"Three people e-mailed about that ad for Cinnamon’s buck kid," Sarah Seller tells her husband, Doubting Dan.
"Well, we’ll see," he replies. "Remember Poppyseed?"
Sarah did remember Poppyseed, a yearling doe that she had "sold" last fall. While waiting for their buyer to make shipping arrangements, winter had come and gone, and Poppyseed had freshened. Sarah remembered Saffron’s doe kids too. Her goat friend, Enthusiastic Emily, had ordered two doe kids from Saffron after watching her win best in show last summer. Well, Saffron had produced the kids, but Emily had delayed picking them up until they were two months old, then finally confessed to financial problems and asked for her deposit to be returned. Now Sarah had two extra kids and no buyer.
Sarah knew that promises can be broken and that sales fall through. She learned the hard way not to expect too much when she gets a reply.
Twenty years ago, perhaps just 10 years ago, before Internet use was commonplace, buying a goat was a little different. Breeders perused ads in trade magazines, or looked up contact info in goat directories. They called or wrote notes requesting sales lists and additional information.
Inquiring about a goat for sale or for information about a herd required a little bit of effort. A few cents spent on a stamp or phone call, was a small investment of money and time. But it takes just seconds to send an e-mail, and many people do so often, even when they have no intention of purchasing the goat advertised. Vice versa, as buyers it’s a good thing to learn how to say no.
Many people are on e-mail lists and regularly receive messages about goats for sale. It’s tempting to respond, but this should really be done only if interest is genuine. If one is buck shopping, and makes an inquiry about a buck kid being advertised, great. There is nothing wrong with collecting more information. However, once the questions are answered on pedigree, price etc. and interest wanes, it’s only right to let the person selling know if a decision against making the purchase is made. Let the seller know! They have invested time and energy in answering e-mails or phone calls, and mailing photos or pedigrees. A seller may be disappointed, but no one likes to be left hanging. Send a quick note to say, "Thanks for your time. I have decided that the buck kid will not fit my needs right now." Keep it short and simple, but respect the other breeder by acknowledging the effort they made to assist you, and inform them of your decision.
If a decision to purchase the buck or kid in question is made there are also courtesy rules to follow. Be responsible and take the initiative. Do not just e-mail to say, "I want him," and then go incommunicado for a week. Call or e-mail the seller and inquire about sales policy, then get the ball moving. Send a deposit promptly and have the balance ready to go. Make pick-up or shipping arrangements. Set up a date, stay involved, and do your part to make everything run smoothly.
When visiting the breeder’s farm, be punctual. Pay for the goat in full before picking him up. Most sellers appreciate an update within a day or two. Future reports about show wins and kiddings are welcomed as well. Keeping in communication with the seller is mutually beneficial.
Sellers have responsibilities, too. Honesty is the best policy when selling goats and promoting a goat herd. There is no perfect goat, so answer questions honestly and try to depict animals fairly. It helps to have basic information about the herd readily available in a sales list or computer file. This will help to respond to queries about goats promptly. Try to have some good photos on hand, too.
A lot of things can go wrong when selling goats, so it helps to draw up a sales policy. These are pretty standard, generally covering how deposits are accepted, and for how long animals will be held.
For example, an enthusiastic caller announces that she will buy the Nubian kid you advertised. "I’m sending a deposit today," she promises, but a week, or two, passes with no check. If someone else wants to buy the kid, the first deposit will take her. You may choose to contact the original buyer to see if she is still interested. If your call is not returned, you probably have your answer.
Another common problem can be getting the buyer to pick up their goat. Thirty days is considered a generous period of time to make travel arrangements. Count 30 days from the deposit receipt. After 30 days, if the buyer has not picked up the animal or made further private arrangements, the goat and deposit should be the sellers to keep.
All sales policies should be clearly stated in a herd brochure and/or posted on your website. The 2004 ADGA Guidebook has the ADGA recommended trade policies on page 113. It’s important to have selling rules in writing. Include information about how deposits are taken, how long an animal will be held, and personal policy on refunds and guarantees.
Once a contract for purchase is made, the seller can do several things to make the transfer go smoothly. Make sure the animal is properly disbudded, tattooed, and up to date on vaccinations. Be courteous to the buyer and have the paperwork ready to go.
There are many things that can go wrong in a "goat deal." Buyers are sometimes late with payments and tardy when making pick-up arrangements. Sellers tend to be slow to send in paperwork and lax about providing promised pedigrees and health records.
When both the buyer and seller do their part, sales should run smoothly for both parties. As a buyer, be aware that causing a breeder difficulty by delaying payments or creating other hassles will make the seller not be as willing to help with time and advice, if needed. Likewise, sellers who keep their customers waiting six months for registration papers, will not receive the positive word of mouth advertising they would have recieved had they been prompt and diligent. Anyone can develop a reputation in the goat world, it takes a little extra work and attention to ethics to make it a good one. There is no substitution for honesty when buying and selling dairy goats.