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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 27, 2003
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    3,010

    Default Throwing in the towel

    0
    Last edited by Jasmine; Dec. 5, 2011 at 02:26 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 23, 2008
    Location
    Da UP, eh
    Posts
    763

    Default

    Hugs and wine.

    Then pick yourself up by the bootstraps and soldier on!

    Everything will work out (it always does). Keep your head up and get through the season.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,896

    Default

    Yeah, sorry to read of your frustrations. We have all had students come and go. No rider stays with a coach their entire career. As far as your business maybe this is an opportunity in disguise. Sometimes a new, better chapter in our life comes from out of no where. Don't give in to the saddness or fear of the unknown. I know it's easy for outsiders to say, but it's true-we can't always control what comes along, but we can control the way we react to it.

    Hugs too.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    2,234

    Default

    I'm sorry for that. Ingratitude when you've made special efforts for students or coworkers is always especially galling.

    Take a few deep breaths, let yourself feel what you're feeling and resolve not to take any precipitous action until you're no longer overwrought. Sometimes the best thing to do is not to react.

    Sleeping on problems -- if you can sleep; everything always seems so much worse at night when you're wakeful -- tends to clarify them by morning.
    If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?

    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2008
    Location
    SE, PA
    Posts
    1,074

    Default

    As I read your post - the song "Wil the Sun Ever Shine Again" came on by Bonnie Raitt....

    Hugs
    Our horses know our secrets; we braid our tears into their manes and whisper our hopes into their ears.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Location
    Rixeyville, VA
    Posts
    6,521

    Default

    “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell


    I would take a second look at your business plan and see if there is an opportunity to retool/refocus what you are doing.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2010
    Location
    OH
    Posts
    416

    Default

    I feel your pain, if you read some of my prior posts you will see why. The above posters are right, you can't control what happens, all you can do is look ahead and maybe there is a different opportunity for you.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
    Posts
    2,070

    Default

    There's nothing wrong with being kind and helpful to your clients, but it sounds to me like you put a little too much of yourself out there. Clients are clients. They will come and go and their interest in riding and horses in general will wax and wane. I went through a period of time when I had some very needy clients and it was very emotionally draining. At the time, I really tried to go the extra mile for them but I have to admit it didn't really pay off to do that either emotionally or professionally. If I have a boarder that I bond with because we have some things in common and become friends that's great, but the friendship part has to be a two way street--not them wanting to be friends with me so they can have special privileges or special deals (which I don't do). Good luck with everything, sometimes having even good clients move on means room for even better new clients to come aboard.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
    Location
    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
    Posts
    15,797

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
    0
    Every horse professional I know has come to this place at one time or another. If you come there often enough, it might be a sign that you do need to quit. If it's only very occasionally, then I'd say buck up and enjoy the holidays (wine is definitely a good poultice for horse-pro blues ), and set your sights on a great 2012.

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2006
    Posts
    507

    Default

    I had the very same thing happen last year......a client with a family left and took a few more with them......they went with a new trainer and all bought expensive horses. Now I get to go to the shows and watch all their bad behavior, whining and complaining and the mad momma talking behind their new trainer's back......priceless!

    And the clients that stayed.......happy. We all didn't realize what a pain-in-the-arse they were to haul around and have to hang out with all day.


    Another thing you have to remember. From December to the end of March most people forget they own a horse and the lesson clientele not serious about riding forgets to ride or takes up other interests.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 31, 2001
    Location
    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
    Posts
    15,797

    Cool

    If you do decide to continue, I'm going to give you two pieces of advice that will help you in the future.

    1. The amount you bend over backwards for, and pour your heart and soul into a client, is directly proportional to the speed with which they'll leave you if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere.

    2. When someone tells you who they are, believe them! I can't tell you how many times someone's actually verbally told me what their issues were, and I just thought they were kidding. More fool me. So when someone tells you, "I might get on your nerves a little." or "I'm really just a spoiled little snot.", take them at their word and be ready for that behaviour to surface. And whatever you do, don't take it personally when it does!! They're not dissing you, particularly; it's just the way they are. Getting mad at someone like that is like yelling at the rain for being wet; just is. Just avoid them like the plague, and you'll be much happier.

    Just my experience.

    ETA: - Just thought of a third. Never, never, never "let a situation slide" until it gets to be a problem. Board checks that are always late or no-shows, owners who disrupt the harmony of the barn, students that are constantly late or no-shows for lessons - all of these need to be nipped in the bud on the second occurrence - no later! If you wait longer than that, the person will assume you don't mind, and continue to act accordingly.

