You wanted to take in a few boarders in order to help pay for your horse farm. It worked! In fact, it worked so well that you ended up with a waiting list of people who want to board at your facility. Now you are wondering about building another barn, adding an indoor arena, and having a farm trainer available to your boarders. What started out as just a way to help pay for your own horses has become a thriving, and growing, business!
It’s really interesting how many people don’t plan on success. Sometimes it would be nice if there was a sign that would appear and say: Warning! Success Ahead!
When I was running a magazine years ago, an advertiser had a cool new product. It wasn’t expensive, and it was unique. We were able to post a free new product announcement in that national equine magazine, and he promptly ran out of stock as soon as the magazine hit horse owner mailboxes. He called me in a panic because people wanted the product, and he was out!
While that sounds like a great thing, he was ill-prepared for his success. His manufacturer couldn’t get his product out of the plant for several weeks, and people were unhappy that they wanted this product now and it wouldn’t be available for a month or more.
How could he have avoided that scenario? By planning for success.
When we are taking on a project--such as deciding to take in boarders, adding a farm trainer, building an indoor arena, or hosting a new show or event--we should be doing scenario planning. That’s where you determine what the project is, and try to brainstorm all the things that might logically happen. Will you miss a few? Of course, especially as you are starting. But the more you know about your project, your clients, and your market, the better you are able to plan for various scenarios.
Let's say you are trying to determine whether you should build an indoor arena. Of course you will thoroughly estimate the building and maintenance costs, additional insurance, and extra amenities (such as additional jumps, cavelettis, dressage letters, mirrors, Big Ass Fan, watering equipment, arena footing, etc.).
But on the plus side, how do you determine whether the indoor arena will pay for itself, then make you money? Start by investigating other facilities with and without indoor arenas in your area. Then look at the facilities in your area catering to your client discipline(s) and determine what they are charging and doing. If you build an indoor arena, are there other farms or boarding facilities in close proximity without an indoor arena that you could work with to increase the use and profitability of your indoor? (Maybe Tuesday evenings could be devoted to barrel racing in your arena that usually has hunter/jumper clients using the facility, or vice versa.)
Also ask yourself these questions:
- Will your current boarders pay more each month for the convenience and privilege of using the indoor arena? If so, how much?
- Will potential customers be more attracted to your facility because of the indoor arena?
- Can you use the indoor arena to earn additional money through student shows, weekly or monthly events or shows, adding other disciplines to your clientele, etc?
If you are successful in any or all of these areas, how do you determine (plan for success) and allocate time for your boarders to use the new indoor arena and still add the other services or disciplines? How do you handle the waiting list? How do you select the new clients who come to your facility once there is an opening?
The next time you are ready to offer a new product or service at your farm or stable, make sure you think about what might happen, and don’t forget to plan for success!