Beware The Love Bomb
"You're the BEST farrier ever! The last 27 that I've used were all terrible. But not you, cause you're SPECIAL!"
If you've been in the industry long enough, I'm sure you've heard this before. However, I thought for a long time that I was the only numpty that hadn't realised this was a red flag until I'd been burnt a few times, especially when its more subtle than this. But more recently, and especially with the influx of young / new trimmers and farriers coming through, its been brought to my attention more and more that hoof care practitioners are being unpleasantly surprised by these customers down the track.
Congratulations, You've been Love Bombed.
Image credit: Shutterstock
So, what is Love Bombing? And why does it matter to Hoof Care Practitioners?
Love Bombing is the act of feigning love or attention in order to manipulate someone (for good or ill, but usually discussed in the conext of ill), and usually excessively in nature. Customers often do this to hoof care practitioners, in my experience, to get better service that they otherwise thought they would.
"Sure, I won't charge you for coming out and fixing Princess Fluffy's missing shoe for the 5th time this week, even though you still haven't fixed that fencing wire in her paddock or turned her out with bellboots like I requested, no worries. I'll do that for free because you said I'm THE BEST on every Facebook page there is".
Now sure, there's nothing quite like the power of word of mouth referrals, BUT, this is a different beast. Because deep down there's a part of you that knows "Shit, if this goes wrong, they're going to say I'm THE WORST on every Facebook page there is."
Sometimes you need to ask yourself if it really seems plausible that ALL of the last 27 farriers this customer used were doing a bad job?
I can tell you that about 90% of customers who have gone rogue on me were Love Bombers. These are the customers who left you cute notes on the barn door but still hold you accountable 7 years later for small mistakes you made while still a student trimmer. Who ignore all the additional training you've gone on to receive. The customers who said their last farrier CRIPPLED their horse with their bad shoeing (on the horse you had to trim with your nippers, twice, before re-shoeing it) that you "CURED!!!!!@!#!@!" in just one visit, but later were OUTRAGED you wouldn't give them a discount for re-shoeing Princess Fluffy at your riding club rally (because you're already there, so you can't really charge for travel, besides, you should have shod Fluffy better, the shoes came off after only 13 weeks!). They end up being customers who call you at 7pm on a friday (or later) wanting you to come out saturday morning and send you text messages afterwards telling you they're SO grateful for how amazingly generous you always are, cause you're the BEST, only to flip their lid when on the 9th instance of them asking you say no for the first time because you have a medical appointment.
Sometimes these are our teachers, suppliers, mentors, colleagues - its not necessarily limited to customers only.
They are the people who like you while they're getting something out of you and treat the relationship as the best friendship ever to your face while you're delivering, and become your worst nightmare when they lose use for you or you displease them somehow.
I'm not saying you CAN'T work for the Love Bomber. I mean, we all need to put food on the table. But when you're not short for choice, make them first on your cut list. Don't encourage it. Don't allow for other hoof care practitioners to get talked down by them (because I'd bet just about anything you'll be next on their list!). Don't be afraid to point out that you didn't fix Fluffy with magic, but rather it was pretty obvious those shoes have been on for at least 15 weeks before you got there so you're not surprised the horse was sore. And most of all, don't fall in to the trap of getting manipulated! Learn to spot these customers and don't let them take advantage of you.