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Update- OFFER ACCEPTED!Talk me off the ledge- Boarding/ Training Business (San Diego)

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  • Update- OFFER ACCEPTED!Talk me off the ledge- Boarding/ Training Business (San Diego)

    I need perspective. We have the opportunity/ circumstances to purchase a turn-key property in North County, San Diego. I swore in blood to my husband that I would have no more than 4(...ok 5...6 at the most, I swear it) of my own personal horses. The rest of the facility would easily accomodate 10-15 more horses. Two large, lighted rings, and TURNOUT (if you have ever lived in SoCal, you understand the all-caps on that last part!). The horse property is very well separated from the house, which is VERY nice- just needs a little updating.

    We would not be financially stressed in any way if the horse facilities accomodated only my own equines. BUT, I see the opportunity to actually make some money from it. The scenario I see in my head is that I would lease 2/3rds of the facility to a trainer to manage their own clientele and all associated aspects (labor, order their own supplies, shared maintenance etc). The facility is set up such that a pretty clear separation would be fairly easy, with overlap in the shared common areas (like the arenas). Finer details TBD (ie how much maintenance would be shared, how/ when would we cover for each other if trainer takes a bunch of horses to a show or I'm traveling for my day job).

    Because we DON'T need to lease it out, I can afford to be really picky about who comes in there- I want an eventing focus, no drama. I can afford to make the rent really reasonable so that I do get the situation I want, as I don't really want to manage a boarding barn at this point- I have little kids and a day job that requires me to travel to Canada and Europe on a regular basis.

    So: Blow holes in this scenario. Remind me why this is a terrible idea.
    Last edited by hey101; Jan. 29, 2013, 08:06 PM.
    ~Living the life I imagined~

  • #2
    Well, if you are ok with adding a part time job to your life, why not?

    There is no way you can do what you are thinking without needing to be somewhat hands on, at least overseeing and preventing before things go South.

    Only you know if you will make enough from that venture to be worth your time, investment and any work you have to put into that.

    You can bet on inflation taking off, the economy eventually getting on it's feet, the horse industry staying strong and if so, just as an investment, if you have the extra money floating around, why not?

    Won't be without problems, how well do you head them off and move on?
    If you are a worrier, that would add much to your already full life.

    If you are not and all else fits, why not?

    That is hoping that CA doesn't slide into the ocean soon.

    Seriously, where such situations tend to fail is when the owner can't help adding this young prospect, this retiree, what is one more and before they realize it, they have way more horses floating around that they can reasonably tend to properly.
    Just watch for that, I have seen that happen time and again, some of it reflected right here.
    Self discipline will be your friend, just as with anything else in life.
    If it works on paper and makes you happy, why not?

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't see a downside. If it doesn't work out, you can still afford the facility and kick the trainer out.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        LauraKY- I don't see a downside either, which is why I need COTH to point them out to me!

        Bluey- I would definitely be very hands-on, and that's why having the right person in there would be key- someone I like, work well with, and would train with myself. Through previous business situations (some good, some not so good), I've learned that CLEAR, FREQUENT communication is key (and a very-well written contract!). My expectation is that they would manage their own clients, and handle the finiancials of their own business. I would get the rent check every month directly from them, so I'm not chasing down the dead-beat clients or managing any of their drama (although I will not hestitate to step in if I need to).

        And I've been that person in the past that added "just one more horse", and was in over my head. I joke, but I will be much more disciplined about this than i was before.
        ~Living the life I imagined~

        Comment


        • #5
          As always, Bluey has piped in with a great perspective. I will just add is the property zoned for a business and/or are there additional permits you would need? Have you checked into what your insurance cost will be to rent out part of the facility?

          Good luck!

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by SLW View Post
            As always, Bluey has piped in with a great perspective. I will just add is the property zoned for a business and/or are there additional permits you would need? Have you checked into what your insurance cost will be to rent out part of the facility?

            Good luck!
            Already zoned for this type of business, and have already gotten insurance estimates (as well as local hay, boarding, feed prices) to run numbers.
            ~Living the life I imagined~

            Comment


            • #7
              Life is for living, go for it! If the numbers run, why not?
              Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

              Comment


              • #8
                I third that it sounds like a good idea.

