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Selling a Curly in Today's Market
[Like any market, things change, economy waivers and discussion arises on how to best market our curlies. And more importantly what does the "market" want? This article is a result and is updated ever few years based on feedback from others and personal experience. ]
Over the years, I have received emails on a regular basis asking how to better sell their horses and most often, how much to price their curly. As a "Resource" site, I think this is a really important article to feature in these times.
UPDATE! In 2016, a "Buying a Curly Horse" Survey was launched in an effort to get buyer feedback on what it is that they are seeking and what they expect from the seller. Here is the results of that Survey: CLICK HERE.
Here are some more practical tips to help you.
These tips are helpful to both Breeders and Owners:
1. Be Professional and be certain you want to sell this horse. First and foremost is if you list a horse, be certain you really want to sell. The easiest way to lose a customer and lose creditability as a breeder is to act wishy washy in your sale, once a buyer has inquired on a horse you have listed. If you don't want to sell, update your ad and say the horse is no longer available.
2. Leave your emotions out of the pricing : Once you have decided that you definitely want to sell, leave your emotions out of the pricing scale. What I mean is try to see your horse for his/her true value, not sentimental value. Get unbiased opinions if you have trouble with this tip and set a FAIR market price. If you need help in pricing your curly, please email me. I have a chart that might help you determine the value. This chart is specific to what the market is seeking. It offers a "base price" of a foal at birth, and adds to it specific costs based on what the market will pay. It also suggests a price increase as the foal ages, gets training (started to well broke) and if it is gaited, quality pedigree, a proven breeder etc. All of that should be taken into consideration when pricing any curly horse. The pricing suggestions were gathered from several resources and successful breeders that know the market. Just because we have a fondness for a particular breeding pair, doesn't make that foal more valuable. =] It is hard, I know, but if you can look at each horse constructively, you will be able to justify your cost in a more practical way.
3. Fair market price? Do your homework, but also realize that just because one breeder can get big $$$ for a weanling doesn't mean you can too. Reputation, proven bloodlines conformation and purpose & ability of that horse is what drives prices. Also determine if you or the buyer is going to pay for the coggins, health certificate and/or transfer papers. Maybe you want to figure your price to include hauling within 200 miles. Consider everything when setting your price. Don't have the attitude that you will throw any ole price out there and just see what happens - that is very poor business. Over the years, I have seen more ads that start out with grossly overpriced animals, only to see over the course of a few months, that price get reduced, reduced and then reduced some more. This is a huge red flag to me. By the time the price is at rock bottom, most buyers have little trust in that seller. I don't see anything wrong with setting a price with a bit of wiggle room. Especially if the buyer is paying extra to haul or if it is an exceptional home.
4. Photos & Video: Okay, so you have a horse you definitely want to sell, you have set a FAIR and MARKETABLE price, now it's time to advertise. But wait! If you think you will sell your horse by using the free text ads, you are wrong. You will need to buck up and spend a bit of money. I always plan to spend $75 or more per horse in photo ads. It's worth every penny! It is vital that you get a good conformation photo of any horse you sell. Without a photo like this, you are wasting your time in selling long distance. One great picture is better than 20 bad ones.
DID YOU KNOW?
YouTube has become the 2nd Largest Search Engine!!
Post your sale horse videos on youtube, use a detailed TITLE with key words to best attract your customer and detailed description.
ie. 8 Year Old Well Broke Curly Gelding For Sale!
(Be sure to link video to your Sales ad)
**** In this day and age, online video clips are ESSENTIAL and a very inexpensive way to promote your horse. I challenge any seller, breeder or not to offer video clips of every horse you have for sale on your website or with your online ads. In this day and age, a buyer should not have to ask for one. This should come readily and without a feeling of inconvenience.
Make sure this is a thorough video! Start with capturing the horse in the herd so they can see how he/she relates to other horses, show how you catch, lead, groom and tack up your horse. Pick up feet, lunge and ride. If he bathes, clips and trailers, video that too. I always have my video camera ready when I am doing things so that when it comes time to sell that horse, I have a whole bunch of clips that I just need to splice together. It is not that hard, just takes some forethought. You can't expect buyers to buy without it and advertising via the internet means you are reaching many long distance shoppers that can not make a personal visit. OR, a buyer that needs video in order to make a decision to spend hundreds of dollar to make a visit possible.
