Gently approaching "Board Increase"... Ideas?
Okay... so, we live in the Mid-West, and hay prices have increased drastically. Due to this, we are forced to have to up our board prices this year, which we have not done in over 4 years. We have a barn full of great boarders and good friends, and know they'll understand, but some may not be able to afford it. Lucky for us, our hay farmer is a good friend, and is able to hold his prices fairly steady until winter, when demand for hay goes up around here...
So, we are looking at hay costing us an additional $20-$30 per horse/month (depending on which of his hay storage barns he pulls from - we get it delivered monthly). Before November 1st, I will be giving our boarders a notice that, as of December 1st (when board is due), board will be increasing :( The only reason we have been able to avoid increasing the price thus far this year is that we have been feeding hand-pulled round bales (to inspect and portion without waste - which takes FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRR). I just paid $5.00/bale of our standard mixed hay for the first time today.
There is even a slight possibility that we might run into hay costing $10-12 bale if he runs out of his own stock and has to buy it at auction. As of this past spring, a good bale of timothy/alfalfa/grass mix cost us $4.00 for approximately a 60lb bale - The hay is the same, the price is not. We've been kind of eating the price increases (to the extent of no profit, just enjoying that we have a barn full of good people)... but, now that it is turning us upside down and not even breaking even, we are FORCED to increase board.
So, we are thinking of increasing board $30.00, and offering our boarders the option of working off like, $15.00 of it, so... we'd still be eating some of the cost, but they'd be freeing up some of our time by cleaning their horse's stalls. This would be purely optional on the part of our boarders... but, we thought (in addition to a price break-down for those of our boarders who aren't "in the know" about the actual costs associated with equine care and keeping - you know, for the people who have only ever known a flat-rate boarding fee) it might help soften the blow? Plus, we'd be benefited by obtaining some much needed free-time!
Boarders - what are your thoughts? BO's any experience with this, and outcomes of similar situations?
We tried to raise board ($10.00) a while back, and it was at a point when we had a hodge-podge of boarders who we considered friends and those we considered simply basically business clients - one of the non-friend boarders freaked out (rude, aggressive) to the extent that we asked them to seek services elsewhere and only return to the barn when it was to load up their belongings. Another few boarders stayed on a few months, before parting on good terms - they gave us their thirty days and told us they simply couldn't afford to board here.
I think this is the biggest dilemma with befriending your boarders :( It makes me sad to have to raise prices, and we know people will understand... it just sucks because I'm certain a few of our favorite people will end up seeking pasture board elsewhere. (We are a full-service facility with an indoor arena and access to beautiful trails - prices at all local boarding facilities comparable to ours are up at least where we are headed with ours).
Last edited by sillyhorses; 10-22-2012 at 02:00 PM.