Boarding horses is challenging because you are going to be dealing with so many people and they will all have different personalities and beliefs when it comes to their horses. The reasons that a barn owner needs to give a thirty day notice will most likely never be the same from one client to the next. Early on in our business (before I ever experienced this part of the job) I thought that the only reason I would ever need to give a boarder a thirty-day notice was because they a client was not paying their board. I was in for a huge lesson about running a barn and people. It turns out that I would be giving a thirty-day notice a few times in my career and they have all been for many different reasons and the least of them are money issues.
The wrong way to give a thirty-day notice
I am going to be totally honest and tell you that I have blown it when it comes to the proper way to give a thirty-day notice. The first time I had to tell a client that they would need to leave was unbelievably stressful and looking back I did it in a very unprofessional manner. I typed up a letter and put it on the client's stall on a Friday afternoon and then my husband and I and the girls left for the entire weekend and didn't come back until Sunday night. What happened while we were gone left my barn and the boarders in a state of emotional distress. It became a barn issue instead of a barn owner/client issue and I was gone and couldn't defend myself or try to fix what had happened over a short two day period.
Looking back that was clearly my mistake on how I handled that situation and giving a thirty-day notice. I was trying to avoid the confrontation from this person and I was running away from my responsibilities as a barn owner and manager. When I came back I had to clean up the mess and I vowed never to give a thirty-day notice that way again.
The right way to give a thirty-day notice
Today I tell people that if they need to give a thirty-day notice to give it in a typed letter and always in person. Leaving it on a stall like I did will only make the situation worse because as soon as the boarder reads it they are going to become upset and they really need to be talking to the barn owner or manager instead of everyone else. Is it going to be difficult? Of course it is! Asking someone to leave and discussing the problems will never be easy but it does become less stressful the longer you run your business. Take the time to answer the questions that the boarder might have and be direct and very honest. This is your one shot to be honest about what is going on at your barn and you won't get a second chance to do this right. Remember that you can be honest and nice at the same time.
This is your one shot to be honest about what is going on at your barn and you won't get a second chance to do this right. Remember that you can be honest and nice at the same time.
Giving a thirty-day notice by email
People will ask me if it okay to give a thirty-day notice by email? I personally would not give this kind of notice by email. First of all you have no way of knowing if they received the email. They might not check their email for a few days and if you see them at the barn, you will have no way of knowing if they read it. It will become extremely uncomfortable for you. Again this is another situation that if you send an email and they read it, they might interpret it much different than how you wrote it out. In person is always best to keep things very clear.
Keep it professional at all times
I am going to be first to tell you that I have blown it in this area also when it came to giving a client notice. I have now learned to keep my emotions in check but it took me a couple of years of running our barn and going through a couple of these difficult situations. The hardest part of the process is keeping calm when the boarder becomes angry with you. Don't let your emotions get the best of you because you will come to regret it.
The reasons that you need to give a client notice will vary from one end of the spectrum to the other and that will also play a huge part in your emotions and how you handle everything. If you have a client that is rude and challenging to talk with then you will already know that your upcoming conversation will be much more strained. If you are giving a thirty-day notice to someone who is unbelievably nice but hasn't paid the board in months then it will still be equally hard but you won't be going into the conversation on the defensive.
You will learn how to talk to many different types of people and with each experience you will gain some wisdom. You will make mistakes and that is okay. Learn from them and if a next time comes then you will know what to do differently. You are an equine professional and the best thing you can do for your business is to treat your clients with respect even when it might be very hard to do. The end results of how you handled the situation will determine how others will look at you as a professional and it will set the tone for your barn and business.
Remember that none of us are perfect and we are trying to do the best job we can at our barns. Giving a thirty-day notice will never be easy because after all you are asking someone to leave, but you will learn to keep your emotions in check at least until you get back into the house. Don't worry, I have been there a few times and I have even shed a few tears. You are not alone and through all of this you will gain an amazing new confidence in what you do and how you run your barn.
If you are dealing with problems with your clients and not sure how to correct them, I encourage you to check out my book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." It is the most honest book you will find about running your barn and business and all that goes with it. This book is unlike any barn managment book you will ever read because it talks about your relationship with your clients and dealing with all the issues that will come up in your business. Remember the horses will be the easiest part by far.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,