    Oh, and don't worry about whether or not they'll leave; they probably won't, if you call them on the bad behaviour. But I can almost guarantee they will, if you let things go and then get mad about whatever boneheaded thing they've continued to do.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    2,234

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ESG View Post
    When someone tells you who they are, believe them! I can't tell you how many times someone's actually verbally told me what their issues were, and I just thought they were kidding. More fool me. So when someone tells you, "I might get on your nerves a little." or "I'm really just a spoiled little snot.", take them at their word and be ready for that behaviour to surface. And whatever you do, don't take it personally when it does!! They're not dissing you, particularly; it's just the way they are. Getting mad at someone like that is like yelling at the rain for being wet; just is. Just avoid them like the plague, and you'll be much happier.
    Definitely agree. I've heard this, too, from very credible psychological experts. What you tell people about yourself in a self-critical way invariably has a lot of truth to it.

    Little self-deprecating asides tossed off as jokes definitely count ; the iceberg is under the surface. (One exception might be if it's dripping with sarcasm, suggesting someone else once said that and the speaker thought it was ridiculous. Even there, unless the other person was truly nuts, perhaps there's at least something to it.)

    Not sure I'm as generous as ESG in terms of not holding people accountable for the bad behavior they've telegraphed with self-revelation, but the wisest course is definitely to avoid getting in the line of fire in the first place.

    (Wouldn't it be nice if we could only hear horses' self-talk that way )
    If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?

    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2002
    Location
    Alpharetta, GA
    Posts
    2,317

    Default

    I'll add my advice to the mix here. If this is what you want to do and if this is your business, you have to treat it as such.

    You should always be out there business building. Always be courteous and professional. Keep yourself out there with social networking, going to shows or ads in prize lists. Clients move around. Yours will leave you and go elsewhere. Be courteous and professional when they do. Oftentimes, they'll come back when they see that the grass isn't greener down the street. Handle other trainer's clients carefully. If they approach you, have a policy in place. Personally, I will offer a facility tour, a price list and a discussion about our program. They are welcome to watch a lesson. I won't teach a local trainer's students until they have spoken with their current trainer.

    Charge for what you do. Every time, every client. Like you, I learned that the hard way. There's nothing worse than having a client leave you after you've given away your time. But you know, you just have yourself to blame. What was your time worth? Exactly what they paid. You end up feeling really resentful. If you've charged them fairly and done your best, they can leave and you can just wish them well and say, "They were a good client".

    Don't be guilted into offering discounts to deserving, poor students. Just don't. Where there's a will, there's a way. You're not taking these kids on to raise. You're coaching them. Be very careful about "work" arrangements. Your time is worth more than their time. It just is. They can probably earn more pet sitting or baby sitting than mucking your stalls or cleaning your tack. Let them. This is a leisure activity, so the clients forget that you pay your bills with it and expect you to give away your time. Some parents are really persistent. They expect you to find free horses for their kid to ride. They expect you to offer deals. Your time is what you have to sell. Don't give it away. Ever.

    Beware of parents that start by needing a free horse, free lease, free anything. You won't make a living working for people like that. Tell them what you charge. Tell them what things cost. Leave it to them to figure out if they can afford it. Leave it to them to figure out how to pay for it. This is where trainers start to get in trouble. Suzy student gets a "free lease" on a great pony. Parents really can't afford full board or "regular" lessons, so she "works" around the barn in exchange for lessons (free babysitting). She really wants to show with all the other kids, but parents can't afford shipping or coaching, so trainer just does that all for "free". Ambitious parents want "better" and wind up moving to another program where they actually pay for all these things. Sound familiar?

    Yes, you can be friendly with clients. But first and foremost, they are clients. They don't "owe" you anything except to pay for your services. Treat them well and they will respect you even long after they are no longer clients.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2010
    Location
    Orygun
    Posts
    2,890

    Default

    All of the above. Ay-yup.

    Even out here on the road, drving a big rig, I have learned to use the above pieces of advice with big, surly truckers. Don't let it get too personal and you'll do lots better.

    Hubby has shown me how NOT to make rash decisions for big things, like your biz, but sit back, take deep breath, and then proceed slowly or whatever pace is appropriate. Don't force it.

    Plus, the wine helps but only so far....
    GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2006
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    4,426

    Default

    From the other side of the coin....having left more than one lesson/boarding barn. We have left for good reasons, one that might have been "fixable"....and we tried. In another situation it was probably not. If people leave, there is usually a reason...if you want to know why, you should ask.

    I didn't feel comfortable volunteering all my reasons for why we left two barns, but if the trainers had asked I would have been honest and told them.

    I think we were still "good clients", but we moved on. Maybe they would have been glad to see us leave....maybe they wouldn't have realized how it looked from our end and wanted to change something. Who knows. I wondered in both cases whether they actually even cared that we left.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2009
    Location
    Over the rainbow
    Posts
    25

    Default

    I completely understand. I'm posting under an alter because I still have an ex-boarder as a stalker even after legal intervention.

    I'm still in the business, but I've scaled way back and I'm way more careful about checking references now. Compulsively so. Sometimes crazy people appear to be sane.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2010
    Location
    OH
    Posts
    416

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MDMom View Post
    I completely understand. I'm posting under an alter because I still have an ex-boarder as a stalker even after legal intervention.

