CLIENT wants me to start up a riding program, tips needed please
Thanking everyone in advance. I will be negotiating all the terms of my employment soon and want to make sure I don' t leave one stone uncovered.
She plans on buying a small pony to start children. I have one client that boards there now and I also teach the owners daughter.
I hope to bring in more students and build the business , anything I teach on her pony is split 50/50 and I keep everything for my own students. Students who will trailer in to me , will pay her a ring fee.
I also will be teaching on my own property and be building my own teaching business, close by. I had run a small teaching business in town until the farm I was leasing sold.
Ok so any caveats? All help will be appreciated
I have had not one but two good friends who grew their businesses on a client owned farm. One spent 3 years building her training and lesson business at clients farm...and client went bankrupt and the property was siezed. She and her outside owner clients were literally locked out for days then had to scramble to find a place to keep the dozen or so horses-that ended up scattered to the winds.
Another went almost 5 years and developed a nice mid level show barn also giving lessons. Client/farm owner suddenly decided they wanted out of the outside client board/train/lesson business. They gave 30 days notice to 8 or so outside clients to get out, terminated the lesson program and told friend her services were no longer required for their personal horses and it was best she ceased immediately and moved her personal horses ASAP.
Neither one of these had any sense of trouble in the relationship and niether one of them ever recovered their businesses. One retired and the other...lost touch but heard she went back into an office job. Both also took a financial bath, had to dump horses to get out from under and both suffered ill will from their clients through no fault of their own.
And...you bet both these trainers had business plans, lawyers and explicit contracts.
In your case, I would spend more time developing your business on your own property and not put too much faith in dreams of bigger and better with that single client who does not even own a pony yet.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I'm another in the "Don't do it" category. When I saw this happen, the owner always had the pony in use during arranged lesson times. Trainer had to use her personal animals, and the owner STILL expected the 50%. When the trainer protested as the owner hadn't done anything in scheduling these lessons or providing the agreed-upon lesson animal, owner went and trash-talked her.
Does your client know you would also plan on teaching on your own property? Would they be planning to buy more lesson horses, or just one pony? How busy do they want their facility to get? Do they have commercial insurance? How old is the daughter, and how ambitious?
I do have insurance. Don't plan on having my own horses at that facility. Not worried about them going belly up. They do have a pony in mind that they would like. Ive taught the daughter for three years and she is extremely driven, and has the talent and resources to match. She is moving up to ss this year.
I have yet to sit down with the owner to discuss the plan with her, we plan on meeting right after Christmas. In the three years I have been teaching her daughter , she has always been fair,ethical and generouswith me. She has a young gal as back up who she has worked with in the past who wants in. But she would rather have me even though Im sure the younger gal would cost much less to hire. And yes they already have commercial insurance and have me listed on their insurance. She has many friends that have children the same age that have already expressed an interest in coming to ride there.
Ive taught for years now but always for myself, ive never worked for anyone else.
I have created a list of things to cover when we meet, I was just hoping for any kind of input, I don't want to forget anything when we enter into negotiations. Thanks so much, I hate hearing the stories of what can and does happen like findeights friend. But best to be forewarned
vestito, I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor and I hope it works out really well for you I can tell you that when you put your blood, sweat, and tears into a program you are building it can become a very personal business. There are some great things about working for someone else, but the problem lies when the view for the future of the program becomes different between you and the owner (or even the owner's significant other). For example, I would get in writing what you are responsible for (payment & hours/chores). Also, how large can you build the business at her location? What happens when clients begin hopping to your other location or vise versa? The owner could say that you have a conflict of interest in teaching at your own place so close by. These problem will rear their ugly head about 9-12 months into the business. Right now it is all fluffy & roses Just get it in writing, and make the contract is a yearly one (at least). We never know what the future holds, but just protect yourself & then build yourself a huge successful business!! Best of Luck & it sounds exciting!!
Since you will have your own farm/horses as well as the business at the clients farm there is always the potential for accusations.
I'm not sure the age of the clients DD, but I'm guessing she's young if after 3 years she's just advancing to the SS. That tells me that she has not cleared the "teen hurdle." I define teen hurdle as the point when girls have to choose between horses and the lure of "boys, school sports, cars, malls etc." I've seen girls doing the Jr Hunters on the A's just walk away from it at that point. If that happens will client still be interested in a business, even if DD is no longer riding?
If you have your own farm and horses and are willing to travel as well to clients you are better to keep them clients, not partners. If THEY want to open their property to boarders and you pick up clients through them it would be fair to pay them a % of your lesson revenue for providing the venue, but it seems that when you have several clients and enter into an additional business relationship with one, you leave yourself open to problems.
Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique
Thanks so much for your feedback Meliora, I have told her that I fully intend on building my own business that has been on hold for the past few years. I think, but Im not sure that she figures I won't get my ring finished to actually get the business up and running. Both of us know that she is building a very nice indoor which I will never be able to do. I still need to get a feel for just how large she wants to go with the business and just how much control she wants to have with it.
At one point she mentioned she wanted to be better than the largest barn in our area, not sure if she means a bigger program or just better quality or both. Again thanks for your time
@ nashfad, im very close to her and would love to be able to move my students to her facility, since I don't have an indoor. Luckily for me if it did indeed get ugly, I have enough room at home to move back.
If I were you, I would be her employee. She can pay you hourly, a salary, or a per lesson/ride fee, whatever you agree upon. That way you both pay taxes and she pays worker's comp in case you are injured, and you will also be insured through her farm insurance if you are an employee. It is also easier and more fair for you if things were to go south. You can still have your own business and clients at your place, too.
"A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."