It can seem like a daunting task to start changing and correcting the issues a boarding barn can have and for many, finding a starting place is the hardest part.
Your horse boarding barn might be having financial issues from paying your bills to getting paid from your clients. You might be dealing with drama in your barn and strong personalities that are running the barn. You could be having issues with clients that don't respect and follow your barn rules and you are even losing clients due to these people. Is your barn having a hard time attracting clients and you are having high turnover? Are you finding yourself performing many extra services and not getting compensated for your time? Do you need to raise your board rate but not sure how to raise it without losing clients especially when they tell you that they can't afford a higher board rate? These are a few of the very real issues we all go through as barn owners and managers. The problem is that many people don't know where to start or how to fix them and one year rolls into the next and the same problems keep existing. These are the issues that give a horse boarding barn a bad reputation and for many of them they go out of business.
I can tell you that I lived through each of these issues and many many more during the first five years of running our boarding facility and I also wanted to quit a few times. Those early years were not fun at all running our barn and I needed to make changes starting with myself in order to change how my barn was going to be run. I didn't have any mentors to talk with so I had to do it alone with my husband and take it one issue at a time.
There were a lot of trials and errors but now looking back, I believe those situations are what turned me into a confident business owner with a successful horse boarding operation.
The first thing you need to remember is that the horses will be the easiest part of your job. They are very easy to read and only want a few things from you. Safety, food, and shelter. Once you have that in order then you can move on to the more difficult parts of your job. People are people and they all have a different way of doing things and looking at situations. It will become your job to moderate and educate when needed, comfort and even enforce the rules at times. As the owner of your horse business you will be wearing many hats and some will be easy to wear and some will be difficult to put on but they are all very much needed.
Are you ready to make some needed changes?
If you are ready to change your barn, business and life for the better then I want you to start the upcoming new year by making a list of all the issues you are having from the smallest issue to the largest. This list will include money and how much is coming in and where every penny is going. Once you get a good understanding of the financials then it will give you a foundation of what you have to work with as far as employees and general cost of keeping your horse farm going. It is always more expensive to run a horse barn then we ever expect. I found out early on that if I dealt with one issue at a time then the entire business didn't seem so overwhelming to me.
It is vitally important to remember that every issue you are having will be connected to other issues at your barn. You are going to make many tough decisions in the beginning and much of it will be determined by your finances and it will all affect your barn and clients in some way. Once you figure out the issues from smallest to largest, then it is time to start making changes and correcting them. Is it going to be tough to do? Sure it will be. Will some of your clients be upset at the changes that you need to make? Probably. But you need to remember that this is your business and you need to take control of it and run it how you see fit. You need to do what it best for you, your family and business.
I truly believe that if you are ready to run your barn like a business and make the needed changes, in the long run it will only benefit your business. You need to be willing to lose some clients that may not like the changes but new clients will come in their place and you will see a great transformation start to take place in your barn. The atmosphere will change and your barn will start to attract the right clients for your facility that will respect how you do things. The end results will be boarders that trust how you run your barn and business and who will take ownership of your place and protect it as if it was their own. When you get to that point you will know it. You will see harmony in your barn many will only dream of.
It is not an easy journey but a journey worth taking. You will have good days and bad days but the good days will start to outnumber the bad days and if you can stay strong through the changes you will never regret it. I want to encourage you to make 2017 a new year with a new way of running your business. Make your business all that it can be and then make it even better from there! Get ready to make 2017 your best year ever! You are an equine professional and don't settle for anything less!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would like to encourage you to check out my two books. My first one, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The total horse barn management makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business. They two books compliment each other and give you a complete look at horse barn management.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,