AN AVERAGE DAY IN THE LIFE OF TRICIA BRACEGIRDLE
What’s an average day they asked me? To whom I said? Me? There isn’t one!!
I’ve never done anything average – I do it full on or full stop! So, the best I can do is a little mishmash of how my life goes running Childeric UK
I love my bed – I splashed out last year on super pillows and duvet – I can milk every minute out of a long lie – I’m an expert!! Eric (Pug) and Ernie (Daschund) also like a long lie and do join me. Even on a day when I have to get up early I’ll set the alarm for a 45 minute long lie. I go down, get a coffee and cereal/toast, let the boys out, we all go up for breakfast and a half hour of tv while I wake up, check emails and start thinking about the day ahead.
Every morning, I'll plan which demo saddles I'll be taking out for the day and organise our courier deliveries for that day with Jess. Its quicker being organised and Jess is a great help there. We will have made sure the right saddles are in the car for the next day the night before. If we have a full day planned, then often we will be on the road around 6.30am, but sometimes we will work around our clients' diaries, which may mean starting later and finishing our day later. Either way, we will try and get the dogs walked at some point, and so if we are starting later, I will take them out for a good run. Then, they tend to snooze for the rest of the day!
The one thing I probably notice more than most doing this job is the sheer volume of traffic on the roads. So, to avoid sitting in traffic, we always set off early for those first morning appointments as I would rather find somewhere local to grab another coffee than keep anyone waiting. I hate being late, so I try to allow plenty of time to get to our appointments.
These days, I'm lucky as Jess does the majority of the driving so I can use our time on the road to keep up with Admin and communicating with everyone – the team, Luc Childeric, customers etc. I am sure everyone will have noticed that I’m not doing emails at 11pm because I had to wait to do them when I wasn’t driving before!!
Very often, we'll get a call from someone who has been through the mill, bought and tried other brands, and the problem has still not been resolved. Present me with a challenge, and I will rise to it! I love problem-solving and finding a solution to a saddle fitting issue. Nothing fills us with more pleasure than seeing a happy horse and rider. Recently we had a dressage rider contact us as she had a problem with her existing saddle slipping forward. This rider was riding in another saddle brand and was keen to find out more about our saddles.
When we visit a new potential client, we never look at their existing saddle because that’s not our area of expertise. When we do a demo we look with fresh eyes on the situation and work on a building a saddle to solve the problem. How exciting it was to receive a text from her a few months later to say not only had the slipping saddle issue been resolved but her marks had improved!
A day can involve checking new saddles – usually a couple of weeks after they have been delivered, maintenance checks further down the line, or new saddle dems. As a team we try to make an appointment within two weeks of being contacted – not always achieved but definitely aimed for!
I have always tried to treat customers as I would like to be treated – so excellent customer service is at the very core of our business. I never mind problems – its how you fix them that people remember.
Our customer base is so diverse - everyone from free-time riders through to top Olympic riders. The common thread that pulls them all together is their desire to have the best possible saddle fit for the comfort of their horse and also feel comfortable and secure in their position. The fact that customers can add their own unique customisation to the saddles is an added plus, but it doesn’t matter how beautiful a saddle is if it doesn’t work.
You only have to meet the team and see the diverse bunch of riders we work with, and you can see that our saddles are for all riders. For example, yesterday, we did an appointment where the rider had to ride up and down the road as they didn't have an arena, then the next appointment was with a rider based at a yard with the most amazing facilities. Basically, it doesn't matter to us who you are or what you have, it’s about building a long-term relationship and being part of your team.
You don't just get a saddle with Childéric; you get a service that goes beyond purchase. That's important.
Sometimes if we are travelling further afield, we will book into a B&B and other times it's a really long day! Last night I started at 6 am and didn't get home till gone 10 pm. Fortunately, not every day is like that for myself and the girls, but you do get the occasional week where you just want to hit the pillow as soon as you get in!
After a long day on the road, I get home, cook some relatively healthy food and settle down for the night. Watching some TV and doing some knitting! Yes, I love knitting. I find it really relaxing and a good productive way to unwind and relax my busy mind. So far, I've made some fantastic items including some beautiful knitwear and made good use of my free time. I like the fact that I have something to show for it - a bit like having a happy customer at the end of a saddlery appointment.
And I have to confess to being a bit of an Archers fan and listen to it on replay before I go to sleep. It's funny because when the dogs hear the theme tune, they also know it's bedtime and will curl up and go to sleep, ready to wake-up for another busy day ahead tomorrow..
You can read more about the Tricia & the team HERE