Gently approaching "Board Increase"... Ideas?
   

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Gently approaching "Board Increase"... Ideas?

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  • Do you raise the board in winter to cover hay costs
  • "horse" "board increase"

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    10-22-2012, 01:55 PM
  #1
Weanling
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).
     
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    10-22-2012, 02:01 PM
  #2
Green Broke
All you can do is be honest. You are not running a charity, and hay costs $. Those of us with horses in the back yard, like me, can sympathize. DH and I are going to have to refinance to replace the roofs on my house, 4-car garage and barn bc the shingles are falling apart. It's probably going to run about an extra $30K.
You also have upkeep of the facilities. If you feel so inclined, you might be able to think of some work/board exchanges, bc I know if you lose a boarder you do lose some income, and keeping them there might help the bottom line. DON'T WORRY if you have some boarders move. The economy just sucks, so some empty stalls are just symptomatic. IMO, you won't discourage new boarders. People are smart enough to come to you bc of word of mouth, anyway.
     
    10-22-2012, 02:01 PM
  #3
Trained
I'd send out a nice letter reminding folks that prices for everything, feed, corn, utilities and hay, have been going up for years and this will be your first increase in 4 years. Then I'd raise it $50 so that hopefully you won't have to do it again for another 4 years. You'll lose a few but you get some different ones to fill the gap. If you can maybe put up a corral outside, I'd offer pasture board instead working off board, that never seems to work out well. Good luck, we're on year 2 of this stinkin drought and hay is outrageous down here.
     
    10-22-2012, 02:01 PM
  #4
mls
Trained
Do you feed hay all year? If not, you could do a hay surcharge to get through the winter months.

I would suggest NOT allowing the $15 work off. Some would do a great job and others would do a haphazard job.

Unless they have had their head in the sand, they know hay is very pricey in parts of the country right now. Owning a horse is not a necessity. Maybe they have to give up Starbucks and make their own morning coffee, eat out 2 less times per month, etc. $30 can be tough on some budgets but not impossible.

However for you $300 is a lot of hay.
     
    10-22-2012, 02:02 PM
  #5
Weanling
I think it's very reasonable. I'm a boarder and our rates went up $25 per month two months ago. The owner explained the situation and broke down the costs for us. You are running a business an a business, to survive, must balance the budget. The reality is you need to cover your costs to stay in business. I doubt if you, or our barn owner, are making a ton of profit.
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    10-22-2012, 02:05 PM
  #6
Yearling
I wouldn't advertise the $15 off option. What if ALL of your boarders were to decide they wanted to do stall cleaning? You'd be out a lot of $$$ you need to buy hay.

If someone really can't afford it and comes to talk to you, you can make a decision on a case by case basis.

Or, if a really great boarder is leaving and you feel it's because they truly can't afford the fee, you could pull them aside and offer the $15 deal.
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    10-22-2012, 02:05 PM
  #7
Weanling
Dreamcatcher - yeah, I totally understand working off board not working out well. We had a mother/daughter here a while back that were very sweet, but after many reminders that they needed to improve their work, we told them we could no longer afford to allow them to work off their board. Gave them a 30day notice of this - and they FREAKED out. That is why we are kind of going "hmm... do we offer that option, or not?"

I like many ideas about pasture board, but... I guess we are paranoid about what will happen with the horses outside in the night. Will something send them through a fence? Will they colic and we won't know? Will they fall down and injure themselves if they get scared? :/ I think I'd be open to it for certain horses, but I feel like we'd be opening up the potential for scary things to happen that we don't like dealing with :( While our property is very level, no rolling hills or anything... we are next to woods, and who knows what will happen if deer crash through nearby at night?
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    10-22-2012, 02:08 PM
  #8
Weanling
Good idea Nickleodeon...
So - instead of "For those interested, we may be willing to offer an exchange of board services for work?" should I say something more along the lines of:
"Please do not hesitate to ask us any questions. We encourage you to discuss potential options with us before deciding to move if you simply cannot afford board."

I literally worked it out, and the profit for us is $0.17 per hour, and that is just feeding/turning out/cleaning stalls... not including watering our arena, maintaining the property :/
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    10-22-2012, 02:09 PM
  #9
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillyhorses    
Dreamcatcher - yeah, I totally understand working off board not working out well. We had a mother/daughter here a while back that were very sweet, but after many reminders that they needed to improve their work, we told them we could no longer afford to allow them to work off their board. Gave them a 30day notice of this - and they FREAKED out. That is why we are kind of going "hmm... do we offer that option, or not?"

I like many ideas about pasture board, but... I guess we are paranoid about what will happen with the horses outside in the night. Will something send them through a fence? Will they colic and we won't know? Will they fall down and injure themselves if they get scared? :/ I think I'd be open to it for certain horses, but I feel like we'd be opening up the potential for scary things to happen that we don't like dealing with :(
Can you set up some pipe corral for them? That way at night, they go into their own corral and nothing can run them through a fence. I've had boarders horses here on pasture and the only horse who got run through a fence was MINE. LOL! He was new here and I think he just didn't see the fence in time and popped through it. I have a 'mare motel' thing with pipes and shade cover and they can go in there at night if they need to, I rarely have pasture injuries. Not going to say never, horses are horses.
     
    10-22-2012, 02:11 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians    
I'd send out a nice letter reminding folks that prices for everything, feed, corn, utilities and hay, have been going up for years and this will be your first increase in 4 years. Then I'd raise it $50 so that hopefully you won't have to do it again for another 4 years.
I like this idea. You can also gently reiterate your facilities and remind your boarders about ALL of the things that you provide, I.e., how you keep an eye on their horse's welfare when they are on vacation for 2 weeks.
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