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sillyhorses 11-15-2012 01:16 PM

Barn maintenance with careless clients...
 
Okay... I'm venting while working through a tactful, but direct way of telling a group of people (including three adults, one of whom is an instructor at our barn, and two children) that they need to clean up our arena walls. I'm pretty sure there is no way to approach this scenario without sounding condescending.

We (my partner and I) do ALL of the work around our facility ourselves - just the two of us. Generally, twice a year we deweb and dust the arena walls and ceiling - We have a large, clean indoor arena with very fine sand footing. So fine that no amount of watering will prevent a bit of dust build-up over time. The arena is completely enclosed, so that the horses in their stalls won't be exposed to excessive dust (as much as possible).

A week ago, one of the "other" instructor's students (who was riding with her brother and mother during the lesson) thought it would be funny to drag her hand along the walls of our arena, which are white drywall walls that get dusty very quickly. The girl did this on both of the long walls of the arena, the ENTIRE length of the arena. TWICE!!! AND, even wrote a brief message to her sibling in the dust. I should mention, it is fairly faint at this point, but you can still see it.

I'm baffled as to why a: the instructor didn't say "Hey, don't do that, thank you!" and b: why the mother, who was taking part in the lesson didn't say "CHILDREN! Don't do that!" Or, you know, something to that effect. So, now there are two wavy lines going around our arena and a "HI BROTHER!" message on our wall. Oh... the "children" are teenagers, btw. The instructor KNOWS my partner and I take pride in maintaining our facility, and we get complimented ALL THE TIME about how clean our facility is - people are baffled that it is just my partner and I that maintain it. Except, apparently, the arena walls. I had just dusted the walls at the beginning of October.

I want to say something to the people (because it is really, really awful and tacky looking), and ask them to now continue the "fine" dusting job they started. We have a TON of work, cleaning up after 18 horses and working on the never-ending list of projects (cleaning, repairs, and everything else you can think of). We don't charge our clients enough to maintain employees that we can assign to pick up the messes we can't get to right now. It certainly was not on my list to spend any amount of my afternoon to dust the arena walls AGAIN, after having just done this less than two months ago! I mean... how about I go to their house, in the kitchen with white walls, and grab a sponge and write them a message? Inevitably, it would show up because kitchens tend to get a build-up from cooking evaporation on the walls. THAT would not be acceptable - why in the world would anybody think that this would be?

Anybody have any suggestions on how to let people know that this type of "temporary" defacing of our property is UNACCEPTABLE without sounding like a complete tyrant? I'm feeling like one right now... literally, I want to interrupt their lesson, hand them a broom and say "Don't worry about paying for your lesson this evening - tonight is going to be a lesson in barn management. My arena walls looks terrible, please spend the next hour completing the dust job you started."

I know - I sound like a monster, right? Grrrrrr... I do a lot of venting here because it allows me an outlet where I can get input from other professionals before taking steps (so, just rest assured, I'm not chasing these people down, giving them dirty looks or making snide comments until I decide what to do). So, thanks to anyone who read this. Just... grrrrrrr!

churumbeque 11-15-2012 01:24 PM

I think you are over reacting. If that is all you are upset about you are lucky.
I would clean it off and then they may notice that you didn't like it and possibly refrain from doing it again.

Speed Racer 11-15-2012 01:26 PM

Don't approach it that way, or you're going to lose clients.

Yes, it's aggravating to you that they did it, but I'm sure they meant absolutely no harm. It's not like the kids painted the wall with permanent stain or destroyed property, which is the kind of angry you seem to be.

Take some time to calm down, then approach them and say something along the lines of, 'Hey, I noticed you were playing in the dust along the walls. I try to keep the arena walls clean, but they do tend to get dirty faster than I can clean them, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't do that any longer. I could really use the help if you'd like to pitch in and clean them, so feel free to pick up a broom and dust the walls if you get a chance. Thanks!'

kenda 11-15-2012 01:27 PM

Honestly, I think a week later is to late to have them do something about it. I would be upset as well, as it does look tacky. But the time to say something about it was during or immediately after. At this point I would just suck it up, clean the walls, and then maybe put up some kind of sign to the effect of "Don't touch the walls" You could put some kind of reasoning on there along the lines of, "in an effort to reduce dust, for the health of the horses etc." At that point, if you see them or anyone else doing that kind of thing again, that would be the time to say something. People do stupid things occasionally, without considering the effect on others.

sillyhorses 11-15-2012 01:31 PM

Haha - thanks guys! Yes... I know my vent is over-reacting and that I would lose clients that way :p Which, again, is why I said "I'm venting here!!!" haha, it just drives me nuts. I guess I have a big hang-up with people doing things that (to me) seem pretty rude. I didn't expect that the kids would view it that way (since of course, it isn't like they wrote on my wall in permanent marker or something), but I just couldn't believe the adults in the situation didn't think to themselves "Gee, they work awfully hard around here and that is an extra job for them right now that they clearly don't need..."

Speed Racer - I LOVE your idea. I figured that I'd probably just clean the walls, and if it happens again, then say something. I am pretty sure that seeing the walls sans markings will get the point across, though.

sillyhorses 11-15-2012 01:33 PM

How about clean the walls, then post a sign that says something to the effect of "We work hard to maintain a beautiful facility, which includes scheduled yearly arena dusting. We just had to take time away from another project to make our arena look swell again, and as such, find it necessary to remind our clients to please keep your hands off of our walls. Thank you!"

