In My Opinion "Selling Hollands"

 

Elaine Dietrich  writes:

Selling Hollands, or any rabbit for that matter, is quite difficult. When you sell to a show home, you need to make sure that the quality is exactly what you are selling. Personally, I don't mind selling show quality Hollands to my competition. It makes me evaluate my breeding program closer, so that I can improve the quality. If by selling that show quality Holland I can improve other's herds, also--GREAT! But, what I've found is that everyone's opinion of how to describe "show quality" differs. What I consider a great bunny (but could still use a little work in future generations--and what bunny doesn't need this!) is not at all what a potential buyer expects. They want a bunny that will BIS each and every time it's shown, or they don't want the bunny. 

Well, if I had the potential of breeding so true, that 1 could get litter upon litter of BIS winners—not only would I be in heaven, but I would sell some of these beautiful buns to others, too. But, let's face it--I don't believe there is a line that is that consistent located anywhere in the world at this time. 

So, how to sell that show bunny: First a few ground rules. If I feel a bunny is show quality, I point out the bunny's attributes. If the buyer asks about weak areas, that information is given, too. I make sure the buyer completely examines the bun--and if they don't, I go over the bun with them--from top to bottom. The price of the bunny is consistent with the quality. If you have a bunny that can do well in the 4-H program, then by all means don't charge an arm and a leg for it. A reasonable price for a well-built 4-H bunny around here is between $35-45.00. On an ARBA show table, this bunny would probably place around the middle of the class. But, in 4-H, these bunnies do quite well, and usually get blues for their owners. Reasonable prices for a show-quality rabbit in our area are $45-95. These rabbits should place consistently in the top 1/3 of the class and will eventually grand out. Now, what type of guarantee--I will replace the bun if it gets sick within 2 weeks. After that length of time, it's been gone from my environment for too long. And, remember, the owner has checked the bun over-- so they should be satisfied that it's healthy.

For the culls that aren't show quality--I keep a few for pet homes--and sell privately. Only the most friendly and outgoing bunnies make pet status. I don't like dealing with pet shops--they buy the bun for $10 and turn around and sell it for $70--giving out my name and address for any problems. Nope! Won't do business with them again. I now am getting contacts with raptor rehab and snake feeders. Probably not the way everyone else would like to eliminate culls from their herd, but my feeling is waste not--want not. The price for pets only is $20-35. I don't usually give out a pedigree unless requested. I always give out a care booklet, and encourage the new owner to call with any problems or questions--no matter how trivial. And, the new owner gets a portion of feed to tide them over to what they will be feeding.

My care sheet has instructions on how to do a feed switchover, and has locations of local feed mills and what brands of feed they sell. I also try to give them rabbit savvy vet info--especially if they plan to neuter the bun. I include info on rabbit supply vendors--phone contacts, so they can order catalogs. The pet owner likes to be as informed as the rest of us--if given half a chance. So, I include a bunch of extra tidbits of knowledge. 1 do put one word of warning on my info sheet--do not breed the bunny without education and preparation. Sometimes the pet owner needs to see this in black and white—so they can ask the WHY? It gets them to thinking deeply on the subject--instead of being just a whim of the moment that's later regretted. When you sell bunnies--quite often you are selling a piece of yourself. You cannot just let them go--at least I can't. I need to follow up and find out how they are doing. Not that I bug the new owners to death, but just a follow up call to see if all is well.


Carol Green writes:

The first time we had more rabbits than we could immediately sell to our friends was when we decided that a "marketing" plan was needed. I think that was our second litter of Hollands! We took a multi-pronged approach: distributed business cards to local pet and feed stores, advertised in club newsletters, brought rabbits to shows to sell, talked to other 4-H members, and made a nice web page. The web site (http://narnia.sri.com/~green) has actually turned out to be one of the most effective ways we have found to get our name and animals out to both other breeders and those looking for a pet. We are lucky that we all raise Hollands (for so many reasons!) because they are a great pet animal and are a popular show rabbit also, so there tends to be a pretty high demand for the animals. In our case, because we live in an urban area, it is actually fairly easy to sell rabbits for pets as long as the buyers can find us. The only time we have problems selling extras is during the summer when we have fewer shows and people tend to be less interested in buying pets. As a result, in the summer we may take some young rabbits (at least 8 weeks old) to a really nice local pet store. But by far the best marketing tool of all is to have a happy customer--sell an animal honestly for a fair price so that the buyer is pleased whether the rabbit is for show or pet.  We don't have a hard and fast policy about when and why we will replace an animal, but basically if someone has a complaint we return the money or replace the rabbit. We figure we aren't raising rabbits to make money (good thing, right?), but to improve the breed, share our love of the animals with others and make better friends.


Luke Galardi writes:

As I am a "newbie" to Hollands, I can honestly say I have not sold a lot of my Hollands yet to other breeders. However, I have sold quite a few culls/pets to the local Earl May gardening store. What really made my stock really attractive to the store Manager is that I include a Pedigree and my business card that has my web site address. I have a care tips page on my site, and it lets the purchaser know my methods of bunny care, housing, etc. I have often received emails back from purchasers who visited my site and found the information to be of great help. An added relief to me is that the Manager at the Earl May store has raised rabbits in the past, and grills each and every prospective purchaser about their plans for rabbit housing, care, etc. if I feel they are going to good homes. To me, that is my ultimate concern.

Perhaps in a year or two after I get your line (Christine Feld’s) going here in the Midwest I can share my stories of selling show quality Hollands! :)

Dwayne Neal writes:

Allow me to tell you a little about my selling experiences.  When I get a letter or call from someone out of state who is interested in purchasing stock, the first thing I explain is the shipping requirement, which most people underestimate.  First of all, animals must be shipped via airfreight as PDQ, which guarantees overnight and direct delivery with minimal layover.  I ship mine through US Airways since it is the only jet service out of Binghamton.  The cost for this is $170 for the ticket.  I usually ask the buyer (you) to set this up on your own by calling the airline, etc.  then letting me know when to have the rabbits at the airport.  Another cost for air shipment is the cost of a carrier and the Vet check for the paperwork that has to be filled out.  This runs about $20 per animal and carriers cost around $25-$40 depending on the number of holes.  So, right off the bat, you are looking at a little over $200 and you haven't even paid for the rabbit yet!  For some people, this is price prohibitive.  Just FYI. 

I do not have hundreds and hundreds as I breed quality, not quantity.  At any one time, I have between 30-50 Hollands, no more.  I almost always have stock to sell.  My prices range from $50-$250 depending on quality.  The low end price is for a baby from my line and the prices go up from there depending on how long I've had them, how much money I've invested in them, how great they look, whether they are proven or not, how many winnings they have and if they are a GC or not.

Another question on warrantee and if the bunny dies; Now, I'm getting worried that anyone would be expecting them to die!!! Yes, I am teasing you!

Anyway, the rule of thumb I use is the old "do onto others as you would have them do on to you," or something like that.  In other words, of course I stand behind my animals to an extent, because of course you are dealing with a living creature and it's God's will as to how long they are to live.  Right?  Anyway, I do provide replacements depending on the situation, or I give money back if I think the people are strange and rally shouldn't have any more of my babies.  Also, it depends on how much the person is buying and when the animal dies.  If your babies survive the first month, then I have to assume it was not my fault or that they had some baby genetic fault that would have been caught had I kept it a bit longer.  Understand?  See, if there was an unconditional guarantee, people could bring back stock at any time, demanding refunds for any reason.  That would be unreasonable.  Right?  I pretty much just do the right thing and expect the same back from buyers.  


Mark Taylor writes:

Most of us are in this hobby because someone sold us quality stock in the beginning. We may have developed it and improved it, but someone helped by teaching us and providing good stock. If we want to increase numbers at our shows and build interest in our breed, it is up to us to deal straight up with those who want to purchase stock. That means evaluating our stock for sale honestly and selling only healthy animals. If we are afraid of creating competition for ourselves by selling quality Hollands we don't have much confidence in our ability as a breeder.


Stephanie Liska writes:

When I sell my Hollands I have several factors that influence my decision as far as pricing. When I pick out a bunny to sell, I first ask myself, "What is this rabbit worth to me??" "Has it show well??" "Registered??" "Granded??" If my answer is yes to any of these questions, it will of course be priced higher than a Holland that hasn't done well. Next I look at its value as a breeder (if old enough). Has it produced?? Has it thrown good babies?? If so, has it thrown good babies with several different animals?? Next I look at pedigrees. Is it a strong line?? Is it mostly one line or several?? Does the animal physically match its pedigree?? Lastly I take into consideration what I have spent on breeding stock, and maintenance of the individual rabbit. I don't sell my Hollands by names on pedigrees; I don't feel that is fair, you're selling the rabbit that is in front of you, not the famous great grandfather of it! It's great if the rabbit has Top Lop winners or National winners in the background, but the rabbit has to prove itself. I do however sell them for what I believe they are worth. Bucks are always more expensive than does, for the obvious reasons, but I have sold some really nice does really cheap because they just weren't "cutting it" in my breeding program. My biggest pet peeve though is someone coming to me to buy rabbits because of the lines they are out of, and expecting to get a top show rabbit with top lines for "next to nothing" because they don't want to pay the higher price from the original breeder. I do give 4-H and youth discounts, because I was there and know how hard it is to get good breeding stock on limited funds-I had to save up for 2 years to get my 1st good buck! ! ! As far as guarantees, I really don't put anything in writing, but I do sell my Hollands honestly and if something goes wrong, in a reasonable amount of time, and the buyer LETS ME KNOW ABOUT IT, I will either replace or refund the rabbit.

As far as advice -- To the Sellers, represent your animals honestly, and sell them for what YOU would pay for them. To the Buyers, if the rabbit is really nice and has proven itself either on the show table or in the breeding program, it's probably worth the extra money. Remember that the money you spend now on that really nice bunny will save in the long run from buying several less expensive rabbits to breed up to that nice one.

Tracy Lukeman writes:

I find more and more people are using the Internet each day to find the things they are interested in. I have found in the 3 years I have had my website up I sell almost half of my bunnies from the Internet. The other half I would have to say I sell at the shows I attend.

The website gives the person interested a lot of information up front such as seeing your herd, colors and my website offers care information so they can see what they are getting into. I also offer the same care sheet when the bunnies go home. I normally meet them at shows or if they are close or arrange a meeting to pick up at the home. 

I have met the nicest people over the Internet. Usually you can tell a lot about a person by writing back and forth thru emails. As far as the shows go I think if the person takes the time to drive out the show that tells me a person is really interested in getting a bunny. Also the person has the chance to see some of the bunnies you have entered at the show. 

In a pinch, I do have a local pet shop I have a good relationship with. Lately though I haven't had much to offer her. I normally take any mismarks, or the real ugly ducklings to her. This is the first year I have told her I wouldn't be selling any bunnies around Easter time. If I do sell during that time of the year I want the opportunity to make sure it isn't an impulse buy because of the Holiday and the person who is getting the bunny really wants it.

I also remind anyone that leaves with a bunny that if they don't want it anymore, they are always welcome to bring it back and I will find it a home and the same goes for the local pet shop. I think that is a very important part of being a responsible breeder.


