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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2014
    Posts
    27

    Default Professional Conflicts

    I'm currently a coach at a small and local farm along with two others. Somewhat differently than most situations all coaches at barn are supposed to teach at relatively same levels. One of which also owns land.

    I've been working at farm for a few years. It's been a great place to start my professional career, and I have definitely grown as an instructor. I am grateful for a facility I can just show up and teach.

    In the past few months there have been a few issues to arise where I am curious as to whether staying at facility is beneficial.

    The tip of the iceberg came today when a long-term hard working student quit. To be more descript mother is removing child to go elsewhere. She asked if I could teach at another facility, but 1. I don't own my own lesson horses and 2. owe somewhat an allegiance to this facility. Her reasons involve suspected favoritism of barn manager towards other students and an uncleanliness at barn. Both of which I can partially understand. Farm is definitely not a superb facility and in some ways could be kept in better shape for what it is.
    I definitely accepted and gave contact info to other coaches I respected in area. I wished them best of luck, etc.

    In other areas while my wages were acceptable at the beginning of job, I am slightly discouraged at what they are now. Understandable over 50% of lesson goes to farm for their use of facility and horses, but also when I travel to client's own farms, and when I meet other non-boarding clients at horse shows that they travel themselves to.

    I am disgruntled in present shape of farm, sometimes struggle to teach because of footing, etc. However, I have a steady stream of clients manager gets for me and only have to show up and teach with a band of lesson horses.

    With the current amount charged for lessons I could teach 4 a week at clients' farms and make more than teaching 10 per week with my paid wage. In no way do I want to break allegiance to barn which has helped me get a foot into a professional career.

    However, I am disheartened to have students leave because of drama and facility. While I don't want to risk my comfort blanket of facility, horses, and friends. I also want to expand my reputation as one on professionalism and pay my horses' expensive bills.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 18, 2008
    Location
    land of the Canucks aka West Coast B.C.
    Posts
    3,749

    Default

    Sounds like it is time to sit down with BM and perhaps re negociate your pay and maybe update the facility. Why does the farm still get 50% of the fee even if you are off site or with non boarders? That doesn't really make sense to me.

    I would say keep in mind, it might be time to think about moving on as well. Maybe not this second but if the situation doesn't get better. You still have to enjoy and keep learning too.

    P.
    A Wandering Albertan - NEW Africa travel blog!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2008
    Posts
    6,029

    Default

    Wait you have to give 50% of your lesson money when you teach off-site or coach to nonclientsto the barn?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2014
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Correct. It started as a client opted to stop hauling to farm and just take lessons at her own farm. These clients were originally taught by other coaches and handed to me. So the advertisement of barn brought in these clients. About half of my clients do haul in.
    It's beginning to get hazy as now, unlike the other coach I do have clients who haul to their own shows, register for themself, use their own horses. Whereas up until this point most clients rode lesson horses and were hauled together in barn trailer.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Location
    Rixeyville, VA
    Posts
    7,046

    Default

    Are you covered by the barn's liability insurance policy? Keep that in mind if you are negotiating compensation for off site activities for non-clients of the barn. If you didn't have to split income with the barn, then you would need to pay for your own insurance. It may be worth it......instructors' insurance runs around $500 - $600 a year.

    If you want to engage the BM in a chat about compensation, then I would position as part of a "plan" to bring in business and not a complaint session. Something like "I was thinking on how we can build the business....." Keep in mind that new footing for the ring can be a major purchase and fixing barn drama may be a challenge.

    And do look at what other instructors are getting for compensation elsewhere. Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, but sometimes the grass really IS greener over there.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com


    4 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2014
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Thank you for your advice. I've always been dismayed as we don't have a ring. So sometimes it takes 3/4 days after bad weather to teach again, whereas I can keep riding my own horses who are boarded at a different farm the day it rains. This makes a steady flow of income very hard.

    I am covered by my own insurance. I don't have a contract.
    However, my biggest issue is dealing with a loss of reputation if clients move to nicer facilities.
    It's just a risk, and I haven't decided whether its worth taking a chance on my own. I don't want to burn any bridges.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2009
    Location
    CA to Costa Rica to WI
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    1,319

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
    Are you covered by the barn's liability insurance policy?
    This. And one step further, are you employed by the barn, or are you an independent contractor that does business out of the barn?

