Here’s a list of my top ten gadgets/software that helps me get ahead in business, makes my life easier and frees up some time to spend with the family.
Any modern-day farrier who truly values their time and wants to maximise their success should make the most of technology
- BlackBerry – I’m currently using the new 9100 3G Pearl handset which allows me to handle so many things during the day when I’m not in the office.
- Phone calls
- View and reply to Email from clients, suppliers, customers on the go and between clients
- Take photos/video of problem or interesting feet and shoeing job
- View and edit documents
- Keep an eye on what’s happening on Twitter (see below)
- Read the local and international horsey news via Viigo (RSS feeds)
- Microsoft Outlook – It’s been around a few years now but it’s a powerful piece of software and shouldn’t be underestimated. We have the 2007 version and make good use of much of the functionality. Of course, Outlook is most well-known as being an Email client and we use Outlook to send and receive Email whilst in the office to schedule client appointment, send reminders and communicate with suppliers and to customers from all over the world who shop through our online store www.farrier-shop.com We use Outlook to:
- Send and receive Email
- Keep record of client info – addresses, contact details and notes of when their previous appointments were and what was done
- Calendar – we schedule and keep track of appointments in Outlook. Doing it in Outlook rather than having a physical diary means things stay much tidier and it’s simple to copy and paste relevant info from Emails and contact details into each appointment.
- Reminders – our farriery clients get Email/txt reminders when their equines are due for farrier attention. Outlook reminds us when these are due for each client.
- Newsletters and communication. Outlook makes it easy for us to send regular newsletters and communication to farrier-shop.com customers, farriery clients and various other groups via Email and merging with Word for print newsletters.
- Sync – we regularly update the BlackBerry’s so we have a full up to date contact list and notes for all clients, shoppers and so on. Most popular devices now sync with Outlook and the BlackBerry makes it particularly simple and quick. It means we have up to date info whilst away from the office.
- GPS Satellite Navigation System – we use Garmin units in all farrier vehicles to save time and effort in getting between clients on a daily basis. The GPS coordinates for all client locations are recorded to make it easier for other farriers in the company to drive straight to a client if they haven’t been there before. This saves time, fuel and means our farriers can focus their thoughts on what needs doing at the next client rather than trying to find them.
- Find clients easily saving time, fuel and hassle
- Gives an estimated arrival time which is updated as we go which means we can inform clients if we’re not on time
- Helps us locate gas stations or other amenities when we’re in a location we’re not familiar with
- The Internet – has been around forever (!) but without it, how would life be the same? The benefits are too numerous to list but any smart farrier is likely to be online and using one of the many billion websites to do some of the following
- Educate themselves (avoiding the misinformation in the process)
- Keep up to date with the latest farriery innovations from around the world
- Communicate with clients, farriers, vets and horse owners
- Research and find out more about products
- Complete numerous business admin tasks, take control of their finances through online banking and so on
- Google Maps – we use Google Maps to plan our daily appointments. Logging all client locations for the day, Google Maps makes it simple for us to schedule each appointment in a sensible order to avoid backtracking and also provides accurately travel time between each location. It’s free to use and saves us time and money.
- Websites – our first website was setup back in the 1990’s to advertise our farriery services. With the power of the internet nowadays and worldwide users reported to be approaching 7 billion, any full-time farrier could benefit from having a website if it’s done well.
Our farrier services website is aimed at the New Zealand market and is a cost-effective way to attract new clients, to educate and inform the horse owning public and also acts as an efficient way to collect new client info. The majority of new clients are invited to sign up online and is an excellent way for us to collect (and store) vital information without having to spend time on the telephone.
Our farrier supplies website is a convenient way for farriers, vets, horse owners and riders from around the world to view a huge range of hoof related products and purchase securely online. There are some of the latest farriery products added regularly and the site incorporates “how to” videos on various products and useful info. We have customers in all four corners of the world and ship daily.
- Social Media – It’s all the buzz! There’s a choice of platforms but my favourite is Twitter which takes up only a small amount of my time but is a great way to connect with all sorts of people around the world. Of course, blogging is fun too (thanks for reading) and Facebook is popular with a reported 500 million users and something I must try harder with in the hope they make it more useable. There are farriers, suppliers, tool manufacturers, clients, vets and all sorts of people using Social Media and it’s the perfect way to connect with some of them.
- BigCommerce – An Australian software company whose CEO Mitchell Harper posts regular informative YouTube videos and are one of the leading forces in E-commerce solutions for business.
- Laptop – They’re pretty common nowadays but hey, I’d be lost without one. Currently running a Sony Vaio, it’s handy for taking out of the office when I need to, working remotely and even resting on the coffee table in the evening if I need to keep an eye on “what’s going on” whilst chillaxing in front of the idiot box.
- Financial Software – Having the financial accounts in order is vital for us and using QuickBooks helps us keep track of our financial position, generate invoices, pay bills and track stock to name just a few. With this organised, we can focus on the important things in our business like taking care of horses, meeting the needs of clients and maintaining a high level of customer service to the farriers around the world we supply hoof-care products to.
I’m always keeping an eye out for more toys to help save me time and money. I expect this list would look different in 12 months time if I update it then…