Monday 12 February 2018

Note to service providers who have satisfied customers - you are jerks. FYI.

People ask me, Curmudgeon, now that you don't have a horse, how do you spend your weekends?

Well, I sleep in more.  I lie on the couch and watch CNN (they have this really good sit-com on right now - it is about a billionaire who takes over the White House and chaos ensues.  You should check it out.  It is entertaining when it is not terrifying).  I eat things I shouldn't.  I drink Mimosas while lying on the couch and eating things I shouldn't, because for some reason beyond logic, society has decided it doesn't have to be five o'clock anywhere to enjoy them.

If only there were some sort of Adult Day Care I could attend.  Maybe it would cost about the same as daycare for a real child, $1000 + a month.  With fun activities. Maybe horse riding. 

But I guess there isn't (or I didn't think there was, in any case) so instead... I am embarrassed to admit it... I sometimes go to the mall.  

It is actually the same mall I went to as a kid (I remember going to the door-crasher grand opening event with my Mom and her suburban housewife friends, and hanging out in the video arcade as a teenager).  Back in the day, malls were kind of one-size-fits-all.  Now, they are tailored to a demographic.  

This particular mall is now one of the "Luxury" malls in the area - pimped out with a Saks Fifth Ave store and a Pandora line that is never less than 50 people long - and all of the cool fountains are gone, which is really too bad.  

I guess after a grueling shopping session for overpriced shoes and bracelets (I loved the recent SNL skit on Pandora), one's body screams out for overpriced fruit juice to complete the trifecta, and so there are also a lot more health and wellness type stores filling up the halls now as well.  

It was at one of these stores that I saw this:

What the hell is it, Curmudgeon?  A giant cup of pablum?

Excellent guess.  But no.  It is in fact, a Golden Coconut Bliss Smoothie with Turmeric.

Apparently, this beverage "delivers a delicious, creamy, lightly sweet profile and is sweetened coconut milk and nature's candy - dates (dried apricots are likely totally pissed off that dates are so full of themselves that they feel they can claim this title. Jerks).

Beyond all of this, "the golden hue comes from turmeric which is a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties".  The smoothie is also made with one whole banana, is gluten friendly (thank God, gluten needs some friends, everyone is trying to throw poor gluten under the bus constantly these days), is dairy free and vegan.

How much did this miracle cost?  I can't actually tell you, because who buys JUST a Golden coconut Bliss Smoothie with Turmeric?  You have to adorn it with a wheatgrass blast shot, or whey protein boost, or something else which will run the value up another few dollars and jack around the price as advertised on the board.  

Bottom line is, by the time you walk out with your Bliss on, you are looking at around $5.00.  And 300 kcals.

But take heart.  While I sat on the bench squinting my eyes at the menu board trying to determine if I was imagining things or if this was really real (and also wondering why, if turmeric is so miraculous, people who eat a lot of curry aren't all physically exceptional specimens, or why anyone would choke back a banana curry milkshake instead of actually eating an awesome Southeast Asian curry specialty of some sort) - I noticed something strange. 

Customers entered the store.. the people in the store sold them EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED - and they left.  And everyone was happy. 

Except me.  I wanted to run up to each idiot that spent $5.00 on a banana curry milkshake and smack the stupid thing out of their hands and tell them to get half a brain, because drinking 1/2 tsp. of something whipped into a fancy fattening beverage when you could buy a kilo of the same thing at bulk barn for the same price is totally moronic. And expecting it to do anything for your health other than expand your bum if you slurp too many is even more idiotic still. 

No - no - wait.  What I REALLY should have done is run into the store, and told the person who was merrily blending up smoothies, making their customers happy - that they SUCK.  Who except a demonic evil minded person would sell someone exactly what they want, and makes them happy, if I personally think it is a bad idea and a horrible business model?  That is fucking crazy talk. 

And if running a successful business using this model and satisfying customers allows them to live a comfortable life, with a nice house, and support their family - well, screw them.  They should have the ethics to toss those bananas and overpriced vita-mix blenders right in the trash and do something honest for a living for once.  And only make smoothies that are really healthy, not bullshit fake frame, monkey razor blade healthy  (i.e. - not make smoothies at all, but open a fruit stand).

