Editor's note: This month, Stable Management is tackling the issue of hiring outside instructors who come to your facility to teach riding lessons. There can be pros and cons to this business decision, and we'll give you tips to help you decide what might be right for your equine business.
Sometimes the owner of a boarding farm or riding stable teaches lessons. Sometimes the owner hires a full-time employee to teach lessons. And sometimes the owner allows an outside expert to come to his or her horse facility to teach lessons. There are many reasons you might consider allowing an "outsider" to teach at your facility, and there are pros and cons to this practice.
A barn that specializes in one discipline can leverage the expertise of a trainer from another discipline to better serve clients. For example, a stable owner who gives English lessons might have some boarders who ride Western or are interested in learning something different. An outside trainer could provide those clients with quality Western training without them having to haul elsewhere.
Working with outside trainers and instructors brings in added revenue without the added work, said Kaitlin Curington, executive assistant to the president at Fasttrack Staffing, Inc. By charging the outside individuals a fee to use the facility, you’re creating income without having to teach the session.
Some barns charge a flat fee to use the facility. Others charge a per rider fee or a percentage of the total lesson income. Curington, who is also a head trainer and stable manager, said that 10-20% is the average rate for percentage-based structures.
“I feel that taking a percentage is fair,” she said. “That way the instructor can work as hard or as little as they want.”
Depending on the situation, the rider taking the lesson might have a horse boarded on the property or he/she might be hauling in. When the horse is stabled on the property, Curington doesn’t charge an additional fee for the outside service. However, she charges a $25 trailer fee for anyone who hauls onto the property to take a lesson with the outside instructor.
“That seems to be an average rate,” she said. “The most expensive trailer fee I’ve seen is $45-$50. That’s typically for overnight stays or at barns where limited space is available.”
In addition to reaching new clients and generating income, working with outside instructors or trainers can bring a new perspective to yourself and clients that can be helpful in achieving goals.
“If I’m having an issue with a particular horse, it’s nice to get somebody else’s outlook,” she said.
There also is the upside of allowing your boarders to enjoy something that you don't offer without having to load up their horses and trailer elsewhere.