    I see that you have your own insurance, so I assume it's the second. If so, I think it's definitely worth discussing with the owner. It might be fair to both sides to have a "referral fee" for off property clients gained through the barn. It can either be a flat fee (no idea what that would be) or a percentage of future services. However, that percentage should be MUCH smaller than 50%. You are not using the horses or the facilities, so there is no (new) cost involved for the BO. It's money straight into their pocket. I think 10% would be more than fair.

    Similarly with shows, either a very low percentage, or just pay for what the barn is providing. So if the student is using a barn horse, it's $XX per day. If they trailer with the barn, it's $X/mile/trip. If they don't use any barn services, they pay nothing but the training fee which goes directly to you.
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

    Fourteen Months Living and Working in Costa Rica


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2008
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    1,107

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Winsome17 View Post
    Thank you for your advice. I've always been dismayed as we don't have a ring. So sometimes it takes 3/4 days after bad weather to teach again, whereas I can keep riding my own horses who are boarded at a different farm the day it rains. This makes a steady flow of income very hard.

    I am covered by my own insurance. I don't have a contract.
    However, my biggest issue is dealing with a loss of reputation if clients move to nicer facilities.
    It's just a risk, and I haven't decided whether its worth taking a chance on my own. I don't want to burn any bridges.
    This is business. Clearly the BO has looked out for their best interests by taking 50% of what you make, regardless of who/where you are teaching. However, the lack of a ring when it rains, facility not being upkept...what is your long-term potential for keeping clients and growing your business at this facility?

    I agree, time to sit down and renegotiate (including upkeep of facility) and if the BO isn't willing to do so, then its time to move on. Do so in a professional manner and keep the drama to a minimum. Good luck!
    JB-Infinity Farm
    www.infinitehorses.com


    4 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2001
    Location
    Usually too far from the barn
    Posts
    9,074

    Default

    Sounds like the situation a friend was in a couple of years ago. While it seems that you should be doing better, you are beholden to the barn where you are because you don't have schoolies.

    Things like upkeep of property are important not just for aesthetics. It speaks to the level of attention and thoroughness of care. Barns don't have to be showplaces, but they should be neat, fencing in good order, etc. In the company of 1000 + lb flight animals, disrepair is often dangerous. Eventually clients will see other barns and once they have perspective, their eyes are opened.

    Do you think that enough current horse owning clients would stick with you if you were to strike out on your own? You mentioned that your horse is at a different place, could you teach there? A ring use fee would probably be better than giving up 50% to the barn owner.
    You didn't mention what (if anything) you make for taking clients to shows. My friend who I mentioned, was "salaried" and worked (loading, schooling clients, riding horses, showing horses, hand holding nervous clients, explaining things to parents etc) 13 or more hours on show days for nothing. If you have 2 or 3 clients meeting you at a one day show, you can do fairly well, especially if you ride a class or two for them.

    It is never easy to decide to leave the person who gave you your first break. As long as you have handled yourself well and been professional in your dealings with clients and others in the business, you should be in a good position to either renegotiate your terms (after all, you are no longer an unknown quantity) or to try something different.
    F O.B
    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 21, 2013
    Posts
    829

    Default

    OP, it sounds as though you are thinking of changing your business model. Businesses change directions all the time with what the market will bear. As an Independent Contractor, you would be in charge of you. You could market yourself to clients that own their own horses to travel to their barn or farm and give lessons. You would also be available to coach at shows.

    If current clientele start to drop off because of facilities, I think you have your answer. Your time and knowledge is valuable and you should be paid accordingly. So you have a choice. Status quo or focus on a more narrow market. Try taking the emotion out of it and look at things in black and white on paper. You will make the right decision. No bridges burned.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 2, 2003
    Location
    Iowa, USA
    Posts
    3,092

    Default

    I don't know what actual opportunities are available to you, so won't offer advice on whether you should leave or not. BUT, in terms of whether loyalty/obligation to the current barn should be a primary factor in the decision, I'd say no.

    Yes, the barn has contributed to your professional development, and that's a quality of a good employer. But in return you have contributed your work and talents to them. I'll assume you've been a good employee, show up on time for your lessons, clients seem to like you, etc. All of that stuff has real monetary value to an employer--you probably added more value to the barn than an already "made" instructor that didn't need training, but who was unreliable, arrogant, didn't get along well with others, etc.

