The size of your barn and business will be a huge factor on what you can offer for free or what you want to charge for. The other part of the picture is what you are charging for board and what is included in your "Full" board. Each barn will do it a little differently and the best thing you can do for your business is to do what works best for you and your family. Don't get caught up in following what the other barns are doing in your area.
The simple truth...Time is money when you are the barn owner
The first thing I want you to remember as a business owner is that time is money. Whether you are doing these extra services yourself or have employees that work for you, all these services will end up costing you financially. Figuring out what you can offer as an extra service and not end up losing money is part of good financial management. We go into the horse business because we love horses and want to make a career of it but you will get easily burnt out if you are broke and working twice as hard because of all the extras you are doing seven days a week. It can add up very fast and this is where many barn owners struggle.
Figuring out what services you want to charge for
Every barn is going to do things differently when it comes to extra services and fees and the best way for you to figure out what works for your place is to try it. Start off with a price sheet and services offered and you can always modify it as you need to. When I had finally put together my price sheet and figured out what services I wanted to charge for, it was longer than I expected. After a few years boarding horses I have taken off some of the extra fees for certain services. I realized that those particular services were not going to be a big deal at all and were not taking much time to do at all. I have also added a couple of extra fees for services throughout the years. it will change throughout the years depending on the type of barn you have and your clientele.
Packaging your board rates with or without extra fees for services. Different perspectives.
When I first opened our barn I would compare my board rates and what we offered to all the other barns in our area. Our rates were not the highest but they were up there on the higher end. If took me time to figure out that the barns that advertised many services for free were much higher in board than my place. They were not really giving those services for free, they were just packaged differently. They were included in the board. It always looks good when things are include in the price. It makes you feel like you are getting something for free. The truth is that any smart business person is not going to work for free and they are recouping their income in a different way.
The reality is that you are not going to be doing all the extra services on an everyday basis so if you have a much higher board rate to include those services, that will work for some people that can afford the higher board. But your rate will most likely be to high for many other people and if you need to fill your stalls and pay a mortgage you might end up hurting your business financially. It would be better to offer a little lower board rate and charge for extra services and then it give your boarders the option to hire you if they want. It gives them the choice and for many that is a huge plus. Remember that the more expensive your board is the smaller the number of people who will be able to afford it. That is very important if you need to fill all your stalls.
Educating your boarders on extra fees for services
Talking with your clients about why you charge for extra services will be part of your job. Once you take the time to explain why you are adding extra fees for certain services or getting most boarders are pretty receptive. You might have someone that will feel like you are trying to get every last penny out of them and you can't change how they feel. They will never understand unless they are running a barn, paying the bills and doing the job on a daily basis. Some people are just that way and they will look at other barns and compare them to yours. It just comes with the territory of boarding horses. You need to be okay with this and understand this is all part of business. Very few people will be like this if have a well-run barn where the horses are taken well care of. I have never had a person leave our barn because of our extra charges for services.
Easier to take off then to add later.
Because I didn't have a price sheet when we opened our business, it was not well received when I started charging for extra services. It was one of those things that I regretted not having in place when we opened our barn. I had promised so many things in the beginning and realized later on that I couldn't do all of them and it was taking up so much more of my time. I encourage you to get your price sheet in place so there are no surprises for your boarders. You can always take off fees but it will upsetting to some if you add a bunch fees after they move their horse to your barn.
Ultimately it is your choice on what you want to charge for and what you want to include as part of your board. Don't follow what everyone else is doing. It is okay to see how they do things at their barn but design your barn and business for what works best for you. Remember it is okay to charge for extra services. It is part of business and most of your boarders will understand this. Your time is valuable and worth something and you need to remember this.
Watch for part 2 of this series! Can you go overboard on your service fees? Figuring out what to charge and what is your time worth? Plus so much more!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome. If you are thinking about starting your own horse business or have been in it for a while, please check out my books. They will change how you look at barn management and you wont find more real and honest books about running a horse barn and dealing with clients. I think it will truly open your eyes and help you grow as an equine professional.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,