Helping you be successful in your barn and business!
The times are definitely changing and I am the first to admit that it can become overwhelming when I think about all the things that need to get done at our barn daily. I was talking to someone the other day and she was telling me about a huge mega boarding stable down south that has a market and shopping center for it's employees to get what they need for groceries. We started talking about barns that offer cameras in each stall for the boarders to be able to watch their horses at all times when they are at home and free Wifi when they are at the barn. What is coming next...A "Smart Barn" and a Starbucks in every lounge! What has happened to the quiet and peace that a barn is supposed to offer and be? Isn't a barn supposed to take us back to a simpler time long ago and refresh our senses and emotions?
There are many barns and stables for sale across the country and there are many people who are in the process of purchasing what looks like a new dream career with clients and horses already included. It seems like the perfect situation where the barn is established, the management is set up and everything is running smoothly. At least that is what it looks like on the outside. All you have to do is sign the papers and take over as the new barn owner. Then it happens...
Deciding what to charge for your monthly board rate will be one of the most difficult decisions for your business. Every barn owner will worry about their rates being too low or too high. They will wonder what people can afford and with that comes the stress about making sure the stalls are filled with horses. Deciding what to charge for boarding rates is not easy but once you realize your value in all that you do to keep your place clean, safe and well-run, then I believe you will feel more comfortable with charging more and your clients will be more comfortable with paying it because they know great care when they see it. It needs to start with you and the value you place on the care you give for the horses at your barn. Lets be honest, you can find many places where the care is less than and is it really worth the few dollars saved each month?
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.
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.
Starting a new horse business is extremely tough and you might be in for the shock of your life when it comes to money and the lack of it. The truth is almost all new start-up businesses are in the red for some time. How you handle the first couple of years of your horse business will set you up for the rest. I believe the reason many new horse boarding barns go out of business in the first few years is because of two things. The first one being that the person was not prepared for all the extra expenses and they keep borrowing more and more until there is no more left to borrow. The second one is that they really didn't have a true understanding of what good barn management is and how to run a barn and deal with clients. Their turnover becomes extremely high and the income is too low to support their debt. I understand both these scenarios too well because I have done both of them and we almost lost our farm and business within the first few years.
When it comes to operating a horse boarding business, I could easily say it wasn't what my husband and I envisioned when we were planning our new career and building our barn many years ago. I am going to be totally honest and tell you that I thought it would be much easier than it really is. The last couple of years I have had the privilege of talking with barn owners across the country and it is safe to say that most of them had the same idea of what they thought it would be, and later were very surprised and at times disappointed after the horses and people came. I now look at the business and what happened to us in the beginning as naivety as some would call it, or just plain not prepared and that is why I am so passionate to help others so that when they start their boarding stable they are much more ready to handle the ups and downs that come with boarding horses. It is a great business to be in but if you are not prepared for all that it entails then it will knock you down at times and many people burn-out and quit because it is just to much to take. I don't want that to happen to you.
Boarding other people's horses seems easy at first. Many people think that taking care of other people's horses is a great way to help pay for their own horses and all the costs associated with horse ownership. After all how hard can it be? I get it because I was the same way many years ago. Many people get into horse boarding and come to find out very fast how stressful and exhausting it is and many times they quit because they do not see a way to make it easier and cost effective. You see it all the time with boarding stables closing their doors.
I am so excited by the response about my new book, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business." I have spent the last year writing this book because I knew there was an information gap when it comes to all that is involved in trying to run a horse boarding business. If you are boarding horses and are struggling to make it financially or are starting to burn-out then you know exactly what I mean. The resources up until now have been very limited. I have heard from so many people that have been looking for a book like this to help answer many of their questions. I am equally excited and passionate about getting this book into equine programs across the country so that people coming out of college gain some extra knowledge for the challenges that come with running a horse business.