Developing a sense of trust with your clients is an extremely important aspect of offering services in the equine industry. Though trust is essential in all business and marketing, it is enhanced by the emotional nature of working with horses. If your clients trust you, they will become raving fans who provide you with referrals and a stellar reputation in your community. To truly be trustworthy in the eyes of your clients you must understand why trust is so important, what your clients really value most, and ways to ensure that you meet their needs.
Why is trust so important
Trust is an amplified need between equine professionals and their clients. Why do you think that is? Feel free to share your thoughts below. My top three reasons are:
- Fear – Horse are big and strong which causes an emotional response for a lot of individuals. As an equine professional, you need to assure your clients that you can act in a way that will not increase their fear. If you are teaching someone’s child to ride, training a horse that is too much for the owner, or addressing an injury that could harm the horse, you are going to be dealing with levels of fear. You need to gain trust in order for a client to stick with you through the process.
- Emotional Attachment – Let’s face it, horse folk are really attached to their horses. Horses are not just competition partners; they are best friends. People rely on their horses to meet their emotional needs and want what is best for them. No one wants to hire a professional they do not trust with their precious riding partner.
- Financial Investment – Riding is not the least expensive activity out there. Equestrians put a lot of money into their horses and equipment. A lot of individuals have to make choices about what they can afford to do for their horse and what they can’t. Sometimes those financial decisions come with a level of personal sacrifice in other areas of their life to do what is best for their horse. Equestrians need to trust that they are getting the best service for the best value.
What do your clients value most?
Now that we understand some of the reasons that building trust is so important, we can start to look for the values that your clients hold. Understanding the values behind their fear, worry, or hesitation allows you to empathize, find solutions, and build trust. Below are some possible needs that your clients may have for each of the above scenarios – this is by no means an exhaustive list.
If your client is fearful, they may be looking for the following:
- Safety and security – protection for their physical and emotional wellbeing
- Competence – reassurance that you can help
- Order – confidence in your ability to maintain structure
If your client is emotionally attached, they may be looking for the following:
- Empathy – understanding about their concerns
- Companionship – kindness and compassion for the special bond they have
- Fairness – honesty and openness about your services and approach
If your client is concerned about finances, they may be looking for the following:
- Dependability – encouragement that you will be reliable
- Respect – recognition for their buying power and the value of the things they own
- Choices – autonomy to speak their mind and make decisions based on their needs
How can you meet their needs?
They key to building trust is to understand the underlying values so that you can meet their needs. Below are my top 5 ways to meet clients’ needs to build strong, trusting relationships.
- Learn to listen – If you hear criticisms and judgments you will react defensively. However, if you hear feelings and needs, you will be able to provide solutions.
- Communicate clearly – Be honest about your own feelings and needs. Be sure to communicate clearly any changes to your services or schedule.
- Focus on relationship building– Working with clients is all about building a relationship with them. Do not view your client as a means to an end. Get to know them.
- Manage expectations – Be confident about your credentials and qualifications but do not over promise results. It is better to exceed expectations than fall short.
- Respect your clients – You may not always agree with your clients’ decisions or methods but it is important to respect them as fellow professionals, horse owners, and paying clients.
Take a moment to think about your ideal client and empathize with their emotions, what they need, and how you can meet those needs. If you can address their needs you will build the kind of trust that leads to raving fan clients.