I am sure this post today will ruffle some feathers but I wanted to address some things about the world of boarding horses and our responsibility as barn owners and managers. I was on Facebook this morning as I often am in the early morning and I read a post where someone was asking questions about how to start a boarding business. As I scrolled the remarks I noticed that many people were bashing boarders in general and telling this person not to do it! There were remarks about bad boarders and drama. There were statements about not getting paid and not being appreciated. There were many posts about all the special requests and the high turnover that comes with this type of business. As I read all the remarks I was both disappointed and even a little annoyed that boarders in general were getting a bad rap.
Let me start off by saying that I have boarded other people's horses for many years as a business and I have had many ups and downs in the business. If I am going to be completely honest, I have had some boarders that I was relieved to see move and I have also had to give a thirty-day notice a couple of times over the years. It was extremely hard and equally sad that the relationships had deteriorated but it is part of the business and it is a real part of working with people. Does it mean that all my boarders have been bad ones. OF COURSE NOT! It does mean that in life things happen and when dealing with many different personalities you are bound to have a few bumps in the road. I am no different when it comes to my barn and the clients we have at our facility.
It is the barn owner/managers responsibility
I want to make a statement (that I didn't see too many barn owners make on Facebook) and it has to do with where the responsibility falls when you have boarders. Let me be clear - if you are having a lot of problems at your barn with boarders then you need to take a good long look at yourself as a barn owner or manager because there is a very good chance the issues are happening because you are allowing them to happen or you are part of the problem. I believe that if you are running your barn with fair and honest leadership and you also have a backbone to run it the way it should be run then you will sift through the bad clients and retain very good clients that will stay for a long time.
If your are running your barn with fair and honest leadership and you also have a backbone to run it the way it should be run then you will sift through the bad clients and retain very good clients that will stay for a long time.
This is important
If you have a problem with drama or boarders not paying their board then that is because you have allowed it. It is your responsibility to stop the drama and it may mean strong measures like asking someone to leave but it still is your responsibility. If you are giving mixed signals on what is allowed or not allowed that is your fault as the barn owner/manager. If someone isn't paying their board and you have a lot of people that are late then that is because you have allowed that practice at your barn. If you are getting many special requests and it is stressing you out then that is because you haven't learned to say "no" and you probably haven't been clear with your boarders on what you will offer for services and what you won't. If your boarders don't know what is offered for services then it is only natural for them to ask. I would be the same way if I were still boarding my horse at a stable and I didn't know what services the barn offered. Now of course you are going to get some crazy requests now and then and you need to be able to smile and say no if you don't want to provide the service. You also need to understand that you could lose boarders that want to go to a different stable that will provide the service they want and that is okay.
One of the biggest mistakes is when you let fear control you and you find yourself saying yes to everything and settling for less because you are scared to lose clients. If you are that nervous to lose clients then you will start to feel imprisoned in your own business with no way out! That is a very dangerous place to be and that is when you will start to burnout fast. I know this to be very true because I have lived through it and I will never go back to the days when I was letting fear control me and my business.
If you are that nervous to lose clients then you will start to feel imprisoned in your own business with no way out!
Take control of your barn and finances
I know that some of my readers may disagree with this but I truly believe you can make an honest living at boarding horses with a wonderful clientele. We have a wonderful group of boarders at our barn who pay on time and our barn is a no drama barn. Does it mean we are free from issues? Of course not but we have very few and it is because there is a mutual respect between my clients and my husband and I. I treat our barn like a business at all times and that means I have rules and expectations for our clients and they have expectations for us that I have feel are very reasonable. When new boarders come to my barn they receive an "Extra Services" price sheet so they know right away what we offer for services and what we don't. I am okay if they ask for something special but they need to understand that I might say no. From that point they will have to decide if they will stay or move to a barn that offers what they are looking for. You need to be ready for changes and it happens once in a while with boarders if they now are looking for something different then when they first came.
We have very low turnover at our barn because our boarders are happy with the care and we both understand that there is no perfect barn but we try our hardest. That is all anyone can ask for. You may not become rich off of boarding horses but you can have a rich life doing what you love to do if you do it the right way in the beginning. Remember that it is a business first and you need to treat it like a business at all times. There are many wonderful people out there who are looking for a nice place to board their horse. They will pay on time and help keep your place clean. They will follow the rules and appreciate all that you do. They just need to find you. They are out there and don't let the negative talk stop you from achieving your dream job.
If you are thinking of boarding horses no matter the size of your place, take the time to set it up right so that you aren't stressed out at what you have gotten yourself into. I encourage you to find a positive mentor that can help you through some of tough days and believe me when I say, it does it get much easier.
I have just released a new book that will help you set up your boarding stable with a strong foundation and this book covers every part of barn management and the business. I want you to be successful in your horse business and not regret it. I encourage you to check out my book, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business." I guarantee there isn't another book out there that talks about boarding horses like this one.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska