View Full Version : HELP me brainstorm- no money coming in.

Apr. 5, 2011, 07:58 PM
I have two boarders leaving because they bought their own farm and I only have one other after that. I have no one inquiring about lessons or boarding. Been advertising EVERYWHERE. I don't understand, some one brain storm with me and help me figure out what I'm doing wrong.
I charge $125 self, $180 partial care, $325 full care and work with people in between those.
I am always friendly, I have a very nice barn, lots of trails, and turnout.

Apr. 5, 2011, 09:07 PM
Where on earth are you?:confused:

Apr. 5, 2011, 09:15 PM
Look at other barns in your area that are more full. How do you compare in amenities and pricing? Is there something you are lacking in comparison that can be easily added to bring in more business? Have you had a business problem that might be affected your reputation in the area, fairly or unfairly? Are you visible at shows/organizations/ community events, besides the advertising?

Apr. 5, 2011, 09:26 PM
If you put your location on here that might give people a better idea of what to recommend in the way of places or publications to use for advertising. Is there a college near you? A big riding club? A big breed organization? Have you posted something at the local vets? Feed stores? In 4-H or other organization newsletters? Are you near a racetrack or other large operation that might need layup or retirement boarding? Or is there demand for retirement boarding? Are you near a Military post where someone who's deploying might near a year or two of boarding with a trustworthy person?

Apr. 5, 2011, 10:19 PM
I am in Franklin Ohio. We have posted flyers everywhere, including gas stations. I put business cards anywhere I can.
We just opened and the old owners ran the farm into the ground, but word is getting out slowly that they are out and we have done major clean up. The boarders I have had all love it here, and anyone who has come to look says it looks great, but then I never heard from them again. I'm wondering if maybe changing the name would help any?

Apr. 5, 2011, 10:44 PM
Have you thought of putting out a press release for area news media, or perhaps writing a human interest story or offering to do an animal advice column? If the old place developed a bad reputation, changing the name is definitely a good idea. Your press release could say "Barn XYZ, formerly owned by xxxx, is now under new ownership/management and has a new name. Barn ATB (absolutely the best) is accepting new customers for boarding, training and lessons. Please stop by to visit...etc with location.

Apr. 5, 2011, 11:07 PM
If the previous owners gave the farm a bad name, Id absolutely change the name. If you dont change it, you need to say 'new owners/management' on the flyers or ads.

There was a barn in my area that had a terrible reputation. New owners came in and the barn is still under the same name. Barn still has a terrible reputation. I dont know if things have changed or not. I still hear people having a converstaion like this:

"So and So barn has nice arena"
"I heard that blank happened to a horse there"
"its under new management now"
"really? I didnt know"

dont forget that craigslist can be your friend.

Apr. 5, 2011, 11:15 PM
I'd advertise in free places, like craigslist. And do a Facebook page -- I have actually had someone call me based on mine, although they were not a good fit. But at least you can point someone to it so they can see pictures.

Are you hooked in to the horse community? Tell everyone you know, especially vets, farriers and trainers. I've gotten referrals from two trainers. The other way is really word of mouth -- I sent an email once to everyone horsey I knew describing my place briefly and asking them to pass the word. They did, and that's how my most recent boarder came.

Apr. 5, 2011, 11:27 PM
Have you thought of having events that would bring people in to the farm to visit- see your facilities, see how your run things, take care of the horses?
- schooling shows
- clinics
- 4-H or Pony Club meets
- Barn Open House with wine and cheese, BBQ

Apr. 6, 2011, 12:34 AM
Make a dramatic change to the public entry to your farm, even if it is paint the fence and plant flowers. Nice crisp new signage should be there to make it easy to find you. Right now, focus on the things that can be seen, unless other priorities involve safety. Post a "To Do" list prominenty in the barn so that prospective boarders can seen where you are going - and keep moving on the list.

Good Luck!

Apr. 6, 2011, 05:46 AM
I was getting lots of hits from craigslist under the farm and garden sales, and then when they cracked down about having to put services in the farm and garden services section, my calls dropped down to none :(
I will be having a tack sale/exchange in May. Schooling shows are out of the question because there is no large areas for multiple horse trailers. Been thinking about clinics, but the footing in my outdoor needs redone first.
Any other good ideas that could get people out there?

