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nlk
Feb. 28, 2012, 09:58 AM
I'm moving my business (a decision that all my clients agreed on and benefits them all ) With this move I anticipate an influx of clients.

I require all my clients to have a minimum of one lesson a week or their horse in training. Since I operate a full scale business that includes the boarding of said horses this is really where I make my money. While 90% of my clients are great about this (And I in return understand family vacations or if someone is sick etc with out demanding they make that up) some are a little less reliable. I was thinking of putting my lessons into board. I know some barns do this but I have nor have I ever been in one that does.

So the question is;

would you rather it be included in board?
or
would you rather it be due on the 15 of every month? (with additional lessons being paid individually.)
or
Would you rather have the option that you pay as you go?

I offer a discount for those who take more then one lesson a month too so I would have to adjust accordingly.

If you have the option to pay as you go how am I to go about those that take a liberty with this program?

I would also like to add that my clients that are current and keep up with this are going to remain with how they do things now. I am looking for solutions with future clients.

TIA

DarkStarrx
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:10 AM
I would add the required lesson into the board, and then bill at the end of the month for extra lessons/rides/meds/etc. If they know they have a vacation or event the third week, then it can be deducted from the board. You have to decide on your cancellation policy. If they cancel according to your scedule, you'll credit their bill at the end of the month, if they don't they lose it.

overthemoon
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:14 AM
I think where you're most apt to run into problems is when some boarders get to do it x way, and some riders have to do it y way. You'll always have someone who, warranted or not, would rather the opportunity to do it x way.

Even with a group of drama free, low stress adults, I don't think you'd want to deal with the possible perception of favoritism in your barn.

tidy rabbit
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:15 AM
Since billing can get to be such a huge time suck... I would suggest that you have a full training and a 1/2 training option. Bill board and training together at the beginning of the month, offer a % discount for bills paid by the first.

Or... do a lesson package for each month and they either use them or lose them.

Good luck with your new location and program. : )

BABYGREENTB
Feb. 28, 2012, 11:22 AM
I would WAY rather pay a higher flat rate that includes training (lessons & rides) than pay board and a la carte training separately. Every situation I've been in where it was billed separately turned into a crazy nickle and dime scenario that was painful to deal with. At a flat rate, I know my horse is always getting ridden, I can have a lesson when I want, and I don't have to try and keep track of either (and neither does my trainer). Sure, some months she there are more or less rides & lessons, but I figure it all evens out in the end. The flat rate makes it much easier for me to budget as well.

Janet
Feb. 28, 2012, 11:30 AM
I would rather pay a flat rate that included any "required" lessons.

I would hope there would be some flexibility so that, if I missed my lesson on week 1 because I was sick, I could take 2 lessons in week 2. Or switch a lesson to a training ride. But that would be on a case by case basis to avoid abuse.

allicolls Aefvue Farms Deep South
Feb. 28, 2012, 11:31 AM
As a junior riding all the time, I would have agreed with BabyGreenTB: rather have a flat rate that covers everything, so I could lesson when I wanted, my parents didn't have to send me with a check when I wanted to lesson, etc. As an adult with a much busier schedule, the pay-as-you-go option might work better.

Giddy-up
Feb. 28, 2012, 12:27 PM
I would rather be told it costs ____ to board here & that includes 1 lesson or training ride per week rather then board costs ____ plus 1 lesson a week costing ____ so times 4 equals ____ plus the _____ board....here is what it really costs to board here.

All the barns I know that require a lesson program to board there have it worked into their "base" board fee. Extra lessons are billed seperately.

Plus if people pay as they go, it's harder for you to enforce the lesson policy. Which I think you are discovering isn't working cause it sounds like that is what you are doing now?

ParadoxFarm
Feb. 28, 2012, 12:33 PM
Definitely include the lessons with your board payment. Then the onus is on your client to be sure to have their lesson. Otherwise it can be a record keeping nightmare with who skipped a lesson this week, etc. Then some clients end up taking several weeks off and before you know they are simply boarding. Put the ball in this court. They are much more likely to take their lessons or be sure to reschedule if it's already pairs for.

pinkpony321
Feb. 28, 2012, 01:53 PM
I would rather pay a flat rate that included any "required" lessons.

