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What Do You Expect to Pay?

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  • What Do You Expect to Pay?

    I am establishing a boarding facility in the DMV. The amenities include wash rack with hot/cold water, indoor arena with maintained sand footing, individual turnout, access to equicizer, and access to a theraplate. You can opt to have your horse fed alfalfa for an additional fee. Intimate barn environment with well bedded stalls. I'm hoping to bring in an FEI dressage trainer for monthly clinics. I'm just trying to figure out where I can reasonably expect a price point to sit around.
    "Those who are easily shocked, should be shocked more often." - Mae West

  • #2
    I'd say that it somewhat depends on your exact location (the closer you are to the city, the more you'll be able to charge), the size of/amount of time for turnout, and whether or not you'll provide "extras" (scheduling and holding for vet/farrier, blanket changes, etc.) I think the answers to these questions could impact price by a couple hundred per month one way or the other.

    Comment


    • #3
      Around here you need to fit yourself into the market. There aren't a lot of barns available, but what you charge has to relate to what people can find locally. When my BO built her barn she had one of the largest indoors in the state, and a large beautiful barn. If she priced it above the market it would have been empty no matter how nice it is. There is a limit to what people can or are willing to pay. Access to equicizer, and a theraplate sound good (I'll admit to not knowing much about them), but access implies it's there if I need it. Things like monthly clinics are nice but are an enticement that you will have to make good on, not a service.

      You have to project your revenues and expenses to figure a breakeven point. Hers was 14 stalls filled until the mortgage was paid off a couple of years ago. Insurance and property taxes are eating up an increasing piece of the revenues. And there's the price of hay...…...
      "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019

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      • #4
        There's boarding at the Department of Motor Vehicles now? **snort** I kill me.

        Anyhoo... It's more sustainable that you do your own math on actual and soft costs then add 35% margin to figure what to charge. Going by what a bunch of strangers say you should charge, or what the farm down the road charges is likely going to land you with money troubles.

        So.. Property taxes, insurance (property and employee), electric, water, labor are your soft expenses. Then estimate average horse of average size use of bedding, hay, feed. Then add for facility maintenance/ wear and tear. Taxes. Legal fees to draft a contract, etc.

        I'll add that I know nothing about the horse climate/ industry in Maryland. But in CT, for what you offered, the charge for Full Service board would vary from $700 - $1400+, depending upon location.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have to disagree. 35% is a huge, huge margin in most businesses. You won't earn that in the horse boarding business, let alone most other industries. Just for clarity, margin is defined as a percentage of sales/revenues. If you charge 1K for board and you have 35% margins, you are bringing in $350 in profit on that board bill after ALL costs but before income taxes. If that was the case, we would all be in the horse boarding business. The reality is, most boarding facilities "break even" which means their revenues equal their costs and there is no profit left over to speak of.

          I have to disagree on another point. What the farm down the road charges does matter. Every farm "down the road" is a competitor. If their rates, services and amenities are more attractive, they will attract all the clients. This is why it is important for any new business to develop a business plan. You cannot simply put a price on a service and expect clients to show up. You need to price your services in line with the competition if you hope to attract clients. Sometimes when you run the numbers, the business plan doesn't hold water. Better to figure that out well in advance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Three things jump out at me re: determining your boarding fee:

            1. Location. I agree with CBG that it really depends on how far you are from DC proper - are you 1 hour, or 2? When I looked for barns here, I found a lot of options that were 2 hours out, but I wasn't willing to drive that far. Nice barns within an hour or so will be in demand no matter what you charge (to a certain degree, at least).

            2. What's included? Will you include things like medicating, blanketing, etc? Will you handle vaccinations, holding for the vet, etc? Or will things be offered a la carte?

            3. How big is your indoor? Is it small (e.g., 20x40m), or big, luxurious 100'x200', with windows, etc.?

            Also what is the quality of the regular trainer(s)? A clinician is nice, but what about those who need someone several times a week?

            Good luck! Would love to see another high-end facility pop up around here.

            Last edited by Feathered_Feet; Jan. 3, 2020, 07:46 AM. Reason: Edited to remove "nickled and dimed" due to its negative connotation. Replaced phrasing with "a la carte."

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            • #7
              OP, surely you know what other facilities in your area are charging and how they compare? That will matter the most for your business plan.

