Monday, October 13, 2014

FYI- The real cost of doing business the right way. What customers need to know.



This post is one of a series we will be doing titled FYI. (for your information)


 What I have found in most cases between those that do it right and those that don't is that all too often the cost of your service will be the same. However... what your getting for that price rarely is. While they say that imitation is the purest form of flattery, for those of us that incur the cost to play by the rules it is at least disheartening to find yourself competing with some neighbor down your road who's winging it. For you the customer the potential for problems with that can be much more than just disheartening. So with that said I am going to give you some things to consider.


What you need to know.

1) Do they have liability insurance is probably the number one thing you need to be concerned about should you find yourself considering hiring anyone for horse drawn carriage service. The equine liability laws in no way protect you, your event, or your venue in the event of an accident. Posting it does not protect the uninsured provider from lawsuit either. What posting that sign usually means is that the carriage service does not carry liability insurance and thinks that by posting that sign they are exempt from lawsuit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Equine liability laws only protect a horse owner if a horse causes harm to someone in the act of being a horse. i.e. kicking, biting, pawing, bucking, etc, and that is only in cases where there was no known prior history of misbehavior. The law presumes that if you get near a horse you should understand that these things could possibly happen and that there is a level of inherent risk from being near, or getting on the animal. The sign is to make sure you understand that.

However...lots of things can happen that could cause loss, damage, or injury and do not in any way absolve the carriage service of being responsible for it. In fact a great many things that have contributed to accidents are not even remotely related to what is covered by state equine liability laws. Some examples would be, broken tack resulting in an accident, a horse or its carriage causing damage to someones property, a person getting hurt by a carriage wheel, a motorist hitting the carriage, etc. The list of things that state equine liability laws do not cover is truly endless. Put it this way, there is lot more they don't address than what they do.

So what does all this mean to you the customer? What it means is that if you hire an outfit that does not carry the proper liability insurance, and heaven forbid something were to happen, you are left high and dry without much recourse for losses, damages, doctor, or hospital bills. Without liability insurance your only hope lies with the civil court which is a long drawn out procedure where very often the injured party never recovers a dime. What it means for the people who are operating a business without insurance is that they literally risk losing everything they own.

Now before I scare you half to death here the solution is really simple. ASK! and then ask for a copy of the liability policy! We have stacks of proof of insurance available for anyone who asks and we are delighted to provide you with a copy. While we have operated for over 30 years in horse and carriage without a single incident, that really is not the point. Accidents can happen to anyone and to do any business the right way the outfit you hire should be properly insured. So check, if they refuse, or it offends them? your shopping in the wrong place.

2) Are they even a legal business? You may or may not think you should care about this, but ask yourself this, If they skip over the legal requirements to be in business what other important things do they willfully overlook? Liability insurance maybe? Safe equipment? Safe proven horses? and that list too goes on. It is after all law that they file with the Sec of State as a legal business, You can check that status here : http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_all.php , just type in the name of the company and if they are legit their name will show up. If you search "The Princess's Carriage" you will see we are listed and properly filed with the SOS as a legal business in good standing.

Besides the yearly fees to maintain the legal right to do business in the state with the proper authorities there are also the fees of a yearly business license that also has to be paid for. There are even costs for special permits for us to operate in certain towns legally. It quite literally costs thousands of dollars to do this business professionally, properly insured, and legally.

So please understand the cost to us of being in full compliance is no joking matter. So dear customer do know that it is in your best interest to know who your hiring. Ask for proof of insurance, and at least check to see if they are operating their business legally. Find out if they have the permits they need. It's quite literally the difference between hiring a legitimate business, or a monkey business.          

Sunday, July 13, 2014

We just never get tired of...


While the lions share of our business is weddings we also do children's parties and events. One cant help but to get a kick out of their faces and reactions when they first catch sight of Cinderella's carriage showing up just for them and their friends. From babies to teens kids just have the greatest time and are so much fun! Imagine the smile on my face when I snapped the shot of this precious little ladies reaction as our horse and carriage came into view.


Or this group of girls. Dad had them hiding behind the garage door with their eyes closed and raised it for a fantastic surprise they never in a million years expected! Cinderellas carriage and a gorgeous white horse waiting to take them on a fun filled ride around their neighborhood.


Or this little angel that insisted on thanking our horse Duke for coming to her party and giving her and her friends rides. A heartfelt thank you that of course had to include a quick kiss planted on his soft muzzle.


How about the smile on this little guys face? He was ear to ear grins as long as dad would let him touch Duke but dare dad take a step away the frowns and tears would fly. Soon as dad would step back the smile returned and the tears dried up. He wasn't talking much yet, but communicating quite effectively regardless.


