May 2008
For What It's Worth

How to Decrease the Value of Your Animals

by Robert Spencer

I assume you are reading this article because the title caught your attention. The title and the information in this article are forms of reverse logic to get a person thinking about various aspects to consider prior to selling their animals. After all, the best genetics and pedigrees can be totally ignored when appearance is substandard. While product availability at a reasonable price is an important aspect to marketing, buyer perception is more important. When quality is compromised, a potential buyer can be disappointed, and the seller ends up frustrated because their efforts resulted in a less-than-expected offer or a no-sale. In other words, if the animal does not meet the expectations of the buyer, they are less likely to consider a purchase.

I hope this article helps you reevaluate your perception of marketing in a way that commands more money for your animals and brings more revenue to your farm.

Presentation is probably the most important aspect to marketing. Therefore, avoid cutting corners on nutrition and health care to the point it compromises the appearance/quality of your animals. Being efficient is one thing, but when it comes to presenting your animals, they need to appear healthy and hardy. An animal that is underfed, poorly cared for and appears malnourished or sickly will not have the same value as an animal which has a healthy coat, is well-rounded and appears to be an easy keeper. Regardless of the amount of money which could be saved during the production phase, make sure your animals are well-conditioned and appear hearty prior to putting them up for sale.

Money spent up-front should allow a seller to expect more for their animal/s.

Appearance is a part of presentation. Prior to a visit from a potential buyer, take some time to groom your animal/s for sale. The hooves should be trimmed so the animal is not walking on its hocks. And, take the time to brush out the coat so the loose hair/wool, dirt and debris is removed. A buyer who is hesitant to touch/handle the animal because of its grubby appearance is less likely to consider purchasing the animal. Poor appearance is a turn-off.

Equal comparison is important to buyer perception. Keep the animals for sale easily viewed, and the animals you plan to keep in a remote area. When shopping for goats, it can get confusing trying to keep up with animals for sale versus animals not for sale. Remove the animals you intend to keep in another area where they cannot be viewed for comparison purposes. Speaking of animals you plan to keep, always price them with a value you are willing to live with. Sometimes a buyer is willing to pay more for what you don’t intend to sell.

 If you have groups of animals at different ages for sale, then separate them based on age groups. It is confusing trying to differentiate between quality and size when animals of various age groups are kept in the same pen. Keep the three to six-month-old animals for sale in one area, the six month to one-year-olds in another pen, the yearlings in a separate area, and the nannies and bucks in another pen. As my mother used to say, "Comparing apples to apples is much easier when oranges are not in the same bin." Then again, you had to know my mother.

Housekeeping is also important. If your farm is a mess, the potential buyer may be overly concerned about tripping over something or avoiding obstacles rather than looking at the animals for sale. Keep your barn and surrounding area reasonably maintained and organized. Insure entry and walkways are easy to maneuver. If a buyer perceives a farm is not properly maintained, they may question the quality of the animals on that farm. Circumvent making excuses for the appearance of your farm by making a routine effort to keep it well-policed. Your operation is there to make money, not incur a lawsuit because someone tripped and injured themselves.

Perceived value is what marketing is about. If a buyer perceives the value of a product meets or exceeds expectations, they should be willing to pay fair market price. If that same buyer perceives poor quality during a farm visit, they are more inclined to negotiate price or just walk away. Dissatisfaction works both ways when it comes to marketing; a dissatisfied client will result in a disappointed seller. Finally, word-of-mouth is free advertising and can be a double-edged sword. What one person tells another person about your goats is an efficient and effective form of promotion. However, while it can be beneficial when comments are positive, it can be disastrous if they are negative.

Robert Spencer is a contributing writer from Florence, Alabama.