Valerie Harrell writes:

Sometimes a difficult thing about selling rabbits is setting a price.  We want our prices to be fair to our customers and to ourselves.  Our HLRSC guidebook tells us that they generally have a starting price of $35.  Yet prices can be different by region.  In some cosmopolitan areas you can get $40-50 for just a pet and more rural areas don't want to pay more than $10.  But when selling to other breeders we are save in using a starting price of $35.  I usually will use that price for a false dwarf brood animal.  However, the show stock is another sotry.  The more you know about Hollands the better you can put a fair price on the more typey animals.  So a breeder that has shown and bred successfully will price their rabbits according to how they stack up to the standard.  If I have a rabbit for sale for $150 it is because I would be willing to pay that much for it myself, and if no one buys it I am happy just to keep it and use it in my breeding program.  Pricing rare colors is usually done by the 'going price' for that color.  Blue-eyed white Hollands are currently from $100-$200 depending on how nice it is and chocolates, tri-color, pointed whites, etc. you can expect to pay more than you would for the same type animal in the standard colors.


Allan Ormond writes:

Over the years I have had the pleasure to watch many great breeders sell Holland Lops.  It has entailed seeing some people extremely happy over what happened, and sometimes experiencing with them great heartache over the results.  I have been the receiver of both ends of this spectrum.  The greatest thing that I could relate to anyone who wants to buy a Holland of any kind, for any reason, would be to pick the rabbit out yourself.  That means taking a short, or long trip to visit the breeder, and see what they have in their barn, or meeting them at a show.  You get to know the breeder personally that way, and you start to build a relationship that may last a lifetime.  Remember rabbits come and go, but good friends are friends forever!!  Some of the greatest friends that I have in my life still are rabbit persons that I got to know over time.  

Suggestions on how to buy a good Holland Lop would include picking out a color, define a purpose for the animal, for show or for a pet, or for herd improvement.  The next step would be to investigate availability in your area; this also includes purchases of herd improvement stock.  Go to local shows, visit local breeders, and ask other rabbit people about reputations of individual show persons.

Guarantees are between the buyer and the breeder. They vary like the colors of the rainbow.  Within reason an animal purchased that is healthy when it leaves with the breeder, should not need a guarantee. If something happens to it, and it is a new breeder, at times I have replaced the animal immediately. If show rabbits do not turn out as planned, and it has been six months or longer, if the animal was purchased when it was six months old, you knew what it was, not buying it to have it become something greater, then buyer beware. You should be responsible for your choices, but still, good breeders stand behind their stock, and their reputations are spotless because of their honesty.

I'll share a little story with you about buying Holland Lops.  A person we will call Sam, waited to purchase a Holland Lop from a very famous rabbit breeder, who we will call Murtle. Murtle was at the top of her game, had won a lot, and was a very famous rabbit breeder. Sam waited five years to get a doe and a buck from Murtle. Well when the rabbits came to a local show, Sam was really disappointed. The doe was really short and round as he had wanted, but with her ears straight in the air. The buck was so long, he could have had a semi trailer behind his shoulders, and was flat as a pancake. Well Sam had waited so long for these rabbits, he purchased the doe. He knew the buck would never be what he wanted, so he didn't want the buck, which immediately ticked Murtle off. Murtle went off in a huff, and that was the end of their relationship, supposedly such a good friend until that dreadful day.

Sam took the doe home, bred her, had two dead babies born on the wire the doe was 9 months old at this time. He waited a month, bred the doe again. This time Sam watched her cage like a cat. On the kindling day, he was at her cage day and night. She kindled one peanut, then nothing. Sam palpated more babies in her, called the vet, and made an emergency visit to his clinic. The vet administered pitocin, waited awhile, and then when nothing happened, suggested that they c section the doe in order to save her and the babies. He said that the babies would probably be born dead, but they might save the doe. Well, the c-section was performed; one live baby came from that experience. It was taken to a friend who raised it; it turned into a skinny ugly baby, and got uglier with age. Two days later the doe died!

Let's add up our expenses now: stock purchase $250; vet office and c-section $375; available stock out of stud doe, worthless, zero assets and that was over seven years of waiting. Moral of the story: buyer beware.

My greatest hope would be that honest breeders stand behind their stock, share with breeders needing help, promoting their breed, and loving every win that they helped with. Selling rabbits is the hardest thing that I have ever done, I never want to turn out to be Murtle!!

The Hollander/Spring Issue - April 2001