How much $ for Stall Cleaning, etc? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy How much $ for Stall Cleaning, etc?

I am curious to know how much barn owners (particularly of boarding facilities, however training farms, etc. are encouraged to respond, too!) pay for barn help?

Where we live, most of the other horse farms hire illegal immigrants which poses several problems in getting an honest response to this question:
a: The owners won't admit to hiring illegals.
b: Since they won't admit to hiring illegals, it stands to reason that they won't admit they pay them pennies on the dollar instead of the local minimum wage.

As the barn owners, we generally do the work ourselves and are looking into hiring someone. In the past, we've had individuals who keep their horses here whom we've allowed to "work off" some of their board at a rate of $2.00 per stall cleaned. What that arrangement usually turns into is that our new "worker" speeds through the barn, "cleaning" 12 stalls in an hour. This results in us being on the hook for crediting (or paying) $24.00 for an hour of substandard work (imagine a child picking at their plate and "tossing" the food around in an attempt to make it look they've eaten something... that is what the "cleaning" amounts to). We then have the "please take your time, and be sure to do x,y and z when cleaning the stalls...", which maybe works for that days' worth of work, then they are right back to rushing and not actually doing anything that helps us.

That alternate is that we had tried offering minimum wage and saying "Okay... we'll have you come work for 2 hours on X day." and the "employee" then spends 45 minutes picking out a matted stall and ends up completing about 3 or 4 stalls over the course of 2 hours. Ughhhhh! Inevitably, either situation results in us saying "Sorry, we don't need your help any longer".

I know darned well that at other farms, stable hands are paid minimum wage, at best, for their services... right?

I can definitely see why the local farms hire illegal immigrants who they can pay substandard wages; the job is typically thankless and even though it is manual labor, our local economy means boarders aren't willing to pay the barn owners minimum wage for the time they spend on the horses, much less paying enough to support a paid employee.

Thanks for reading and responding to my rant :/ I'm just at a loss and can't help but wonder about the people who I know we have paid more than generously trying to take advantage of us. We'd like to hire help and be fair, but at the same time we aren't going to pay $24 for an hours worth of work!

P.S. I do know that, for starters, we will no longer be allowing boarders to "work off" board. grumble:::grumble:::grumble

Last edited by sillyhorses; 02-24-2012 at 01:29 PM.
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post #2 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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P.S. I refuse to hire illegal immigrants to get more bang for my dollar... I just don't want to continue to pay people $24 + for an hours worth of work!!!! Trying to figure out a way to hire someone and not have a huge turnover rate!
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post #3 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:40 PM
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Subbing, interested what people are going to say..

“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their *** and do anything to make it happen.” - Unknown
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post #4 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:51 PM
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I work off my board, 8 horses in 7 stalls (2 tiny ponies share a large stall) that are on all-day turnout, weather-permitting.

I clean the stalls, water buckets, feed pans, outdoor buckets/troughs, the general "barn" (sweeping and tidying up the mess we get from feeding 3x4x8 bales) and whatever else needs to be done (like filling in the hole to China a gelding dug in his run or yanking up mats to scrape out the muck under them).

Nobody else cleans, so if I do a craptastic job I'm just causing myself more work the next day.

It works well for us, the BO and her husband feed/blanket/turn-out everyone and I do the rest. Everyone pitches in with water bucket/trough filling though.... we live in an extremely dry area and one of the horses (mine of course) is known for refusing to drink from a half-empty bucket.
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post #5 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Delfina... if you were to break down the actual board price/hours worked per month, how much would you be getting paid per hour?

Also... to anyone who read my first rant, please disregard the sentence where said "I know darned well thatthat at other farms, stable hands are paid minimum wage, at best, for their services... right?"... I was ranting and that really doesn't make sense to say because I truly have no clue!

