Feeling stale and stuck? Consider some add-ons to boost your business and your boarders' satisfaction.
With the costs of basic horse care escalating, barns are increasingly turning to extra services as a way to boost the bottom line and retain clients. We recently prowled the Internet to get a gander at what stables across the country are doing to help diversify and improve their revenue stream, while at the same time increasing boarder satisfaction.
1. Tiered levels of care. Many barns offer pasture board, inside board, training board, and show board, at incremental cost. The boarder who wants his horse groomed, bathed, trimmed, tacked, untacked, and wrapped or blanketed pays more than the “do it yourselfer” who enjoys preparing her own horse for the ride and tucking him or her in for the night.
2. Training. Training can be offered as an add-on to board, for boarders who prefer to write one check each month. Most barns offer different levels of training at different costs, so boarders can choose to have a lesson once or several times a week and/or have the trainer ride the horse. Offering lessons in half-hour or hour increments, privately or in a group, also provides great flexibility so boarders can “mix and match” according to their budget and individual needs.
3. Grooming services. Not all horses are saints when it comes to clipping, and not all boarders are particularly skilled at—or equipped for—it. Offering routine clipping of muzzles, coats, fetlocks, and ears is a great added service that ensures the horses look their best (always a nice reflection on your barn!). Other grooming services to consider offering as add-ons are sheath and tail area cleaning, mane pulling, bathing, and braiding.
4. Laundry service. Many boarders don’t like taking horse laundry home and/or don’t have the time to take their dirty pads and sheets to the laundromat (assuming they can find one that will take horse clothing). Offering laundry service eases this burden on them, while providing a billable item to you. (And non-horsey family members will thank you that they don’t have to walk around with horsehair clinging to their undershirts!)
5. Modalities. Do you have a chiropractor, massage therapist, and nutritionist available who can come to the barn routinely to work on the horses? What about such devices as the Sport Innovations pulse EMT/massage blanket and boots, Game Ready system, or a treadmill? (See photo gallery for more information and web addresses) Having these types of services and modalities available is a comfort and convenience for boarders. And charging for the use of medical devices helps defray their cost.
6. Shopping. Some boarders don’t have the time or experience to know what to buy for their horse. You can offer this as an add-on service. Tack repair drop-offs and pickups can also be included in this category.
7. Clinics. Arranging to have guest clinicians come to the barn is a great way to freshen up everyone’s perspective and add variety and excitement to the usual program. Boarders appreciate not having to travel out to learn from clinicians they normally might not be able to access. Clinics also provide a great opportunity to glean some publicity for your barn.
8. Camps. These are a wonderful added service you can offer clients. The fun doesn’t have to be limited to children. For adults, consider holding a green horse or novice rider cross-country camp, a ground work camp, a problem horse camp, or a dressage basics camp. A one-day outing to a show—without necessarily having to participate in a class—is another activity that you can offer, for adults and/or young horses that need the experience of preparing for the day when they will show for real.
9. Deworming. Rather than leaving it up to boarders, many barns charge for deworming or roll it into the cost of the board. This ensures that all horses follow a consistent schedule. Administering medications as needed can also be included in this category.
10. Trailering. Not everyone has their own trailer or wants to arrange for a commercial shipper to haul their horse. Offering trailering services is a good way for the trailer to earn its keep and you can often offer this for a lower cost than a commercial shipper would charge.
With a little ingenuity and even less hassle, you can offer services that provide a three-way win for your business, your horses, and your boarders.