail off and going the extra mile every time. Within a couple of years I was probably considered a "favorite", but not because I spent a lot of money; because I showed up on time every day, rode every and any horse put in front of me, tried my dang hardest and took every opportunity with gratitude. It paid off and made me a better rider, but I will never forget the feeling of competing for time against the "favorite"


    10 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    May. 17, 2000
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    Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
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    I've never been the one paying my trainer's mortgage, that is for sure! I always joke that at best I provide a little spending cash over the show weekend - lunch money, perhaps...

    And I've never expected that they would spend anywhere near as much time with me as the money clients. I also didn't expect that we would be BFF. It's nice if we do like to socialize, but neither required nor expected. What I do expect is that when I am getting ready to go in the ring, the trainer is there and giving me their full attention - that's what I am paying them for - not stroking my ego the other 23.75 hours of the day at a horse show.

    My situation is a little bit different - I only hook up with the trainer at some shows and for an occasional lesson, so I really am pocket change at best. But that is just the more obvious example further down the spectrum, and a good life lesson in general: You may be friends with people you do business with or you may not, but people who you do business with will probably work harder to maximize their revenue with certain prospects, and what they owe you is not equal treatment, but fair treatment based on the service you purchased from them.

    (and yes, I've seen more fragile little egos have so much trouble with that concept... little do they realize how well known their behavior is...)
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Nov. 6, 2009
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    Default

    It's fine to have favorites, but having favorites doesn't mean you have to play favorites. Treat all your clients with the same friendliness, respect, and professionalism and you will be fine. The problem with playing favorites is that having one good favorite client is not a sound business plan. You want a group of happy clients growing their skills and growing their interest in horses so that you aren't too dependent on one person should that person go bankrupt or choose to leave. You never know when a smaller scale client is going to decide to upscale.

    My biggest client right now started out knowing very little and owning one ordinary horse and now has quite a few extremely nice horses. Another younger client was always very careful with money but now her career has taken off and she is expanding as well. Plus, you never know when a smaller scale client will recommend you to someone who has the potential to be a larger scale client. Just treat everyone with respect and professionalism because you never know what the future will hold.


    20 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2004
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    Carolinas
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    Default

    Natural response for you.
    Agree with others the $$ client will take more time, but you should also take very good care of your other clients. Understand circumstances change for all of us. The $$ client could face financial issues or may move to another barn or location. The lower$$ clients could come into money and then be in a position to choose to stay with you or move to another barn.

    A business lesson learned from my DH. Never allow one company or individual be more than 10% of your overall income. Too major of an impact on your business should they leave. Also gives them too much influence on your business plan as you are trying to keep them happy instead of focusing on your business plan. In short one company/individual may cause you to change your predetermined business schedule to adjust to their requirements. This may be good or bad for you... but it takes the decision away from you. Just something to think about.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


    8 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Oct. 16, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alt View Post
    *Posting Under an Alternate

    Okay, so here's the story. I'll admit that I do have a favorite client... .

    My question is, what are your experiences with barn favoritism, ?
    Having a "favorite" and showing "favoritism" are two different things.

    You should not feel guilty about having a favorite, but showing favoritism outwardly is probably not great for the dynamics of your barn. This is especially true if you are dealing with juniors.

    In what ways are you "showing favoritism"? Is it observable to the others?

    The fact that you are even asking the question and thinking about it is a good sign.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    May. 17, 2013
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    Default

    I guess I am not 'showing' very much favoritism, but in my head I always think of this family first, and I want to put their needs first, but I don't since I try my best to give everyone my equal attention. The other kids don't seem to mind, but a couple of the mothers were talking about it last weekend, which brought my worry.



  13. #13
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    If some of the mothers were talking about it last weekend, it is obvious to them.

    I've been in this situation more than once, and I can tell you that playing favorites does tend to blow up in the trainer's face eventually. Your other clients, combined, probably bring in more money for you than just this one family. Keep that in mind. Don't alienate a whole group to benefit just one wealthy client. Also, keep in mind that "wealth" is fleeting and also frequently fictional. You would not believe how many "wealthy" people end up in bankruptcy. You would also not believe how many "wealthy" people end up in jail, actually.


    13 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Oct. 7, 2010
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    Bee Honey and fooler beat me to it. While it is really nice to have one or a few clients that pay enough of your bills that you can focus on them, it is not a good business model. You may be lucky enough to keep them long-term, but often big clients can be fickle - they lose interest, they lose money, they find someone better, or you have a falling out. Whatever the case, that is a big void to fill.

    Don't overlook the small client. They may love riding and working with you so much that they are willing to live on ramen to have that weekly lesson. Treat them well and you never know, they may be able to, one day, be your next big client. If they weren't treated so well when they were small potatoes, they may start looking elsewhere when they have the money to expand their involvement. I think those ramen-eating clients are really good clients. No, they may not pay the mortgage, but they like riding so much that it will be the first bill they pay every month. If you get enough of them, they do pay your bills. If one leaves, it is not a big void to fill.

    This is not to say that every small client deserves every perk. I think you know who your good small clients are, the ones who may also be deserving of a little favoritism. The better you treat all of your [loyal] clients, big or small, the easier it will be to keep your business going. I know it sounds obvious, but in my experience this is something that I think many horse professionals forget. I think they get sucked into having that one or more big client who can buy the big dollar horse to take them to the places they want to go, that they tend to forget about those smaller, loyal clients. Generally speaking, just like not every rider is destined for greatness, not every trainer is, either.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Jan. 18, 2002
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    canada
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    Default

    Just to expand on what Fine just said, you also would not believe the amount of wealthy people, who are very poor payers. Lots of times its the people who struggle that take paying their bills very serious. They get that the horse is a luxury and are thankful for it and try their hardest to do right by their horses.
    Wealthy does not equate all the time to keeping your business running.
    So while the wealthy client can afford to do more, there is no point if they don't pay or are constantly late. Better to keep your business well rounded with all types of clients.
    www.tayvalleyfarm.com
    My other home.