Chevaux 11-15-2012 01:42 PM

That's a tricky one. It requires diplomacy and tact - something that if you're really good at you can then head off to the Middle East and help out there after the wall incident is in hand:lol:. A few things come to mind:

1. Direct confrontation - walking up to them the next time you see them in the barn and ask that they clean up and don't do that again. Pros: over and done with quickly; shows leadership and control of your barn. Cons: requires personal courage and emotional control to stay on topic and not get dragged into a slagging match.

2. Email/text to mother - saying same thing in electronic form. Pros: they've got the message; you are able to hone the wording of your requests and statements; you have the start of a documentation trail if things head south. Cons: hopefully she reads her emails; need to be prepared for fallout, if any.

3. Phone call to mother - Pros and cons are pretty much the same as direct confrontation but, depending upon your personality, might be easier than direct confrontation.

I think your statement/request should including something to the effect that you take pride in a clean facility that's a benefit to everyone who uses it; you've given them some time to do the work on their own and since they have not you are now offering a gentle request to make it right, etc. You might also need to be prepared for a refusal to do the work on their part - if that happens do you leave it go with a don't do it again request; hire someone to do the work and then tack it on to their board bill (let them know this beforehand) or increase their board to cover the extra maintenance costs, etc.

Hope this is of some help - let us know how it goes.

Speed Racer 11-15-2012 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sillyhorses (Post 1759335)
Speed Racer - I LOVE your idea. I figured that I'd probably just clean the walls, and if it happens again, then say something. I am pretty sure that seeing the walls sans markings will get the point across, though.

I just figured it'd be easier on everyone to approach it and make them aware. I know people can be clueless, but most of them don't mean any harm.

I'm not a fan of the passive-aggressive notes/signs, because I think dealing with something face to face is much better.

sillyhorses 11-15-2012 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chevaux (Post 1759346)
That's a tricky one. It requires diplomacy and tact - something that if you're really good at you can then head off to the Middle East and help out there after the wall incident is in hand:lol:. A few things come to mind: Haha :D I appreciate the way you've spelled out the options, with pros and cons, below. That is BRILLIANT! :D

1. Direct confrontation - walking up to them the next time you see them in the barn and ask that they clean up and don't do that again. Pros: over and done with quickly; shows leadership and control of your barn. Cons: requires personal courage and emotional control to stay on topic and not get dragged into a slagging match. Yeah... I am more a fan of directly talking to people... that way you can gauge reactions and proceed appropriately. To post letters/notes (unless fairly benign) seems passive aggressive, as Speed Racer said. I like to think of myself as having a bit of a backbone, but I want to choose my confrontations wisely. While this is personally big deal to me, I honestly don't think it is worth a confrontation. Like, I can't talk about it without sounding/being somewhat condescending, you know?

2. Email/text to mother - saying same thing in electronic form. Pros: they've got the message; you are able to hone the wording of your requests and statements; you have the start of a documentation trail if things head south. Cons: hopefully she reads her emails; need to be prepared for fallout, if any. YEAH... mom is pretty quick and witty and it would probably not end well, lol.

3. Phone call to mother - Pros and cons are pretty much the same as direct confrontation but, depending upon your personality, might be easier than direct confrontation.

I think your statement/request should including something to the effect that you take pride in a clean facility that's a benefit to everyone who uses it;< I think I will focus on this aspect of it, for sure. While I do think letters, etc. tend to be passive-aggressive, I think something like this DOES fall under our posted barn rules of "clean up after yourself". I'll clean it, but remind people to not create unsightly messes, somehow or another... you've given them some time to do the work on their own and since they have not you are now offering a gentle request to make it right, etc. You might also need to be prepared for a refusal to do the work on their part - if that happens do you leave it go with a don't do it again request; hire someone to do the work and then tack it on to their board bill (let them know this beforehand) or increase their board to cover the extra maintenance costs, etc. < The smart alec in me thought this, but I wouldn't ever do it, haha.

Hope this is of some help - let us know how it goes.

I'll definitely let you know what I end up doing. We really like all the people involved here, so I'm just mostly baffled by the fact that this happened and they, apparently, see nothing wrong with it! :p It is definitely one of those things where it happened, and no-one really thought of how it affects others.


Well... now, to go clean it instead of wasting more time on the computer :p Haha

Shropshirerosie 11-15-2012 01:58 PM

[QUOTE=. I am pretty sure that seeing the walls sans markings will get the point across, though.[/QUOTE]

- no, they won't notice. People don't notice things that have changed unless it affects them. They will come in, ride, leave, and not notice the walls. And if they did notice - because they were looking for the line or message for some reason, then they wouldn't necessarily realise that cleaning up was a hard job. So you do still need to have that friendly word :-)

Ps as an illustration of how people really don't notice things........

Yesterday I got back from school collection. To get in the house son and I had to come in garage door and squeeze past my husbands car that was parked there. But he wasn't meant to be home - and so I didn't actually "see" the car and I didn't realise that husband was home until I walked in to the office and saw him there :shock:


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