Starting a new/old business
Hi everyone, sorry if my title was a little confusing. My boss has recently given me free rein on one of her properties. She used to have a large business there, but when she got her new larger facility which I currently teach lessons at, she moved all her clients there.
I know this place has potential, but we only have 2 ponies and 2 horses to use for lessons (1 of which is my pony and 1 is my friend's horse). The other 7 horses at the barn are either retired or privately owned (mainly both). We have 18 stalls and my boss is willing to get me more school horses if she sees the lesson program grow.
Therein lies my problem. I have never had to start a lesson program before. I have always gone into already running barns and just answered the phone a lot to get lessons.
At this place, the phone is my cell. Can anyone help me? How do I get people to realize we are back in business. Our lessons are cheap and I am in it for the fun, not the competition which I'm using as my angle. I want to build a community at my barn, one where people can come and know they are a part of something bigger. Where they can enjoy themselves. I have big plans for once the business is going on how to get that but I don't know how to get people interested.
Any help would be extremely useful and I thank you all in advance.
get a web page so when people do a search for riding, lessons or boarding your site will come up. Get a google places page. A 1 line yellow page ad. Put up flyers at feed supply places, vet, horse arenas and such.
If I were you I would offer specific lessons for children and day camps to get up and running, what an awesome opportunity!
There is a place around here that charges $150 for a 1 day introduction course for children under 12. They are ALWAYS booked. I second the feed store and add in Craigslist/Facebook. Get you some really great photos with kids in riding gear standing next to ponies and you got yur self a winner.
I'd start with some "camp days" type activities then. Also, what about contacting your local 4H county agent and see if there are any interests in a 4H barn based program? Our barn is VERY 4H.
I second the website. I work in a technology field and it drives me CRAZY how many horse related business don't have websites, or have websites that don't have vital information, like where it's located!
I'd also recommend not using your personal cell number as the business number. You can get a free Google Voice number (if you're in the US?), which can be forwarded to your cell or any other phone number.
First things first here there sunshine.
First thing, you have to have some semblance of an idea as to who your target market is.
Yes, you mentioned kids for lessons, but what type of kids?
"Kids" is a little too broad and nonspecific.
Once you determine your target markets, the rest becomes easier.
For example, my company is "Treecyclers, LLC", specializing in recycling trees into useful lumber from the trees in your yard, so they can bring you continued enjoyment for the rest of your life as furniture in your home.
Pretty specific, establishes a business identity, focused target markets, and an environmental spin to it.
I have started 5 businesses.
4 died horrible deaths due to cash flow issues and time management issues on my part.
Why did they die? I missed the market, didnt manage my cash flow well, didnt understand the ramifications of being focused on a single main idea.
For your application, i might suggest targeting specific markets that are unserved or underserved in your area.
It would make little sense to start a dressage training facility if there were 6 others within an hour drive of you, unless you have a crazy customer base from which to pull from.
No clients = no cashflow=out of business in a hurry.
You mentioned catering to the low end of the market.
Thats a very dangerous game to play.
You have costs that must be paid, like rent, feed, your time, insurance, fuel, lights, facility and gear maintenance, vet bills, and so on. Better to cater to the middle of the road than either the top edge or bottom edge.
I charge $85 an hour for my sawing services. From that, i take out fuel, maintenance, equipment wear and tear, and am usually left with about $19/hr for me.
Not a real good ratio, but it works.
Once you determine your target markets, the rest falls into line.
It gives you a base to market to, and mediums for marketing.
Understand your clientele, and how they think.
Put your client's needs up front.
Offer products and services that are scaled in a "good, better, best" style, and be able to explain the differences and benefits of each level in 30 seconds or less.
Most people, if you dont have them on the boat in 30 seconds, you're toast, and it will cost you tenfold to bring them back for a second try.
Be sure your facilities are immaculate.
No weeds, no trash, no crud. Period.
A facility thats got its game on shows it through first impressions.
Thats a decent starting point for you, and i dont want to overwhelm you with too much info.
The only other thought I would have is get lease papers in writing with a start and end date.
You don't want to build a clientele for others to take.
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