Do you have some extra rooms at your barn? Great! Want to earn some extra cash? Why not turn your barn into a horse boarding business? That sounds good, but it isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
Owning a barn doesn’t make you qualified to run a successful horse boarding business. In this article, we’ll be talking to you about key factors you need to consider. This will help to determine if your barn would be a good fit for boarding horses and how to be successful at it.
Before you offer to keep anyone’s horse at your barn, there are a couple of things you need to ensure are in place. This will give your customers and their horses an amazing experience.
2 Crucial Questions to Ask Before You Start Boarding Horses at Your Barn
If you want to offer an efficient horse boarding service at your barn, answer these 2 questions. This will help you assess your level of readiness:
Do you have the facility to handle boarders?
This is one of the vital questions you need to answer, before you admit other people and horses to your property. Do you have the facility to handle them?
Let’s start by talking about your acreage, do you have enough pasture to support more horses? The rule of thumb is 2 acres per horse. Other factors and variables, such as the quality of the pasture, need consideration. If you don’t have enough grass on your fields then you are going to need more acreage per horse.
Does your barn have extra stalls to accommodate horses? Pasture boarding is a great option, assuming you have large pastures and run-in-shields. Make sure you have enough land to accommodate your customers. Restrict the number of equines you take into your facility, to the number of available stalls.
Another thing you need to check is if you have a place where boarders can keep their tack and horse grooming supplies. Please note that you don’t have to provide cabinets or trunks but a tack room for boarders is a necessity.
Moving forward, does your barn have a restroom? If it doesn’t then you should consider getting one or renting a portable toilet. You cannot run an efficient horse boarding business without a functional rest room. I should add that you shouldn’t open up your home’s restroom to boarders, that should be for your personal use only.
You should consider offering riding areas, before accepting horse boarders. There riders who love to ride on open land, do you have the facility to provide them that? If your acreage isn’t that big then you may want to consider boarding only retired horses and those not working.
The kind of facility you have, will determine your approach to the horse boarding business. Also, the types of boarders that are most suitable for your facility. One of the advantages, is that it furnishes you with the right information. This helps you market your services to the right people.
What Will Be Your Pricing Model?
You are considering going into boarding horses because of the earning potential, right? You are not running it as a charity so it is important to have a structured pricing template. Highlight the services you offer and the fees attached to each.
You want to do this before you open your door to boarders. The first thing you want to do is calculate how much it will cost you to keep a horse at your barn. How much will the feed, hay and bedding cost? Are you going to hire someone to assist with the cleaning of the barn? What would be their average fee? Your rates include pasture seeding, pasture fertilization and fence repairs.
How do you determine what pricing model you should adopt? Local market research is important. This will give you an idea of your local going rates. Make sure your rates are competitive for your area.
If there are extra services you offer, it is best to include them and their costs. This ensures your customers can see what is available to them. Include your pricing for services, so they can make the best decision.
If you have a plan to board horses that need medical care, you should speak to your Veterinarian. Determine what is best to charge for these services, depending on the level of care each horse will need.
Doing this will help you draft a competitive price for your services. Consider some initial price reductions or incentives. This will help to attract your first set of boarders.
Setting Realistic Expectations is Key to Successful Boarding
Set realistic goals, when you start your equine business. Setting intelligent goals and reasonable expectations is important. This will ensure you are set up for success.
A lot of stable owners jump straight into boarding horses without proper planning. A few weeks down the line, they run into problems. They could have avoided if they did the right thing before starting out. That’s why it is important for you to have a blueprint before you launch.
Want to be successful at your boarding business? Establish realistic expectations. Setting realistic expectations is a two way street. What services can your boarders expect from you, and what do you expect from your boarders? You need to be able to meet each other’s expectations, and the best way to make this work is putting it into writing.
We recommend you create a contract for potential boarders. Explain the exact services you will be offering your boarders and their horses. You need to be specific and spell out your responsibilities to them and their horses. Hand this document to every boarder the moment they step into your facility. This gives them a clear idea of what type of services they can expect to get from you. If they have questions after reading the document, they can reach out for clarification. If they have special requests, they can also make them known.
Draft a list of the things you expect from your boarders. Keep them simple, straightforward and specific. What day of the month do you expect boarders to pay their bills? State it. Want boarders to clean the wash rack after use? Let them know. How many days notice do you need before boarders move their horses?
You should think about everything you expect from your boarders and put them in the list. Set clear expectations and objectives before entering into a relationship with them. Work with your lawyer to prepare a comprehensive contract. This should define the agreement between you and your boarders. Make sure they sign it.
Include the penalties for violating any of the provisions of the contract. This is essential for the smooth running, sustainability, and long term success.
What Type of Services?
Once you figure out things like the type of boarder you would like to have at your barn, outline your services. Your services are based on your facility and resources available. The more detailed your available services are, the more prepared you are for success.
