It’s impossible to be all things to all people and do them all well. That’s not to say you can’t offer lessons in more than one discipline or can’t offer boarding plus training and lessons. The key is to finding the sweet spot that leverages the expertise of you and your staff to best serve what you define as the “ideal customer.”
Before advertising services on your website, think about the chores you enjoy doing and excel at. If you don’t have time and can’t hire extra staff, adding boarding services might not be the right fit. For others with a barn full of empty stalls or pastures for turnout and can handle the feeding and cleaning, boarding might be a priority.
Similarly, you might be able to teach English, Western, dressage and driving lessons. That might work well for some barns—those that have multiple trainers or clients with varying competitive interests. But if all the clients in the barn want to specialize in one discipline and compete every weekend, it’s going to be harder to diversify.
If you enjoy reading business and self-help books, “That Will Never Work,” by Marc Randolph is worth the time. Randolph was the co-founder and first CEO of Netflix, and the book highlights the turbulent road to that company's success. One of the most important lessons he learned was that in order to succeed, Netflix had to have a focus. The company couldn’t sell DVDs and rent them. They couldn’t offer multiple membership tiers based on criteria that worked for a handful of customers or that were outside their technical expertise.
It is painful to lose some customers along the way, but by concentrating on the services that you can best perform with the knowledge and resources you have you can create fiercely loyal customers. That focus also helps attract more of the “ideal” customers you’re best positioned to keep happy.
The reality is that stables likely can’t survive on one service alone. Strategically thinking about the services that compliment the skills, staff and resources at your barn can help find the combination of service offerings that are most profitable and enjoyable for you.