So in any case, to head on back over to dressage - I took my mind off of the horror of $5.00 banana curry milkshakes, by pondering a question posed by a COTHer.

If developing horses and teaching clients isn't the professional horse trainers job, what is?

Very expensive adult day care?

And, I am going to say that in my experience, if we are talking Dressage - the answer is kind of - yes.  

Because really there are only a few types of customers at a professional Dressage trainer's barn.  They are all adults (or their nearly adult children).  They mostly come out during the day.  And they expect to be showered with a lot of love and care.  (Just like daycare, with no diapers. But since you have to pick up horse turds, it is pretty much a wash on the poo front). 

Let us review them.  

First - there are people who can afford amazing horses, but choose not to ride these horses themselves, but instead ride director's chairs wearing dressage inspired clothing. They expect their chosen trainer to ride an unpredictable creature, in a flawless manner, while keeping it sound and healthy.  Their role is to smile and enjoy the show.  What if the show is not what as expected?  Well, then, watch your back trainer - if anything goes wrong - your fault or not - they will take their toys elsewhere, and walk out the door with $1000 ++ of your monthly income before expenses. 

Second - there are the people who can afford amazing horses, and want to attempt to ride them themselves.  These clients expect exactly all of the same things as the first group - but they also expect the trainer to transform them into riders, regardless of their natural skill level or how much effort they put into the project

Third - there are the people who expect all of the same things as the second group, but instead of transforming themselves into riders, this group expects the trainer to transform their darling almost adult teenage children into riders, regardless of THEIR natural skill level or how much effort THEY want to put into the project - which may be next to none on both counts. 

Now - add a subset of each of the above categories.  Replace the phrase "people who can afford amazing horses" with the phrase "people who cannot actually afford this whole exercise, but are doing what they can to trick everyone into thinking they can and pull off the gig anyways"

Then - one final subset - Replace the phrase "people who can afford amazing horses" with the phrase "people who cannot afford amazing horses but have ordinary every day horses that they expect to perform as well as amazing horses, but still can afford to pay the bills".  (if you have any doubts here, Category 2, subset 2, would be where you found yours truly).

The last phase of this exercise, now that we have our categories defined, along with subsections - ask yourself - if you are a dressage trainer, which of these people would YOU most like to deal with?

Remember, you have only 10, maybe 20 stalls.  So you can mix and match here, but whoever you choose, you are limited.  Every client that walks in - or out - of the double dutch inspired doors is a huge chunk of your livelihood.  

And - depending on where you live, there are only maybe 500 of these clients roaming the streets, and 50 trainers vying for their money (or lack thereof, unbeknownst to you, in the case of subset number 1 - If you mess up and wind up with anyone in subset 1, you have just kissed goodbye a lot of time, money, and possibly turned away an actual paying customer because there were not stalls available. ). 

Go ahead!  Pick the best ones!

I don't know about you - but as long as the 20 people I wound up with were pleasant and reasonably normal and paid their bills, and treated their horses well - I would be pretty up to offering an exceptional daycare experience if it made everyone happy - i.e - if in their eyes, I was developing horses and teaching clients. 

And if I did decide to paint on a smile, offer up a carafe of Pino Grigio in my viewing room, say Braaavvv!... as long as the horses and clients were all happy as a Millennials sipping a curry banana milkshakes at the mall - would I really be doing anything wrong?  If I worked in any other profession on Earth, offering exactly what the customer wants in a way that makes them feel happy and special is pretty much how the gig of "making a living" goes.  

Any customer service role is really Daycare for someone, who wants something, and wants to feel really good when they get it. Not sure why it should be any different for Dressage Trainers.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but let us break down these segments in a little more detail, over the next few posts and few months that I spent with Coach C....


  1. More than funny. Frighteningly insightful. This must stop. Our whole industry will collapse if we allow too much light in. Like the monarchy.

  2. Omg! Spot on again!

  3. Glad to see you're back! And I'm still banging along and sucking major balls with my totally inappropriate arab. During your absence, I had to put my beloved mare down (cancer) and the darling, well-made little red filly she produced last summer caught lepto, went into kidney failure, went blind in both eyes, and also had to be put down but not before burning through $1500 in vet bills first. On the plus side, the gelding is still healthy and rideable and I'm spending a hell of a lot less on board nowadays.