Or these inner city kids who got their first up close and personal experience with a horse. As you can see by their smiles that they were truly delighted. I'm not going to deny that Duke really enjoys the attention as well.  In closing dear reader these are just a few of the many pictures I have been able to snap when I have had the chance. I hope they give you an idea of the joy we bring to the faces of the children we get to meet. Its something we just never get tired of.  


Friday, April 18, 2014

The finer points of being the finest.




The Princess's Carriage..."Arkansas Finest Horse Drawn Carriage Service"


If you were to ask our customers why that is so they would tell you,  1)We deliver professional, reliable, on time every time service,  2) that we have the very best top of the line American made custom carriages coupled with competitive prices  3) that our advertizing is always honest with a what you see is what you can really get promise  4) we are easy to work with, and have more than fair policies,  5) we always have friendly, and helpful customer service.  However, if you ask me I will have a different answer because I think the above qualities should be a given for anyone in business.

What I think think makes the big difference is in the going of that extra mile. One example is offering and using white horses for white wedding carriages. It just looks "right" and honestly I cant imagine anyone not offering it, and a quick internet search will show in in short order that many of us do. Its what the customer wants and so it is what we have. This business isnt about what makes life easy on us, its about pleasing you on your most special day. Or at least that is the way some of us look at it.

So why doesn't every carriage service? Well the picture above shows exactly why. That is one of our white horses. Or maybe I should say "was" one of our white horses! They enjoy being turned out in their pastures to eat, relax, play, and... roll, and while all horses love doing it white ones end up looking like that ^^^. .

Do I even need to say that your not going to take a brush and just knock that off and make him look good, or get away with only having to wash him from the legs down like the horse behind him? Nope, no how, no way. White horses ( which actually start out grey and lighten to white over time) have to have an all over shampoo and scrubbing from nose to tail with special horse shampoos so as to not dry out their skin. This takes about two hours to do right and have looking like the photo below. The below picture is actually of the same horse ( believe it or not) after just such a bath. Besides the intense cleaning of the horse, our horses also get a shave and a haircut to look their best. 




We also detail our carriages before every single job. They stay garaged between special events, and we work hard to keep them looking like they just rolled off the showroom floor. Which means for example in the case of our Cinderella, cleaning every single curling heart on it! That in itself is a couple of hours worth of effort, at times laying on the ground to get to the down low areas and playing what seems to be a real life game of twister.

Then there are custom florals to match your events colors or theme, harness that must be cleaned after each use, our outfits washed, starched, and pressed. Then we have to load everything. Carriage, clothes, harness, a million related items, my camera, the help, and never to forget the horse! lol. In short, its a huge undertaking and when its all over and the pony is put to bed, we are tired to say the least. Even so, its all worth it to us dear customer, because you deserve the finest, and we promise to bring you exactly that.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

All the work...


We got to talking to a friend of ours who is using us for her daughters wedding on their farm. Rita has owned a number of her own businesses and was telling us how she was tired of all the work involved and was going to retire. That got us to talking about what goes into what we do that the customer never sees.

To bring you our typical two hour carriage service a whole host of things have already happened. A trip to look over where we are doing the job in our car prior to the job is just one of many. Take for instance the three hours (one way) we spent on the road this Thursday to look at a job in Waldron we have coming up. Three there, three back, another hour for dinner on the road, scouting out the route, and stops for gas, etc. Lets put it this way. We left our house at 2pm and rolled back in the drive way ar 11pm. A long day and a lot of driving, not to mention we had spent the entire day before doing the same thing for a couple of other upcoming jobs. Thursday we luckily missed all the severe storms that were scatted around the state.

So now that we have that taken care of we will have horses to wash, and a stall or stalls to keep perfectly clean. Stalls must me mucked constantly after you give the horse a bath or you will end up having to do the bath all over again. The horses bath is an event in itself, with special shampoos and products used to bring you an immaculately clean horse, not to mention the pedicure touch up, and checking them closely all over from head to tail. Our typical draft horse washing uses about $30 worth of products each time, and takes about two hours.

Besides that before each job the harness must be cleaned, and the carriage must be cleaned, detailed, and decorated. The carriage has to be loaded and tied down inside the trailer for safe transport. Let me tell you, there is a fine art to getting that done with literally only inches of space to spare on each side. Our formal wear has to be washed, starched, ironed, and hung up each and every job. All this must be in order before we leave several hours longer than the actual driving time so that we can get to your event an hour early, factor in unexpected delays, and set up for your service.

