¿Do you want to become a professional hoofboot reseller? Then… Keep on reading, you’re in the right place!
Opening a new business is for a lot of entrepeneurs a way to get to their dreamed lifestyle and finantial security and there’s a lot of emotions, dreams and positivism around that BIG event at the begining. BUT let me tell you that with desire is simply not enough, you have also to put effort, perseverance, knowledge, strategy & action.
In this article I will NOT talk about the basics of selling hoofboots online, because I have covered this topic in my other article «forget about returns and bad comments forever» that you can find in this same section of «articles for resellers». What I’m gonna talk about is:
- Market situation so you can figure out how you can differenciate yourself in a growing market.
- Targets characteristics & needs, so you can decide which target will you focus on.
- The basics of hooves so when you have to give an advice on choosing, sizing of fitting you know how to deal with.
- The basics of hoofboots so you understand how to detect strenghts and weaknesses and you can make a better decision on what to offer to your prospects.
1.- The market situation.
As you have noticed, the barefoot movement is growing all over the world. Every year more and more owners are becoming more concerned about the welfare of their pets and are looking for solutions that allow their horses to have a longer and better life. This is a global change in first world societies mainly due to economic status, the no need to use horses as tools for loading or transportation and a greater awareness of making a better world for everyone.
The snowball effect has reached a size that nobody will stop it! So if you are thinking of selling boots, this is a good time since the market is growing and will continue to do so because it has not yet reached its ceiling.
There’re mainly 11 hoofboot manufacturers nowadays and the last 6 had appeared in the lasts 10 years. Which, from my point of view is the best demonstration of the above.
2.- Targets characteristics & needs.
Yet the market is growing very fast, modern hoofboots are quite new and there’s still a lot of lack of knowledge and confusion. So, generally speaking, the first need of your prospect will be guidance, clarity, honestity & professionality. The main 3 targets that you can focus on are end users, hoof professionals (trimmers & farriers) and vets. Let me speak a bit about them:
- End users: Obviously selling directly to the customer has the potential to give you more profit because you have bigger margin BUT they need guidance and an after sales service. Why? because generally speaking they do not know much about hooves or hoofboots and they find themselves in front of a lot of options making them feel confused. They will come to you searching of a boot because a friend has recommended it, or because they have seen an advertise or simply because they like the colors. BUT they don’t really know if its the best option for their specific needs or not.
- Hoof professionals: Many of them already have knowledge and experience in relation to boots and are looking to make informed purchases. They do not need you to guide them in the process and simply look for margins, news, delivery speed and if you have done your homework well, ongoing training. Having a network of professionals to sell your boots to as an intermediate step can be a good decision since they need little after-sales service and little intervention. From my point of view they’re the ones that should be doing the on field boot sizing and fitting because they normally know even better than the owner what a specific horse needs. So it’s an easy way to generate happy customers. But obviously they need some margin to work with.
- Vets: They are the ones recommending the treatment for a specific horse and owners, normally, trust them. Generally speaking, vets has a tendency to have a more traditional vision and are slightly reluctant to use boots because of lack of knowledge and experience BUT this is becoming better every year and at the end the market has the control of the ship. They might need some more technical explanations, more orthopedic focused solutions and some different ways to get them to know you but it’s an interesting target that, and again generally speaking, rarely someone is making the effort to reach.
Outhere you can find 2 types of hooves, those that I call standard and those that I call non-standard. This differentiation might seem evident BUT there’s a lot of resellers outhere that don’t know how to differentiate them and how to manage their needs. Assuming that you’re new on this I will explain you a bit about both:
- Standard hooves are those with straigh, thick & compact walls all the way around, with short toes (normally between 7-9 cm), an angle of the tip between 50-54º, descending coronary band, low heels (the hairline is between 2-4 cm of the floor) and symmetric or equal halfs). This type of hooves are quite easy to deal with and can always work with a sport or below the coronet boots simply by knowing the width, length & idealy the angle of the tip! (remmember that hooves are a 3D surface).
- Non-Standard hooves are simply the rest. Here you can have all the variety that you can imagine. Dorsal flares, lateral flares, flared all around, upright or underrun, with different degrees of medio-lateral symmetry… This type of hooves are more difficult to serve and when dealing with them you can take 2 different approaches;
- The easy for you but not the best for the horse
- or the best for the horse but the one that implies more professionality from your part.
There’s no right or wrong. It only depends on how valuable you want to be for your market.
4.- The basics of hoofboots.
- Glue ons are boots that stays on the hoof because they’re attached by a glue. They are normally used for therapy/rehabilitation. The most interesting ones are those that can be modyfied and altered to cover the specific needs of each case and enhace the rehabilitation proces shortening the time and improving the results. Those boots are also used during endurance and outdoor jumping competitions because of their grip, durability and reliability.
- Integral boots are those that closes above the coronet. They have the advantage ofeasily manage the non-standard hooves and being more difficult to loose but the contact between the boot and the hoof is not so intimate which can create some double impact & also slippering effect, and are more bulky and less biomechanically respectful.
- Sport boots are those that closes below the coronet. Their main advantage is their weight and volume because they tend to be very light and tight, and also their performance because they’re designed to be biomechanically respectful so the horse has a tendency to have a more free and a safer stride. And as a con, they normally cannot cope with non-standard hooves and rarelly accept rehabilitation pads in them.
- Type of boot: After explaining should be clear that the first thing to do is fit the boot in one of the 3 categories so you can imagine easily the pros and cons that might have.
- Weight & volume: hooves has evolved to be extremelly light and compact. So as a mean rule, as lighter and tighter the best.
- Respect for the Hoof & leg biomechanics: Every part of the leg and the hoof has been designed to perform in a specific way, so understanding how the different parts of the leg & the hoof moves during the different phases of the gate is crucial to understand if a boot is more or less respectful on that aspect.
- Horse comfort: Make sure that the hoofboot that you’re recommending are comfortable for the horse when they’re wearing them.
- Durability & materials: Hoofboots comes with different sorts of materials & thicknesses which directly affects its durability and wear resistance. Some work good on some surfaces and some work good in other surfaces, and some work good on all surfaces.
- Simplicity, parts & pieces: In general more simple the best. Parts has the con that can break, but the pro is that can be exchanged without having to buy a whole new boot and that parts usually have bigger margins for you as a reseller.
- Modification possibilities: This is normally only interesting for professionals because in their daily job they’ve to cope with a huge variety of deformations, particularities, problems…
- Others: There are still other aspects to have in mind when analysing a boot like colors, pad acceptance…