We grouped riding lesson and boarding clients together in this series of articles on how to conduct a survey within your equine business. However, you probably need to either conduct two surveys or divide your responses into those who primarily take lessons and those who are boarding clients. This could be determined by a question early in the survey such as:
What is your primary use of the XYZ Farm facility?
- Riding lessons
- Other (with a fill-in-the-blank box for answers)
If you are surveying your lesson clients, you might ask the question: What day of the week would you prefer to take riding lessons?
Your answer choices might be:
- I don't take lessons
- Doesn't matter
If most of your respondents picked Saturday, and you only offer a half-day of lessons on Saturday, then that can be a big clue to open up the other half of the day, if you have the horses and facilities to do that.
If you have a lot of adult or retired students, they might prefer weekdays to avoid busy weekend schedules.
You need to keep in mind the client base you have. If you ask, "What time of day best suits you for lessons?" keep in mind who your student base is and other demands on their time. For instance, if you mostly have school-aged students, your responses might be:
- After school on weekdays
- Saturday mornings
- Saturday afternoons
- Sunday mornings
- Sunday afternoons
But if you have a mix of adult and school-aged students, you might use the above list of answers, but add the following response:
- Weekday mornings
Then you can combine your responses to analyze your student demand better. It could be that Wednesdays after school is your second-highest-demanded time for lessons (following Saturdays). And looking at the results of this question you might find out that students would love to take lessons on Sunday afternoons, but not on Fridays. Or it could be that your mostly adult clientele would prefer weekday mornings.
If you are seeking input from your boarding clients, you might ask questions such as, "What services do you value most highly at our facility?" Your answers might include:
- Twice a day feeding as part of the board
- Bringing in and turning out as part of the board
- Blanketing as part of the board
- Inclusion of hay as part of the board
- Individual paddock use with an extra fee
- Grooming with an extra fee
- Other (and leave a blank for them to fill in)
The last, open-ended response might garner you some information that you weren't expecting, such as the friendliness of the stable help or the cleanliness of the riding arena.
You can turn that question around and ask what services boarders would like to see added to the list of services that they can pay extra for. You can either put together a list as was done above, or you can leave this as an open-ended, fill-in-the-blank box.
You can also ask a question such as, "Which services we provide are least valuable to you?" You might be surprised at the answers.
Once you have your survey responses in hand, make sure to spend an appropriate amount of time analyzing the data. If you have further questions, do a follow-up survey.
While creating, providing and analyzing a survey to your equine facility's clients might seem daunting, the time spent is well worth the insights provided. If this still seems like it is beyond your abilities, find a local marketing agency or ask at your local community college if they have students who would undertake this task for you.
Never assume you know what people are thinking. Ask them, then respond accordingly to improve your business and the loyalty of your clients.