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How to put a ring in and raise board...when you already have boarders?

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  • #21
    I don't know, if you like your boarders, why not just funnel the extra money into an emergency fund, or savings. Get a feel for improvements that these boarders would be WILLING to pay for, and maybe save up for that. Maybe they all secretly wish you had a wash rack or something. If you have their buy-in on a capital improvement, then you can negotiate increases that they will be satisfied with.

    You are talking about a significant increase, and if they don't think there is an issue with the footing, I doubt they will be willing to foot the bill...and if you're not doing it for the boarders, then why would you expect them to pay for it? You don't even care, for yourself, about the footing. Why bother?

    I also don't think that having improved footing will immediately draw a new set of boarders. Particularly if there is already access to decent footing at other facilities. I've boarded at more than one place that had terrible footing. It is 100% the first compromise I make, because if it's really bad, all I have to do is...not ride on it. It doesn't even have to impact my horse.

    If I were one of your boarders and you put in the new footing, I'd quietly give you notice the first time you tried to increase board and be gone the next month. Upgrading footing that I had no problem with is just not something I'm willing to be charged for. I wouldn't be upset but I also wouldn't discuss it with you, I'd just give my polite notice with some excuse and be gone.

    The whole idea of board is that the owner is keeping some money each month to stay on top of necessary maintenance and the odd improvement. When you, as the owner, decide to make a big capital investment for something your boarders don't see as necessary, then it should have a payoff calculated over a significant duration (like 5 years.) A barn owner just saying "well, I have money right now, so I'm adding this. You're all going to use it, so you're going to pay for it with an immediate increase"....ugh. What a gross way to treat customers that you claim you like.

    I have at times had to absorb big changes to board rates. These were during times when hay prices skyrocketed and decent hay was difficult to find at all. A surcharge tacked temporarily onto board for something unforseen and critically necessary...well, I grumbled a little, but didn't blame the barn owner. I WOULD blame the barn owner if I suddenly got hit with charges for something that broke down on the property...like the auto-waterers or something. That's infrastructure that it is YOUR JOB to maintain. Your board rates should include enough to squirrel away for routine replacement and repair.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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    • #22
      Another thing to consider is it sounds like your current, happy boarders are pretty low-key. You probably haven't attracted the higher-maitenance boarders simply because you don't, by your own admission, have good footing. I know I wouldn't board somewhere that probably appeals to the trail-riding set and vice versa. What I will point out is that people who want good footing want well maintained footing. Are you willing to drag the arena every day or every other day and water it when dusty and so on?

      I'm not trying to talk you out of it (although going up 150/mo from 300 is huge), but just pointing out you may not like the expectations of the new boarders.

      When is the last time you increased your board? Why not increase $20 or whatever in light of increases in hay, bedding, grain, etc. if you haven't done that.

      I would talk to your boarders and see what they say, but make it clear you will give 60 days notice or something, or else they may start planning to move before you are ready to increase board/have your arena done. Just the rumor of a $50 a month board increase caused 5 people to leave the barn I was at this winter (board went up $20). 25 stall barn, so 20% moved on a rumor.
      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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      • #23
        If you were putting in a NEW ring, I would say you have reason to up the board, but updating the footing is a maintenance issue and I wouldn't expect board to be raised for this. In general, because costs have gone up, yes, but not because the footing is going to be replaced...

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Originally posted by RobinL View Post
          If you were putting in a NEW ring, I would say you have reason to up the board, but updating the footing is a maintenance issue and I wouldn't expect board to be raised for this. In general, because costs have gone up, yes, but not because the footing is going to be replaced...
          It's not going to be simply adding footing, if it was that simple, then I wouldn't bother raising board. I'm not exactly sure what the guy I talked to wants to do, but it involves leveling the surface, something about grading it...not 100% sure. It's less expensive than putting in a brand new ring, more than simply adding footing.

          Phew....bad attitude: "Why shouldn't they pay for it? It is an improvement that will benefit them, should they not pay for this new benefit? Why should I not increase board to the going rate for barns with a nice outdoor...how is that a good business move for me? It's a business, not a charity. I'm not expecting to get rich, but it would be nice to re-coup some costs."
          How is it a bad attitude to be looking at things from a business perspective. I would love to be able to redo this ring and not raise board, but it doesn't make business sense. I'd like to GROW my business, not bankrupt it. Is it really that much of a foreign concept to pay for the amenities your barn has? Good ring, good pastures, large stalls...do they not all add value? Would you really not be willing to pay more for a barn with a footed outdoor ring? I know I would pay more for a barn with great trails vs. a barn without them.


