What is Hoof Care Continuous Improvement?
When I first started marketing HoofArmor I took a bunch of it to the American Farriers Convention in Ontario, CA. I thought to offer it to farriers first. I got no interest at all and most comments were, “You’re trying to put us out of business,” or “I’m going to lose money because of that.” I didn’t hear anyone thinking, “How can I make money with HoofArmor?” Someone in business should always be thinking how to make money faster and easier. The more tools in the toolbox, the better chance of success.
There are plenty of farriers making really good money at shoeing horses. At the higher levels the money is better, the horses are generally easier and working conditions are nice. There are also a lot of farriers and barefoot trimmers struggling to make a living. With 10 million horses in the U.S. and over 58 million horses worldwide, there should be no shortage of work for anyone who wants to be in the hoof care business. That’s the problem…it is a business.
There are many schools, clinics and seminars on how to do hoof care. Trimming techniques abound both in person and on the internet. Youtube has plenty…enough to confuse anyone. Some techniques are opposites. However, there are not many lessons on how to make money while doing the hoof care work. That is generally left to “On the job training.” Some make it, many don’t. Let’s change that.
The term “Lean Six Sigma” is actually two problem solving functions that use similar techniques. “Lean” is concerned with reducing waste in your work and “Six Sigma” is concerned with reducing mistakes in quality which costs time and money. Both are means of analyzing the current practice and use some formal techniques to improve.
In industry, there is a set of instructions called “Standard Work” with detailed steps and photos. There is also something called “Best Practices”. When a new “Best Practices” is discovered, it becomes the new “Standard Work”. These practices are the most efficient, cost effective way of doing whatever it is you do to make money. These practices take into consideration waste reduction of materials and motions.
All of these practices and more comprise what is known in industry as “Continuous Improvement”, realizing that there are always better ways of doing things that haven’t been found yet. Continuous Improvement works on utilizing teams of “subject matter experts”; anyone who has trimmed or shod a horse is a candidate. All ideas are welcome. Their ideas are how Best Practices are built. No one knows everything, but if there is a knowledge base to build on, it can be a tremendous resource for anyone who wants to learn more and not have to reinvent the wheel.