As I had said in my first blog post about boundaries I had crossed the line about sharing too much with my clients about our finances. The second big mistake I started to make early on was this need to make sure all of my clients were involved in something. For some reason it bothered me that I had people that would come out and just hang by themselves and not socialize. I don't know if it was because I love to be with people or not but at the time I just couldn't figure out why someone would come out, ride their horse and leave without saying a word to anyone.
I think deep down inside I worried that they weren't happy and I pushed even more to get them included. I was missing the mark by a long shot about people. A huge lesson was on its way towards me and it would involve losing a wonderful boarder.
I had this very nice woman that started boarding at our barn. She had a beautiful little horse and she would come out every evening after work. I didn't know anything about this boarder but I started to make it my mission to go out and talk with her and get to know her better. She was always very polite but as I would ask questions to get to know her she would politely tell me she needed to go and she would take a short ride and head home. You would think I would get it but I didn't. Sometimes I can be kinda slow! As time went on others started to ask why she was so unsociable? It's amazing to me that just because someone is quiet, we call them unsociable. Ten years ago I didn't say anything and I should have supported this woman when other boarders were talking.
After about six months this wonderful quiet woman gave her thirty day notice and moved her horse. I spent sometime talking with her before she left and I found out that she had been going through some extremely difficult personal issues and the barn was her place to relax and forget for a few hours each day. She told me that she was moving to a much smaller place with only a handful of people. I had really blown it as an adult and business person. Here I had been bothering her for the last six months and she just wanted to be left alone. I lost gem of a boarder that was right in front of me only because I wanted her to be doing things that I thought she should be doing. I crossed the boundary line of her privacy and space I am sure I made her feel uncomfortable at the time.
Years later I still think about that woman once in a while and I did run into her once. We talked and she was so happy where she was boarding her horse and she was doing well. I now understand and I have grown up a lot just through that one experience and how I deal with my clients.
The barn owners responsibility
As the barn owner or manager I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that your boarders respect each other and their differences. People can be very quick to judge someone just because they don't fit the mold of the barn and that is a dangerous place to go for your business. You are going to need to be the one to make sure the atmosphere is a positive one for ALL your clients, not just the ones you hang out with. That is what makes a barn owner a great barn owner.
You are going to have many different types of people come to your barn throughout your career in the horse industry. If I can give any words of advice, embrace them all just as they are. You will have boarders that will love to talk and share their life with you and then you will boarders that will be very quiet and private and barely talk and that is fine. Learn to listen more and talk less as a barn owner and you will learn with time what type of boarder you have and enjoy them just as they are. They each will make your barn complete.
Boundaries come in many different ways and the lines are easily crossed if we are not diligent and aware of what they are. Sometimes the only way we really learn is from the ones that got away. That woman taught me so much about people and good barn management when it comes to my clients.
The last part (Part 3) of this post series will be about when the client crosses the boundary line. How do you deal with that as a barn owner?
If you would like to know more about the barn owner/client relationship and how to make it all that it can be, please check out my newest book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." You won't find a more honest book about running your horse business and resolving issues that all barn owners, managers and trainers go through at times.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,