As a business owner you want to treat all of your customers fairly, but should you treat them equally? Personality-wise, there will always be some people who are more compatible to another individual. But business-wise, should you treat boarders differently?
In business the answer is a resounding YES! But business "perks" are not the same as personal friendships or "liking" someone more. And business perks can be given to those clients who are best for your business.
Let's talk about a few examples of how to pick out some of your best business boarders, why you should recognize those persons as special, and how to give them perks that should result in more of your customers rising to this top ranking.
Who Are Your Best Customers?
There are many ways to look at this category, but most often your best customers have several traits in common:
- They pay on time.
- They properly care for their horses and equipment.
- They take care of your facilities and equipment.
- They speak well of you to other boarders and potential boarders.
- They are honest and speak to you about things they do and don't like about your facility.
This list could go on depending on your type of facility. For example, you might consider a best customer one who takes lessons weekly, or twice a week. Or you might consider a best customer one who hires you not only to house and train them and their horse(s), but someone who hires you to coach them at multiple shows each year.
The key here is to determine what makes a "best customer" in your equine business and strive to keep that person happy, communicating with you, and reaching out to others who would also be best customers for you.
Recognizing who your best customers are can help you recruit those types of people in the future, or perhaps help you "upgrade" current clients who don't make your "best" list.
Who Are Your Worst Customers?
In this instance you can't always put personalities aside. A "worst customer" might have the opposites of the characteristics listed above, or have all of those going for her in spades, but she is just miserable to be around. Someone who makes you and your other boarders unhappy or angry is not good for business.
To give you a list as a starting point for determining your worst customers, they are the people who:
- Never pay on time, or their payment bounces;
- Neglect daily care of their horses or equipment;
- Are negligent in caring for your facilities and equipment;
- Speak badly of you or others in your employ to current or potential customers;
- Talk behind your back rather than speaking directly to you if there is a problem or concern.
Again, this is just a brief list, and you should determine what makes your "worst" list in your situation.
Rewarding the Best
Once you have your criteria, you should let your best clients know why you consider them your top boarders. Then offer them specific perks. Maybe they get first choice of lesson times (or choice of school horse). If you have a sign-up sheet for your arenas or courses, they get first pick on days and times. Or maybe they get a special trail ride with you, or you give a free clinic each quarter just for those clients. Or they get a discount on a quarterly clinic.
This is where your list comes in...because other boarders will want to know how to get the perks. You have to be tactful, but having something solid (your list) can help motivate your second-tier clients to want to move up.
If Susie comes and asks why she isn't able to take the quarterly clinic for free or get a discount, you can remind her that she was late paying twice that quarter. That might motivate her to take paying on time more seriously.
This is more the "carrot" rather than the "stick" approach to improving or modifying the behavior of your clients. Again, each farm or stable is different, and you must determine what is important in your situation.