So You Bought a Boarding Facility: Implementing New Barn Rules

Most existing boarders will expect changes to barn rules when a new owner or manager takes over a boarding facility. How those changes are communicated, however, is important.

Dena Dorn, owner of Triple D Ranch in Watkins, Colorado, took over her family’s ranch and transformed it into a formal boarding facility. Over the years, a few boarders had informally boarded at the ranch, but an official facility was a new concept.

As part of creating a professional business, Dorn implemented rules for both existing and future boarders to abide by. She focused on creating boundaries that would enforce safety at the ranch as the facility grew.

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

“We just had to kind of continue to communicate why we made the changes…” she says.

Dorn believes explaining the “why” behind new rules helped her boarders accept them. She also found it helpful to provide boarders with a document that detailed any changes made to help them remember things long-term.

When Holli McMahon purchased a boarding facility in Salem, Oregon, she implemented new rules right away. First, she spoke with the seller to learn what rules were already in place. Then, she decided what updates she wanted to make and announced them at a meet and greet soon after the transition.

McMahon tried to make the rules fair to her boarders while protecting the safety and integrity of the facility. Because she ran a small barn, she believes verbal communication was most effective.

“The barn rules were pretty simple,” she says.

Updating barn rules can be a necessary move after a facility transition. Owners and managers should prioritize efforts to ensure boarders understand changes and new expectations.

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