****PLEASE NOTE! The first couple days of listing your horse, is when you will get the MOST audience. It is VITAL that your ad be well thought out, your photos perfect (at least SIX, and ALL CURRENT.) good detailed video and thorough description with pedigree links, height, age, training etc. Don't think to add any of this later, because chances are you are going to miss your buyer. Often times, your ad will get overlooked if a buyer has already viewed it with lack of interest. Be sure to make your ad POP. It is YOUR job to reflect that horse in the best light! You are not doing anyone any favors, especially your precious curly by lack of representation. Your failure to do this, could mean a loss of a sale, and potential for that horse to find his/her perfect loving home.
5. Details & information about your horse: List as much about your horse as you can possibly can - make it easy for the buyer to know your horse well without having to go thru the effort of having to email you. Believe it or not, some buyers hesitate to take that step. Help buyers to feel comfortable with you and your horse before they even hit your email button. I have found when I do this, it not only eliminates alot of back and forth emails, but it also means when a buyer does contact me, they are pretty serious about my horse. BE SURE TO LIST YOUR PRICE! If you have followed the above steps, there should be no reason why you don't list your horse's price. Buyers tend to move on quickly if a price is not listed or if it says private treaty. So just be aware that this may prevent inquiries or a quick sale. Be sure in your listing to give details about your horse's temperament, curly traits, training, size, color, breeding potential, pecking order, history of parents or siblings. Be sure to list ACCURATE size of your horse. Buy yourself a stick measure to do this. Size is very important to fitting horse to rider, DON'T GUESS. And finally, ask a professional to help you list disciplines that your horse 'may' excel in (if there is no proven record on either parent's side). There are many buyers nowadays wishing to do more than trail with their curlies and you need to give them an accurate evaluation. If you state in your ad that your horse is a "sporthorse" but it's obvious he/she has a western build, buyers are going to question your education & knowledge. So do your homework and give accurate, true and informative details. There is no such thing as too much information.
6. Where to advertise? OK - So you have the horse you want to sell, the fair market price, great photos, video and a big write up on everything about your horse. Now, where will you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to advertising? My favorites are:
The LARGEST classified ad site for Curly Horses For sale!Ranked top of google for "curly horses for sale!"
A few others are:
With a photo ad for each, it will run you about $50-100 per horse. This is the minimum you should plan to spend.
FACEBOOK: Social media is a good place for advertising your program and curlies for sale.. But remember with facebook, your ads can easily get shifted to the bottom and be no longer seen. I suggest a fresh post every month, delete the old one and keep your information fresh. If you keep the old pics and text, viewers will disregard feeling they have seen it already. Remember, most buyers are looking for a curly broke to ride, so photos of you riding bring the most attention.
7. Servicing the buyer: This is an area where many sellers fall short, big time. They list an ad and fail to check their email daily or follow thru with an inquiry. Let me ask you this, if you were going to list your car for sale in the classified ads of your local newspaper, I don't think you would take that week to head out of town, would you? It is even more vital when you list an internet ad to be available to respond to buyers in a timely manner.
Check your email daily and return phone calls promptly. A buyer shopping long distance needs assurance from you that they can trust you - you can start with good follow up to their inquiry.
8. Obtaining a Deposit : Never consider a horse sold til you have a deposit and signed purchase agreement. Typically, I have asked for a $500 non refundable deposit on my horses. Not only does this ensure that the buyer is prepared and ready to buy the horse, but it also gives the buyer assurance that you will not sell the horse to someone else. Accepting a deposit and signing an agreement is beneficial to both buyer and seller and makes the entire transaction a win-win situation.
9. Research hauling options: Here is another huge hang up. You have done step 1-8 and you have a buyer. Don't think it is all up to the buyer to find a hauler - if you want to set yourself above the rest, do your homework AHEAD OF TIME and get a list of reputable haulers that come to your area. Maybe it will mean hauling the horse to a pick up location, if so, be prepared to do so. Every little effort you can make to service the buyer builds a strong reputation and shows you are a professional. Click here for transport companies that have positive feedback from other curly sellers.
10. Follow Up: Be sure to stay in contact with your buyer for the first 30 days after a sale. There may be questions or concerns that a simple bit of communication can ease over that adjustment period.