When we first opened our boarding facility years ago I was so excited about our new business and I thought it was going to be fairly easy. I was prepared to work hard especially with forty horses on our farm but my husband and I didn't see the storm clouds on the horizon. We were completely full when we opened and in my mind I believed that the horses that came that first month would stay for years. I give you permission to laugh right now if you would like. I truly had a lot to learn about business and people.
We also made many changes during those first couple of years because until you are in the mix of it daily you don't realize what works and doesn't for your business. We changed our barn hours and how often we cleaned stalls within the first year. We changed our grain program and barn rules several times over the course of a couple of years. Those were just a few of the changes back then. It can all look good on paper but once you start to do it on a daily basis, you will find out that some changes need to be made quickly. This upset many people over the first three years and people left. By the time we had come upon our fourth year of business we had lost almost half of all our original boarders.
It took me a long time to figure things out
Back then I had no idea why our barn was losing so many boarders and why people were not happy. It took me many years to figure it out. Today our barn has extremely low turnover and usually the reason a person and horse leaves is due to life changes or the horse is sold. My clients stay and they are secure in how I run the barn. It has nothing to do with our indoor arena or the other amenities. Those things might bring them here to begin with but they stay for other reasons. The relationship I have with my clients is built on trust and consistency and they know I will be looking out for their horse at all times. They are willing to ride out any changes I make because they trust me.
Back when we opened, our boarders didn't know me at all and I didn't know them. As a young boarding business we didn't have a history or reputation to live off of. I now understand why many of them left. I had promised many things in the beginning and was not able to follow through with some of them. I was not leading and if you don't lead than someone else will and that never ends well. It is different if you hire someone to run your barn but many young boarding businesses can't afford a barn manager so you will be wearing that hat for a while and you should, because you really need to get a grasp of what is going on in your barn. Each experience will only help you grow with knowledge and confidence.
Take the good days and enjoy them and take the bad days and learn from them. You need both to really learn and run a successful business. Eventually your good days will out number your bad days by many and you will remember why you wanted to start this business again. I sure did.
Take the good days and enjoy them and take the bad days and learn from them. You need both to really learn and run a successful horse business.
If you own a young business and your turnover is higher than it should be, don't panic. I encourage you to find someone (a mentor) who has been in the business longer (and has a positive and successful horse business) and whom you trust to give you honest feedback. Share the issues you are having and take it one day at a time. Many of the problems will not be problems at all once you embrace your new title as business owner and run your barn with leadership. Being a good leader doesn't mean, "My way or the highway." It means looking at the big picture and making changes with confidence. It means making decisions that are best for your business and the horses in your care. You will make decisions that your clients will like. You will also make decisions that are not popular with everyone but that is okay and you need to stick by your decisions. You will never win a popularity contest when you are the barn owner or manager. But if you are doing it right you will be respected for a job well done and that is an incredible compliment.
Remember-You are in a service oriented business and when you serve your clients and lead with confidence, you will start to see wonderful changes happen in your horse barn and people will not want to leave. If your barn is having high turnover, look inside yourself first and see if you are doing everything you should be doing as the barn owner to run a healthy barn and business.
I wish you the very best in your horse business endeavor and remember that you are not alone. All new business owners go through trials and changes and how you choose to handle those situations will make the difference in whether your business will grow and become much easier to run or stay the way it is and miss the opportunity to really know what true success feels like. Don't miss that opportunity when it is right at your grasp. Don't be discouraged. You can do it!
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are staring a horse business or are already in it, I would love to encourage you to check out the most honest book about horse barn management and your clients. "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover," is unlike any other book because it talks about the relationship between the barn owner, manager and client and discusses all the issues that come up in boarding horses. This book is great for anyone that wants to own their own business. This book will give you the tools to become confident in how you run your horse business. Remember that you will always have clients and the horses will always be the easiest part.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,