Would you use a mid-day feeding or mid-day check service?
I have been contemplating this for a long time. I have a hard keeper that has almost always needed feeding 3x per day. I board at a small, private farm - owners work during the day and I am lucky to be only a few minutes away from my barn, and working part time, so I can buzz over to feed him, check on him, change blankets as needed during season changes, etc. I have worked as a pet sitter (dogs/cats) for a while and I live in a VERY horsey area with tons of small private farms and LONG commutes into the city. Most horse people work or commute in during the day, and unless they board at a larger facility, their horses are fed/checked 2x per day.
I would think there are other owners with special needs, or older horses who would appreciate a mid-day feeding, hay/water filling, blanket change, or in some cases, they may need a hoof soaked for 20 minutes or just an "illness" check for a horse thay may have recently colicked, choked or been sick. I was thinking of advertising myself for mid-day visits ONLY (not interested in horse sitting/feeding/mucking a.m. and p.m. - doesn't work with my schedule). I would not charge alot - not as much as dog/cat visits in my area which are $17 and up for half hour. If the visits are local (a.e. 5-10 miles from my home), was thinking $12 to $15, and perhaps less if horsey is already in close paddock or stall and just needs feed or a quick check. I've spoken to a few people who also had older horses - one who's horse had recently passed, and she said she would have loved for someone to feed him a 3rd meal and check on him while she was at work.
Just curious...Would you use this service IF you had a horse in this situation?
If I had a "special needs" horse and was unable to stop in mid day, I would consider giving you a call. I would expect references from you from horsey people. I'm a control freak and have difficulty trusting someone I dont know coming in and taking care of my horse, so you should expect that from people if they call you. Fortunately, I keep my horse about 5-10 minutes from where I work; I can easily stop in on my lunch break if i need too.
Would absolutely have references and insurance as well.
If I worked outside of the barn, I'd absolutely use a service like that. For me background, references & insurance would be a must as well as knowledge in handling stallions. (Even though mine are big babies)
I say go for it, I think its a great idea. I'd also consider expanding to cover when bo's are hauling to shows, on vacation, etc. I had a family out of state emergency a few months back and I was the last person there as I had to hustle to find someone willing to take care of 11 horses, 3 dogs & 2 cats for 5 days. I'd have loved to have had that service as an option!
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It is a good idea in theory, but I don't know, take a closer look at the price.
If I hired you to come out 5 days a week at $15 a pop, that's $75 a week, or $300 a month. Even if you only charged $10, thats still $50/wk $200/mth. For that kind of money, I would much sooner move the horse to a barn that had staff on sight.
On the flip side, anything less than 10 or 12 bucks, you aren't making any money.
So I guess it depends on the demographics where you live. If you are in a wealthy area, you might make it work.
I'd love to have two of my guys on a 3 feed schedule but it's not exactly practical to me. Everyone in my family works during the day, so AM & PM feedings are all I can get in. I would love to use a mid-day feeding/check service but with 4 horses, it's a bit expensive for me. Great idea though!
Yes, I have to agree with some of the other posts...
It's a great idea in theory - but in practical terms, you'd be competing against the cost of full-service boarding at a site with full-time staff....so you may not have enough of a market to make it work.
If a person was boarding at a facility with part-time staff for around $250 to $300 a month - and then decided they wanted their horse to be checked at noon for an additional $300 a month....why wouldn't they just move their horse to a facility with full-time staff for $500 to $600 per month?
At the same time, you'd be limited as to the number of clients you'd be able to serve - as folks would be expecting that "mid-day check" around noon or so. Why pay extra for a 3pm check if the BO will arrive at 4:30 or 5 ? or for a 10am check if the BO was just there at 9?
If someone had a special needs horse, I could see them finding a barn that could accomodate that if the need was on a full time/permanent basis. If it was of a more temporary nature, I could see using your service to do so.
I think it's a good idea if you're just trying to pick up some extra cash and can see where you might get some business from it. Financially though, for the horse owner, it doesn't make a lot of sense so I wouldn't expect a lot of regular customers. Repeat customers probably and referrals, but not a steady gig.
The good thing about it is that marketing this type of service would require some footwork on your end, but not a lot of expense. So you wouldn't have a ton invested in trying to get it off the ground if it takes a while to build it up. Insurance and maybe some business cards, a website (using things like Twitter and FB can help too). That's really low start up costs, low risk, so it's certainly worth trying and seeing where you can take it :)
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