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Seeking Advice On Trainer - Client Relations

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  • Seeking Advice On Trainer - Client Relations

    Seeking advice on how to address this situation:

    Family with multiple kids keeps horses at home and used to ship in for lessons and on-farm schooling shows. Last fall they inquired about me coming to their house to do the lessons. I declined (I do not have the time to leave my own farm/business) - ships-ins are welcome (I have a few each week on a regular basis), but I don't go elsewhere myself.

    Because I declined, they found someone else to come to them and ceased shipping-in. Not a problem, I understand that is easier for them.

    A couple weeks ago the family comes to one of my on farm schooling shows. Parent inquires if I will help kids at the show. I agree. Family knows what the fee involved with that is as they did it before when they used to ship in.

    At the end of the show day, parent inquires about one of the kids. We have a long discussion about what I would be doing with her if she were in my program. Parent seems to agree with my assessment of where the kid is at right now (mentally and physically) and what the goals are with her. That night I send an email with a list of my show schedule for the remainder of the year. These people are not familiar with doing rated shows and I did not hear back from my email, so I assumed that they were not interested.

    Last week they showed up at a (rated) show I was at. Parent immediately comes up to me and apologizes that they brought the trainer that's been helping them at home. They just didn't feel it would be nice to her to have me coach the kids instead of her since she's been helping them at home. I assured the parent that I understood and that it was fine with me.

    However, during the show, on more than one occassion, the parent kept coming up to me and making inquires about what did I think about this, and how would I handle that, and how does this work, and why did that happen, etc. While each time I politely answered the questions, honestly, I was not comfortable with that situation.

    My feeling is that answering those questions and guideing you through the whole horse show experience is part of the reason you pay your trainer. My opinion, (and purely speculation on my part), is that because their new trainer does not come from a h/j background perhaps she could not answer the questions - or the parent just had more faith in my answers?

    Should this situation arise again, I don't want to be snarky and tell them simply to go ask their trainer, but at the same time I am not comfortable with the situation as it happend this week. I am not sure how to diplomatically handle this situation should it arise again. Any ideas?

  • #2
    I think that you got sucked into being polite by answering the parent's questions at the show. That would have been the perfect time to say "I'm sure Tracy Trainer can explain that better than I. Would you excuse me? I need to go school one of my students for the ring."

    Parent may be trying to decide about whether to leave Tracy Trainer and come back to you. But it's putting you in a bad situation if they go back to Tracey Trainer and say "Olivia Old-Trainer says my kids should be doing XYZ." That's unfair both to you and to the other trainer.

    I would say that the next time the parent tries this, you need to gently say "That's really a question for your trainer. If you'd like to ship in for some lessons, we can talk more," and leave it at that.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

    Comment


    • #3
      Kind of suprised their other "trainer" just sits there and watches them go to you with all their questions...that's kind of weird.

      Regardless, as a professional, it's fine to be kind but this needs to stop. I think you may have encouraged it when you said is was fine that they were with the other trainer but wanted to talk to you and solicited your opinion.

      You can keep being nice but you just hold back any opinions or suggestions. Say something like "Oh nice to see you, sorry, I am kind of rushed, I have to look a a couple of sale horses for a client" or "Oh, hi there, I have to go teach Suzy. See you later. Good luck in your class" or, worst case, act like your phone is on vibrate and simply say "Oh, hello. How is your DD. I am sorry, I have to take this call" and just walk away with phone to ear nodding your head and acting like you are engaged in conversation. That's nice and polite and will keep you in control of the time you spend talking to them.

      Why people expect to pick your brain for free while paying somebody else, regardless of that persons skill level, just always amazes me and it certainly is not expected, or tolerated, in any other profession.

      Just stay in control of the time you spend talking to them and end the conversation when it gets into your Professional opinion.
      Last edited by findeight; Jul. 26, 2010, 05:33 PM.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by findeight View Post
        Kind of suprised their other "trainer" just sits there and watches them go to you with all their questions...that's kind of weird.

        I do not know the new trainer at all. I would not know her if she walked up to me. All I know is the little bit I have heard about her from the parents and kids. In fact, I am not confident that she is a trainer as a profession. I think these people are her only clients and that she has another "normal" job. So that may have something to do with her not being upset about it. Or maybe she is upset about it and they did it on the sly? I really have no idea.

