Wanting to start my own boarding place.
I am in the Kansas City area, and looking advice. Too many barns here already??? What do you wish someone told you? I have worked with horse for many years, I am looking for business advice. What are the "must haves", and and the "dont bother withs".
I don't know anything about your area, but I can tell you this. It is EASY to stretch your funds too thin in the beginning and end up broke and out of business. I have seen it around here far too often. A new barn opens up and tries to compete with the established big show barns by building everything bigger and better, and then end up going under because they are not able to recoup what they have spent. The best advice I can give you is start by building a stable that is SAFE, clean, and neat. Cover your basics. Good footing in the arena, safe, solid fencing, roomy stalls, large tack or storage area that can be locked, so people feel that their things are secure and their horses are safe, and hold off on the glitz and bling until you are well underway.
It will also help if you aim toward one particular discipline, and make your facility functional for that purpose, rather than try to have a little of everything.
I agree with apachiedragon.
i would say start slow, concentrate on quality service and a safe environment. Safe fences, well kept stalls, and a clean barn. If you have an arena, keep it simple, with nice footing. Also, I would suggest getting insurance, keeping both you and the boarder safe. i would also suggest sorting out the rules before opening - are you going to allow outside trainers? are you going to provide trainers? do you have a farrier / vet that you are offering to boarders? what about employes? are there any age limits / requirements? stuff like that, get it sorted out and in place. best of luck ;)
My friend and I have thought about this business prospect as well and I will share our thoughts with you.
- Building is expensive. See if there are facilities in your area that are for sale or lease.
- Do you want to be low end, high end, or middle of the road? High end barns attract persnickety owners who obsess over their animals and their care. Low end will attract potential problem boarders like people who don't pay their board on time. Middle of the road can cater to a broader client base.
- Research local barns in your area, their prices, amenities, and services.
- are you located in a suburban area where horse owners are unable to keep their horses on their own land?
-How will you stand out from the competition? You HAVE to have a niche to compete with barns that are already established. This could be by undercutting the competition with lower rates, offering pasture boarding, offer extra services etc. Like, if other barns insist you be in a training/riding program, you could offer board for people who do not need these services but are in need of boarding.
- How will you make a profit? No one makes a profit from boarding fees alone. You are LUCKY if you can break even by boarding alone. The only way BOs make any profit is by the other services they offer, like training and riding lessons. If you are qualified to offer these services, GREAT! But if you are not, your only other option is to bring in either an instructor or trainer (or both!) and take a commission from their earnings.
- Don't forget your hidden expenses. Like machinery, taxes, insurance, manure removal, pasture management, fly spray, insurance, upkeep/repairs, gasoline for equipment, etc.
- Insurance!! You need property insurance in case the place burns down. You need commercial liability insurance in case someone hurts themselves on your property. And you need Care, Custody, and Control Insurance just in case Jimmy the Barn Hand accidentally leaves a gate unlatched and five of your boarder's horses run out in the highway and cause a multiple-car-crash. (and btw, waivers don't protect you from a lawsuit)
- Crunch numbers. Figure out what you need to break even. How many boarders would you need to pay the rent/mortgage, the utility bills (gas, electricity, water, sewer, trash removal, telephone), the insurance, the legal & accounting costs, the feed/salt/hay cost, the property and business taxes, salaries, and facility upkeep?
- Are you prepared to deal with lots of people all of the time? Are you prepared to deal with barn drama? BOs have to be good with people and very patient, if not they wouldn't be BOs.
- Will you be available 24/7? Boarders like someone around for several reasons. Will you be quitting your day job or do you plan to work a 9 to 5 still? If you can't be around during the day, it's a good idea to hire a barn manager.
The most important thing is lots of research and lots of number crunching. Once you crunch the numbers, crunch them again, and again. Each time you do, you'll discover some other expense that you didn't take into consideration.
And talk to other BOs in other areas. It's usually easy to get information from a BO in another state because you're not potential competition. Find some nice websites and contact the owners for a brief interview.
Good Luck! Here is a great worksheet for creating a simple boarding budget.
I'm in the KC area too...good luck
Thanks all for your input. It has added a bunch of questions to my "horse boarding questionaire" that I'm going to use to interview a few horse boarding places here locally. It also added a few expenses to the list that I had not thought of (thanks Lisa Marie!) that would have probably bit me later. We are also putting out feelers for another trainer to add to the staff and completely rethinking what we were going to spend in the "opening budget". Thanks again.
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