So You Bought a Boarding Facility: Confronting Chronically Late or Non-Paying Clients

Almost every boarding stable will deal with boarders who chronically pay late or worse — never pay. It’s important to prepare for those situations.

Holli McMahon owned and ran a boarding facility in Salem, Oregon for more than 11 years. Soon after taking over, she encountered boarders who repeatedly paid late.

To address these situations, McMahon included a clause in her contract that enforced late fees on a sliding scale. After a five-day grace period, the late fees would start.

“…a really good contract is going to legally keep you out of an issue,” she says. “You have a ground to stand on if somebody doesn’t pay or does something against the contract.”

Dena Dorn of Triple D Ranch in Watkins, Colorado, took over her family’s ranch and transformed it into a formal boarding facility. Not long after opening, she crossed paths with both late-paying clients and clients who didn’t pay at all.

She echoes McMahon by encouraging new owners to have a contract in place from the start. Include a clause about late fees and what will happen if a client doesn’t pay.

As a new owner, Dorn feels she struggled with being assertive during hard conversations about money. She says her confidence developed over time, as did her ability to address difficult situations.

Her advice for new owners? Don’t ignore non-paying clients.

“You have to hit everything right when you see it, no matter what it is,” Dorn says.

Although these situations are undesirable, they can be navigated. A solid contract helps give a new owner the backup they need to tackle these unwanted situations with confidence. 

[Read more: So You Bought a Boarding Facility series]

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