Monday, April 18, 2011

Fitter Vs. Rep

Got an e-mail from a customer last week who was worried about the tree in her husband's Frank Baines saddle.  Seems the saddle had recently started slipping off to the side, and when she called a fitter to check things out, the fitter claimed that the tree was probably damaged because it was flexing in some way that, in his opinion, it shouldn't; therefore, customer needed a new saddle.  The customer decided to seek a second opinion, and had another fitter take a look before she decided to box it up and send it to me for dissection.

Tiny bit of back story here:  The first fitter is a rep for the XYZ saddle company.  Second fitter is a western fitter with limited knowledge of English saddle fitting.

Second fitter flexes the tree, looks at the customer, and says, "Is this built on a spring tree?"  Customer calls me and asks the same question.  Yes, I tell her, the Baines saddles are built on spring trees.  Customer puts second fitter on the phone with me, and I repeat the info.  Second fitter says she suspected as much, but not being completely familiar with English saddles, wanted to be sure.  I asked her if the saddle flexed symmetrically, and if there were any noises of an evil nature; she responded with "yes" and "no" respectively.  Customer, who now suspects the extent of the XYZ rep's knowledge (and rightly suspects rep is aiming for a sale), decides to box the saddle up and send it to me for flocking, and also decides to send me her saddle for an adjustment as well.

Moral of this story?  Well, there are several:

  • First:  go with an independent fitter if possible - in general, they're more objective.  
  • Second:  brand-certified reps may well try to sell you a saddle - chances are, that's their biggest source of revenue, and in the crappy economic climate we're presently enjoying, it's understandable.  
  • Third:  just because someone is an XYZ certified fitter doesn't necessarily mean they have a comprehensive education (see previous post, "Brand Certified Fitters" section).
  • Fourth - and this is to the XYZ rep:  You had a chance to make money on two flocking adjustments, and possibly add to your client list.  Instead, you just lost a customer and gained a large black mark on your reputation.  One unhappy customer will give you a lot more press than 5 happy customers, and you can pretty much bet this woman will be sharing her experience with all of her friends.  If you're lucky, she won't be spreading it via online forums, bbs, chat rooms, etc.  And remember, the western fitter knows what happened, too.  If you honestly felt there was an issue with the saddle tree, please take this as an indication that you need to further your education. And if you were just pushing for a sale, remember this:  flocking adjustments are an ongoing source of income.  You can work on a wide range of saddles ... or you can just work on the XYZ saddles that you've sold.  You do the math.


jane augenstein said...

Good post!

Melissa said...

So the tree was actually ok?

Gina said...

I just found your blog and was wondering if you could answer a few saddle fit questions as I am having a devil of a time trying saddles.

saddlefitter said...

Gina, I'm happy to answer any questions I can. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Sharon Cooper said...

Love this post, I am a certified saddle fitter through Mike Scott. I have a person in my area that became an XYZ fitter for a saddle company. She feels her one week of school is equal to my 6 months with Mike and 4 months with Jochen Schleese.

Anonymous said...

The new fitter must not be our new County Saddlery agent. They are all MSA certified fitters, just like Mike Scott. That's why I always have a County agent work on my County saddle, just makes good sense.

Anonymous said...

Can't be the new County saddle rep, they are all MSA fitters just like Mike Scott. That's why we have always have County maintain our County saddles. It just makes sense and our horses are happy and performing very well.- M.T.

saddlefitter said...

Anon, I have no idea who the XYZ rep was. In my view, a good fitter should be able to adjust pretty much any flocked saddle, whatever make or model. The MSA program is modeled after the SMS program, and should therefore give a graduate the ability to adjust the flocking on any saddle. Glad to hear you and your horses are happy with the Countys and their fitter!