I don't mind giving tours at all and I enjoy meeting new people. Springtime in Wisconsin is my least favorite time to give tours because our place looks like a mess. We have mud and the grass is still brown and the trees are bare. Not a pretty place to look at visually but it is what it is here in this beautiful state. You have to get through spring to enjoy the incredible summers we have.
Deep down inside I always worry about what our place looks like this time of year and I really shouldn't. Every farm in the Midwest and East coast goes through the same thing and every horse professional understands. But as a barn owner, when it is time to show off your facility to a possible new client you always want it to look picture perfect. I have finally learned after all these years that if a person loves your place when it is muddy than they are only going to love it so much more the rest of the year. If they see the worst first then there are no surprises. Giving a tour is about being honest for both the barn owner and the boarder and making sure it is a good fit. If you do this first than your chances of disappointment and confusion by the boarder are much less.
I really believe the more honest you are with people who are checking out your barn the better feel you both are going to get to see if it is a good fit or not. I had to learn this lesson many years ago. As a brand new barn owner I was so worried about getting clients at our barn that I made things seem bigger and better than what they really were at times. It didn't matter what type of rider the person was, I wanted it to sound like this was the perfect barn for them. The problem was many times the boarder really wasn't a good fit for the barn and I wasn't a good fit for them.
Your chore schedule, barn rules and how you handle weather will all be important components of how your barn operates and each person will have a different idea of what they want for their horse. I now believe the worst thing you can do is try to make things sound like the perfect fit for every client that comes through your barn doors.
If your horses come in each day at 4pm and the client would prefer the horses to be out to 6pm, don't make it sound like you keep them out that late. It will only cause frustration on the boarder's part and they have every right to be frustrated. If a potential new client wants to know if your barn is a quiet barn because they are nervous to ride, than be honest if you have a busy time of day. If you feed a grass hay and your client makes a comment that they prefer a grass alfalfa mix, don't make it sound like you can arrange that if you really can't or don't want to. Again you will only end up with a frustrated client. If your herd size is ten horses and your client says they feel uncomfortable with a herd size that big than don't make promises of smaller herds unless you can deliver. It only makes you look bad as a barn owner. If you are not truly able to handle the special needs horse than don't say yes! Think it through first and it will save a lot of stress for all especially the horse.
The truth is not every person that walks in your barn is going to be a perfect fit. You need to find out what you can and cannot offer and go from there. Don't try to be the barn for everyone. There is no such thing and it will end up hurting your business and reputation in the long run. Be truthful to yourself first. Take time to really think about what you can offer as far as feeding and supplements and extra services. Think about your chores and how it will affect our boarders. Every barn is different when it comes to doing chores and it might take you a year or two to get a good feel for what works best for your barn.
I believe that if you are honest with potential new boarders at the very start the adjustment period will be much easier for them when they do bring their horse to your barn. Making sure you and a boarder are a good fit is so important and it is okay if someone chooses another barn for their horse. Keep going and the right people will find you that love the way you run your barn and business. Let them see your barn in the muddy season and if they come then you know you have an understanding boarder who just might be a perfect fit.
Let them see your barn in the muddy season and if they still come then you know you have an understanding boarder who just might be a perfect fit
I wish you many blessings and a full barn!