              Other details to consider when pricing your offering: Is there also an outdoor arena? Do you have any land available for hacking/fitness work? Do you have permanent, regular staff (or is everything done by you)? Do you have perimeter fencing + gate around your whole property? Does your barn have limited hours or will it work for working professionals who ride at night? How do you control dust? Etc.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, unfortunately you're going about this backwards.

                You could have the best facilities in the world with a great offering to boarders but if the area won't support it, it doesn't matter. You need to take stock of what facilities already exist within an hour or so of you, what they have included in board and what they charge and THEN decide what you can reasonably offer at a price point that is still competitive.

                In our case as we plan our small farm, board ranges from a couple hundred dollars for a field, a shed and a water tub to $800+ for full board plus all the bells and whistles. But the big problem we have in my area is turnout - land is expensive, mud is always a factor for chunks of the year and unless you severely limit the hours a horse is turned out, access to actual grazing is kaput by early June. Our whole business plan is centered around maximizing the use of our land, maximizing the ability of horses to be sustainably turned out year-round and minimizing mud by investing in footing solutions for sacrifice areas. This will cut down dramatically on the basic costs associated with stabling like bedding, hay waste, wear and tear on the barn itself, etc. It also is way healthier for the horses, and my own experience in horse keeping has taught me my costs go down when horses are allowed to live like horses. People in our area will pay a premium for good turnout, so I anticipate no trouble in filling our small barn.
                Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Feathered_Feet View Post
                  Will you nickle and dime for things like medicating, blanketing, etc? Will you handle vaccinations, holding for the vet, etc?.
                  What some people call "nickel and diming" other people call "a la carte". A la carte often exists because boarders want to customize their services.

                  Here is an example. Susie is very involved with the management of her horse and she prefers to hold her horse for the vet and farrier. Betty is a busy professional and she wants the barn to hold her horse for the vet and farrier. If you charge Susie and Betty the same board fee, Susie may feel miffed and ask for a discount since she is holding her horse and the other boarders are not. If the BO agrees to give Susie a discount, the other boarders may feel slighted.

                  The best way to address the situation is to have a rate sheet that outlines the "base" board and what is included. "Extra" services are then listed along with their respective rates. If the rates for the extra services are disclosed up front and apply to all boarders, it is hard to see how someone can argue they are being nickel and dimed.
                  Last edited by OneTwoMany; Jan. 2, 2020, 04:57 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                    There's boarding at the Department of Motor Vehicles now? **snort** I kill me.

                    Anyhoo... It's more sustainable that you do your own math on actual and soft costs then add 35% margin to figure what to charge. Going by what a bunch of strangers say you should charge, or what the farm down the road charges is likely going to land you with money troubles.

                    So.. Property taxes, insurance (property and employee), electric, water, labor are your soft expenses. Then estimate average horse of average size use of bedding, hay, feed. Then add for facility maintenance/ wear and tear. Taxes. Legal fees to draft a contract, etc.

                    I'll add that I know nothing about the horse climate/ industry in Maryland. But in CT, for what you offered, the charge for Full Service board would vary from $700 - $1400+, depending upon location.
                    i thought the same thing!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                      There's boarding at the Department of Motor Vehicles now? **snort** I kill me.
                      That was my thought too. That will make the wait to do stuff there much more enjoyable. I can look at horses instead of people watch.


                      Can someone tell a clueless person what the acronym stands for in this situation?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

                        That was my thought too. That will make the wait to do stuff there much more enjoyable. I can look at horses instead of people watch.


                        Can someone tell a clueless person what the acronym stands for in this situation?
                        I'm just taking stab... Delaware, Maryland, Virginia?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ha ha! Glad I'm not the only one who read it as the Dept of Motor Vehicles. You'd have to pay me to board there

                          I'm guessing Delmarva area?
                          Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            DMV = "District (of Columbia) Maryland Virginia", as opposed to Delmarva, which is Delaware Maryland Virginia.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post

                              I'm guessing Delmarva area?
                              Which if Jo had not so nicely written out above I would not have know what Delmarva meant either.

                              Thank you, bdj

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My sense of the market is that board tends to run around $800 for full board at most good places, with higher prices in the Upperville area. I think those prices are influenced by the fact that a lot of local farms grow their own hay. In New England, where I used to live, high end places cost way more.

