You’ve fed a horse, cleaned its stall and put several training rides on it. Now the horse’s owner informs you they are leaving and oh, by the way, they aren’t paying the bill. The client might offer a plethora of excuses from relocation to family situations or dissatisfaction with services performed. Regardless of the reason, you shouldn’t have to suffer the financial loss.
To avoid a similar situation at your barn, it is possible to request payment up front. Many boarding and training facilities require payment on the first of the month. Theoretically this should cover any material or labor costs incurred for the upcoming month. Should the client leave mid-way through the month, you’ve at least covered your costs up to that point.
You also might want to consider adding a credit card authorization section within your contract for services if a payment is overdue. Clients can be given the option to indicate if this is or is not the preferred method of payment for routine transactions, but when the individual doesn’t pay and leaves, you have a method for collecting funds.
“I’ve had clients go past 30 days. I remind them they are late, give them a last opportunity to pay via cash or check, then notify them I’m running their card for payment,” said Paige Flanders, owner of Flanders Polo and Riding Lessons in Houston, Texas.
Long before a situation like this occurs, it’s important to do your homework. Your contract should include clauses to address the ramifications of a client leaving without paying. It’s also important to establish a relationship with an attorney licensed to practice in your state, and, when possible, one who is familiar with the equine industry. A lawyer can provide guidance on how to proceed.