        Bottom line for me is that it IS my profession, my clients all pay for my assistance and guidance (of all kinds), and I am not comfortable with the way last week went. Therefore, I have to put an end to it one way or another - regardless of how the new trainer feels about the situation.

        I just don't want to be too snarky or sarcastic in doing so. That is my tendancy and I have been trying very hard over the years to learn to be more diplomatic about things.

        Comment


        • #5
          Send them an invoice for your assistance at the show. That should put a stop to it.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
            Send them an invoice for your assistance at the show. That should put a stop to it.
            I love this!
            Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique

            Comment


            • #7
              On another note...how much do you like the kid?

              If you like the kid, and the advice would benefit them...then maybe look upon it as a good deed but keep it to a minimum. As long as your own clients aren't suffering, it could be good "publicity" for you.

              I am always impressed by a trainer that helps others that aren't their client. You never know who might be noticing your actions.
              Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique

              Comment


              • #8
                I would ask the parent, "what does your TRAINER say (think) about the kid's round?"

                In this case, I think the parent is unsure of what's going on and is basically asking for a second opinion. Maybe they are confused and are coming to you for reassurance.

                I think it's nice of you to help, but the last thing you want to do is offer a different opinion on events and have it turn into a big bruhaha.

                It's nice when trainers can work together, but it often turns into more of a "you peed on my fire hydrant." One or both trainers want to be top dog, and that's never a good situation.
                Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think you could be honest and SAY you are not comfortable with the situation because (1) it's not fair to your clients who are paying you for your advice when these folks are getting your time at no charge, (2) it is a bit of an insult to their trainer, when they come to a show with her & then so publicly seek a second opinion, and (3) it is not fair to their rider, who now must try to please two different trainers whose methods might be very different and confusing to the rider.

                  You could follow up with a polite but firm statement that you are equally happy to school their rider or to just greet them like an old friend & NOT school their rider. But they need to choose one 'at the show' trainer, because 'training by committee' just doesn't work.

                  I'm going to bet if they're fairly new to it all, they don't even see why any of this might be an issue, so a polite & honest explanation of "why" this isn't a good idea might be doing them a real favor.
                  Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Spud&Saf View Post
                    On another note...how much do you like the kid?

                    If you like the kid, and the advice would benefit them...then maybe look upon it as a good deed but keep it to a minimum. As long as your own clients aren't suffering, it could be good "publicity" for you.

                    I am always impressed by a trainer that helps others that aren't their client. You never know who might be noticing your actions.
                    Yeah, well, on Beta Alpha 6 in the Centauri system? That would be the way to go.

                    However, on Earth in the here and now? Trainers make their living, pay their housing, feed themselves, their kids and their own horses and pay assorted vet and human Dr bills with the income they earn as Professional Horsemen who get paid for their talent and opinions/ideas in training a rider or horse. They have no other way to earn a living.

                    Helping a kid is nice but only goes so far...especially when the parent is the one asking for advice and guidence while paying another for the same.

                    Kind of, hate to say it. Let's get real on this. The kid has never approached the OP according to this post but the parents are leeching the OP for guidence while paying another...and pulled out from paying this trainer in favor of what they are paying now....and not getting what they are paying/sucking for.

                    This IS a business. Trainers depend on income to support themselves and families. It is not a game or feel good group hug "I'm OK you're OK" session.

                    Long as OP continues to offer opinions and advice without any payment? It will continue. But is IS possible to be polite and supportive without offering anything they should be paying for that is the lifeline of your business and livelyhood.

                    Thin line to tread, but easy enough with some thought.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I certainly appreciate the situation you're in! You don't want to put the kids in the middle or burn a bridge you don't have to burn. If it happens again, though, I would say "Hey, I really wouldn't mind talking to you about this, but my clients that are here at this show need me to focus on them and I really can't take time away from them right now. I'll shoot you an email when we get home and would love to chat with you." Your clients are paying for your expertise; these people are not. If I were one of the clients, I might be mad. It's one thing if they just asked a passing question when they happened to see you but to seek you out and basically ask for training at a show at which they are not paying you is rude on their part. Though, they might not realise it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        All answers but the direct, one adult to another type answers are rude, IMO.

