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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2002
    Posts
    1,379

    Default Thinking of getting out of the lesson/boarding business

    I need an exit strategy. The lease on my facility is up Sept 30 2013, and I have made the decision not to renew it or look for a another property.

    I have not been doing my own training rides for 18 months because of an injury sustained in a car accident. I am still managing the boarding business, managing the schooling shows here, teaching, and taking customers to both rated and schooling shows, as well as judge hunter schooling shows.

    I hired a professional rider, who is young, talented, enthusiastic, and never complains about having to pitch in for whatever needs to be done.

    The barn is full, and the lesson program is busy.

    And we are barely breaking even. I can't even take enough money out of the business to pay my mortgage and utilities...I am depending on DH to "take care" of my living expenses. Between the lack of profitability, and the huge time committment I have at the business-he is starting to get cranky about both...


    SO....anyone out there who has backed out of the business, and how did you do it?
    West of nowhere



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    Dundurn, SK
    Posts
    2,344

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    I need an exit strategy. The lease on my facility is up Sept 30 2013, and I have made the decision not to renew it or look for a another property.

    I have not been doing my own training rides for 18 months because of an injury sustained in a car accident. I am still managing the boarding business, managing the schooling shows here, teaching, and taking customers to both rated and schooling shows, as well as judge hunter schooling shows.

    I hired a professional rider, who is young, talented, enthusiastic, and never complains about having to pitch in for whatever needs to be done.

    The barn is full, and the lesson program is busy.

    And we are barely breaking even. I can't even take enough money out of the business to pay my mortgage and utilities...I am depending on DH to "take care" of my living expenses. Between the lack of profitability, and the huge time committment I have at the business-he is starting to get cranky about both...


    SO....anyone out there who has backed out of the business, and how did you do it?
    Did it in July '08, was in a auto accident in Aug '07 and had to give up the training end. Keep boarding and doing the schooling shows. Let my boarders know that I would be closing the barn in March for June 30. My lease was up on the farm end of July so wanted to have a month to move and get everything gone.

    I started taking some night courses in Nov '07 and had a office job lined up for July '01. Still did a few lessons through the rest of '08.

    I don't miss being the BO, or all the problems that go along with it. I do miss putting on the shows as they where fun. I still have 4 horses but only one with me where I live as the cost is to high to keep all 4 here. I'm enjoying being the HO at the barn I am at now. Took me a long time to find a barn that I am happy with the horse care.

    I might get back into doing part of it again but not at this time. I am happy just enjoying my horses and not putting up with the barn drama.
    Last edited by Eleanor; Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:48 PM. Reason: to add that my lease was up
    Are you going to cowboy up or lie there and BLEED?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2009
    Location
    Hunterdon County NJ
    Posts
    3,005

    Default

    Sorry to say it, but all those I have known at your level who have exited, have down so unwillingly. With the assistance of the bank/authorities taking over their business, property, marriage, etc.

    I would imagine you would speak to the rider and see what interest she has in taking the business over. Perhaps flip flop roles, and you could work for her?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2011
    Location
    Its not nowhere, but you can see it from here
    Posts
    3,825

    Default

    I quit being a trainer with a public stable, but that was relatively easy, I just let the owners know by what date they needed to have the horses go to someone else, and offered to help in any way I could.

    I highly recommend marketing the schoolies early in the spring, when people are not staring a winter hay bill in the eyes. As soon as you are ready spread the word amongst other pros in your area, and see if there is any interest in horses, tack, equipment, etc

    I just wanted to say that I am sorry that circumstances have dictated this, and I wish you the best of luck
    From AliCat518 "Seriously, why would you NOT put fried chicken in your purse?!"


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 11, 2005
    Location
    Southern California - Hemet
    Posts
    1,688

    Default

    I too am sorry that you are having to close down. From a client's perspective, giving a reasonable amount of notice to them will be courteous, professional, and helpful. Those who are fond of your facility, the people they interact with there, and the school horses will appreciate the chance to say goodbyes.

