How to Make Your Horse Boarding Business Financially Fabulous
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
One the best ways to ensure your horse boarding business is ‘financially fabulous’ is to lavish luxury services on your clientele, both the horse and human variety. The notion of taking a horse boarding business 5 star, with services for almost every conceivable need and offering the whole ‘Kit and kaboodle’ is not to be undertaken lightly.
Initial set up of a prestige horse facility is expensive. Running costs necessarily tip the top end of the horse board business scale, as many facets of the horses’ care offered will require specialist knowledge and a well-educated workforce to administer.
There obviously has to be a market for the type of client you seek to attract, located in the immediate region if possible, although for certain types of facilities such as sales and breeding facilities people will board horses from a distance away.
What Constitutes Lavish Luxury Versus Regular Facilities?
Comfort for horse and rider must be first class in order for the pampered to be properly pleased.
For horse housing this could include extra big stalls with aesthetically appealing barn designs such as the popular new style of timber frame barns, a hybrid of traditional mortise and tenon and modular construction; beautifully appointed hardware throughout the barn; comfortable matted stall floors; high-end fixtures and fittings including plenty of effectively placed lighting; automatic watering systems with frost free protections; commercial grade fans for cooling in summer; automatic fly spray control systems; Dutch doors for outdoor views/access; cupolas with fans plus plenty of passive ventilation; designated tack and bathing stalls; provision plenty of safe space such as extra wide aisles; and deep bedding banked for safety and cleaned out hourly. The list of possibilities to ‘up’ the quality of the barn is endless.
While regular horse housing should always offer a healthy, safe and secure environment for its occupants and daily caregivers and visitors, the size of stalls and style of barn can be designed form and function forward, rather than built to look pretty and opulent as well as practical.
The human contingent in the luxury space may favor other options such as heated barn space for comfort in cold winter temperatures, radiant heated or air-conditioned areas such as kitchens, gathering spaces, bathrooms with showers, secure and expansive tack rooms.
Whatever the extras that are implemented to physically enhance the experiential boarding, from chandeliers for lighting the high ceilinged aisleways to magnificent paved aisles that lead out to similarly paved outside areas and walkways to gated board-fenced pastures with luscious green pastures, allocated parking for horse trailers etc., the craftsmanship throughout the property must be impeccable and the materials used of premier quality.
There is no place to hide when it comes to excellence and it factors greatly into not just the building and its components, but also of course to the level of care and the services on offer. Allocated private grooms can take care of everything from tall boot cleaning to hoof picking, braid and pull manes and tails to exercise regimes and ‘riding in’ the horse before the owner of the horse takes the saddle. The well-healed equestrian will likely have a keen eye to details and expectations for more than a competent level of execution of task will be demanded.
Extra money earning services can be the doubling up on the boarding business by offering both horse and canine care on site. Commercial kennels with modern day designs offer an efficient easy clean and care option for visiting dogs.
Other additions to the property such as playsets for children, hot tubs for athletes to use post and pre-rides set under a pergola, and even cabins on site for accommodations for folks to visit the facility to enjoy an intensive training retreat are all methods to elevate the appeal of the facility in the marketplace and provide the opportunity to increase income.
Luxury Means Everything On Call, On Point
Make no mistake. If you seek to attend to the crowd used to luxury living and are charging appropriately for their wants and needs with a litany of miscellaneous service folks and staff on call to meet their requests, the repertoire of services and facilities available needs to be extensive.
From alternative medicine specialists for the horse such as adjunctive therapies like PEMF, acupuncture, massage therapy and the like to a pre-ride exercise gym with a variety of the latest equipment, yoga space with trainer, massage room for treatments for the rider, the list of services can go far beyond horse blanket changes, horse laundry, administer medications under the guidance of a qualified veterinary surgeon or bath/clip or groom the horse.
Catered spaces for recreation are also important. Gazebos, pergolas and pavilions are perfect for equine aficionadas that seek a break between rides. A place to converse with others, partake of their favorite beverage and ‘shoot the breeze’ are essential to the social life that many enjoy as a sideline or even main event to their equestrian pursuits.
Equestrian facilities such as cross-country events courses, showjumping and dressage arenas, pens, hot walkers, Western barrel racing or reining rings replete with the necessary livestock to practice their equestrian prowess are all options that can create added value that translates to being able to charge more for boarding access. Many of these facilities can also be opened for use to the public for a fee to further drive sales revenue.
It can be lucrative to offer special ‘private’ access to facilities for one on one lessons or events, and hosting events like saddle fitting classes, yoga on the patio, veterinary educational seminars and ‘trunk’ sales from tack retailers or equestrian product manufacturers can yield extra cash for the horse barn operator.
VIP is more than an acronym, your clientele must at all times feel they are of paramount importance and their needs must be succinctly and efficiently addressed.
Bring The Big Names
Access to the elite at the top tier of the equestrian sport is an important component for many clients. Regular clinics with ‘name brand’ personalities in the equine industry, opportunities for workshops and schooling with iconic names in the sport, are often seen as a privilege that can be bought.
While the one thing no-one can buy is a good seat on a horse, buying a well-trained horse on which to practice equestrian skills is obviously an option afforded to the wealthier participants in the sport. As any trainer will tell you, the advanced horse that is regularly schooled by a less experienced rider will necessary become less tuned to its job as time progresses and it learns bad habits, has to tolerate poor riding skill sets or simply is not challenged to improve its talents with good training.
This offers one of the most lucrative opportunities to make money in the boarding business. Lesson time is moneymaking time. The requirement for boarders to take a certain number lessons a week can not only be good for your bank balance, but also provides an important health and training consideration for the equine occupants at your facility. And of course, the more time the client routinely spends at the boarding barn, the more add-on services they may purchase.
Similarly horse sales, attending competitions and providing transport and coaching services, can all yield good revenue.
The security for both horse and rider are important for all the obvious reasons. Secure access to the property with passwords and gated community access, streaming cameras on horses’ stalls and/or pastures, security checks and security clearance for all staff on site are all great ways to protect all users of the site.
Take Home Message
However you choose to ‘up sell’ your horse boarding client, remember it is important to have clearly written contracts that detail the services offered and their fees plus how payment will be made and under what terms the services are rendered.
Always treat every client with the utmost respect and remember that when you decide to cater to every whim and wish of a client for extra money in the barn door, you can also expect some outlandish requests and out of regular business hours calls.