SUMMER?!?! I'm still fighting snow and ice!
Most horse farm and stable owners are focused on the season at hand, and for good reason. However, as an equine business owner, you need to prepare for your busiest income seasons ahead of time.
Summer is pretty much the busiest time of year for stables and riding instructors. Camps, shows and clinics are in full swing, and most horse owners are eager to spend extra time at the barn. The bustling day-to-day routine can be all-consuming for you as the owner/manager. However, you should take time now, months ahead of the bustle, for long-range business planning. And don't just plan now without evaluating during the busiest seasons.
“Make sure to do a rigorous financial and operation review at the mid-point of the year,” advised Larry Langer. He and his wife, Marnye, operate Langer Equestrian Group in Burbank, California.
The summer months are the ideal time to evaluate your progress toward any goals you set now, at the beginning of the year. Adjustments might be needed to account for unexpected changes. At the same time, it’s also important to follow through with long-range plans. That can include an increase or decrease in staffing levels to serve the client base. That might mean changing your fee structure to cover rising costs.
When changes impact a client’s budget, it’s imperative to establish open lines of communication with those paying you for services. While every stable is different, communication is one thing all barn owners, managers and riding instructors can work on improving, according to Kendra Duggleby, a United States Hunter Jumper Emerging Athlete. She has an integral role in managing North Riding, her family’s Cleveland, New York, stable.
“You always have to make sure the horses are well cared for, but in addition to keeping the horses happy, the owners have to be happy as well. Communication is key,” she said.
In addition to financial planning now in the winter months, make sure that in the summer you take time to evaluate how well the facility is doing on that plan. “Take a look at the flow of people, horses and vehicles and make sure it makes sense and is safe,” Larry said.
Evaluate if there is enough parking to accommodate visitors. Determine if the bathrooms and other facilities you offer clients are in good working order and holding up to the amount of use. If you know any or all of those was a problem last year, now is the time to plan to fix them before the busy months are here.
“By regularly and systematically addressing issues at your stable, along with following sound business practices, you can enjoy your stable for a long time,” Larry concluded.