          My plan now is to talk to my boarders and ask if they feel a new ring is necessary. If not, then great, because I'd love to keep the money in an emergency fund and make a few repairs around the farm. If they do want the ring, then I have to figure out a way to keep my boarders happy without losing too much money.

          FWIW, I haven't raised board in 3 years, all the while putting in a h/c water wash stall, new fencing, new huge boarders tack room, heated feed room, full sized fridge, several footed sacrifice lots so there is virtually no mud over the winter, and more.
          come what may

          Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

          Comment


          • #25
            but updating the footing is a maintenance issue and I wouldn't expect board to be raised for this. In general, because costs have gone up, yes, but not because the footing is going to be replaced...
            I would say that keeping the existing footing in condition is maintenance, but there are some types of footing replacement that I would consider an upgrade.

            If this were a barn where there was a chronic dust issue, and the owner was wanting to replace the footing with a totally upgraded material, I'd consider it a real improvement. If they wanted to increase the board by some reasonable amount for existing boarders, and I was someone who considered the dust a real pain, I'd probably be willing to absorb the increase. New boarders may also be attracted by the new footing, and will pay the same rate, and we all enjoy a nicer facility.

            Here, the owner seems to think that the existing boarders should be happy to absorb a 50% increase so that the owner can attract a better class of customer. The owner isn't sure that the new customers will materialize immediately. To hedge, she wants to slap all of the existing customers with a huge increase, knowing that they will leave shortly after, just in case the new customers don't immediately materialize, at least she won't be out of pocket.
            Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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            • #26
              I can see a board increase for the wash stall, tack room , and new (not existing stuff). New fencing and sacrifice paddocks are maintenance again. Yes, I would be willing to pay more for a barn with a footed ring, but wouldn't expect to have my board upped if the ring was already there and in poor shape...

              I left a barn because the footing was great when it was newer, then turned to dust and slippery conditions. This barn put in a NEW indoor and board wasn't raised. But when it wasn't maintained and became dangerous (in my opinion due to slipping and breathing fibar dust), it was time to find a new facility.

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              • #27
                How is it a bad attitude to be looking at things from a business perspective.
                That's not the bad attitude. The bad attitude is that you're going to suddenly charge your existing clients a HUGE increase, knowing that they can't really afford it, for an improvement that you don't know they want...and you're justifying it by saying that you've made all sorts of other improvements over the years and not raised board. "Looking at things from a business perspective" means behaving consistently and fairly, and making improvements according to a business plan, which includes the income from paying customers. If your current rates don't support your business plan, then you need to look at THE PLAN...not just knee-jerk gouge your existing long term clients and snot that they ought to thank you for all your great work over the years.
                Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                Comment


                • #28
                  Maybe the real thing here is that if you're turning away potential boarders as-is, and you don't want a renovated ring for your own needs, then it sounds like a case of "if it's not broke, don't fix it." If your existing boarders were that unhappy with the state of the current footing, they'd move to somewhere with better footing - and you could pick up one of the boarders you've previously turned away
                  (and please send the people who want footing my way - I really want someone to ride with! haha)

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                  • #29
                    Sounds like you've gotten one quote on fixing the ring. Get others if you can and also see if it could become a DIY project since the base is still good. My super handy brother helped build my small outdoor ring. He loved the opportunity to play with construction equipment. Another time a neighbor spread additional sand for almost nothing.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Here, the owner seems to think that the existing boarders should be happy to absorb a 50% increase so that the owner can attract a better class of customer. The owner isn't sure that the new customers will materialize immediately. To hedge, she wants to slap all of the existing customers with a huge increase, knowing that they will leave shortly after, just in case the new customers don't immediately materialize, at least she won't be out of pocket.
                      Just to reiterate what I already said, I was planning on increasing board slowly. I guess not everyone reads for comprehension though. I know it would be an @sshole thing to do to raise board a lot of money at once, I am fully aware that doing that would leave me with no boarders. I'm talking about several smaller increases over the next YEAR. Also, raising from $300 to $400 isn't a 50% raise. And what exactly do you mean by "better class of customer"...because I would like to avoid the snotty bratty drama ridden "higher class" riders if all possible. I'm perfectly happy with my current clientele, they're nice, they don't think Dobbin needs private turnout and his blanket switched four times a day. I appreciate that my boarders are low maintenance.