Last edited by sillyhorses; 02-24-2012 at 01:55 PM.
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post #6 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:54 PM
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I don't know from an ownders POV, but when I was working at the barn I was being paid 13$/hr for work.
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post #7 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Were you only cleaning stalls, or were you doing other things, too? Thanks, btw!
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post #8 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 02:00 PM
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I was sweeping ailes, tack room, organizing cupboards, harrowing(?) arena(in and out), bedding shelters, taking poop buckets out, and prepping stalls for clinics (disinfecting before and after). Where I board she has a 24 stall barn, but everyone is kept outside in paddocks/pasture. So I only did stalls when I had my guy in, or after clinics when people kept horses over night. I also kept the lounge tidy.

edit: I was also helping with lessons haha.. tacking, helping from the ground, etc.
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post #9 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 02:10 PM
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Um.. it's hard to say. Prior to this new arrangement I paid $200 a month (full care but I provide his grain and alfalfa) but that is cheap for our area and the BO realized that and that she wasn't making a cent off of me, so she was going to raise the rates to at least $300 a month (but she kinda filled up the barn buying herself horses! Ooops!).

I would say $300 - $325 would be going rate in my area for the equivalent services at another barn.

As far as how many hours I work? Umm... usually 2 hours a day and I generally skip one weekend day as the horses stay out longer on weekends providing it's good weather. So around 12 hours a week or normal "cleaning" and then usually 5-6 more hours a month on things like arena dragging, fixing things horses mangled and so forth. I also feed/care if she's on vacation which is usually a few weeks per year but she allows me to use her trailer and helps with the occasional training issue as well.
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post #10 of 33 Old 02-24-2012, 02:12 PM
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I'm not a barn owner, but what you are describing is typical in any labor / service industry.

And, you can allow people to work off their board. You just need more structure.

You can go hourly or per diem with this recommendation. I recommend per diem.

First, create a checklist of things that must be done when cleaning a stall. Don't forget to describe/define the quality standard. A clear photo of a properly cleaned stall may be a good idea.

At the top of your checklist, include the spots to write in the following information:

Worker's name
Stall number (or other identifying detail)
Date and Time Started
Date and Time Ended
Quality Checked by Name
Date and Time Quality Checked
Score: Satisfactory, Needs Work, Unacceptable.
Identify problems
Worker's Initials

Then, you and one or two other people (preferably inexperienced people) perform the checklist, each on a single stall. Time each person.

This is your baseline. If you took 30 minutes but the newbies took 60, then you should know that a person should originally take 60 minutes, but with time and practice may be able to knock it down to 30.

Now, place a value on that stall. Is it worth $5.00? $10.00? What is it worth it to you to not do that task.

Now, implement it. Let's say it's $10.00. A squosh over minimum wage, but a nice round number.

Sally wants to work off board. You tell her for every stall she cleans you will deduct $10.00 from her board. You tell her she can work on Wednesdays from 1pm to 4pm.

When she arrives to work, you hand her the first stall checklist and date and time it. She completes the work. You inspect it. Passes? Move on. Doesn't pass, communicate the errors and let her fix them. You don't sign off a form until it meets the photo (and you have to be fair here).

At the end of the day, you tally up the number of forms she has that are "satisfactory.". That is the amount deducted from her board.

Your problem is nothing unique to you; it is a people management issue.

You can't expect to tell someone to clean a stall and they will clean it to your expectations. You know your expectations and you are willing to modify them based on circumstances. An employee can't know these things. They can be taught these things.

Even if you did say, "do this, do this, do this" a lot of people have problems remembering those details. Technology has ruined us from having to learn and retain.

Adults, especially teens, should have no more than 2 details or instructions provided to them verbally during the learning phase.

Also, cleaning is a subjective opinion and very biased. I have a level of clean that may differ from your level of clean. Are these people really trying to screw you or do they just have different ideas on what a cleaned stall really is? The latter is my first guess. As word gets around that you were not happy with Sally's work, Greg will spend more time doing unnecessary things to try and please you.

Take this for what it is worth. Your problem is a people management issue. Add structure, feedback, and a way for the person to measure themselves and you will find your workers will stop and review the objectives before asking for a critique. The form helps your bookkeeping and let's them know you are being fair and honest.

Good luck.
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