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  16. #16
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    Jun. 20, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmmoran View Post
    I was the poor kid who felt very neglected at shows when my trainer clearly spent more time with her favorite client (the one with 3 in full training..) My advice with that is if you're helping warmups, try to make it even! That's what upset me the most. The rest of the in-barn stuff I could deal with.

    However, I also learned that I wasn't magically going to be any less poor so I started working my tail off and going the extra mile every time. Within a couple of years I was probably considered a "favorite", but not because I spent a lot of money; because I showed up on time every day, rode every and any horse put in front of me, tried my dang hardest and took every opportunity with gratitude. It paid off and made me a better rider, but I will never forget the feeling of competing for time against the "favorite"
    This is excellent advice to anyone - and it should be about dedication, not the dollar, first.

    To add to other posts. As another said it is human nature to show some favoritism and sometimes it might not necessarily be favoritism but business. When I'm boarding right now there is sort of the top client - she has the time and the desire for more lessons and more showing - as a result the trainer is spending much of her time w/ her. Taking money aside, a trainer might also show favoritism to wards a particular client who is just one heck of a naturally talented rider - it would be hard not to be more attentive etc.

    But you also don't want to lose clients because a trainer is so blantant with their favoritism - especially with younger clients - at certain ages most kids want to be part of the pack/team. A trainer friend of mine is great with keeping that age group in tow - she might have one that spends more and/or is a better rider. One or two of them might be spoiled at home but they don't get away with any of that at the barn or at shows. She has always had a pretty great group of kids as a result.



  17. #17
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    Michigan
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    fooler and FineAlready make really good points--yes, it makes sense to take very good care of your 'best' clients--but remember they can't/don't carry the entire business for you. Look at it this way: you say you instinctively want to put this particular family's needs first. Say there are two shows you can take clients to, one of which this family wants to go to, but three OTHER clients want to go to the second option. That family may be your 'best' customer, but where do you loose more if you go with what they want and, say, two of those other clients opt not to show?

    I just went through HR job training for work at a casino. One point that got made a lot: yes, we have 'high rollers', yes, they get perks that general guests don't. But it's based ONLY on how much they play, and ANY guest can achieve that status and get exactly the same treatment. Yes, there might be guests we as staff don't like as much as others, and maybe they don't get that tiny little extra 'oomph', but they don't get any LESS than they're paying for. That's the thing, yes, you can have perks, you can offer a bit more to those who pay more, but it has to be based on objective things, not on "I just like you better." That can be clients who pay more for shows and have more horses, that can be the kid who comes in and mucks ten stalls after school to pay for lessons, but if you're doing this as a business, it can't be "I just like them better, mom and I are in the same bridge club, dad and I went to the same college, we all shop at the same grocery store," whatever.


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  18. #18
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    Apr. 10, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by salymandar View Post
    Don't overlook the small client. They may love riding and working with you so much that they are willing to live on ramen to have that weekly lesson. Treat them well and you never know, they may be able to, one day, be your next big client. If they weren't treated so well when they were small potatoes, they may start looking elsewhere when they have the money to expand their involvement. I think those ramen-eating clients are really good clients. No, they may not pay the mortgage, but they like riding so much that it will be the first bill they pay every month. If you get enough of them, they do pay your bills. If one leaves, it is not a big void to fill.

    This is not to say that every small client deserves every perk. I think you know who your good small clients are, the ones who may also be deserving of a little favoritism. The better you treat all of your [loyal] clients, big or small, the easier it will be to keep your business going. I know it sounds obvious, but in my experience this is something that I think many horse professionals forget. I think they get sucked into having that one or more big client who can buy the big dollar horse to take them to the places they want to go, that they tend to forget about those smaller, loyal clients. Generally speaking, just like not every rider is destined for greatness, not every trainer is, either.
    Great post.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.



  19. #19
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    Jun. 15, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alt View Post
    I guess I am not 'showing' very much favoritism, but in my head I always think of this family first, and I want to put their needs first, but I don't since I try my best to give everyone my equal attention. The other kids don't seem to mind, but a couple of the mothers were talking about it last weekend, which brought my worry.
    If it is enough that parents are noticing then I think you must be showing favoritism. Yes people inherently have preferences but over time demonstrations of favoritism starts to undermine your professionalism and reputation. Be honest with yourself about what your relationship with this family looks like to the outside. Also, consider why you like this junior so much. By isolating her virtues (such as being a team player, giving 100%, having a rock solid seat, always finding her spot, etc.) you can develop these in your other riders.


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  20. #20
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    I have watched trainers fall under the spell of a client with multiple horses and deep pockets. But have also watched the Moms nit picking every second trainer spends with another client at the perceived expense of DD. Sometimes they are being overprotective Moms who want time they are not paying for but the wealthy client is. Sometimes they have a point.

    Are you chatting with all your clients as always or spending more casual between lesson time with just the wealthy one? Did you stop going to lunch/ dinner with the group and now only go with that one client? Did you used to share comments during lessons with the "peanut gallery" and now direct them only to the one client?

    Maybe you do, maybe you don't or maybe it looks like you are or that client likes to monopolize your time. Just think about it.

    Because many trainers do let that happen without. meaning to. Then, one day, big client goes poof. Only then do those trainers realize they ran off everybody else. Keep it solely business
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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