27th October 2009, 08:20 PM
As most of you may know, last winter I set up my own business "Open Mind Equine Training".
Basically, I work in rescue and rehab so the idea of the business is that I offer my services with training & schooling horses, not necessarily "problem" ones. I can either go to the clients home for an hour session (weekly, fortnightly, monthly whatever) OR I can take the horse on at my yard on a full livery basis for more intensive training.
Business started off well with some good one off clients and I have one regular, long term client who I go to fortnightly.
I am after some advice on how to get my business growing. Now I know we have the credit crunch which has stopped people spending, it's also winter but it just doesn't seem to be picking up enough. I have adverts out and about, I will admit I could do more with advertising but my main ad is on a very well used website for this area.
My main problem is that I know most things happen by word of mouth. Trouble is, if I can get clients in the first place, how can people recommend me? In my area I am well known as an instructor, but not for this kind of work as the majority of my rehab work has always been through charities. I am to do more rescue and rehab (off my own back as opposed to charity) next year, which will hopefully get my name out there a bit more, but what else can I do to "spread the word"??
Out of other trainers in my area, I am probably the cheapest in all fairness so hoped this would bring people in. Could I be too cheap??
I've got my website (needs updating) and have had poster at all the local tack shops but still nothing. I have a mass of client testimonials to show work I have done, success stories if you like. I did the trade stand last year which didn't do anything so I am kind of stuck.
Any help, advice, ideas would be much appreciated.
What do you look for in a "horse trainer"??
27th October 2009, 09:25 PM
Thanks Apple, lots of ideas :)
Can you PM me the link to your website. Would be interested in having a look.
Will PM you in a tick :)
If I were you I'd get a brochure or leaflet of some sort printed up to distribute. I'd put them in local tack shops, local riding schools, livery yards, vets, pet shops etc. spend a few days just driving around to all the places around your area and just beg people to let you put your media in their reception/shop/etc.
Great idea. Will defo look into getting a three fold leaflet or something similar sorted :)
Get some testimonials on your website if you haven't already, even if it's just from charities... or from Chunky's new owner, or anyone else you've worked with.
I haven't got them on website at the moment no but this is on the to do list. Problem is, my website needs a serious overhaul. A friend of mine did it but there are loads of things I want to change/add, however I can't do it from home as my internet connection is too slow to cope with it :(
Maybe run some special offers to bring people in. Like group discounts if liveries at a yard all book lessons for the same evening each week... Cheaper rates if they book blocks of lessons rather than just a one off...
Again this is something I need to add to the website but will get it on leaflets etc
Do you compete the horses you work with at all?? I always take notice of people at shows who have their business name on their coat when they're warming up or something. And also it'd give you more success stories to put on your website if ponies you've worked with have been out and about showing/jumping/etc.
Transport is a huge issue with me at the moment so I'm not able to compete my own horses, let alone ones in for training. This is defo my aim for the future though and I am hoping to get my business name printed on some saddlecloths/cooler rugs etc
I'd persevere with the trade stand thing... maybe try and target local shows and sponsor a class or an arena, or if they'll let you set up a trade stand, great! I'd advertise in every possible place I could...
Am hoping to line some trade stands up for next year :)
What about getting some clients ponies over and holding an open day or something? Do a few demos with ponies that are still in training and maybe get some people to ride/show off the ponies that are doing well...? Don't know if that would be possible but might create some interest. Offer refreshments, talks, etc. maybe get the charity you work with in to do a bit of a talk on their work, etc.
Now this is something I have been really considering a lot lately - demo of some sort. I just have no idea what I would demonstrate and I am a useless public speaker. This really is something I am keen to do though :) I'm sure EMW would get involved, any kind of publicity for them is a huge bonus.
What area are you in? I'm sure I should know, lol... but can't think.
Herefordshire :) I am willing to travel though. My main fortnightly client is actually in Droitwich, which is an hours drive away.