                I have a small boarding business, and I think one of my keys to success is that I do not need the boarding income and so I also am picky about who I take on as a new boarder. I have only had great boarders; I do decide that about 30% of the people looking for a spot are not a good fit.

                You could run the plan by a mentor at the Small Business Administration for more advice.

                Listen, if COTH tells you to open a boarding business -- which, actually, I have never seen COTH advise before -- GO FOR IT!!
                https://www.facebook.com/SugarMapleFarm
                Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/
                www.PeonyVodka.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, if you can afford the astronomical insurance in California, I say go for it. Good boarding places are always needed in SoCal.
                  My blog: Crackerdog Farm

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
                    I third that it sounds like a good idea.

                    I have a small boarding business, and I think one of my keys to success is that I do not need the boarding income and so I also am picky about who I take on as a new boarder. I have only had great boarders; I do decide that about 30% of the people looking for a spot are not a good fit.

                    You could run the plan by a mentor at the Small Business Administration for more advice.

                    Listen, if COTH tells you to open a boarding business -- which, actually, I have never seen COTH advise before -- GO FOR IT!!
                    Also check to see if you qualify for the USDA loans, if you are zoned agricultural and have enough acres and business for it.
                    If you do the USDA loan interes right now on them is 2.25%.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It seems to me that you can do this, and also that your enjoyment of it hinges on the person who leases your stalls and serves as your trainer.

                      You can do this, bottom line, because you can afford to have part of your barn empty. That's in economic terms, but also in terms of keeping your horses cared for and you meeting your HO goals, right? After all, if you get into this only to find that you don't enjoy owning horses any more because you can't get them cared for while you are traveling, or can't mete your riding goals, then it was a bad investment.

                      You said you wanted someone to lease your stalls and, ideally, to be a trainer that could help you progress in eventing. Also, you said you wanted clear and frequent communication with you as farm owner, but that person to take care of all the details of their business. In other words, you want a consummate professional and tenant, but one with a particular working style, who, by the way, can train you/your horses in your discipline.

                      If this person is key to the value of this investment, I suggest you speak with your favorite eventing trainer first. Or look around at the pros in your area. No, you won't know everything about how they'll be as a tenant, but at least you'll know if you have someone you can work with to come and help make your farm as turn-key for you as you need it to be.

                      And many young pros start out with a HO or family who provides the farm for them to work from. It's an enormous contribution you can make to their career and the industry. I hope you can make it work!
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That is what I was thinking, you want an in house trainer for you, but want the trainer to have it's own business?

                        For that, you either have to understand the trainer is not your employee, but has his own business and you are the landlord, that rents that trainer the facilities and when it fits both of you, you are it's client also.

                        Be sure you decide how you want to approach that, as it may depend on which kind of trainer you can get there.

                        As MVP mentioned, there may be somewhere in a top stable an assistant trainer ready to move on it's own and you could help that person as it may help you, or advertise for an experienced trainer wanting to move to a different place from where he is, hopefully to your locale and barn.

                        It sounds like you do want an independent training operation and be one more client, along with being the landlord and if so, be sure to make that clear and you hold your end and act like one more client, to be fair to the trainer and it's business.

                        I think you can pull it off fine, you make good sense.
                        Now, a more busy-body type person, maybe not.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post
                          It seems to me that you can do this, and also that your enjoyment of it hinges on the person who leases your stalls and serves as your trainer.

                          You can do this, bottom line, because you can afford to have part of your barn empty.
                          This is probably the biggie right here: you can afford it WITHOUT boarding or leasing part of the facility. DH and I have a "four year plan" that includes property and barn and etc, and I keep trying to emphasis to him that we need to be able to afford it WITHOUT training/boarding income. So his retirement plus my income, period. He is trying to hold on to his 50 acre dream, but the hold is getting more tenuous daily . My realistic arguments (and input from the mortgage guy regarding the apparent zero value of extra land) for 20-30 acres is winning out. DH will be retired, and let's face it, those of you who know what I do know that I'm one bad guy away from a career-ending injury.

                          So if you can afford it...why are you on the computer and not at the title company signing papers?!?!?!