Apr. 6, 2011, 07:11 AM
Either change the name or put 'under new management' on everything. I would change the name and put your name on everything as owner. And I second the signage/farm entrance idea. I hate trying to find somewhere and they only have a tiny sign or unmarked drive. And on flyers do a little map or good directions.

Apr. 6, 2011, 07:57 AM
Contact your county parks & rec dept and see if you can become a vendor. We run a small program that brings in students some of whom continue on with our regular lesson program.

Contact the Girl Scouts. They have a horsemanship merit badge and will certify vendors for their camp list.

I also agree that changing the name is important. If the place had a bad reputation before, even advertising that it is under new management probably won't be enough.

Apr. 6, 2011, 08:02 AM
Change the name. Advertise under new management. Maybe get your boarders now to write a testimonial for you. Start working on your arena. Its takes time to build a good reputation and about a day to ruin it! Get out to the shows with students or volunteer in the local HSA. Horse people take their time when it comes to changing stables. How is your fencing? Pastures? Good fencing is a must.

Apr. 6, 2011, 05:59 PM
What kind of horses/riders do you have or watn to see? Show season is starting so you might think about hitting some of the local shows around here (I'm just west of Dayton) and putting up fliers. If you're looking at trail riders, take out an ad in the next Horseman's Council newsletter or something of that type... same with 4-H or pony club.

Apr. 6, 2011, 06:48 PM
Don't forget to mention to your vet, farrier, hay guy, and any other equine service provider, that you are looking for boarders.

Apr. 6, 2011, 09:02 PM
Thank you everyone for your suggestions!
My dream would be to make it a dressage barn. But for right now being realistic, I'm going to be mainly targeting trail riders.
I also need to build up my reputation as a trainer before targeting show people.

Apr. 6, 2011, 10:52 PM
Also you could call local realtors, when they help people from out of state they could offer your nname if asked about boarding.

Contact your local Welcome Wagon people, offer them a coupon for a free or discounted lesson, for the baskets.

Talk to your local tack stores about putting together a little horse goodie basket to raffle, include free/discounted lesson coupon.

Hold a monthly tack swap at your barn, open to the general population.

Have a monthly open house.

Offer guided trail rides for newbies.

Have the name, phone number, and website of your barn printed on your vehicles.

Good luck


Apr. 6, 2011, 11:22 PM
Do you have lesson horses? I found my lesson horses were the gateway to getting boarders, otherwise you are looking at having to get clients mostly by luring them from other facilities. A training program if you train horses can also help get boarders; people send the horse to get trained, then stay on for a bit to keep up the work.

When we first openned, I did have some boarders lined up, and had some lesson horses, so I ran some clinics where you could use your own horse or bring your own. The clinics went well and were good advertising. I didn't get boarders out of the clinics directly, but I did get some training horses, and then some referals which turned into boarders.

Other than that, you need to look at what barns in the area lack; for my area our draw was that our facility was heated and that it was relatively quiet with a limited number of boarders, so I played up those factors when advertising.

Find out what other barns don't have that you do, and then play that up.

Apr. 7, 2011, 08:20 AM
Do you have lesson horses? I found my lesson horses were the gateway to getting boarders, otherwise you are looking at having to get clients mostly by luring them from other facilities. A training program if you train horses can also help get boarders; people send the horse to get trained, then stay on for a bit to keep up the work.


For the type of barn you describe I think CHT has hit the nail on the head. Lesson horses mean lesson kids, lesson kids get hooked, parents eventually succumb and buy a horse, then keep it in your barn. That's by far easier than luring people in from other facilities especially if they are pretty happy. It doesn't matter if your place is nice if the place they are already at is OK; oftentimes look at the threads here, it is fear of the unknown that scares boarders from changing. The devil you know keeps people at barns where things are acceptable but maybe not ideal, because barns that look good at first could be a disaster once you get there. Boarding changes are a big deal to most horse owners.

Apr. 7, 2011, 08:32 AM
Grand Opening Open House. That will tell people you are a new owner. New farm name, if you haven't already.

Coupons for 50% off first month's board as part of your grand opening, bonus paid for referrals.

Everything needs to be well kept, painted, grass mowed, etc. Every horse should sparkle.

