You could always have an increased winter rate and reg summer rate. Or offer the $250 rate for a longer than month to month contract to incentivize long term boarders.
Boarding at a barn over winter with an indoor is always going to attract people seasonally. Heck, where I'm at some people have their own pastures/ facilities but still choose to board in winter so that they can ride more. In the summer the barn makes more profit off of lessons and activities, which offsets the reduced boarders. They know this and market themselves that way.
I don't think your boarders were trying to take advantage of you. They paid your rate and met the contract terms, if you don't feel it adequately covers expenses for short term boarders then you should increase it. For the financially strapped, You could offer to let them go to a self care model for a reduced cost. Self care runs $180 where I'm at. You keep good boarders, less work for you, they save money but have to provide all of their own feed and do the work. The key is to figure out what your profit margin is and try to maintain that margin for both self and full care scenarios.
People who care about their horses will pay for higher quality service and care. Regardless of the area you are in. But you need to present and market yourself as a high quality facility and differentiate your barn from those with lesser offerings/standards. If people are shopping around for price, educate them on the quality and care they get at your place and provide them with questions they should ask when looking at boarding facilities... they'll find out on their own that yours is the better option and be able to make an informed decision.
Very well said. I think that's a good idea. Shavings have been really hard to obtain in this area. I get bulk shavings, but in reality I counted wheelbarrows I got out of several loads. Im basically paying the same amount I can buy bagged for.. it costs me 5.00 per wheelbarrow.. in winter when weather is bad horses are not able to be turned out (owners don't like their horses wet and or mudd) .. I was going through a MINIMUM of a wheelbarrow every other day on top of sufficient bedding. And daily for other horses. We went through this past winter because of bad weather three times as much sawdust as we normally do and quite honestly. I barely made anything all winter on boarders. I should of raised rates then, but figured it would catch up come summer when turnout was available again.. so that's is partially where the frustration is coming from :(
I board year round at the same stable around your size and I pay $250 a month in winter for stall board/daily turnout. Stalls and pastures are cleaned daily. My mare gets rough board, is in with 2 other horses and has a lean to from spring to fall for $175 a month. Pasture board starts next month so then it is $200 a month. She is happy, healthy and well cared for. I have access to an indoor and trails, there's a bathroom in the barn and the boarders are mature and respectful of each other.
I can see why people would like cheaper board, but your price is reasonable. I recently saw an ad on craigslist for boarding close to my area for nearly half the price I pay now and I must admit I was tempted to give it a call, but then I remembered the last time I was at a budget barn. It wasn't so great, my horses' care was sub par. After having issues with lack of water, feedings, overly large pastured groups and other boarders borrowing my tack without permission I was quickly looking for a new place. I'm not saying that every lower priced place is this way, but I promised myself the day I could no longer afford to give my horse a good home, I would be fair and find someone special that could give her that good home she deserves.
It sounds like you run a nice barn and quality is important to most horse owners. Maybe you could advertise and possibly bring in more business. I wish you the best of luck no matter what you choose.
I agree with everything you said. I've been advertising like crazy. Just not many callers at the moment :(
I would definitely charge a winter rate. I wasn't joking when I said I would move my horses to your place, in the winter, so I could ride in the indoor. I have even thought about doing that in this area, the board is $400 per month, same facilities & care as yours.
Yes amazing how prices range so drastically. I'll be quite honest. At the 250 rate we don't make very much at all after you take in all the costs... It literally cost me 150 a month to bed and feed horses. So that 100 has to cover electric, fuel for tractor to work up arena... spread manure. Fix feeders replace buckets... fences etc. I pretty much work for less than 4.00 an hour. I LOVE this business, but we are just at a down point right now and im frustrated... seems everything goes good all at once.. than bad just as quickly