Helping you be successful in your barn and business!
They say that the best lessons in life happen from the mistakes we make and I agree wholeheartedly. Deciding to open a large horse boarding business seemed like an easy thing to do, after all, I love horses and how hard could it be taking care of them and the people who own them? No one could have told me many years ago that when we opened our boarding stable that I would one day be writing books and teaching barn management at our facility and giving talks at other places. Back then I was over the moon with excitement for our new business venture and I believed this was what I was meant to do. The years have taught me a lot and the lessons have been extremely hard but with each mistake and heartache it only made me want to do better at the career I had chosen.
I received an email the other day that left me shaken most of the day. A woman had contacted me for advice on a situation she was in with a boarder that refused to leave her property and move her horse! If this sounds absolutely crazy to you then get ready because it happens a little more often then you would ever expect. I know this because I have experienced a unique situation along these lines as well and it can be extremely stressful.
If you are looking for a website that talks about REAL barn management and the issues that can surround and consume a horse boarding business then you found it here! Welcome to ProBarn Management! We are different with a huge purpose.
Many people are starting to ask what makes ProBarn Management different from the other equine professional sites out there. The answer is easy. This blog site is written by a barn owner that is living and working in the business every day. I am not here to tell what kind of hay, grains or supplements you need to use. I am not going to discuss tractors or equipment, watering systems or kinds of bedding unless you ask me my thoughts on the topic. There are plenty of articles on all these topics. I am not a salesman. I am a barn owner and I manage a large boarding facility and have lived through the really hard years and realized there isn't support or resources for people that want to board horses and all that goes with it. Its a great career but it can get ugly at times.
I have always considered myself an easy going person, that was until we started our horse boarding business! Now if I have your attention then you have probably said the same thing to yourself a time or two. Running a boarding barn for years now has changed me in many ways but with each passing year I believe it has changed me for the best even if a few previous clients would disagree.
When we first opened our boarding facility years ago I wasn't sure how to set up my board prices for stall and outside board. I am going to honest and tell you that I guesstimated on pretty much all of it in the beginning and my compass was the surrounding boarding barns in the area. NOT A GOOD WAY TO START A BUSINESS! After many years of boarding horses on my property and going through all four seasons, I realize now that I missed a lot of important services that David and I do behind the scenes every day that should have been reflected in my board rate when we first opened.
I now have the privilege of talking with many other barn owners and this is a very common mistake that most new business owners make in the beginning. Then they find themselves scrambling to find extra money to pay their monthly bills and raising the board rate becomes a part of the scenario but it can be bad for business especially if you are brand new. I want to talk a little bit today about some of the things that are often overlooked when setting your board rates.
I am going to come right out and say it-the boarding stable (no matter the size) is greatly undervalued as an important part of the equine industry. I never realized this until the last couple of years when I have had the privilege of talking to many barn owners and managers from all over the country. The sad truth is many barn owners and managers are beaten down and wore out while every other equine professional uses their facility and benefits from the facility. Each equine professional brings something great to your barn but you need to realize that you also bring something great to your barn! Many boarders also unfortunately don't see the value and worth of a well-run boarding stable and what goes on behind the scenes every day. I am not saying that equine professionals and boarders have been the cause for this burnout in boarding stables. I am saying that for too long barn owners and managers have allowed themselves to get to this point of burnout and they don't see their worth in what they do seven days a week for the horses they care for. There are many reasons for this and it comes from many different sources.
I want to address the importance of the boarding stable and how it affects and even promotes other equine businesses to be successful. No matter the size boarding stables are vital to the equine industry and without them the rest of the industry would wither and be in a very poor financial condition. Now if that sounds like a bold statement then keep reading because I have a lot to say about this subject.
What do you do when your clients don't have boundaries and you are losing your privacy? If you are boarding horses and you live on the same property then you might be in for an awakening when it comes to boundaries and your clients. Running a boarding business will come with its own unique challenges.
Let me first start off by saying that I truly believe most boarders will be great clients. I don't believe most people go to a barn with the intention of making trouble or making others feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it is something that happens slowly and is very subtle and hard to recognize. What can make it more difficult is when you need to finally talk with a person that has no boundaries. That is when your job as the barn owner or manager becomes extremely tough.
I believe boundaries come in many different forms and it could be the barn owner crossing the line just as easily as the client. As our new boarding business was underway and full of life, I was beginning to learn so much about running my barn and much of it had to do with the relationship with my boarders. I had never given it any thought before to the different kinds of people who would become my clients. Some were extremely social and wanted to be involved with everything and everyone and others really just wanted to come out to see their horse and ride quietly by themselves. I wish I could say I was smarter back then but I wasn't. Looking back I crossed the boundary line many times before I finally got it.
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because I had no clue in the beginning how not having boundaries in my business could actually hurt my business. I now realize that many people that open a horse boarding facility or any kind of equine business have not learned the importance of boundaries. It took me years to really figure it out and I am still learning at times. It is definitely a journey we take as we grow as business owners.
When we first opened Vinland Stables years ago I was so excited about every part of it. I instantly loved taking care of all the horses but I also enjoyed getting to know all my new boarders. We have a multi-discipline barn and with that came many different breeds and my boarders were every age from young kids to retired people. Things seemed great at first.
This morning the clouds opened up and the rain came down on our farm. In a very short time we had almost three inches of rain and I was again relieved that the drainage ditch, culverts and the large number of drain tiles we put in many years ago did what they were supposed to do. Our paddocks were temporarily flooded but our barn and indoor arena was very dry and the horses were cozy in their stalls. If you have a barn or stable and have dealt with huge rainstorms then you know exactly what I am talking about. It is a relief when all your hard work has paid off during the times of severe weather and heavy rains.
This is something I must admit I never gave any thought to before we built our boarding barn years ago. I should have because I have personally experienced the stress of having to move my horse and evacuate during flooding rains back in the 1970's in the San Fernando Valley in California. It is something you never forget.