I would hope there would be some flexibility so that, if I missed my lesson on week 1 because I was sick, I could take 2 lessons in week 2. Or switch a lesson to a training ride. But that would be on a case by case basis to avoid abuse.

This!:yes:

eclipse
Feb. 28, 2012, 02:19 PM
I would rather be told it costs ____ to board here & that includes 1 lesson or training ride per week rather then board costs ____ plus 1 lesson a week costing ____ so times 4 equals ____ plus the _____ board....here is what it really costs to board here.

All the barns I know that require a lesson program to board there have it worked into their "base" board fee. Extra lessons are billed seperately.

Plus if people pay as they go, it's harder for you to enforce the lesson policy. Which I think you are discovering isn't working cause it sounds like that is what you are doing now?

Exactly this, and this is how the barn I ride at works. Farrier, vet, show fees etc are all extras too (we get invoices when anything on top of board w/lessons is charged).

BarnMom64
Feb. 28, 2012, 06:40 PM
I will start by saying that I totally get the logic, but it's definitely frustrating to me to be billed once a month for board in advance, but then have everything else (lessons, training rides, shoes, vet) for the month prior.

I get the logic in fixed expenses (board) vs. variable ones (lessons etc.) but it makes it a nightmare for me to sit there and remember that I am looking at 2 different months in one bill. Particularly when the board varies according to what our trainer deems part of board for that month (supplements, etc.)

I've never (so far) felt as if I were being taken advantage of, but I do know that I had some pause when a few months ago the trainer took me aside and basically told me they'd made some errors in their accounting and I was actually $2K behind on my bills with them. I'm not an accountant and they did say it was their fault, I paid the bill ... but God I wish my barn made their bills as easy to read as Amex does theirs.

Across Sicily
Feb. 28, 2012, 07:35 PM
I board where two lessons per week are included. If I don't use the lessons, and there are times I don't, then I can either roll those into having the pro hop on and tool around on the horse (who doesn't really need it that much, but it's still nice every now and then) or make up lessons somewhere down the road. Lessons are never refunded if you miss them, but you always have that option of making them up or having the pro ride.

I might think about making "packages" - if you require one lesson per week, that is your base package. If someone would like to do two lessons per week, that is another package. If someone wants two lessons and one pro ride a week, another price level. That way everyone always knows what they are paying and you always know what you're going to make. Easy. Plus, then you avoid those crrrazy billing snafus like BarnMom mentioned... EEK! If someone told me I were 2k behind due to their accounting error, I'd be having kittens.

Calvincrowe
Feb. 28, 2012, 07:50 PM
I pay X for board and X for lessons (training/lessons package), in advance. I would hate to pay a la carte--tracking all that would be such a hassle. If I miss a lesson, my issue, I paid for it and there are many opportunities to make it up each month, but I and my trainer don't have to keep track and add or subtract.

norcalammie
Feb. 28, 2012, 09:52 PM
When I was at a training barn, you had the option of paying for full training or half training or what they called smooth board (when horse was injured or not in work). Basically in full training your horse got out every day with turn out and then either you got a lesson or the trainer rode the horse. With half training you only got two lessons and one trainer rider per week.
There was a white board where lessons where scheduled in time slots and basically you were in the same slot week to week. If something came up you and the trainer worked out another slot or not. There was a second white board for the horses where it indicated who was riding the horse that day or whatever.
Worked very well and easy to see.
Other you paid the trainer monthly separate from the board as trainer did not own the property. The trainer had a rate sheet that included all the options and what you/horse got under each option and if there were any add ons they were detailed on the rate sheet - full clipping, show clipping for non training horses, etc.

Opus1
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:05 PM
I would rather pay a flat rate that included any "required" lessons.

I would hope there would be some flexibility so that, if I missed my lesson on week 1 because I was sick, I could take 2 lessons in week 2. Or switch a lesson to a training ride. But that would be on a case by case basis to avoid abuse.

Agreed completely. I think their needs to be something built in so people don't 'lose' lessons due to bad weather or sickness -- but there also needs to be a rule as to how/when/where they can make it up. I would think 30 days would be sufficient time for someone to make up a missed (bad weather, sickness) lesson. And I do really like the switching a lesson for a training ride suggestion.

ElisLove
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:18 PM
If they are required, I would have it combined in the board cost. But for anything else I HATE having to pay a flat training rate. In fact I really never have done that cause I couldn't afford it!

gottagrey
Feb. 28, 2012, 10:20 PM
I think the billing needs to be consistent with all your clients - even in the most drama free barn people get to talking and things can come out unintentionally. Unless you have some long time clients that you can 'grandfather" in I would still to one billing policy. Agree w/ what Janet said above. Things happen and in todays economy everyone needs to be fairly flexible

Prime Time Rider
Feb. 28, 2012, 11:27 PM
I used to board at a barn where a certain number of lessons (I believe it was 4) were included in the monthly Board rate. Worked great for me for years, until my mare was unrideable due to an injury and the BO refused to reduce my monthly Board bill or supply a horse I could lesson on (and yes, she had lesson horses).

Basically, I was paying for a service that I couldn't use so I finally left.

If you do decide to go with a package deal, be sure to allow some flexibility for boardres who can't take lessons for legitimate reasons, such as a lame horse.

Miraya
Feb. 28, 2012, 11:31 PM
I would WAY rather pay a higher flat rate that includes training (lessons & rides) than pay board and a la carte training separately. Every situation I've been in where it was billed separately turned into a crazy nickle and dime scenario that was painful to deal with. At a flat rate, I know my horse is always getting ridden, I can have a lesson when I want, and I don't have to try and keep track of either (and neither does my trainer). Sure, some months she there are more or less rides & lessons, but I figure it all evens out in the end. The flat rate makes it much easier for me to budget as well.

My coach does this and I love it. It's so much easier. I've dealt with the "a la carte" type of billing and found I paid more than I should've.

Linny
Feb. 29, 2012, 01:19 AM
Having 2 sets of billing rules figures to be a nightmare. First it means employing to systems of tracking, one for grandfathered clients and one not. Second, new clients tend to eventually blend in with old and clients will discuss billing issues amongst themselves. At some point someone will casually say "For this I pay $XXX!" and start World War III.

If you are going to offer a 2 tiered system, both options have to be available to any and all clients, old and new. The other issue is that new clients one day are going to be old clients. How do you arbitrarily decide that "Sue" is eligible for "grandfathered" status?

I do think that sometimes it's easy to feel nickel and dimed on a la carte billing.This is especially true when you know that some of the "services" are being performed by non staff, like when a lesson student blankets your horse when a sudden storm comes through or fellow boarder turns your horse in because he's on the list and the non horsey tiny staffer can't get his halter on.

ElisLove
Feb. 29, 2012, 01:40 AM
If you have a good trainer they won't nickel and dime you on a Pay as You Go plan.

A lot of Training rates around here are 500-850 a month for 2-3 lessons a month.
So that's 42-71 dollars per lesson.

That's fine during non show season, may save you a little bit if it's 3 lessons per week.

Regular lessons in a pay as you go around here is 50-60 for privates.

That's 400-720 per month depending on how many you take.

So you may or may not save money during non show season.

However lets look at show season.
Let's say horse show day fees are 60 and you show 2 weekends a month (wednesday-sunday)

You pay 500 a month, but you will be MISSING 2-4 lessons while at the horse show (yet still paying the same amount) then add on top of that 600 for horse show day fees for both weeks. And your bill will be 1100 dollars just for lessons (some of which you are missing but still paying for) and day fees.

Now lets take per lesson.

Lets even go with 3 lessons a week on non horse show weeks and 1 lesson a week on horse show weeks.
That's about 8 lessons at 60 dollars each lets say
Your total is 480 + the same amount in show fees (though the flat rate trainers I have seen are 90-100 dollars a day for horse show day fees) of 600.
Your total is 1080.

You may think, well that's not too different, just 20 bucks, but keep in mind I was using the more expensive of the rates for Pay by Lesson (and you GET each lesson you pay for) but used the LEAST expensive of rates for flat training fees (and you MISS lessons you pay for.

Least expensive per lesson fee + 2 week showing = 900
Expensive flat training fee + 2 week showing = 1450 (and again like I said the trainers I know that only offer flat rate training have much higher day fees at shows as well)
I have never had my trainer nickel and dime me on a per lesson plan. Saves me SO much money!!