                      That's not the bad attitude. The bad attitude is that you're going to suddenly charge your existing clients a HUGE increase, knowing that they can't really afford it, for an improvement that you don't know they want...and you're justifying it by saying that you've made all sorts of other improvements over the years and not raised board. "Looking at things from a business perspective" means behaving consistently and fairly, and making improvements according to a business plan, which includes the income from paying customers. If your current rates don't support your business plan, then you need to look at THE PLAN...not just knee-jerk gouge your existing long term clients and snot that they ought to thank you for all your great work over the years.
                      See above, not going for a huge increase, at least not all at once. IF I do the reno, I will be informing boarders of the "plan" to increase by increments well in advance. Also, I didn't mention the improvements I've made so I could justify the raise, I did it to try to point out that I've been pretty good to my boarders, I've kept prices low because I like them!

                      It would be nice if people would stop making me out to be the BO from hell. I don't WANT to make my boarders angry. I don't WANT them to leave. I don't PLAN on doing this ring if my boarders aren't on board with it. Like I stated before, I'm going to discuss it with them, I just haven't seen any of them for long enough to actually have a conversation with them the past few days.

                      My entire reason for posting this thread was to get some opinions on whether or not I should re-foot, and how to go about raising board. I've got some great answers, which I appreciate, and am going to talk to my boarders before I have someone come out to give me a final estimate or dive right in.
                      come what may

                      Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        Originally posted by awaywego View Post
                        Maybe the real thing here is that if you're turning away potential boarders as-is, and you don't want a renovated ring for your own needs, then it sounds like a case of "if it's not broke, don't fix it." If your existing boarders were that unhappy with the state of the current footing, they'd move to somewhere with better footing - and you could pick up one of the boarders you've previously turned away
                        (and please send the people who want footing my way - I really want someone to ride with! haha)
                        Exactly, things are going well, I don't really want to change things, but I know in order to grow my business a new ring would help. My boarders make do, I'm sure they would appreciate a new ring but it's definitely not impossible to ride in what I have now, or dangerous to rider/horse. The ring is grass, its uneven, the sides get a little muddy, but it is fine to ride and jump in.

                        Where are you located? I have a few friends that are looking for a place!
                        come what may

                        Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          I see re-footing is a cost of continuing maintenance/improvements to your boarding facility and your property. Improvement to keep your business competitive with other boarding operations. And NO raising of board.

                          If you weed and feed and reseed your pastures, are you going to raise board? If you add fans to all the stalls, are you going to raise board? If you add fly systems to your barns, are you going to raise board? If you add new cross ties, are you going to raise board? If you put in a hot walker, are you going to raise board? If you add rubber mats to the stalls and aisle's, are you going to raise board?

                          All in your everyday of doing business to be competitive. No you should not raise board.

                          However, if you completely add a whole new huge state of the art indoor, and a new barn, and buy new/more property fence it, etc, then I would raise board due to the drastic new fantastic changes.

                          rmh, accountant, yeah really.

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                          • #33
                            Im at a place now that while nice raises board every year by $25-$100 per month depending on whats going on. They say they are gona replace arena dust with sand cut new trails and powerwash whole barn this year, I will see if they do. If you tell the boarders you are gona do this & board will go up not just for this but because you did that and whatever (what youve already done) then they can decide whats worth it to stay for & whats not. I think people understand it takes $ to make it nice, Im guessing they know you are cheaper than other places.
                            “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

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                            • #34
                              Originally posted by SAcres View Post
                              I've been toying with the idea of re-footing my farm's outdoor ring. At one point somebody put a base and footing in, but over the years it has packed down and grown grass overtop. I had someone out to look at it and he felt that the base was solid still and it would work the best to re-foot, rather than put a whole new base in. This puts the whole project in my price range, which I hadn't thought possible.

                              But now the question comes...I currently have 3 boarders at my farm, good people that I like having, I don't want to lose these people as boarders. They're trustworthy, reliable, and for the most part, don't complain. However re-footing this ring would allow me to raise board at least $150 and still be well within the acceptable price range of my area. Currently my barn is below the average price for what amenities I offer, but I'm fine with this because I have good boarders. I'm fairly certain my boarders won't be able to afford this new price, so raising the price would likely mean bringing in a new set of boarders, but not raising the price (while still putting the footing in) will set me back significantly without any hope of recouping some of the costs. I personally have no desire to put this ring in, I trail ride for the most part and have access to other rings (that my boarders also have access to); so my main reason to re-foot are for my boarders benefit.

                              I realize it seems like the obvious choice would be to not re-foot the ring, because doing so will result in a no-win situation for me (IMO), but I think about the future and know that I might not always have these boarders who are okay with the current facility. I have the option of doing it now, the funds are technically available, and in my mind, having a ring with great footing automatically secures a full barn. It would also be more feasible to teach lessons or train horses in the future if I choose to go down that path. But, as I don't see putting in the footing and not raising board an option, I know I'm going to lose boarders.

                              So to end this long rant, COTHers...wwyd?
                              It is a matter of making business choices.