3rd November 2009, 12:24 PM
Have you thought about a sign on the back of you car? Where ever you go it goes & when its parked up its there for all to see. I know that vista print do magnetic ones & you can design & word it yourself & it gets delivered straight to you door. I think there about £9.00 + postage. I don't get much business from tradestand, but get more business from sponsoring a class & from giving leaflets out at shows by hand. Have you also tried sending letters out to horsy people. Go through the yellow pages & send a leaflet to all the named people in your area under the section "equestrian ??". I did it once & had quite a good response back from it.
3rd November 2009, 02:49 PM
Some really good ideas there!
I know that theres a lady in our area who does shiatsu for horses and she came to a show and was handing out leaflets and telling anyone interested a bit about what she did, she got some good clients from that day alone - I'd def think thats worth a go! xx
3rd November 2009, 08:06 PM
Apple has some really good ideas there!
When I first read this post my first thought was trade stand!
Have you advertised on places like here, Horsemart, Equi Ads etc?? Could you look into getting an advert into your local paper, local riding magazine, or a big magazine???
3rd November 2009, 09:24 PM
Shamelessly taken from a website!:
1. Focus on a single product or service, and then market it, sell it, promote it-do everything you can to increase sales of that one product or service. While it's tempting to swing for the fences and try to be all things to all people, it's often less risky and more profitable to pick a product or two that you can execute really well and just try to get on base.
Richard Roy, a Sparta, New Jersey landscaper, started a homebased dog-waste removal business called Dr. Pooper Scooper when he got tired of picking up the dog poop from his customers' lawns. Instead of splurging on a retail storefront or an expensive Yellow Pages ad, Roy decided to use his truck as his primary advertising vehicle. Says Roy, "I decorated the truck as a Dalmatian, used full signage and put magnetic business cards on it. By using the truck as my moving billboard, by joining community groups and through word of mouth, I've turned what was once my nightmare into a thriving business serving 100 customers and making 1,100 pickups a week."
Thanks to Dr. Pooper Scooper's success, Roy is now planning to phase out his landscaping business and focus on his new venture full time. "When I scoop the poop, I do it 12 months a year and never have to fix or replace equipment," Roy says. "It's also three time easier than landscaping, and I can do it until I can't walk anymore."
2. Expand your product line to offer complementary products or services. Once you've hit on a product or service that customers really like, don't miss the opportunity to bring out related items to diversify your product line. Not only does that give your customers a wider selection, but it also makes your products more appealing to retailers who typically like to stock a line of products as opposed to a single item.
Meredith LiePelt, who runs a company called Contemporary Baby out of her home in Dublin, Ohio, started off making colorful burp cloths for newborns. Now she's expanded her line to include such "go along" products as receiving blankets, bibs and gift baskets. Says LiePelt, "Our retail customers have enjoyed having more gift-giving options, and our wholesale clients are able to offer their customers a wider selection to choose from."
3. Find ways to increase sales to your existing customers. It's a lot cheaper than finding new ones. Even if you can't expand your product line, you can boost revenues by selling more of your existing product or service to the clients you already have. One easy way to do this is through volume discounts. Especially if your products cost little to produce, offering your customers the chance to buy, say, two T-shirts for the price of one lets you ring up additional sales without sacrificing much profit. Another common practice is to reward loyal customers by giving them a punch card that entitles them to a free product or service for every 10 items they buy. This technique is common at hair salons, car washes and arts-and-crafts stores, but homebased businesses can use it, too.
4. Hire someone to help you out-an employee, a freelancer, an intern, an independent contractor, even your kids. Not only does this free up cash flow by adjusting your expenses to the level of work you bring in, but it also enables you to cultivate a large network of talented people you probably couldn't afford to hire full time.
Marc Kirschner, a neighborhood directory publisher in New York City, employs 50 to 75 writers-all of whom are freelancers-to develop his directory's content. This way, Marc saves on payroll taxes, medical benefits, employer liability insurance and all the other costs of hiring full-time staffers. There are other benefits, too. "Bringing in outside help gives you someone else to bounce ideas and strategies off of," Kirschner says. "It prevents you from feeling you're going it alone."
