When we first were building our barn back in 2005 I didn't have a real clear view of what to charge or how it would affect my business. I checked with all the boarding barns in our area and to be honest I basically charged what they charged. Huge mistake!!
I had put together a business plan but at that point much of it was just numbers to me and I didn't see long tern down the road with our business and finances. I basically grabbed a number that sounded good and that became our monthly fee. I was insecure and didn't see the value in my job or what we offered and my rates were way too low to start and it turned out to be one of the worst business decisions I could ever make.
I added up on paper the monthly board fee times all of our horses and that is how I came up with the total income for the month. What I failed to see were all the hidden expenses and costs that I would have each month to keep our barn going on top of our business mortgage.
Finding a boarding rate that will cover your bills and your clients are willing to pay is definitely a balancing act in the beginning. Many new barn owners make the same mistake I made and they start off with too low of rates. When you do this it is extremely hard to catch up and it is bad for business if you find yourself raising the rates too fast and too much early on.
If I can give any words of advice - Don't let fear keep you from charging a rate that is fair and honest for what you offer at your barn. Your job is extremely valuable and very difficult. Don't cut yourself short on what you do each and every day to care for the horses at your barn.
Once your boarders see the great care and attention you give to each of their horses, they will not leave and they will be happy to pay a higher rate for peace of mind. Remember that most of them have already been to other boarding barns and most of them probably have had some bad experiences to go with it.
When setting your boarding rates take some time and talk with others. Don't get one number stuck in your head and don't be afraid to be a little higher than your competitors. Great care - is worth it's weight in gold!
Thank you for the great question!