    When I first started taking lessons as a beginner adult several years ago, I came home from a trip out of state visiting my terminally ill brother to a letter saying they had discontinued the lesson program. No attempts were made to inform us in person or even by a call and the school horses were promptly sold. It was a difficult time in my life and I actually grieved for the lovely gentle gelding and the titch difficult but clicked perfectly with me blind in one eye mare who had been helping me keep sane.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2008
    Location
    North Georgia
    Posts
    2,086

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by laskiblue View Post
    I too am sorry that you are having to close down. From a client's perspective, giving a reasonable amount of notice to them will be courteous, professional, and helpful. Those who are fond of your facility, the people they interact with there, and the school horses will appreciate the chance to say goodbyes.
    This. If you're closing down your business, then please give your boarders and other folks ample time to find someplace else and depart.

    There is no "exit strategy." Your lease is up September 2013, and you're choosing not to renew it. A polite note to each person you do business with would be appreciated such as "thank you for the many years of wonderful business/service you have provided me with, and it is with heavy heart that we have decided as of [date,] we will be retiring from the horse business..." ([date] should be well before that lease end date, by the way, in case you have stragglers, need to make any repairs, etc.) A simple form letter that you mail to all of your boarders as well as any businesses you may use for farm and feed supplies would suffice, and offer the boarders/businesses the opportunity to speak with you by providing a telephone number, etc. should they have any questions or concerns, but PLEASE give ample time .
    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
    DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
    Quote Originally Posted by talkofthetown View Post
    As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2007
    Posts
    962

    Default

    I like the idea of treating it as a retirement. Good friends owned the barn where I boarded and did that (although they were retirement age and moved out of the country). Give people lots of notice so they can plan accordingly and organize an awesome retirement party.

    Do you have another non-horse career lined up? Regardless-there's so many options to stay in the "business" by free lance coaching, judging etc. at least part time. Perhaps your clients could look for a new barn that allows outside coaches to come in-are there any you could recommend?

    Another sorry it's come to this. I don't envy anyone in the horse business right now-it seems to hard to turn a profit.
    "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,372

    Default

    Sorry to hear that you've had such a rough patch. Not a BO (thank God!) but as a boarder who has sat on wait lists for significant amounts of time to get in to a good barn, I would appreciate as much notice as possible. If you're barely able to cover costs with a full barn and lesson program, then I would think you may actually be money ahead if people get out a little early.

    Another option might be to try to arrange for someone to take over the business and perhaps you could get out of the lease early. But that just seems messy to me.

    Best wishes.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2005
    Location
    Where the prairie ends and the mountains begin
    Posts
    2,527

    Default

    I was boarding at a small barn when the BO decided to get out of the business. She called a mandatory barn meeting and we all sat down to talk about the options. The land owner didn't want anything to do with the business, but he was willing to get the insurance needed if people wanted to keep their horse on the property (for a flat monthly rate, no pasture care, fence care, feed or anything included) and take care of the horses themselves like a co/op.

    I didn't hang around to see how that worked out.

    I'm sorry to hear another one is biting the dust. Our board went up 30 bucks about 6 months ago and now it's going up again, unless your horse can eat alfalfa, because the cost of grass hay is through the roof. Lessons went up too. My salary has not.
    Dreaming in Color



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
    Location
    down the road from bar.ka
    Posts
    31,580

    Default

    IMO you need to make a definate decision to get out or not in the near future.

    Nothing worse then taking in new clients then shutting down in less then a year or arranging a 1 year lease for somebody when you know you won't be around. That would PO me.

    Once you are firm in your decision, you will have to inform clients. Like the barn meeting format and a nice form letter to all your clients outlining the time frame. Some of them will leave to avoid changing before the end of next year's show season. Be prepared for that and I would let your area Pros know so you can make a decent recommendation.

    The idea of letting the young assistant take over? Usually does not work unless they can take over the lease and all expenses. Most of them are not ready yet to actually run the full scale business and you end up on the lo$ing end.

    I'd shoot for Sept 1 shutdown and notify everybody no later then early March. That's 6 months and before the show season really gets going. Plenty of time to make other plans while still enjoying your place and your skills.

    You might enjoy becoming a clinician. There are not that many working with the lower levels that are any good. Might be a nice way to stay in the business with less demands and lower overhead.

    GET YOUR JUDGES CARD too.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2002
    Posts
    1,379

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    IMO you need to make a definate decision to get out or not in the near future.

    Nothing worse then taking in new clients then shutting down in less then a year or arranging a 1 year lease for somebody when you know you won't be around. That would PO me.