You do want to be careful that you don't look too needy. People want what everyone else wants, which is why a lot of full barns have waiting lists (plus most are probably doing most things right). Example, never say, I have plenty of room, say I only have two stalls available.

If you don't already have it, rules posted, list of extra fees and list of what's included in the board fee.

Make your place sparkling clean, I can't emphasize that enough.

What do you have that other barns in the area might not (and it needs to be something that people want)? Emphasize that.

Apr. 7, 2011, 09:44 PM
I got a lot of hits from Newhorse.com. Now, an awful lot of them were from East BFE, nowhere close, but, I think an entire year cost $150, you can sort of do a mini web site, it was very effective in terms of response.

Our business takes us up to Franklin at the auto auction frequently. My suspicion is that the immediate area has plenty of cheap places to keep horses, and those will lure the casual riders, because they just need a price point.

Dressage folks are quite particular. The only real shot you have in turning it into a dressage barn is to lure a trainer that is known in the area to your barn. You might do that in a number of ways.

Not sure if you bought the place or are leasing it, but here's a couple of words of advice. If you are leasing the place, clean and safe are your primary concerns, any improvements will add to the value, but mostly for the property owner.

If you bought it? I'm hoping that you can pay your mortgage without having a full barn.

That was my litmus test when we bought our farm here in Kentucky. Do I like it well enough to live here if it isn't a success as a business and can I pay the mortgage if the only horse on the property belongs to me??

Yes, and yes, and it's a good thing because, much like Franklin OH, Dry Ridge KY is geographically undersireable.

Good luck. Good care, a safe, clean place and unlimited terrific hay are about the only other things that will work.

Apr. 7, 2011, 10:00 PM
If you're going to start training and those services, put up a website. Doll up the place, like the frontage as mentioned, and paint your jumps and get great photos. If you need help getting a starter website up, I'd be happy to help you get it going, for free. PM me, and make the new name, a logo, a focus for the business, and your services a priority. You must have your property in great shape. Really, paint is cheap and makes a big diff. Put up the best fencing you can. If you are going to do a website, you need good pics.

A Website is the way to channel your efforts for boarders to check out your prices and amenities; lesson people to check out your horses and ring and prices and training style; and a way to offer the extra programs, like scouts and birthday parties (an afternoon of learning how to groom a horse, saddle it and ride it is a way better B-day party than a pony ride. Brings in new students, too. Ask me how I know!)

Apr. 10, 2011, 06:34 PM
Good care, a safe, clean place and unlimited terrific hay are about the only other things that will work.


Apr. 10, 2011, 06:57 PM
I'm in Miamisburg. We have a "Dayton area horse owners" group on Facebook. You could give that a try.

Apr. 11, 2011, 08:48 AM
Definitely make yourself a facebook page and put frequent little updates on it about what you are doing.

Apr. 11, 2011, 01:31 PM
I am in Franklin Ohio. We have posted flyers everywhere, including gas stations. I put business cards anywhere I can.

We just opened - that is probably one of the reasons. People associate that farm with the old managers and whatever issues they had.

I'm wondering if maybe changing the name would help any?
I would absoloutly change the name of the place, and make it loud and clear there is NEW management and there have been improvements made to the property.

Besides that, ask your vet and farrier to suggest you to people they know are looking. Pick up a copy of mary ashby mcdonalds book how to run your own horse business. There are a ton of great ideas in there. Word of mouth is a really good way to get people. If you have good rapport with your feed and tack stores and they know you, they will tell people about you. Also other instrctors you know. There are 2 ladies the have their own barns now and all 3 of s used to board together. Whenever ppl call me and I am full I refer to them. I hope they do the same for me, but its good karma I suppose. Get involved with the local show circuit, put yourself out there and make friends, and you will get peoples attention as you get better known. It is hard to get started, I know. How many stalls do you have? Do you have a riding ring? That was something that was really a problem until the barn owners built one. I was at the point once, about a year in, and I had 6 horses move out in about 3 months, all for different reasons, none to do with me. I was left with my mare and one boarder. It was like that for months and I very nearly tanked, but I made it and filled up again. It goes a long way to take good care of the horses,as I'm sure you know and do, because I still get comments from people that don't even have horses that say, oh ya, I've heard about you, I've heard good things abot you and your barn! It just takes time, and enough money to keep the bills paid until you fill up again. Good luck!!!