Once we are finished with your service the already long day is by far not over for us. We have to untack the horse completely, re-load everything, drive home, unload everything, feed the horse and put him to bed, and drag our tired sore bodies to the house. One thing I can say about all the hard work it takes to bring you a Princess Carriage is that once its all over and done we are going to sleep like a rock! Of course until you start the process all over again for the next event in the book. That said, the enjoyment we get out of bringing smiles to faces, seeing new places, and making someone special feel really special makes it truly a labor of love. :)



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thanks to the 2013 crew! We couldn't do it without you! Love you all!



              
Hannah                                                                   Ron, Shelby & Kylann



Eric 



   Katie
                                 

Jay






                                                                       


 Cody Lynn and Ron


Shelby and Cody Lynn                      












 Travis
                                                                                        


Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 - The year in review


 Nobody could ever forget the smiling faces of the sweethearts in the Arkansas Angels Pageant^^^


Or the beautiful sunsets^^^


and breathtaking scenery^^^


and gorgeous places we serviced!


like here...


and here...


Of course the many beautiful brides!

like her...^^^


and her...^^^


and her...^^^


and her...^^^


and her...^^^
           

and her^^^
*and the many others I was not lucky enough to get a picture of*


What about those birthday parties! 


Like hers...^^^


and hers...^^^


and hers...^^^


and hers...^^^

and hers^^^

and to the all ones I did not get pictures of because I was driving  :( 
HAPPY 2013 BIRTHDAYS!!!



Even a Few Corporate Events


Chick-Fil-A^^^


and clear to Mountain Home with three carriages!^^^


From Day Cares to Assisted Living Homes



In Conway^^^


and Greenbrier^^^


and Searcy^^^


and Little Rock





and Cabot ^^^


and then back to Little Rock^^^


Then the rides through the lights at Burns Park


That got COLD!!!^^^
















 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's not what you take.

"Its not what you take when you leave this world behind you, its what you leave behind you when you go"  Randy Travis, from: Three Wooden Crosses

I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I wonder why myself. Those mornings when your old creaky bones complain, the cold ones like today when you have to wash a horses legs to perfection with a hose. The work involved that nobody see's like the 365 days a year when your company partner wants his hay and oats, rain, sleet, snow, and shine just like they always say about the mail service. The heavy physical work of loading, unloading, and moving carriages, scooping poop, and wrangling a wheelbarrow, and cleaning harness.We do it all ourselves.

The trips to the vet, for equine dental exam's, meds, or anything else that might crop up. The farrier ( thats the guy that trims their hooves) we cant forget him, and the touch up trims I do myself in between his visits to keep the hooves as perfect as possible at all times. The handling of semi loads of square bales and nearly 200 rounds every year. When you stop to think for a moment all that is involved it really is a wonder anyone would willingly engage in that level of work. 

There are lots of things we give up too. Like vacations, or even overnight trips together. New cars, or just newer cars, nice clothes, or jewelry what wasn't bought from the everything for a dollar store. Oh the woes of having a business who's out go exceeds its incoming, and here I have to laugh a little, you know...so I don't cry.

 So why? I am sure you are thinking the same thing I do on occasion. Believe it or not, I can tell you why. The answer is pictured above on this baby boys face over touching one of my horses. The answer is in a brides mother looking at our carriage and saying "The decorations are perfect! how did you know?" Or the joy at a nursing home of listening to a resident tell me about how their family used draft horses to farm all while stroking a soft nose from a wheelchair. The repeat customers who call us back year after year telling us their folks have not stopped talking about the carriage rides since we were there the last time. The delight in a little girls face when all of the sudden it dawns on her that if Cinderella's carriage is a real thing, then Santa Claus and Prince Charming probably are too. The magic in the air after we pick up a brand new bride and groom only seconds after becoming man and wife. The wonderful thank you cards that surprise us in the mail. Even things as simple as the nice things people say about our service on our facebook page. All of these things and much, much, more.  

As Randy Travis so eloquently sang " Its not what you take when you leave this world behind you..., but what you leave behind you... when you go"    

Friday, October 4, 2013

Saturday service - Let me explain


A couple of times this last week I have had customers question the quoted price for service for their Saturday event. One was a childs birthday party a three hour drive one way from us, and the other a charity event/fund raiser. Both events were Saturday events. Both events were slated for our number one prime time Sat afternoon early evening time slots. We never offer discounts on Saturdays,s and here I am going to explain why.