Here’s a quick list to help you get started:
How often will you feed the horses and what feed will you use? Will you honor special requests from boarders? Will you offer specific types of horse feed by request?
What about the cleaning of the stalls? How often will the stall be cleaned? Will you be doing it yourself or hiring someone to help with it?
What type of turnout can you provide? Are you going to turn all the horses out at the same time? Can you offer individual turnout if boarders don’t want their horses to mingle with others? How many hours of turnout will the horses have daily?
How do you plan to take care of veterinarian and farrier services? Are you going to make boarders responsible for their horses? Will you be taking up that responsibility? This is one of the important things you need to decide on before you start boarding horses from others.
How do you plan to handle worming? This is another important aspect of this business. You need to decide how the horses are to be wormed. This could be rotational. If the horses are pastured together, then it is best that they are all wormed on the same day.
Hiring a Barn Manager to Handle the Horses
Do you need to hire a barn manager? Well, it depends what your goals and expectations are, how small or big do you want this to be? If you are starting out, you might want to keep things small. Take charge of the operations of your barn. Deal with your boarders and ensure they get the best experience.
To run a professional and efficient horse boarding business, you will eventually need a barn manager to manage the horses. They will also manage client relationships, and the general affairs of your stable. This ensures you have all corners covered by a competent expert. This will also make your business bloom.
There is a popular saying that behind every great barn is a great barn manager. This is because stable managers are in charge of the day-to-day running of the barn. Their job requires an extensive knowledge of horses. From their nutritional needs, cleaning and keeping them healthy, to their child bearing.
Here is a quick overview of a barn manager’s roles and responsibilities:
- Hiring & firing of barn/ stable employees
- Training new employees
- Overseeing barn/ stable staff
- Developing & enforcing feed & cleaning schedules
- Ordering supplies & feed
- Maintaining equipment, supply & feed inventory
- Dispensing & applying prescribed medications and treatments
- Developing & enforcing exercise routines
- Available for emergency after-hours
- Managing disposal of waste
- Arranging and overseeing vet visits, worming & shots
It is common practice to offer barn managers housing, as a part of their compensation package. Their work requires they are available on site almost at all times.
Learn from other Successful Horse Stables
One of the secrets to succeeding in any business venture, is to evolve and learn. Learn from the already successful people in your industry. You need to keep growing, to be at the top of your game. This will turn your boarding business into a profitable and successful venture.
How can you do this? Before you start your business, take time to observe the industry. Learn from the successful and NOT successful ones. Visit different horse stables and learn about their various structures and operations. What makes each unique? How are the horses and boarders handled? Schedule a meeting with the barn managers. Ask them some pertinent questions that could make your journey easier. Most barn managers have a true passion for their job, and will offer great insights.
Pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of every stable you visit. What are the key factors responsible for their successes and failures? What are the successful ones doing right? The not so successful ones, why are they struggling? What are the common challenges faced in this business? How do they manage unfortunate events? How do they stay profitable? These and many other crucial questions should be at the front of your mind. Make sure they get answered during interviews, before you declare your barn open.
This makes you better equipped to deal with any situation that may arise in your business. This shouldn’t stop here, even after your business is in operation. You need to stay abreast of the happenings in your industry. Pay regular visits to other stables offering similar services as yours. Keeping your eyes peeled will help you serve your customers better. Make necessary changes to your business model to fit into industry accepted standards. Stay relevant.
Know What Boarders Want
One of the best ways to attract boarders to your barn is knowing the things boarders enjoy in a stable. Making your barn a top choice for boarders and their horses requires learning about them. What extra services do you think would improve the experiences of your boarders? Great, find a way to integrate them. Another way to do this is to provide a feedback form, where boarders can share their experiences. What services they enjoy the most? What areas would they like to see improved? What they would like to see, that isn’t already in place at your barn.
This one of the best ways to do business. It shows you take the comfort and satisfaction of your customers as a priority. This will keep them happy. It affords you the opportunity to do things better.
Advertise Your Horse Boarding Business
When you are starting out, you want to put your business out there. Because if you have the best barn in the town but nobody knows you, you’d struggle to get customers. So, yes, you need to advertise your business both online and in local print publications. You should put an advert at local equine businesses such as tack shops, feed stores and show grounds.
As your business begins to attract customers, your best form of advert will be referrals. You will begin to get new customers for FREE, which will reduce your advertising cost.
Running a successful horse boarding business can be one of the most exciting things anyone with a barn could do. It isn’t as difficult as some make it to be, as long as you follow the required steps, you can make it work. It starts from getting an inside knowledge of the industry. Then, a fair assessment of your barn and the available facilities. Lastly, setting realistic expectations for yourself and boarders. Then you can get busy crushing it!
When viewed from the bottom one can see the “shelf” is placed at Center of Rotation (COR). Fig. 2. The “shelf” creates the wedge that restores HPA.