Once your barn is established and you have a clear understanding of how you want to run it, your job will become so much easier. You will know what works and doesn't work for your barn and the trials and mistakes will become fewer. But as in life there are always a few bumps in the road to keep us on our toes. When clients come to your barn with their horses many of them will be thrilled to be there. Some of them will come from poorly run facilities where the care was not good. Others will come because your barn offers the perfect atmosphere and amenities for them. Even if you are extremely detailed in how you do things at your barn and the boarder is in total agreement, you will have a few clients that will change over time as they grow as equestrians. What they wanted for their horse may have been fine in the beginning but sometimes that changes and it will catch you off guard. At least it did for me in the beginning.
I have had the privilege of watching some of my boarders grow from young children to adults and with that comes the blossoming of their horsemanship. The same would be so true with the older adults that board at my barn. Many of them have purchased their first horse as an adult and the joy of watching them grow and learn each day is truly a blessing to me. As your boarders grow in their horsemanship many of them will try new things along the way and sometimes it will affect your job as the barn manager and it may even affect your income if they choose to leave for a barn that better suits their growing needs.
What was once a perfect barn has now changed
You might have a client that sells their horse for a more competitive horse (in the show ring) and with that comes different needs especially if they are showing. You might not have a trainer that is available for the type of riding discipline a boarder has now chosen. In that case a boarder will leave a barn for a training barn of their new discipline choice. You will have clients that will all of a sudden want night turn-out if they feel they need to keep their horse's coat from fading during the summer months. You could be asked to keep a horse in all the time because the client is now worried their horse might get hurt being with other horses. You might have a boarder that decides to put special show shoes on and now they want their horse inside all the time.
There will be boarders that will follow fads and want to change how you feed their horse according to what is popular at the moment. You are going to watch boarders grow tremendously in their riding skills and sometimes they will ask for amenities that you have never offered before. You will have clients that were easy going with one horse and then they purchase a new horse and everything changes. They become overprotective to the point that it starts to make your job stressful. You might even have a boarder that has now decided that they prefer a different way of doing herd management and this can be true for your feeding program, how you clean and bed your stalls and even how you provide water for the horses. What was once a perfect barn for them has changed and that will definitely be difficult at times.
The list of changes that your clients will go through is really endless but every change will affect you as the barn owner or manager to some degree. Some of these changes and requests will be easy to accommodate but many of them will not, especially if it becomes more work for you. Your barn might start out as the perfect barn for someone but as their needs change, they might start looking elsewhere if you can't offer what they now want for their horse. This is a very real part of running your business and you will drive yourself crazy if you try to make everything perfect with every change that a client is going through. Don't go there!
Making changes for your clients growing needs and deciding what to say "no" to is an individual decision. I want to be honest and tell you that if you try to accommodate every request that a boarder now wants or needs, you will become overwhelmed and with that will come added stress.
If I can give you a few words of guidance, I want to tell you that if you stick by how you want to run your barn and what is best for you and your family then your business will be healthier and stronger in the long run. As your boarders grow as equestrians you will also grow as a business owner. There will be many things that you will be able to accommodate for your clients but there will be things that you will learn to say no to and you will feel a sense of weight lifted off your shoulders when you get to this point.
Your barn will go through growing pains as your business grows but this can also happen to your clients as they grow as equestrians.
It is okay if some of your boarders outgrow or need different amenities than what you offer at your barn. It happens all the time in this business. The best thing you can do for your business is to be honest with your boarders about what you offer and if they need to make a change in boarding facilities then wish them the very best. Do not take it personally because if it not a reflection on you as a barn owner. It is simply just part of watching people grow and change.
Do what is best for your barn and the right people will come.
You might have a few clients that will need different services than what you offer and if they leave, wonderful new boarders will come and your barn will be perfect for them. Remember, how you treat your clients through all these changes will reflect back on you. And even if you tell them that you can't offer what they are asking for, they can't deny that you treated them with respect and honesty and that is worth it's weight in gold for you as a business owner.
What a great job and career this truly is. I get the pleasure of watching my clients learn and grow and in the process I am learning and growing every day from each new situation that comes my way. Take each issue and request that comes your way and learn from it no matter the outcome. This is where you will grow the most as an equine professional.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! I wrote my newest book to give you an in-depth look into the business of boarding horses and all that it entails. This post today is one small example of what my new book addresses. If you are boarding horses or are planning on it, please check out, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business." It is a very comprehensive book on boarding horses and covers every part of it from building your barn or stable to solid barn management. I wrote this book because I realized there is an information gap when it comes to this subject and my goal is to help others so they don't make all the mistakes I made when we first opened our boarding facility.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska