View Full Version : Sliding Scale for training?

May. 10, 2012, 02:10 PM
Alter-ing again!

So if a client approaches you saying they really like you but they just can't afford to pay you for that many rides per week. The issue is that the ring fee is @$10 additional to the ride. WWYD?

In this situation, owners does not ride but wants me to show her horse. That means training rides. Not as many as the horse should have but there it is.

We are talking Training Level!

Before you ask, she does not want anyone else on here horse, no lessors, no working students, no friends, only the trainer. Which is nice but does not help the horse.

If I do lower the price, do I tell my other clients and lower their prices as well?

Or do I just make an exception in this case?

The ethical part of me says I should let the other clients know.
The business side says I would be losing quite a bit of money a month that I depend on if they all were lowered $10 per ride/lesson.

May. 10, 2012, 02:23 PM
So, you're telling me that she doesn't work her own horse, just wants to show it AND wants a discount?!

I know it's not about me, but I work my butt off and if I can't pay for training, lessons, etc, then it doesn't happen that month. Life sucks that way.

I'd also like a new 2013 King Ranch f-450 with one of those really cool Platinum 4h slants with the two slide outs and an 18 foot shortwall. Think the dealership will give me a discount, because we "can't afford it."

As a boarder and a client, I would be pissed if I found out that I was paying more (and this sounds pretty substantial) because she "can't afford it" and wasn't willing to have the working student or asst-trainer do some rides or have the horse out on advanced lessons.

I'd tell her that this is the price, but there are ways to work it down (see above about asst trainer, WS or lesson rides). If she doesn't like those options, then this is the price...

I understand giving the "good buddy discount" once in awhile to clients that have been around forever or exchange favors (I've done chores, repaired blankets, etc in exchange for lessons and training rides before- worked out quite nicely), but this doesn't sound like the case.

This is your income, sometimes you have to be the hammer...
Good luck!

May. 10, 2012, 02:33 PM
Well, it is a slippery slope you are starting on.
Explain to the client that the early training of the
horse is every bit as important as the later training.
Is the horse unfit so that he can only be ridden for
a half hour? Ride for less time - say 40 minutes instead
of an hour.
Perhaps you could work a deal with the owner where
she does all the tacking/untacking and cooling out
so that your time in the saddle is reduced.
It is unfair to your other loyal clients to reduce her
training fee unless your work load is less for this
particular horse.
(It is a bit like the ads you see for cable TV - new customers
get a 20% discount. It always irks me - I have been your
customer for years, when do I get MY discount?)
I do discount if a customer takes 10 lessons in a month - every 4th lesson is free.

May. 10, 2012, 02:34 PM
Do fewer rides per month at the real price.

Even if it is only one or two per week, you can still get stuff done, especially at Training Level.

I grandfather my loyal clients in so they are not affected by rate hikes, but I would not let a new person come in under-rate. It's not fair to everyone else and it sets up a bad precedent for that relationship.

Alternatively, you can set something up where she tacks up your string for you one day a week or something similar to at least earn the discount. Or if you normally do your own tackups and putaways, you can insist she do that so there is a reason to give her $10 off.

May. 10, 2012, 06:03 PM
Am I understanding right that you only do full training (5+ rides per week) and this person wants part-time training (2-4 rides a week)? If so, you either decide if you want to offer part training to this person. In my opinion, deals like these are nobody else's business. You make an agreement with someone and it is private for both of your's sake!

If she can pay full per ride rate, but for less rides per week then that makes sense unless you have a policy against part-time training. If she actually is negotiating a discount with you, then no, don't go there. Too much opportunity to hurt your loyal customers.

May. 10, 2012, 08:30 PM
Do you like riding the horse? Is it benefiting you? Is having a client horse to show helpful for you (thinking promotion wise)?

I charge less for full training vs part training, so perhaps you could do something like that.

IF I liked the horse, and felt this was a good long term arrangement, AND I could afford to give a discount, I likely would. It is nice to have a long term, full time project and have shows paid for. But maybe that is why I lack money most of the time. I may not be the right person to listen to.

May. 10, 2012, 10:15 PM
You are a professional. This is your business (even if it is part time). Do you ask your car repair person to lower their rates because you like the work they do but can't afford them? Or your doctor? Or your dry cleaner?

You have a set rate. You can choose to lower it for a particular reason. You have no obligation to say anything to your other clients. The reason is yours and you are the one who has to live with it, but you also don't want to eventually resent this person because of a decision you made.

With that said, I wouldn't lower my rate for this person. Offer to ride less, or maybe she can come and tack up and untack the horse for you - that's a significant amount of time that would warrant a discount if she did that service. Maybe there's some other service she can barter your time for?

May. 10, 2012, 11:05 PM
Have you thought of offering a training package. I have a limited number that I offer students. They can buy 5 and get 6 or buy 10 and get 12. It is prepaid so the money is in your pocket in advance. I require a lesson/ride 2x a week to qualify for the discount, although there have been circumstances on both parties that have made it so that target was sometimes missed. That way the ring fee can be absorbed.

Don't know if that would work for your client. Just a thought

May. 11, 2012, 07:56 AM
I agree with Hollynanne.

To add to that... The only people I've seen begging for discounts are the one's who CAN afford it, but just don't want to pay full price. There are 2 at my barn right now. One drives a Beamer, the other has a very new car. One works part time and has told me she can work more hours but doesn't want to. The other is just cheap.

I see the same thing wherever I go. The people who want it, have no problem finding a way to afford the lessons or training. They are the one's that step up and offer their labor/skills in exchange for price breaks. The ones just asking for discounts without some sort of give on their part... Those are the people who aren't really that enthused about the sport. They'll always have a reason they can't do something that needs to be done in order to become better.

May. 11, 2012, 10:19 AM
I'd like to live in Core's alternate reality, where "if you really want it badly enough, it will happen". Because everyone who drives a nice car but cannot afford an extra lesson or two is lazy.

I drive a 2011 Dodge Ram 3500, so I must be rich. The fact that the old Dodge was 16 years old, and we had been saving for 15 years for the new one, well, clearly I didn't work hard enough to deserve extra lessons.

Your program, your prices.

When I trained for a living, I tried to work with those who couldn't afford what they wanted. One woman cleaned my house for the 2 hours I spent with her daughters each Wednesday. Both of us were quite happy with that.

May. 11, 2012, 12:35 PM
I actually completely agree with Core, because all they are saying is that people shouldn't ask for a discount without offering something in return.

I've had people ask to free lease my nice horse because they would provide him such a nice home and their child NEEDS to move up. Oh, they want it so bad. Oooooh, they NNEEEEDD it, so bad.
What?!? Do they think I bought, maintained, and trained up this horse as some sort of generalized charity?
Dude, no.

Similarly, what is the deal with just asking for a discount flat out, because you "want it so bad?" Lots of people want lots of things. Is there some reason the rest of the world owes them charity?

It is the people who say, "I don't have the funds for a full price situation, but can I tack up for you one day a week to make up the difference?" or, "can I clean your house is lieu of the lesson price?" or, "I can't afford $75 on a weekly basis, but since you come to the barn anyway for your other students would you be willing to fit me in for a quick 15 minute check up for $25?" who are trying to make it work financially and offering something somehow in return, without just saying, "Hey, give it to me." That's all Core was saying, and it's perfectly reasonable.

Similarly, I could afford to drive a new truck, but I chose a '99 model because a new one would have obliterated my horse budget. In fact I could afford a pretty spiff Lexus if I just sold off the horses and diverted the board payments to car payments instead.That was a choice either which way. If I chose the new vehicle instead, it wouldn't be my trainers' collective responsibility to offer me the same amount of training time at a discount because I suddenly "couldn't afford them" anymore after diverting my previous lesson funds towards truck payments.

May. 11, 2012, 05:59 PM
Thank you again COTH.
Good advice will be put to use!

May. 11, 2012, 11:51 PM
There are a lot of things I wished I had, but it's about priorities. This year I would like to show and to get my green bean ready, we both need more training and lessons. So I've cut out Starbucks, eating out and some other frivolous stuff. Not only do I have more $$$ for lessons, but I've also lost enough weight that people have begun to notice :)

I have family members who have volunteered to do financial consulting for folks in bad situations. It's ridiculous how many of them complain about having trouble finding money to pay the rent/mortgage, but then when you probe them about their expenses, they don't want to give up their satellite TV, eating out, high speed internet instead of a more budget oriented plan, etc.

May. 12, 2012, 01:59 AM
well, speaking as a small business owner - i would say - do you need the work? will the horse help advance you in some way? will the owner?

if so go ahead and lower the price. you dont need to tell anyone. in fact you can have different prices for each client. :)

personally i try to have a single rate, but that isnt always possible....

and only you will know if it is "worth it" to you to change your pricing.

May. 12, 2012, 08:13 AM
I have asked for pre-paid package discounts before, but that is a little different. If that is something you are comfortable with offering all clients you could add that to your business model.

If I cannot afford a trainer's rates, I need to shop around for one I can.

I'd love to train with Stephan Peters...it won't be happening. Perhaps a clinic is in my reach, but I don't run to him asking for horse training at a discount.

May. 12, 2012, 10:19 AM

if so go ahead and lower the price. you dont need to tell anyone. in fact you can have different prices for each client. :)


Hmm, I had a trainer once who had different prices for each client, "had" being the operative word. When those of us paying the full rate found out, and such things always are found out, we all left.

I wouldn't exactly categorize such behavior as unethical, but it certainly strikes me as short sighted.

May. 12, 2012, 05:09 PM
My previous trainer was an extremely good friend, and she offered no discounts to me when I suddenly was without a job. I worked off the training for my horse. She showed him, but that wasn't for her benefit, it was for the benefit of me and my horse. There is always a way to work for what you want, it is just a matter of whether you are willing or not to do what it takes.

Charge her the same price as everyone else, and then if you benefit in any way (a nicer horse than what you have, an opportunity for a great sale, a perfect horse for advertising your skills, etc), then pay her back a portion. Don't say "you pay me the difference". No, she pays you and you pay her. That way, there is no misunderstanding between you and her, and no misunderstanding between you and your other clients.

May. 12, 2012, 08:06 PM
Hmm, I had a trainer once who had different prices for each client, "had" being the operative word. When those of us paying the full rate found out, and such things always are found out, we all left.

I wouldn't exactly categorize such behavior as unethical, but it certainly strikes me as short sighted.

Why? Where is it written that my trainer needs to charge me exactly what s/he charges someone else?

Do you think everyone you might pay in your day to day life has only one fee structure?

Being in accounting and being involved with many many many small businesses I know for a fact that there are many pricing structures.

Maybe for some it works to have a rigid price frame but for others no.

Its fine if folks want to bail if they don't like the pricing.... but just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work for others.

Or maybe this is a function of being self employed - I understand that not every client is equal. That is how life is.

I have clients that are still in my old price structure. I have other clients that are in my new price structure. I have some that are in between.

I personally reward those that are loyal, and those that spend a lot of $$ with me.

I am sure trainers are similar.

May. 12, 2012, 08:47 PM

I think it really depends on what is being done for each client. In my particular case, the client getting the lower rate was actually getting more for less money. More lessons, more coaching at shows, etc. She was the proverbial squeaky wheel.

I work hard for my money and frankly, yes I do expect to get charged a fair and equitable rate. I'm willing to pay a trainer's posted fees. If someone else is getting the same, or more, for less money from the same trainer there is something wrong in my mind. I am not interested in subsidizing others which is exactly what it ends up being.

If you choose to reward loyalty, and I think that's a great thing, that is your business model. I think the biggest difference between accounting and horse training in this situation is that all the horse related clients are in closer proximity and more likely to compare notes if you will.

May. 12, 2012, 08:59 PM
well, like all things i n life, you need to weigh the pros and cons and see what works for you.

i know several trainers who charge different fees for varying clients. Normally there is a "set" fee, but those that are long time clients, those that have special horses, those that are special riders , etc etc are different and get different fees.

that is how life works :)

i wanted to edit this and say i am not sure how you can think that you are subsidizing something by paying a rate different than someone else ? that is an interesting way of looking at something....

i prefer to think of it as the other person is getting rewarded for something that i cant provide - what ever that something is : a nice horse, loyalty more lessons, etc etc.

May. 14, 2012, 01:09 AM
Regarding subsidizing others; here's a very simplistic example: say trainer needs to gross $X a month to meet expenses, save for retirement etc. Same trainer has a full barn of N clients, for whom they are providing the same service. $X/N would be an equitable rate. If said trainer decides to give Suzy a deal on the same service provided to everyone else, then everyone else is, in my mind, subsidizing Suzy and they end up paying $X/N +$Y where $Y is some portion of the break Suzy is getting.

I'm really curious as to how you think charging different rates for the same service, which is what my point was, is reasonable. Of course I realize there are different fees in life, heck a long time magazine subscriber typically gets lower renewal rates, but then a new subscriber to DirecTV got NFL Sunday Ticket free last year and I got charged a bundle for it as a long time subscriber. Of course, I viewed this as cheesy too and called and got a break on my bill and I could have cancelled the service if they hadn't been "reasonable".

I'll agree that trainers are free to charge whatever they want to whomever they want and clients are free to go wherever they think they are being treated fairly.

May. 14, 2012, 08:03 PM
Or you can look at it as the trainer deciding to take a cut in her annual pay for some reason or another. Did you go ask your trainer if you could get the same deal?

May. 14, 2012, 08:27 PM
Agreeing with what meup, Core and others have said ... new client needs to look for ways to offer something in return for the discount or just do with less from you.

When the economy started going south ~5 years ago, my income was reduced by almost 70%. I managed to keep my horse where he was, but I had to cut out training rides, take lessons a lot less often, limit Christmas gifts to <$10 each and watch every penny I spent. What I didn't do was ask for a discount from anyone. Not from my instructor, the barn, the grocery store, the utility company or anybody else. It's all about choices, folks.