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Best ways to attract new students? ...

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  • Best ways to attract new students? ...

    An opportunity has just dropped in our laps and we have the chance to build a real business -- good land, location, and some good horses. But, how do you go attracting a real clientele? ?

    Does advertising really work? Word of mouth?

  • #2
    Word of mouth, advertising, have a good comprehensive web site, show successfully, and demonstrate good quality horsemanship 24/7.
    "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
    "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson


    • #3
      First, what kind of business are you looking for? Lessons, boarding with some shows, serious show barn, training and or sales?

      If you are looking for lesson students, phone book and local community newsletters etc. Reach out to schools/girl scouts etc as well.
      If you are looking to build a board/show clientele, post ads at tack shops, and make sure you are present at significant shows. (Remember you are a walking billboard for your operation when you are out at shows etc.) Join and be active in your local affiliate association. Ads in local newsletters (the type that might cover an area of 2-4 suburbs) for a boarding/showing clientele needs to focus more on who your trainers are or what your training record is.

      Good luck.
      F O.B
      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


      • #4
        Flyers in tack shops/feed stores. Usually word of mouth does the trick though. Like Beau Cheval said, showing successfully helps a lot as well. Sometimes barns will give a free introductory lesson to start things off.


        • #5
          I also wanted to add that you should put yourself on lists in horse magazines. Like in my local (zone II) horse magazine (Today's Equestrian, Horse Directory) there is a list of barns/trainers in the back as well as advertisements on the pages.
          "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
          "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson


          • #6
            Not sure what sort of clients you are looking for, but when I was new to the area looking to take lessons (on lesson horses) I found the local tack shops were the best place - not necessarily the bulletin boards but the folks who worked there.

            A well organized web site is also a plus.


            • #7
              Have a clear vision.....

              I have lived in many different parts of the country, and by now have been a part of a number of riding programs. I think that the best thing that you can do to start out is to sit down and create a business plan, and a mission statement.
              And then take it from there.
              A detailed website is also IMHO an important way, maybe the most commonly used way esp. these days, to provide information to potential clients.

              Another way I have found instructors is to go to a local horseshow and watch. If you are planning to have a business where you take people to shows/ train or coach, it would be good for business if you are able to get out there on your own horses and show/ establish a positive reputation, if you haven't already done that.

              Good luck!
              What's the scoop?


              • #8
                Another way that is kind of creative is to advertise in the Parks and Recreation Magazine that many towns, cities, counties, special districts, etc. send out to every address in their jurisdiction. Moms and Dads that may not even think to go to a tack store, would see the ad and sign their horse crazy child up for lessons. Some trainers become contract instructors which offer a class called "Into to Horsemanship" or something like that. A local trainer in my town does this and it has lead to lots of business, especially during the summer. Other cities that I have worked for have also had local trainers either advertise or become contract instructors. Summer camps are also away to generate business.


                • #9
                  DD went to a birthday party a few weeks ago at a local western barn. Within a week, we got a call telling us that she seemed to really enjoy herself and was really good with horses - had we ever thought of giving her some regular lessons? I'm pretty sure they paid out some decent money to have everyone ride for 15 minutes, too.

                  On a side note, I thought this was odd, given that she'd been to a show that morning, jumped 18" and was still in her shirt, jods & boots and brought her own helmet. Obviously they either a) weren't observant, b) forgot who she was, or c) thought we went WAY overboard on dressing her for the birthday party.
                  A proud friend of bar.ka.


                  • #10
                    When we decided to move my Ds to a new barn 2 1/2 years ago I spent a lot of time at horseshows watching trainers I was interested in teach their students in the warm up rings and then I would watch the kids do their rounds and see what the trainers did afterwards. I also watched many of the trainers warming up their clients horses.

                    After I decided which trainers I liked I was able to talk to some of the parents of current students, then I set up meetings with the trainers themselves.


                    • #11
                      Reasonable prices and nice facility


                      • #12
                        Clean facility (both barn AND grounds)
                        Lots of grassy turnout (if looking to get boarding students)

                        Knowledge of alot of different levels and the ability to teach or have trainers for each... (some people click with horses, and not people... some people click with children, not adults, etc)

                        Decent, competitive pricing on both board and lessons

                        A good string of school horses/ponies

                        A good attitude at the horse shows. For example, the year my trainer and I brought our ponies out for the pony hunters... I CANNOT tell you how many parents came up to us asking about our trainer. Probably bc there was 3 of us doing 2 mediums and a large (one being the pony jock for all 3)... and we schooled them together, laughed together, and never took a show too seriously. Whether it was 20 degrees or 80 degrees... we were always giggling about something... or making fun of each other in a playful way. This spoke VOLUMES to the parents of kids who were walking out of the ring hysterical crying or scared stiff of their trainers/ponies. One parent actually pointed to their daughter... still sniffling from a meltdown... and said... HOW DO I GET MY KID TO LOOK LIKE YOURS? As our pony jock was exiting the ring cracking up bc one of our green pony hunters had just tripped and bucked in a corner during their ending circle, hence, blowing the perfect trip... We were standing at the gate like.. "oh well, next week, pack the saddle with the horn!" The more you laugh and look like you're enjoying yourself... the more the parents want their kids to be part of your group.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by showmom858 View Post
                          When we decided to move my Ds to a new barn 2 1/2 years ago I spent a lot of time at horseshows watching trainers I was interested in teach their students in the warm up rings and then I would watch the kids do their rounds and see what the trainers did afterwards. I also watched many of the trainers warming up their clients horses.

                          After I decided which trainers I liked I was able to talk to some of the parents of current students, then I set up meetings with the trainers themselves.
                          Just my opinion - if you are looking for adult students or parents of riding students who are compatible with your personal training style, figure out how you can attract folks who do this kind of homework. That way the ones who want to meet with you will likely be like-minded individuals. Then offer them a seriously discounted first lesson to see if you like them & they like you enough to go forward . . .

                          There are plenty of otherwise good students & trainers who are just plain incompatible with each other & that stands in the way of the enjoyment of riding & showing for both trainer & trainee.
                          Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


                          • #14
                            Well said, KBEquine. When we started "shopping" for a trainer, we visited several barns. Just hung out. We just were made to feel welcome by everyone at our barn.
                            A proud friend of bar.ka.


                            • #15
                              You already have tons of great suggestions, I just have to second a website. I recently built one as a favor for my friend's barn, and I am honestly really shocked by the response--it seems that a LOT of people start their boarding/lesson/riding searches online these days.