One wet and wintry morning, I watched one of the children clomp out the door toward the barn wearing boots large enough to hold both feet in one. Sailors say, "Any port in a storm" and children paraphrase, "Any boots near the door."
The boots, of course, were mine. And I couldn't complain too much since I did the same thing with my father's shoes and boots when I was a kid. You probably did, too.
If you think back about the experience, you recall that the boots felt funny. Your feet were used to your boots: snug, comfortable, familiar pressures and forces on your toes and heels. But Dad's boots were clumsy since your feet were unsure if they should be in the front or back and your ankles and legs were confused by the chaffing of the upper part of the boots.
You probably found yourself looking down and concentrating as you walked to stay in balance. You may have even thought about what it would be like to be Dad and wear these boots all of the time.
Literally walking in another person's shoes isn't possible, but imagining the experience is.
"Walk a mile in the other person's shoes" is sage advice, especially as it applies to your prospective and existing customers.
If you dare, literally put on someone else's shoes and start viewing your business as if you are a first time visitor. Drive into town and return pretending you've never been to your place before. Is the sign, street number or driveway entrance easy to find?
Is the signage and lettering fresh and recognizable?
As you pull in your driveway, is it obvious where to go? Is there a welcome sign, office sign, or visitor parking sign greeting you? Is the driveway littered with potholes, trailers, tractors and farm equipment? In non-daylight hours, is there exterior lighting sufficient to make visitors confident about their safety and surroundings?
When you get out of your car, is it clear or obvious which building to enter? Once inside the barn or arena is it easy to find someone for directions or help? Is there printed information available about your boarding, lesson and training programs? Is the first impression favorable or questionable?
Pretending to know nothing about your business, how would you feel as a first time visitor?
You know you have great programs, but how quickly will your prospective customers know?
Now that you've walked in someone else's shoes, see if you can borrow a thinking cap to begin the improvements you need to make.