    Once you are firm in your decision, you will have to inform clients. Like the barn meeting format and a nice form letter to all your clients outlining the time frame. Some of them will leave to avoid changing before the end of next year's show season. Be prepared for that and I would let your area Pros know so you can make a decent recommendation.

    The idea of letting the young assistant take over? Usually does not work unless they can take over the lease and all expenses. Most of them are not ready yet to actually run the full scale business and you end up on the lo$ing end.

    I'd shoot for Sept 1 shutdown and notify everybody no later then early March. That's 6 months and before the show season really gets going. Plenty of time to make other plans while still enjoying your place and your skills.

    You might enjoy becoming a clinician. There are not that many working with the lower levels that are any good. Might be a nice way to stay in the business with less demands and lower overhead.

    GET YOUR JUDGES CARD too.
    Find8, you must be listening in on my cell phone calls. My DH has been HOUNDING me to get going with the process for my judges card....Lol

    Thanks to everyone for your input. I am not destitute, or in danger of loosing my home or anything, but the handwriting is on the wall and it's time to take a good hard look at the future.
    West of nowhere


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2004
    Location
    Rixeyville, VA
    Posts
    6,554

    Default

    Life changes and there is nothing wrong with moving on. I like to plan when I can and I think giving yourself a good 9 months to get closed down is a good idea.

    How many of your own horses do you have at the barn? I am assuming you don't have a bunch of lesson horses that you will need to sell. Selling horses can take some time.

    Do you have place to keep all the "stuff" that does with a barn? Or are you going to sell it? Again, a plan on when and how you are going to liquidate what's not going with you is important.

    Check your lease and be sure you are following the termination section. If you are on good terms with your landlord then communicate your plans as soon as you know, not necessarily per the lease. Most landlords appreciate a tenant with good communication skills.

    It's not like you are leaving horses. All you are doing is changing your focus. The more you plan the exit, the more likely it will be smooth and positive. Good luck to you!
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2002
    Posts
    1,379

    Default

    Thanks everyone. I have not yet "committed to getting out".

    Biggest stumbling block is what to do with the 5 retired/semi-retired school horses that I need to care for. Once I have that plan in place I can move forward with the rest.

    I am looking at an announcement in March with a progressive phase out through Sept 1, then closing the doors by Sept 30.

    I have spoken to one long term client (been with me 22 years) and she is exploring boarding options that will allow outside trainers, so I can keep my hand in the business without being married to the overhead and daily grind of my own barn...now I just have to convince myself that the horses will be ok in someone else's care...
    West of nowhere



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2013
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    500

    Default

    let everyone know well ahead of time when your lease is up and give them an opportunity to find another facility if they so choose. There's not much worse than just getting a note that things aren't there anymore. Leaves people feeling very cheated.

    Wondering how things are going with this, otherwise wouldn't have brought it back up - OP said she was going to send something out in march, and that's only a week away - how do things stand now?



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 20, 2008
    Location
    NJ
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    2,195

    Default

    Would the semi retired school horses be appropriate for therapeutic riding?



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2002
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    Default

    Hi All, the reader's digest version is... I raised the price of board, raised the lesson prices....

    only lost one boarder/training customer-but they were on the way out anyway...

    talked to the landlord about a 12 month extension on the current lease, and fired some deadwood part-time workers, replaced with one full time experienced top groom...increased income, decreased payroll, and am paying myself too...

    Have my references lined up and am doing the next judge's clinic....

    Did an "exteme makeover" in the tackroom and sold a bunch of tack and blankets/sheets/ ect that I no longer need. (at one point I had 12 schoolies and a staff instructor) Enough to take a weekend getaway with DH for my 50th birthday in Feb....

    Still cautious, but after 30 years in this business, I wasn't ready to give it all up yet...

    Thanks for your kind words, and in 6 months when I am back here b**ching about being exhausted and broke...you all can say "we told you so...."
    West of nowhere


    13 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 27, 2009
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Sounds like it is working for you.
    Good luck.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2007
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    967

    Default

    Well, that certainly is great news! Glad you found a business plan that worked for you!~
    "However complicated and remarkable the rest of his life was going to be, it was here now, come to claim him."- JoAnn Mapson



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