                          Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                          I don't see a downside. If it doesn't work out, you can still afford the facility and kick the trainer out.
                          Second this!!
                          COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                          "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just check and see if you can find out if any development or any facilities are going to be built. Are there any contracts, easements, or right of ways through the property? Do the neighbors resemble the Munsters or somone out of a scary movie? Will you have good signage, and liability waivers for everyone to sign? Make sure you outline every aspect of acceptible businesses allowed, number of animals, what kind of maintenance is required, and who performs it, etc.

                            It sounds really feasible, and as if you have your ducks in a row. Does the property have good resale value if you don't want to do this after a few years?
                            You can't fix stupid-Ron White

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              For what it's worth....This just pertains to my personality, but I'm kind of a loner and would hate having the trainer's clients in "my" barn.

                              If you are a more social person it may really appeal to you to have people around.
                              Kanoe Godby
                              www.dyrkgodby.com
                              See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
                                Listen, if COTH tells you to open a boarding business -- which, actually, I have never seen COTH advise before -- GO FOR IT!!
                                I know, I was expecting a lot more "y'all are nuts. Don't you read the boarding threads on here?" You guys are totally enabling me!!

                                Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                That is what I was thinking, you want an in house trainer for you, but want the trainer to have it's own business?

                                For that, you either have to understand the trainer is not your employee, but has his own business and you are the landlord, that rents that trainer the facilities and when it fits both of you, you are it's client also.
                                That's it in a nutshell. I'm not a meddlesome person but I am direct in my communication style, and certainly not afraid to take on a difficult situation to resolve it. I've had my fill of drama-queens in the past and I simply will not tolerate it if it begins to spill over from the trainer's business and affect the morale/ feel of my own property (again, the benefit of not financially NEEDING to do this).

                                As far as I am concerned, the trainer could move in enough current clients to fill the place, or recruit as they go. They can run their business, charge their own rates, and I interfere with none of that, nor do I collect any off the top. That's why I'd prefer to do a straight rental, so no funny stuff happens between me and the trainer or the trainer and their clients. Open, honest, transparent. We will jointly work out the shared maintenance (ie ring dragging, landscaping), repairs (who is responsible for what kind of damage) & utility situation (especially manure management- here it gets hauled away weekly) and have a big ol' clearly written, NOTARIZED contract to back it up (I've learned a thing or two over the years .

                                I plan to set up an LLC, and also develop a website and social media (FB, etc). I will certainly help passively recruit, with the understanding that all new boarders (not any pre-existing clients trainer would bring) need to be in some kind of minimum program (1x/week would be fine) with the trainer. I am NOT interested in a straight-up boarding facility with just anyone off the street, and I will interview the people and I will check references!

                                We actually have some experience doing this already- for 5.5 years my husband and I have managed the rental of a horse property we still own in PA, which hasn't been the easiest thing to do from 3000 miles away. I can't help but feel that with no snow and barely any grass growing, the benefit of experience, and me 300 ft away instead of 3000 miles, that this will be easy-peasy!

                                Originally posted by TheJenners View Post
                                This is probably the biggie right here: you can afford it WITHOUT boarding or leasing part of the facility.
                                That's how I feel too! If it doesn't work out for said trainer, then they can move on and I won't lose any sleep, nor hard feelings. (But I want to set it up and operate so that it IS attractive and long-term for the right, great person to stay for a long time). With me trying to account for every expense I can think of (including the $800 off-the-top tax CA charges for an LLC, sigh), I think I can be ~$5-7K in the black from the facility lease every year including the costs of my 3-4 horses, versus the (cough cough much more than that) annual expense that I'm in the red with my boarded horse now! I've also had success in the past doing the OTTB retrain project thing, which I would do again and run through the LLC (the OTTB projects would be part of my 3-4 estimated horses), which could net me a lot more profit (and I love doing it)

                                Originally posted by JanM View Post
                                Will you have good signage, and liability waivers for everyone to sign? Make sure you outline every aspect of acceptible businesses allowed, number of animals, what kind of maintenance is required, and who performs it, etc.