5. Create a Web site to advertise your company or sell products online. Thanks to the Internet, it's no longer necessary to open a store to reach retail customers. For marketers of specialty products like rare books, collectibles and gourmet foods, a Web-based boutique lets you reach millions of shoppers around the world without paying for rent, utilities or garbage collection.
And while creating Web sites once required a big investment and the skills of an experienced Web designer or programmer, do-it-yourself Web sites are now available for less than $30 a month with no technical knowledge required. Typically, the companies that help you register your domain name (Web address) will provide online templates you can use to build your site, host your Web pages on their server and provide you with multiple e-mail addresses as well. E-commerce capabilities can often be had for an additional charge. You can also set up low-cost Web sites through Web hosting companies and search engines.
6. Join forces with another business to promote your company. Partnering with a company in a related industry is one of the cheapest and easiest forms of marketing that you can employ. If you make spa products, for example, you may be able to convince a local health club to carry them in its store by offering a discount to its members. Likewise, you can send a free, one-day health club pass to anybody who buys your lotions and scrubs.
Nancy Tamosaitis, a homebased publicist, says her New York firm, Vorticom, has partnered with a graphic design firm to provide creative services such as Web design and brochures to her corporate PR clients. From time to time, she also joins forces with specialty PR firms to assist clients in fashion, finance and other industries. "Now that I'm working from home, my clients receive infinitely better service and results-at much lower cost-than when I managed a $3 million profit center at a top PR agency," Tamosaitis says.
7. Target other markets. If you sell to teens, start marketing to college students. If you sell to working moms, maybe your product will work for stay-at-home moms with a few modifications. Another strategy is to take a retail-oriented product or service and sell it wholesale. For example, a homebased catering business that specializes in cakes, pies and other tasty desserts can contact local bakeries to sell its goods on a wholesale basis. While the price you get from the bakeries will be lower (because the bakeries need to mark it up to their customers to make a profit), you'll sell more products and generate consistent cash flow that you can bank on.
8. Find new and different ways to market your business through e-mail newsletters or by doing guest-speaking gigs or by teaching a class. Marketing your homebased business doesn't need to involve spending big money on newspaper ads, Yellow Pages listings, or TV or radio spots. Grassroots marketing techniques cost far less and are often much more effective. Most chambers of commerce and community groups are more than happy to provide a forum to a local business owner who's willing to share his expertise at no charge. Sending out a weekly newsletter is also a great way to get your name out in front of new and potential clients. Thanks to the Internet, you can send out your newsletter via e-mail using online templates and automated delivery systems.
9. Expand to another location. That could mean renting "virtual" office space in a business center or by sharing office space with another growing business. Brad Taylor, a CPA in Springfield, New Jersey, spends most of his time at home preparing tax returns, developing tax-planning strategies and revising his clients' QuickBooks files. But when he needs to come to New York City for a meeting, he sometimes rents space at a Manhattan business center operated by HQ Global, a national provider of temporary office space.
For a monthly fee or a la cart, business centers like these offer everything from conference rooms and receptionist services to remote-access voicemail, high-speed Internet connectivity and tech support, offering homebased business owners as much or as little outside office services as they need. Taylor pays just $10 an hour to use the space and is able to bill the cost to his client. "While I still want to run my business from home, this has allowed me to pursue new opportunities and network with other professionals," Taylor says.
10. Think about turning your business into a franchise or business opportunity. While most homebased businesses remain small, yours may have the potential to hit the big time through franchising, licensing or wholesale distribution. The key question to ask yourself is if your business can be converted into a business format that somebody else could operate (a franchise) or if you have a standardized product or service that someone could resell multiple times (a business opportunity). While you may think that expanding your business requires raising capital, hiring employees, buying equipment and leasing office or warehouse space, it's often more profitable-and less risky-to license your product to a big corporation with manufacturing capabilities and an existing sales force to do the work for you.
4th November 2009, 12:38 PM
Thanks all :) Lots of good ideas there, cheers :D
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