We recently interviewed our benefits partner Gemma from Secret Chevalier to help our wonderful clients understand what services she offers and how it can benefit their business.
Secret Chevalier is an equestrian money saving club. We empower our members to shop smart and spend savvy, it's not about spending more - it's about saving where you can.
Our members save money on all the day to day essentials so that there's more money leftover to spend on the horses. Savings include the weekly food shop (all major supermarkets excluding Lidl and Aldi), clothes, takeaway coffees and meals, eating out - if you can buy it on the high street, we can probably save you money on it!
As well as all the high street offers our members can save money on equestrian shopping from tack shops like Redpost, supplements, riding clothes, online dressage tests - and the list is growing every week! We have offers with some huge brands like Viovet, Equiboodle, Equilibrium Products, Eqcouture, Starbucks, Costa, Greggs, Decathlon Go Outdoors - even Primark!
Please tell us the story of your business from where it started to where you are now
I work in HR as an employee benefits specialist, and offering employees ways to save money on day to day essentials through discounts, cashback and shopping vouchers, is a very popular benefit. I lost my job during lockdown and I lost access to the discounts when I needed them the most. It suddenly occurred to me that the majority of equestrians might never get access to something like this - despite needing to save as much money as possible!
What do you love most about your business and why?
Mostly helping people save money - watching my members get to grips with cashback and start hitting their savings goals is so satisfying! I have 1 member who was a member for 2 years before she started using the discounts for her Tesco shopping. Suddenly one day she realised that she needed to start saving for London Horse Show tickets for herself and her daughter and she decided to get grips with it. She's now on track to save around £300 this year just on food shopping and she's currently saving a small fortune buying furniture for, and redecorating her children's bedrooms! I also love the fact that I get to work with a lot of independent retailers to promote their brand and products to my members. and most of all I love the community of happy shoppers I have brought together!
What are the biggest challenges that your business has faced and what have you done to overcome them?
Explaining what cashback is and how it works! I would encourage anyone to get to grips with cashback - it's so common these days you're literally throwing money away if you don't use it. The biggest challenge for me personally has probably been financial, the cost involved of building the website, marketing etc. We also pay a partner to provide the high street discounts for our members to ensure we get the best deals possible - none of it comes cheap! Because Secret Chevalier is so unique I sometimes struggle to get people to trust the concept. They either think it's too good to be true because it only costs £5 per month to join, or they don't believe that they'll make the £5 a month back but it's very rare that people don't get great value of it. Especially if they engage with the group and let me help them get started.
What are the biggest challenges in your sector of the equine industry that you're facing today?
There's no doubt the retail sector is tough and cost of living is impacting people but we're here to help people with that. Whether it's helping members save money or bringing business to independent retailers. In some ways, we're able to turn the tough times at the minute into a positive.
What do you wish people knew about running an equine business?
It's full on! People have no boundaries about what time it's acceptable to text or email because they think about it in their downtime so it can be a 24/7 job. I also work full time and have 2 horses to look after, ride and compete - it's crazy really!
What aspects of employee benefits are you most excited about for the future?
The opportunity to help more equestrians save money and work with more retailers. There are so many equestrian start up brands popping up and marketing is really tough but we can help to bring them an audience of equestrians who love to shop! I'm also looking in to the opportunity to launch in other countries like Ireland, America and Australia so hopefully exciting times ahead!