                              1. You have funds available for an improvement that would allow you to automatically have a full barn and be more comparable to other barns in your area.

                              2. You have nice boarders that you suspect would not share the value add of this improvement and would move.

                              3. Do nothing and maintain the status quo- nice boarders, mostly decent facility and excellent care. Don't spend the money.

                              You make a change, you loose this group of boarders and get others that may or may not be as easy going, would be part of the cost of doing business. You have to decide what direction you want to take your business and it sounds like making the arena change would be a step up.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                I would ask the current boarders. THEY are your customers, not people yet to arrive. You won't get consensus, and should not promise a democracy, but by all means as a boarder I'm happy to offer my 0.02$.

                                We have one horse recovering from a pulled tendon - he cannot tolerate soft (poorly executed) footing because he needs relatively firm support. I also notice a trend where people spend "good" money for footing that is basically deep, unsupportive mush. And yet the owners would insist how wonderful it is based on cost. If the barn we're at "upgraded" to the soft stuff I would probably leave - and that would probably be unexpected for them.

                                Maybe they would be thrilled if you simply invested the time in breaking up the grass in the current arena. Maybe they would really like a nice outdoor arena. You won't have any idea what they'll tolerate until you ask them.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I would meet with them and talk it out - you can improve the footing, it would mean these increases on this schedule, would they prefer that you do it now or not?

                                  I would also frame it carefully that this is not a vote, this is you getting input from them, to get a sense of the relative importance of footing versus low cost in their minds.

                                  If you decide not to do it, but want it done, put the money in an account in a bank that is hard to access - ie, you'll have to call them to mail you a check, or you'll have to go in and get a check written to you, or pull it in cash, not something that you can move electronically back into checking in seconds. Then it will stay there unless you do your ring or you really really need it.
                                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    If the OP does put in new footing--changing what sounds like a dirt/grass area to an actual level, footed arena--I don't see any reason why she should not charge a rate that is comparable to other facilities with similar amenities and/or a rate that covers her costs of improving/maintaining the facility.

                                    FYI, just because something falls in the the realm of ongoing maintenance (which this doesn't sound like) doesn't mean that boarding charges shouldn't cover it. If a BO finds that the cost of regular maintenance and periodic improvements isn't being covered by boarding fees, then it's high time to raise rates.

                                    Also, I'd like to point out that the OP doesn't owe it to her clients to keep her facility the same forever for their benefit. If she feels that her business will benefit financially in the long run by making an improvement and increasing board, then she should do that without feeling guilty.

                                    As I said in my earlier post, I'm not sure that putting in the footing is a great idea. But if she does do it, I don't think she needs to walk on eggshells with her current clients. I think it would be satisfactory to let clients know that she is upgrading and re-footing the arena and that board will be increasing by X amount on X date. I think that a couple of months notice would be adequate, and doing a gradual raise over a few months would be generous.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Here's my perspective: It sounds like you really don't charge adequate board to properly maintain your property. Many folks don't. The footing in the ring is just the most urgent maintenance issue. The fencing will need upkeep, the roof might need replacing, etc, etc. I think you need to raise your board to a degree that there are funds available for repairs. Your clients are using the facility and yes, their board needs to cover these things. Too many people think that board should just cover feed, hay and shavings. Honestly, why in the world do you have boarders if not as a business?

                                      It sounds like you're really underpriced for your area. While your boarders are certainly enjoying the benefits of your generosity, it's really not a great idea for you. I hate raising board and I just agonize over it. But my experience is that $25-$50 per month is really no big deal. My rent just went up and I had to raise my board by $50 per month. I didn't hear a peep.

                                      You need to be fair to yourself. By your own calculations, where are they going to go for the same price? Anywhere they go will be more expensive. And frankly, do you think your boarders are happy at your place just because it's dirt cheap? Probably not. They're happy with the care, with the environment, etc. If they leave because you price yourself more in line with the other businesses in the area, they don't sound like great clients to me.
                                      Last edited by Jsalem; Apr. 16, 2013, 05:58 PM.
                                      http://patchworkfarmga.com

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                                      • #39
                                        I also agree with Jsalem, and raising rates is something that boarders deal with. It is nice customer service to give people a month or two warning, that way if they really can't afford it, they can give their notice. That's also just a reality of doing business.
                                        Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          This entire board increase thread seems to be a marketing/tell a good story for the increase kind of exercise. Apparently the COTHer's think that fixing up the footing in you arena is not grounds for a board increase; however simply jacking the board slowly because of grain and shavings increases is. We haven't raised our board in three years while grain and shavings have increased 25%...guess I'll go that route.
                                          Whatever works.

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