    I'm still in the business, but I've scaled way back and I'm way more careful about checking references now. Compulsively so. Sometimes crazy people appear to be sane.
    This all the way!^



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2002
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    16,684

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
    “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell


    I would take a second look at your business plan and see if there is an opportunity to retool/refocus what you are doing.
    Good advice here. I put my heart and soul into the farm and the first year in 2008, we made a little bit of money. Along comes the economic crash and it all went to hell in a hand basket fast as most of my clients were Arabian breeding and show folks. They gave their horses away or moved to a less pricey place despite promises to stay for a certain timeframe and left me high and dry. I was discouraged and left with a herd of my own to feed and few prospects to fill my barn with "normal" boarders due to my location with is a bit off the beaten path for this area. I couldn't even seen to attract any trainers as their clients did not want to drive out here once gas prices went up. No matter how hard I tried, I could not refill this place with boarders. I decided to do something else,.

    On top of my existing farrier work I was already doing, I'm now running a growing local food business. I realize that is not for everyone but I managed to keep my horses fed and while I am reducing my herd, I'm going to be able to keep them going. I spent the last year building this business and got a lot of press and interest and have loyal customers now. I am filling our own freezer with delicious beef, chicken, turkey and duck also as well a veggies we grew. I feel a bit like a hippie but I'm loving it. I guess I finally found my niche at almost 50 years old.

    I honestly don't miss the barn full of boarders and having to deal with prima donnas or overly entitled kids who expected you to be their servant. I have a few good folks left who stayed on and don't mind caring for their horses but at this point anyone who comes in here will have to be someone I really like or want.

    There is life after the "horse business" and you may find that another focus with your farm is ultimately better suited to your personality and goals. Best of luck!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2002
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    16,684

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ESG View Post
    1. The amount you bend over backwards for, and pour your heart and soul into a client, is directly proportional to the speed with which they'll leave you if they think they can get a better deal elsewhere.
    Dear God...truer words were never written or spoken! Take care of yourself!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
    Posts
    2,070

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jsalem View Post
    I'll add my advice to the mix here. If this is what you want to do and if this is your business, you have to treat it as such.

    You should always be out there business building. Always be courteous and professional. Keep yourself out there with social networking, going to shows or ads in prize lists. Clients move around. Yours will leave you and go elsewhere. Be courteous and professional when they do. Oftentimes, they'll come back when they see that the grass isn't greener down the street. Handle other trainer's clients carefully. If they approach you, have a policy in place. Personally, I will offer a facility tour, a price list and a discussion about our program. They are welcome to watch a lesson. I won't teach a local trainer's students until they have spoken with their current trainer.

    Charge for what you do. Every time, every client. Like you, I learned that the hard way. There's nothing worse than having a client leave you after you've given away your time. But you know, you just have yourself to blame. What was your time worth? Exactly what they paid. You end up feeling really resentful. If you've charged them fairly and done your best, they can leave and you can just wish them well and say, "They were a good client".

    Don't be guilted into offering discounts to deserving, poor students. Just don't. Where there's a will, there's a way. You're not taking these kids on to raise. You're coaching them. Be very careful about "work" arrangements. Your time is worth more than their time. It just is. They can probably earn more pet sitting or baby sitting than mucking your stalls or cleaning your tack. Let them. This is a leisure activity, so the clients forget that you pay your bills with it and expect you to give away your time. Some parents are really persistent. They expect you to find free horses for their kid to ride. They expect you to offer deals. Your time is what you have to sell. Don't give it away. Ever.

    Beware of parents that start by needing a free horse, free lease, free anything. You won't make a living working for people like that. Tell them what you charge. Tell them what things cost. Leave it to them to figure out if they can afford it. Leave it to them to figure out how to pay for it. This is where trainers start to get in trouble. Suzy student gets a "free lease" on a great pony. Parents really can't afford full board or "regular" lessons, so she "works" around the barn in exchange for lessons (free babysitting). She really wants to show with all the other kids, but parents can't afford shipping or coaching, so trainer just does that all for "free". Ambitious parents want "better" and wind up moving to another program where they actually pay for all these things. Sound familiar?

    Yes, you can be friendly with clients. But first and foremost, they are clients. They don't "owe" you anything except to pay for your services. Treat them well and they will respect you even long after they are no longer clients.
    Jsalem, this is an incredibly wise post. I'm not a trainer, but the principles you describe hold true for running a barn or any other business. In particular, horses are expensive and a luxury and it irritates me when people give me tales of woe on how they need special deals or breaks on board or other services. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't afford your horse or showing without relying on the charity of others you shouldn't have a horse or shouldn't show. You are absolutely right that when people do not pay for a service they do not appreciate it.

    I save my charitable donations for a well respected equine charity and also for my church, which uses the money for assist those who are truly needy in my town.



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