                        No brush off, no fake phone call, no invoicing to make a point really indirectly, no vagueness with "good luck" (honey, if the parent wanted merely your good wishes, she wouldn't have asked more technical questions), no implication that the parent ought to know better (why should she know the ins and outs of this profession?), no assumption that anyone is knowingly ripping someone else off (see 'why should she know?' above).

                        Just explain man-to-man what the parent doesn't know she's doing and how you need to behave in the situation in order to help keep her (the parent's) relationships with all pros on the level.

                        So after the second or third request at a show: "Look, I should tell you that I can't help you with advice here and there while you are in training with someone else. That undermines your relationship with your trainer and it's not fair. You need to pick one and go with that while their working for you."

                        But understand that while this may sound blunt or final, it is not. The ambitious parent who wants the best for her kid and isn't having great success getting everything she wants from one trainer should have both the balls and some room for a dialogue. It sounds like the OP has a decent relationship with the parent. Let her know where you stand, that it's not personal (just about being above board) and that you'll be happy to work with them in the future if this gets sorted out.

                        I can't tell you how many of us ammies want to learn from more than one person or need to switch trainers for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with deciding we value one pro's skill set more than another. If we switch with grace and good relations all around, it's because someone taught us those ropes.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [quote=Thanatos;5000365]...If it happens again, though, I would say "Hey, I really wouldn't mind talking to you about this, but my clients that are here at this show need me to focus on them and I really can't take time away from them right now. I'll shoot you an email when we get home and would love to chat with you." [quote]

                          Umm...how is that different from taking time at a show to extract opinion and advice from someone depending on that opinion and advice to live on and support their family when paying another to provide such advice and giving the person you e mail squat????????

                          I vote NO on that one. Your opinion is your livelyhood as a Pro. Give it wisely and only when earned or paid for. Yeah, you need to give back when deserved. The parent of a kid who pulled out of haul ins with you and now seeking to bleed you dry of ideas when paying another and not you is not deserving.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by alterknowbetter View Post
                            Seeking advice on how to address this situation:

                            Family with multiple kids keeps horses at home and used to ship in for lessons and on-farm schooling shows. Last fall they inquired about me coming to their house to do the lessons. I declined (I do not have the time to leave my own farm/business) - ships-ins are welcome (I have a few each week on a regular basis), but I don't go elsewhere myself.

                            Because I declined, they found someone else to come to them and ceased shipping-in. Not a problem, I understand that is easier for them.

                            A couple weeks ago the family comes to one of my on farm schooling shows. Parent inquires if I will help kids at the show. I agree. Family knows what the fee involved with that is as they did it before when they used to ship in.

                            At the end of the show day, parent inquires about one of the kids. We have a long discussion about what I would be doing with her if she were in my program. Parent seems to agree with my assessment of where the kid is at right now (mentally and physically) and what the goals are with her. That night I send an email with a list of my show schedule for the remainder of the year. These people are not familiar with doing rated shows and I did not hear back from my email, so I assumed that they were not interested.

                            Last week they showed up at a (rated) show I was at. Parent immediately comes up to me and apologizes that they brought the trainer that's been helping them at home. They just didn't feel it would be nice to her to have me coach the kids instead of her since she's been helping them at home. I assured the parent that I understood and that it was fine with me.

                            However, during the show, on more than one occassion, the parent kept coming up to me and making inquires about what did I think about this, and how would I handle that, and how does this work, and why did that happen, etc. While each time I politely answered the questions, honestly, I was not comfortable with that situation.

                            My feeling is that answering those questions and guideing you through the whole horse show experience is part of the reason you pay your trainer. My opinion, (and purely speculation on my part), is that because their new trainer does not come from a h/j background perhaps she could not answer the questions - or the parent just had more faith in my answers?

