Essential Elements to a Successful Boarding Facility
Boarders are Social Animals
Foster a social atmosphere at your horse boarding facility.
We're a social animal, too. Just look at the instant success of the internet's social networking sites! I know a fair number of people who have the ability to keep their horse(s) at home, but choose to board because of the social aspect. We like to ride with others, discuss equine health and care, compete and share successes and disappointments. Encouraging this environment adds value to your business. I've seen horse boarding stables that fail to thrive, not because they don't have lovely facilities and good horse care, but because the atmosphere is not friendly or welcoming. This may be due to a few unpleasant boarders, and not directly related to management, but ultimately management is responsible. The attitude of management prevails. If you are happy you can project that joy onto others. If you insist that petty, selfish, unfriendly behavior won't be tolerated it won't. I boarded at a barn in Tucson where the owner always, and I mean always, greeted me with a warm and sincere "Hello, Jean!" every time I arrived. It seems like a little thing, but I always felt welcome.
Make it Happen--Here's How
It's free and it's effective. The owner/manager creates an atmosphere at a horse boarding stables whether she intends to or not. Always remember that.
‣Encourage social interaction among your boarders.
Think of this as one giant social function where you're the hostess. Get togethers, "fun" shows, or even fun work parties can help create a community and strengthen bonds among members of your boarding community. Remember this is entertainment and we like to enjoy our entertainment with friends and family.
‣Online Social Networking
You can start an online bulletin board or forum for example on Yahoo.com.
Fun shows or gymkanas are a great way to practice horsemanship skills. Events can be arranged for all levels of equestrians. Cross discipline shoes are fun, too, where riders are required to enter classes other than their own particular expertise.
‣Host educational events.
Invite a new vet in the area, or horse show judge to give a talk. Provide food or suggest a potluck and make it a social event. Encourage others to seek out professionals who will speak on their particular fields of interest. I once invited an Arizona Highway Patrol officer to our horse boarding stable to give a talk on trailering safety. It was fascinating and free. Aside from the social aspect of such events, the better educated your equestrians are the more they will enjoy their horses.
Some barns host slumber parties for the young set, but honestly why do they have to have all the fun? Disneyland does it. Ok well, no one actually goes to sleep in Disneyland, but they do have all night events. A quilting shop near my house regularly holds all night quilting sessions, and they aren't for kids. They order dinner in and quilt until dawn. How about a moonlight ride? Everyone can get glow sticks and ride in the dark.
One of the stables at which I boarded held a costume contest at Halloween awarding homemade ribbons to the winners. This makes for great pictures which can be used to market your business.
What about a movie night where the movie has to have at least one horse in it; or rent an educational horse training video.
How about a "make your horse homemade horse treats" event.
Not everything has to happen at the barn. Plan a trip to see a visiting clinician or an equine expo.
‣Used Tack Sales
Everyone has used take that they would like to sell. Make a day of it. Invite other horse boarding facilities to come socialize and you have the opportunity to show other potential boarders that you understand the business model, and that your barn really is a great place to board.
Ask for suggestions from your boarders for fun new ideas and enlist the people suggesting the event to make it happen.
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Have some fun with Horse-Report's Horse Names pages.