                                It sounds really feasible, and as if you have your ducks in a row. Does the property have good resale value if you don't want to do this after a few years?
                                For sure. I'll have the LLC to protect our personal assets, really good insurance, I will require the trainer to carry their own insurance, and no one from the client to client's kid to client's visiting friend gets on a horse without a helmet or signing a waiver (my place, my rules ).

                                Thanks for enabling me all, but keep thinking of things I'm not thinking of and toss some bombs in my lap for me to consider now before I jump!
                                Last edited by hey101; Jan. 14, 2013, 11:05 PM.
                                ~Living the life I imagined~

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I think the largest reason folks are "enabling" you here is because you can afford to do this. IME, things get ugly and then stay that way when the BO can't afford this tiny-profit margin business.

                                  You being "my barn, my rules" or wanting to make sure that your own home piece of property has the right vibe for you, however, could get in your way. I have been in some barns that come equipped with a fussy onsite owner and it's no fun to be there as a training client. (No matter what you do, you feel unwelcome). And these barns can have high turnover in trainers.

                                  Since you know how to manage property, ask yourself if you *like* doing the customer service that comes with that. Now imagine that it's in your backyard--- when you come home from some annoying people at work, you have more annoying people at work, ya know?

                                  Again, this is why you want to have a trainer whose business style you like. They key to taking out the negative part of your boarding plan is that person's degree of professionalism and his/her compatibility with you.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by mvp View Post
                                    You being "my barn, my rules" or wanting to make sure that your own home piece of property has the right vibe for you, however, could get in your way. I have been in some barns that come equipped with a fussy onsite owner and it's no fun to be there as a training client. (No matter what you do, you feel unwelcome). And these barns can have high turnover in trainers.

                                    Since you know how to manage property, ask yourself if you *like* doing the customer service that comes with that. Now imagine that it's in your backyard--- when you come home from some annoying people at work, you have more annoying people at work, ya know?

                                    Again, this is why you want to have a trainer whose business style you like. They key to taking out the negative part of your boarding plan is that person's degree of professionalism and his/her compatibility with you.
                                    Good points. On the "my barn, my rules" thing- it would be more stuff like Helmets Required, Every Time. Pick up your dog's poop or you lose your dog privileges the first time, no exceptions (I HATE all the piles of dog poop everywhere at my boarding barn). But, for example, if the trainer wants to have clients that require blanket changes every 5 degree increments of weather change, that will be their issue to deal with. If ~I~ were running the boarding, it would be my issue- which is why I don't want to run the boarding.

                                    I actually like and enjoy the interaction. I'm a very social person! Building on past experiences, I really think as long as it is all clear, reasonable, WRITTEN DOWN, and acceptable to all parties up front, and ongoing friendly communication is used to head off any nascent issues before they become a Big Deal, then... it could work really well.

                                    So true on the trainer's business style. This is the one part that worries me, to be honest... I know a lot of great trainers. I know a lot of great business people. I don't know a lot of great trainers who are great business people (but again, I come back to... that's why I'd do a straight rental, so I'm not the one sweating how the business is materializing every month).
                                    ~Living the life I imagined~

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Separate driveways, bathrooms, camera system. If the you lease to a trainer, HE (/ she) will make the decisions about who boards there and that decision may not be to your liking if a crazy boarder provides the most income stream to the trainer. It's like the thread about a renter whom the lessor loved, but couldn't stand his girlfriend.
                                      How close to your house is the barn and parking? Will you be able to go into your backyard unseen by boarders? If someone doesn't pay board to the trainer, will you end up keeping the abandoned horse(s).
                                      Do you have a lawyer on retainer? Does the house have a security system.
                                      Do you like to sleep late?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I have a facility and lease it out, I happen to board my own horses currently with the person leasing it. I cannot say that I would have boarded my horse with any prior tenant, but I don't train with the tenant. I would not recommend training with that person because the bottom line is that you need a professional arms length type of relationship to make it work AND you want the flexibilty to decline professional training services from that person if they no longer suit your needs. Try breaking up with a significant person (trainer) in your life and then getting to see them everyday. Lots of hurt feelings...not a fun place to be. You also have to boss them around and tell them you need a check....on time, not a month from now or when she has paid off the hay guy.
                                        When you do find a tenant, get references from the hay, feed, fairer and vets as to how timely she is with the bills.

                                        Comment

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