                            Should this situation arise again, I don't want to be snarky and tell them simply to go ask their trainer, but at the same time I am not comfortable with the situation as it happend this week. I am not sure how to diplomatically handle this situation should it arise again. Any ideas?
                            so tell her that ------ if she wants your advice she pays for it end of the day you have a business to run and no business gives free advice dont be a mug grow a thicker skin and tell her

                            sorry mate but under the circumsatnces you welcome to enter at my shows and pay the fee and your welcome to use your triainer

                            and any question you have then tell your trianer as i i am not employed by you to trian your horses/children so cant comment

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              [QUOTE=findeight;5000381][quote=Thanatos;5000365]...If it happens again, though, I would say "Hey, I really wouldn't mind talking to you about this, but my clients that are here at this show need me to focus on them and I really can't take time away from them right now. I'll shoot you an email when we get home and would love to chat with you."

                              Umm...how is that different from taking time at a show to extract opinion and advice from someone depending on that opinion and advice to live on and support their family when paying another to provide such advice and giving the person you e mail squat????????

                              I vote NO on that one. Your opinion is your livelyhood as a Pro. Give it wisely and only when earned or paid for. Yeah, you need to give back when deserved. The parent of a kid who pulled out of haul ins with you and now seeking to bleed you dry of ideas when paying another and not you is not deserving.

                              It's different because I can choose how much effort I really want to put into responding to an email. I guess I just don't like being a raging female dog if I don't have to and can find a more tactful solution. The OP has already said they have email conversations so this seemed like an extension of that and the emails didn't seem to be the OP's concern. Just what's happening at the show. (shrugs) It's obviously only a suggestion that hopefully mother will take as a hint and will bugger off.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Well, I guess I just don't get how paying somebody else and asking for my free opinion when I could use the money is a great way to go.

                                Trainers sometimes get branded as controlling and whatever for expecting to be paid...and this is different from any other professional because...???

                                Guess I just don't get that but we can agree to disagree and OPs former clients can continue to pay somebody else while getting free advice from her.

                                That's not a raging female dog in any other profession. It's called strictly business when you are supporting yourself and family in any other field. But I guess you are a controlling byatch in the horse world?

                                And, again, I read no mention of the kid involved coming forward, only the non riding parents who selected another Pro to receive their money wanting free advice while continuing to pay the other so called "pro".
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                  snip
                                  I think regardless of the solution the OP selects, a big part of maintaining a professional air is in the execution. You're right; it is business but there's a good way and a bad way to do things. I'm an attorney and had my own practice for awhile so I certainly understand when people would come and want free advice. Usually, I would just say "I am really very busy and I have paying clients who rely on my time. If you send me an email, I might have time to give you a real quick, basic answer but I may not have the time to respond at all." That way, the bridge wasn't burned, they might become a client in the future, but I didn't commit to spending time and could choose whether or not or how much time I wanted to give to that person. The worst person for this? My mother who still calls me at work and asks me all kinds of legal questions at least once a week.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Thanatos View Post
                                    ...The worst person for this? My mother who still calls me at work and asks me all kinds of legal questions at least once a week.
                                    Yeah, well, not the best example for former clients paying another while still...er...pardon this metaphor...sucking at the teat. As in why buy the cow when the milk is free?

                                    It is fair question often brought up by legal types I am sure you are very familiar with. To continue that metaphor, the cow does not have to let them nurse. That's my point, and she does not need to kill them, just refuse the teat.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Spud&Saf View Post
                                      On another note...how much do you like the kid?

                                      If you like the kid, and the advice would benefit them...then maybe look upon it as a good deed but keep it to a minimum. As long as your own clients aren't suffering, it could be good "publicity" for you.

                                      I am always impressed by a trainer that helps others that aren't their client. You never know who might be noticing your actions.
                                      So long as it isn't interfering with the paying clients.

                                      Otherwise, I forsee a thread with a rider complaining that their trainer wasn't paying attention to their round and was instead chatting with a former client...

                                      And there's a difference between helping someone who isn't a client and helping someone who is someone else's client.

                                      In my profession, if an owner is seeking a second opinion, they're typically expected to pay for it.
                                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
                                        So long as it isn't interfering with the paying clients.

                                        Otherwise, I forsee a thread with a rider complaining that their trainer wasn't paying attention to their round and was instead chatting with a former client...

                                        And there's a difference between helping someone who isn't a client and helping someone who is someone else's client.

                                        In my profession, if an owner is seeking a second opinion, they're typically expected to pay for it.
                                        agree

                                        Comment

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