I want you to think about this one thing before you keep reading. Lets just pretend you are giving a tour and you can read your potential new clients minds as you walk them around your place. How would you feel then if you had junk laying all over the place as you walked around and you read their minds and could see their fears and concerns about safety and cleanliness for the horses at your barn? Would you start to see the value in a clean barn with everything in its place? I believe you definitely would especially if you have empty stalls and loss of income and you watch them drive off never to hear from them again. Remember you are now running a business with bills to pay on top of it all.
A great first impression is not about the size of your barn or stable or the amount of pasture you have for the horses at your place. It is not about how many riding arenas you have or accessible trails near your place. Sure some of those things might be impressive at first but they will quickly be forgotten if your place is dirty and not kept up at all. If things are laying all over the place and very messy and it looks like nothing ever gets repaired than those will be the things that stick in a persons mind and leave a negative first impression. Once a possible new client has formed a negative first impression it is very hard to change that.
Many people around my area think that the reason we are always full with horses is because we are a newer facility and we have a huge indoor riding arena. That simply is not true at all. Our "New" barn is over ten years old now but it has taken a lot of work throughout the years to maintain it and keep it looking nice. I believe one of the reasons we are full all the time is because we take care of the things that need to be fixed and updated. Let me tell you again it is not about the size of your barn. You can be a smaller facility and leave a fantastic impression just by doing a few easy and inexpensive things.
Get rid of the junk and clutter!
If you are serious about making a great first impression than get rid of the junk and clutter. Too many barns keep junk all over the place and even in pastures where horses are. If you want to set your barn apart and look professional then get rid of the junk. If you don't have a storage shed to put it all in, then at least take it out of the pastures, aisle ways and everywhere else many people put stuff and store it all in a place where the horses can't get to it. It is a very easy thing to do and doesn't cost a penny. Just some work. Have a designated place for everything so horses can't get hurt and it will make your place look bigger, cleaner and much more organized. It will give a great first impression that your barn is a run well business.
Yes it is work to keep a barn clean
I am going to be honest and tell you that my husband is a much cleaner person than I am when it comes to everything. He will spend hours once a year cleaning down the cob webs. When he is done it make a huge difference. We will take a blower and blow through our barn two or three times a week to really get the dust off of everything and it really cleans it out. Yes it is a lot of work but it is part of the job and it shows that you care about your place and want it to be nice for your boarders. The simple truth is that if your place is a mess and not kept clean than if will reflect on you as a barn owner.
Grab a can of paint
It is amazing how nice something looks after it has been painted. If you have an older place that needs a face-lift, buy a can of paint and paint over the old. It will transform your place and it doesn't cost much to do. It is the little things like keeping the grass cut and the arenas dragged and fixing things that get broken that will make a great first impression and set your place apart from other barns.
You are going to have many people drive up to your barn and they will start checking off all that they see right from the start. You will be amazed but a clean maintained barn with everything in its place will be the thing that gets them excited about your place. Not the size or amenities.
Remember that you want people to leave your barn after a tour and be impressed by the cleanliness of your place. If they like what they see they will tell other people and that is always great for your business. It might sound a little cliche but you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,