    It seems like it's been a fair trade thus far --each of you have gotten your money's worth, so to speak. So, don't make your decision to stay or leave based on a feeling that you owe them something.

    That does not mean they won't feel a bit slighted. It's easy for employers to only see their side-- all the things they've "given" you. (Actually the same goes for employees--they often don't appreciate what the employer has done for them. So it's really refreshing to see in your post an appreciation for this. Bodes well for your career.)
    Try to break down crushing defeats into smaller, more manageable failures. It’s also helpful every now and then to stop, take stock of your situation, and really beat yourself up about it.The Onion



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2014
    Posts
    800

    Default

    I can't get over the fact that the barn takes HALF of what you make when you teach clients off-site on their own horses. That makes no sense to me.
    50% makes sense as the barn feeds/houses/owns the horses and maintains the barn, but they are literally doing NOTHING for offsite lessons...


    3 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    8,247

    Default

    I'm with the renegotiate or work your way out into a better position group. You have out grown the current model and it is time for a change.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

    http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2014
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Thank you again. It's complicated. I am very young, and it is understood in the next 1/2 years I will be moving. My biggest fear is a misunderstanding, hurt feelings, then a gossip that I took clients from barn which has happened in our area. I would definitely be willing to give all clients given to me by barn owner back.

    It's just a fear that what if suddenly I lose a client. For instance, maybe I live in a very sickly area, but my clients come down with the flu, or their horse abcesses, etc. very often. It's not a huge deal when I have a few cancellations a month for those types of things at current barn. However, if I were on my own and I had a few cancellations it would be a huge cut.
    Today alone I gained 2 more lesson students from barn. However, that benefit is an increase in my wage 120, whereas gaining 1 student charging my 'teach at their facility' wage is 180 per month.

    My horses are kept at another facility, where there is a young head instructor. It is a gorgeous and elaborate barn, but while not stated I don't feel it would be acceptable for me to take in my haul ins there. First, it would be overstepping her turf, and second unfair when I currently teach at another facility. (On another note, when spots open I do take in 'training horses' at this barn)

    I am an independent contractor. My business is paid, not me personally each month. I have a few extra revenues coming in from sponsors and training horses. I've started going more towards the direction of traveling to ride for clients and take on horses in training rather than 'teach' as I can make all of that revenue.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2008
    Posts
    6,029

    Default

    How is the barn being paid for the outside clients? are they billing them and paying you or are you getting paid and then paying barn? Hopefully it's the later. Then you can change the policy pronto. You have no contract with barn and therefore no non-compete clause.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 21, 2013
    Posts
    829

    Default

    Winsome17, I admire what you are doing. You are establishing yourself. If you can finish out the next 6 months and leave on good terms, that goodwill should follow you. Wishing you much success.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Location
    Rixeyville, VA
    Posts
    7,046

    Default

    It sounds like you are running a businesslike operation. Since you don't need the main barn for insurance, I would simply renegotiate my arrangement. You'll take their wage for their horses and for any of their clients you work with off premises. Whatever you find outside this barn is yours. I would not let fear keep me from advocating for my best interests. I don't think you should just suck it up for 6 months; renegotiate.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com


    3 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 2, 2003
    Location
    Iowa, USA
    Posts
    3,092

    Default

    I like Ironwood's suggestion.
    Try to break down crushing defeats into smaller, more manageable failures. It’s also helpful every now and then to stop, take stock of your situation, and really beat yourself up about it.The Onion



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2014
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Thank you for everyone's suggestions.
    I have let it settle with the student who just left. In some ways now I'm almost confused by their reasons. If they want me to continue coaching and their daughters' increase in ability to increase which has gone in leaps and bounds, flies and a dirty barn shouldn't matter. (It also hit me when mother contacted me again asking if I'd told the owner yet about their leaving the program, that maybe pride was more of an issue than anything. I learned there was some issue with failure to get a refund on a deposit for a last minute cancellation to camp from a friend)

    Today, I along with another coach spent about 4 hours taking out trash, sweeping cob-webs, and scrubbing every corner. It's not my job, but indirectly affects my business. (As I just learned) I'm going to keep an eye out on things like that more carefully.

    I can teach lessons with students who contact me personally and charge my own fee. I have my own website and Facebook page, so slowly I'm starting to gain a reputation.

    Thank you again, and let's all pray I don't gain some disease from all the spiders I killed today!


    1 members found this post helpful.

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