Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to succeed at selling saddles.

There are many different definitions of success in business. My personal favorite quote on success is by Thomas Edison which said "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." With that out of the way, let me give the real reasons for's success: the crew from

Dale, who is about to celebrate his 80th birthday has the work ethic that is considerably absent from our comfortable society. This 79 year old man promptly opens the shop up at 0830 hrs and works diligently until 1700 hrs(Can you tell I was in the Air Force). Dale does this Monday through Friday, including all minor holidays. On Saturday, he does reduce his hours from about 0900 hrs to 1600 hrs. Yes, he is 79 (just a few days away from 80), wealthy enough to retire and yet puts in around 50 hours a week. This leads to another winning quality. Dale is frugal in his spending but quite generous in his giving. Some may not equate this to success, but God does.

Karen is also a big contributor to our success. When we started, the first several months, I was the sole photographer and editor of pictures. I need to find a few of the photos I took - they were not pretty. I bought the most expensive camera my conscious would allow (wasn't much) and labor away in MS PhotoDraw. Our first employee/contractor was Karen and what a blessing her talents have brought us. Her quality is excellent. In fact, to the shame of many of our dealers, I have had to protect our pictures from being copied from our competitors. The pictures we had on our site were so much better in quality than the product photos our manufacturers supplied.

Our most recent addition and furthering our reason for success is Stephanie. I don't know if there is anything I have asked her to do that she hasn't done with the hallmark of quality. A few of the notables she performs are writing the press releases, writing new copy for the whole site, adding new items with HTML, putting together web graphics and making magazine ads. I am able to ask Stephanie to perform a task, then remove it from my mind, knowing it will be completed.

Each of these three would quickly and appropriately give God all credit for their talents and abilities. So, the final analysis is that God is the reason for any success we encounter. We thank Him for His goodness!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Return Policy: An important factor

The statement Dale and I hear most from our customers is "I have a hard to fit horse." and the most asked question is "What is your return policy?", usually asked after the most used statement. This points to two very important aspects you need to consider when purchasing a saddle. One is finding a saddle that fits, and we address that at our saddle fitting page. The second important factor when purchasing an expensive saddle is the store's return policy.

You may not initially realize the importance of the return policy of a store, but it can have a significant affect on your after purchase emotions. More so than the amount spent or saved on your initial purchase. A store that you fell in love with because of the extraordinary low prices, you may end up cursing in the end because of the very high return policy. Many online stores need a high costing return policy likely for two reasons.

The first reason is the store does not want you to return the saddle you purchased. I've found that most saddle dealers only have a few saddles in inventory, yet they put the whole catalog of the available saddles from the manufacturer on their website. They are looking for a quick profit without touching any merchandise. They are wanting a no risk business. This works well, except when the customer needs to return the merchandise. Suddenly, they not only have to give the manufacturer the money for the saddle, but they also have to give the money back to the customer. So, they have an inordinately high return fee. I've noticed several prominent online saddle dealers have a return fee of 20%. If you return a $1000 saddle, you would stand to lose $200 on top of shipping charges. I'm sure many people think twice about having to pay $200 to return a saddle.

The second reason is tied to the first reason. There is a cost to processing credit cards. We pay around 2% for every transaction. So, if we charge $1000, we pay the credit card company around $20. This money is not refunded if we issue a credit to the customer for a return. We have a low return fee because we know we will sell the saddle that is returned, usually in a short time. Most tack dealers sell only a few saddles a month. If they get a saddle back, one that they had to have the manufacturer ship for them, because they never had it in stock the first time, well, their money is tied up into that saddle. With the high return fee, they make their profit on the saddle return, so that when they have to sell the saddle at cost(the 2nd time) to get rid of it, they will still have a profit from the return.

When purchasing your next saddle, please be aware of the return fee. This gives great insight into the company you are dealing with. We work hard to make sure when you purchase your saddle from us that you are making a very informed decision on quality and fit. If you happen to purchase a saddle that does not fit, we have a very accommodating return fee. One that we do not profit from. Our average saddle sells for around $1000 and we offer free shipping. Our return fee is 5%. When you factor in the $20 bank fee we pay, on top of the around $30 shipping fee to get the saddle to you, you realize that on average we break even on returns. But, we have an excellent exchange policy. If you purchase a saddle and need to exchange it, there is no return fee and you only have to pay shipping for the 2nd saddle (actual shipping cost from our discounted rates rather than inflated shipping cost).