 A Saturday is the day we know we are going to work. Its not uncommon for us to only have one or two events going on through the weekdays, but Saturdays always end up booked. We are reserved at least 44 out of 52 Saturdays each year laying off most of January and February due to the weather spare New Years Eve and Valentines Day.

Our booking procedure involves using a mileage chart and internet mapping program to calculate distance and travel time. It's not all about the extra fuel to get there even though that is a factor its not near as much of an issue as the travel time involved.

So here is the reality of it: On any given Saturday there are really no more than two total five hour slots available in a day. One five hour slot consists of up to one hour of travel, two hours of service, an hour to unload and reload, and an hour back. Now if it takes double the time to get there it changes the whole dynamics of the day. Lets use an example of two hours there, an hour to unload and reload, two hours of service and two hours back. That just turned the event into a seven hour job and it starts becoming real dicey that we can fit in another event that day. So you may find yourself paying a portion of a second slot, or even all of it depending on how far away you are. Your distance literally dictates whether or not we can book another service on that Saturday.

Saturdays are so important to us because they are literally our "pay day" Saturday is the day we know the horses will for sure be working and paying for their upkeep. You see unlike other businesses we have eight two thousand pound employee's that are on the clock 24/7 - 365 days a year. Ok maybe not the "clock" but the feed bill for sure. The round bale you see Clyde our Clydesdale happily enjoying in the picture here costs between $50-$85 for the fertilized, pure bermuda, race horse quality stuff our horses eat, and we go through a couple hundred of them a year. That does not even consider the $800 a month bill for their grain. Besides that there is ongoing farrier work and vet services for routine things like vaccines and dental work.

 We here at "The Princess's Carriage" always put our horses first. They are our number one priority. Their care means more to us than anything else, and those Saturday's are the day that ensures we have the finances to provide them everything they need. While we are happy to offer weekday discounts we just can not compromise on those Saturdays. Dear customer I do hope you understand.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Vision



Some call it a "Mission Statement" we think of it as our vision for you. You see, we have our idea's about what is ideal. Our good word, our promise to keep, or what you can expect, aka our guarantee. Yes we have things that we guarantee. Some of them are in our contracts and revolve around fair business practices. Still others are not on paper but we take those just as seriously.

I want to discuss the ones that are not on paper since the ones that are you already know. Things like always showing up to your event properly and formally attired. Never any of this street clothes nonsense and we provide this as a normal ( you can take it for granted) part of our service be it a child's birthday party, civic event, or a fancy wedding like the one pictured above.

As goes the custom decorations made to match your events theme, or colors. Anything from theme oriented, school colors, or wedding flowers. Its all part of our "of course we do" service. Special requests are welcome as well and can range from a special gift for a birthday, to a cherished childhood toy left on a carriage seat to remind a bride you loved her first, to a basket of wine and treats for an anniversary ride with your sweetie. What ever you have in your mind we are happy to accommodate you.

You never have to worry about the quality of our carriages as they are the best American made carriages on the market. Nor will you ever have to worry about a thin or unkempt horse that looks like someone yanked him straight from a pasture. Our horses are always fully bathed before an event, they get a pedicure, hair cut, and shave too. None of that shaggy pony look from us!

We show up early, we mean what we say, and we say what we mean. We own every horse and vehicle we have advertised on our website. We don't mislead and we don't imply we have things we don't actually own and have available. What you see is what you get, and we work hard to make sure what you see is clean, professional, and the tip top of the industry. That's our promise to you. We hope you appreciate "Our Vision". :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Busy as a bee hive


  2013 is only a little over half way over and so many things have kept us as busy as a bee hive this year. By mid June our brand new Cinderella carriage had arrived (pictured above) and wow were we impressed! Hard to imagine yet fancier still than our 07 model of the same Carriage. Powder coated instead of painted the finish is really, really, nice.

  By July we had purchased a third F-350 and now have three rigs rolling. As always new customers, new faces, and new places. Also returning to service our past customers. Once again we will be providing carriages for the Little Rock Air Base Officers Ball, area Nursing home Christmas Events, and Burns Park for the ride through the lights just to name a few.

  We even have a few new horses! For our horse loving family that is the best thing ever. The latest two new white Percherons who of course are experienced commercial carriage horses has us up to eight draft horses. July and Aug heat has found us working in the hay fields bringing in over 150 round bales and semi trailer loads of squares.

  I share this with you to share a peek into the life of a busy carriage livery. It seems like we are often the famous headless chicken running around just to keep everything moving forward. To think that does not even touch on answering the phone, mailing out contracts, or the daily chores of feeding, watering, grooming and caring for our horses. Busy as a bee hive is putting it mildly. :)