One of the best parts about being in business is pay day. While riding instructors are passionate about their work, they must make a living so they can continue to do what they love. That is where payment policies for riding lessons come in.
Carol Parker, a CHA, PATH, and Centered Riding Instructor in New Fairfield, Connecticut, likes to keep her systems as simple as possible to reduce paperwork and bookkeeping. She won’t complicate scheduling with packages. She gets paid by check or cash on the day of service. First-time students must pay up front prior to a lesson.
If a longtime student forgets to pay twice, she will not teach another lesson to them until payment is caught up. “People seem to understand this, as long as you are firm about adhering to your principles,” she said. “I always come prepared to teach. I expect my students to come prepared to pay.”
Meanwhile, Christina Sdrenka, a Level 3 CHA Certified Instructor and the owner of Saddlewood Horse Club in Cape Coral, Florida, runs most of her program with monthly packages. Payments are due at the end of the month for the next month’s package. “Prepay is the only way to make sure the rider shows up,” said Sdrenka. “Horses and instructors need to be scheduled and teamed before the lesson, so it’s crucial to know if the rider is coming.” Since the riders prepay, attendance is generally at 100%.
When bounced checks from clients became a problem, Sdrenka began allowing clients to pay by credit card in addition to cash, and she quit taking checks except from boarders. She uses the app Square to take payments in person or over the phone and to send invoices.
“There are fees, but no merchant account or other bank fees,” she said. “Payment is guaranteed. Payment has increased dramatically since we use credit cards.”
While sometimes business owners can have customers conveniently forget about paying, strict payment policies can help prevent that. “When I was younger, my instinct was to be nice and give someone ‘one more chance’ and then to get burned for it,” said Parker. “Now I feel I offer professionalism and expect to be respected in kind.”