Know Your Customers and What They Want

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How well do you know the boarders at your farm or the students that you teach? You probably think you know them quite well, but sometimes it is good to ask rather than assume. You might be surprised at what you find out.

When we assume we know the answer to something, we are then basing our decisions and actions by inaccurate “facts.” If you KNOW your customers like to use the outside wash rack rather than the inside one so you are planning on building more outside wash racks, what are you basing that on? If it is just based on observation, then maybe your boarders aren't using the inside wash stalls because there is something they don't like about them and they really would like to use inside wash stalls. But you don't know that because you haven’t done your homework.

Research is simple in this digital age. It can be as easy as sending an email to each of your boarders and asking for their opinions, and as sophisticated as using outside software to do a quick survey. There are lots of survey software companies out there that you can use. One of my favorites is SurveyMonkey.com. With that group you can have a free 10-question survey answered by 100 people, and they have templates to help you get started. Of course if you want bigger and better, they have plans that are reasonably priced.

What if you are trying to get more folks to your schooling show or recognized show? Do you know what your customers and potential customers would like to have for amenities, facilities, classes or outside activities? Today it is very simple to find that out.

For those of you in the horse industry who don’t have email lists or want to reach a broader audience of potential customers, most of the equine publishing groups (such as our parent company Active Interest Media) have avenues you can use to either announce your survey to their audiences, or they will handle the entire process for you. Tell them what you want to know, such as: Would your horse show attendees like to have additional age groups in adult and youth classes; would they rather start the show at 7 a.m. or 6 p.m.; do they want a bedding and hay dealer on the grounds.

If you work with an outside list vendor, you also can determine which segment of the industry to target (i.e., dressage riders, trail riders, Western riders, women over 50 who own horses), and even a geographic location (those within 250 miles of a specific city, women in Wisconsin, men in Wyoming).

And the cost for doing this type of survey or announcement of your services is not expensive!

Here are a couple of tips to help you be more successful getting what you want when surveying or announcing shows or services.

Tip #1 There are independent companies that sell email lists in specific segments of various industries, but make sure you are getting what you want and not a generic list of emails to people who are not qualified customers for your products or services. Working with a group that is active in the equine industry will improve your chances of success because that group already has a relationship with the people you want to attract to your survey or your business.

Tip #2 Spice it up! Offer some reward. Offer a drawing for those who take your survey or click the link to get more information about your facility or show. It can be as simple as a free entry to a class at your show, as expansive as an all-expense-paid entry to the entire show (including stall and trailer fees), to a gift card.

Doing research and having information on your clients and potential clients to help you make sound business decisions is not a huge or expensive undertaking, and it’s well worth your time and effort. You can partner with an industry leader, or do it yourself if you have the contact information or lists.