                                I also think, frankly, that the lack of an in-house trainer will likely be a factor. The kind of people who are willing to pay above-average board rates are generally people who want to train and show. That is not universally true, but there may be a mismatch between your private barn concept and your desire to be high-end.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by touchstone- View Post
                                  My sense of the market is that board tends to run around $800 for full board at most good places, with higher prices in the Upperville area. I think those prices are influenced by the fact that a lot of local farms grow their own hay. In New England, where I used to live, high end places cost way more.

                                  I also think, frankly, that the lack of an in-house trainer will likely be a factor. The kind of people who are willing to pay above-average board rates are generally people who want to train and show. That is not universally true, but there may be a mismatch between your private barn concept and your desire to be high-end.
                                  Was thinking in the same range for a place with an indoor, with the same caveats about exact location. Field board $400 and up, basic stall board $800 and up, partial care stall board $1000 and up, full care stall board $1200 and up. Those low-end numbers assume “workmanlike” facilities and turnout (which is all many customers want to pay for) an efficient operation (requiring less staffing) and a >60 min out location.

                                  We’d really need to know your location as well as a better description of your facilities and included services to throw out comparable numbers. Agree with others saying that you need to calculate expenses, if for no other reason than to compare to numbers you get here to determine whether you can afford boarders.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post
                                    What some people call "nickel diming" other people call "a la carte". A la carte often exists because boarders want to customize their services.

                                    Here is an example. Susie is very involved with the management of her horse and she prefers to hold her horse for the vet and farrier. Betty is a busy professional and she wants the barn to hold her horse for the vet and farrier. If you charge Susie and Betty the same board fee, Susie may feel miffed and ask for a discount since she is holding her horse and the other boarders are not. If the BO agrees to give Susie a discount, the other boarders may feel slighted.

                                    The best way to address the situation is to have a rate sheet that outlines the "base" board and what is included. "Extra" services are then listed along with their respective rates. If the rates for the extra services are disclosed up front and apply to all boarders, it is hard to see how someone can argue they are being nickel and dimed.
                                    Agreed - I didn't really mean it in a derogatory way. I guess I could have phrased it as "are you asking about boarding rates that are all inclusive, or just a stall, feeding, and mucking?" Because you are spot on - the popularity of each billing structure depends on who you ask!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If you want to know what a market price is for some commodity or service then you do a market survey to find out what the market IS, not what people think it might be. So, let your fingers do some walking and call around to a few facilities and find out what the base rates are.

                                      Of course you have to calculate your own costs. Most people who start out doing boarding don't do a good job on this, as they stop at the direct costs of boarding (labor, forage, fodder, bedding, insurance, utilities, etc.). Some add in the costs of building and fence maintenance, tractor and other equipment costs, other vehicle costs (truck, trailers, etc.); some don't. Few include the costs of taxes, depreciation, upkeep, and the unexpected. Nobody adds a salary for themselves.

                                      You must do TWO calculations (market value of the service and costs to provide the service) and then compare them. If the Delta is plus then you're OK; it it's minus you're not. But just how PLUS is it? If you won't make at least minimum wage (based on the 60-70 hour week you will actually work) then you might want to question the wisdom of the project. Note that "question" does NOT mean, "don't do it." It means KNOW what you are about to TRY and do.

                                      Most folks I've ever talked to said you need to have 12 mo. of operating expenses in hand when starting a new business. That's part of the capital that can keep you going until you achieve profitability. No many people do that, either.

                                      I lived in Silver Spring for several years and started riding at a stables in Howard Co. The owner was married to a Park Police officer so she had a significant outside income available as well as health care coverage for herself. She ran a lean but professional operation. She was a good teacher and many lessons I learned from her I was able to put to good use when we moved to East TN. But one lesson I also learned was that this business has a high turnover rate. I looked for her some time back and she was not at the Howard Co. location any longer and was divorced. I've since lost track of her. She was a nice lady and very good instructor.

                                      I wish you well in your project.

                                      G.

                                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        There is definitely no shortage of barns in the MD part of the DC area. You should be able to find your price point with several comparable barns. I'm guessing in the $650-800 range, from what I've heard. Your amenities seem pretty standard, but maybe you could have an optional additional charge for theraplate use.

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