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Legitimize Your Stable: Management and Business Series | Customer Service

Legitimize Your Stable: Management and Business Series | Customer Service

Previously, we explored how professionalism can aid in legitimizing your stable. Closely related to professionalism is customer service, a critical aspect of every business. Customer service, or lack thereof, can make or break your company’s reputation. One bad experience can be enough to drive away potential customers to your business, or the entire community, forever.

Industry experts report one of the main reasons that parents remove their kids from participating in equestrian sports is the poor customer service they receive. Examples include, but are not limited to inaccurate invoicing, poor communication, scheduling problems, and lack of empathy for how these issues affect the customer.

Customer reviews, customer feedback, and customer complaints are not necessarily negative. They’re opportunities; opportunities to improve the way you serve your customers. Being able to identify your weaknesses is a strength. The real challenge is implementing changes to improve your customers’ experiences. Here are a few methods that can help you determine what your customers think of your horse stable.

Customer Surveys

Surveys have been the oldest and most effective way businesses receive feedback from their employees and customers. We encourage stable owners to survey their customers at least once a year, preferably more.

Surveying will help you identify improvements, what to focus on regarding the services you offer, and what your customers’ needs are. Surveys empower and give a voice to your customers and make them feel more valued. Be sure to include a meaningful reward or a prize draw for participation in the survey.

Follow-Ups and Gentle Reminders

Following up with your customers is incredibly important. Following up on schedules, tasks, and payments make a great impression to customers. Most industries today are excellent at this because it has been proven to increase customer retention and customer satisfaction.

Follow-ups are critical to use after your stable management business implements changes. A quick email to inform your customers of the changes and ask them how they are finding it makes a great impression. Follow-ups are a great way to identify unhappy customers and allow you to take the necessary steps to satisfy them before they decide to leave.

Exit Reviews

Having a customer leaving your stable happens to the best of us. However, one thing every stable owner should do when losing a customer is to have them complete an exit review. Many are probably hesitant about this suggestion, as you may be under the impression that an unhappy customer leaving your stable wouldn’t want to provide you feedback. However, upset customers leaving an organization are going to be more honest and tend to be happy to vent.

Exit reviews from unhappy customers can provide valuable feedback that can help you avoid losing more customers in the future. You should not necessarily act on everything that comes up in an exit review, but reflect on every point.

Ask yourself, “is what the customer saying true? Does my company lack in these areas?” Based on your honest evaluation, prioritize, and implement changes. Internal assessments are always hard and very few like to admit they make such mistakes, but it is necessary for business growth.

How to Implement Better Customer Service

Conducting surveys and getting customers to review your services and performance sounds like a lot of work. You’re right; it can be time-consuming. But in the modern world, these strategies are proven to be cost and time efficient; ‘not having enough time’ is no longer a valid excuse.

Stable management software, such as Stablebuzz, allows you to easily create surveys on your computer, phone, or tablet and send them to your customers. Creating a survey with modern systems takes only five to thirty minutes. You can then send it to your customers with only a few clicks.

In summary

Stay in constant communication to better serve your customers and know what their needs are; this includes timely follow-ups, reminders, and reviews (positive and negative).

Without the use of modern tools, your business can fall behind. Remember that your barn is not only competing against other barns but all other activities. Customers will go to organizations where they feel more valued and better serviced. Neglecting good customer service practices will hurt your business, and we don’t want to see any equestrian stables go out of business.

Take that leap with Stablebuzz so that together we can preserve and grow the equestrian community for future generations.


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Legitimize Your Stable : Management and Business Series | Professionalism

Legitimize Your Stable : Management and Business Series | Professionalism

Stable management, or any other equine related businesses, differ from businesses in other industries. As a result, many stable owners, riding coaches, and other equestrian-related organizations tend to neglect needful business practices that aid in legitimizing their organization. Casually running your organization results in unprofessional practices resulting to customer tendency to not take your work seriously.

I recently became aware of the struggle many stable owners have with customers following their company’s policy. It just seems as though customers are too relaxed with the rules set by stable owners, or simply do not take them seriously. It’s time to mean business and legitimize your company as a serious enterprise with rules and regulations that must be respected. One way to do so is by implementing professionalism.

Why Professionalism Is Important for Your Stable Management Business

Professionalism, in all aspect of your business, is incredibly important for your brand image. Being professional refers to a variety of attribute: timeliness, appropriate communication, and presentation.

In everything you do regarding your business, especially externally, do so with respect of time. Meet your clients, students, staff on time. Send documents, emails, reminders on time. Being on time and respecting the time of the stakeholders connected to your organization positions your brand as reliable and trustworthy. Not only will this legitimize your company and show those involved that you take your company seriously, it will create loyalty.

Convey your messages clearly and consistently. The way you communicate is closely related to how customers position your brand. If your messaging is inconsistent it can translate as problematic, resulting in loss of trust. Worst of all, it will create confusion and result in upset customers who misunderstood your policies. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have scripts and documents with accurate messaging and wording regarding your stable business to be used consistently across the board.

Professionalism is also about presentation. Your place of business, logo, uniforms, staff, and horses all need to look presentable. Essentially, if you neglect the appearance of your business and everything related to it, customers will assume you will be neglectful in the services you offer to them and the policies you require to be followed. It could be farthest from the truth, but some customers may not stay to find out. First impressions, as you may already know, are incredibly important for any organization.

How to Increase Professionalism Within Your Equestrian Business

Major setbacks that drives stable owners to neglect polished professionalism, amongst others, are high levels of stress, burning out, and lack of time management. In a world where efficient technology such as Stablebuzz stable management software exists, improving your business’s professionalism can be done at your fingertips snd with ease.

To improve timeliness requires accurate scheduling. Schedules are one of the hardest and most time consuming operational task to control and manage. What is incredibly helpful about Stablebuzz software is the available scheduling tool. Once signed up, stable owners can create a schedule for their entire business. For example, owners can schedule their horses with students and can see where there is conflict in scheduling and adjust accordingly. But that’s not it, students, coaches, and staff members are also notified of any schedule changes.

What does this mean? No more “oh I forgot to tell you that I had changed your schedule” because they will already be notified. No more “Sorry I’m late” because your schedules are organized. What does this result in? An organized and professionally run equestrian business. So you spend less time stressing, and more time in control.

When your business is running smoothly, it shows. Lack of organization is parallel to unprofessionalism resulting in poor business presentation. Poor presentation results in customers taking your organization lightly, or worse - leaving your organization. We know and understand the struggles and hardships of stable management, and that’s why we provide solutions for you as a stable manager.

Allow us to make your job easier, Take the leap with Stablebuzz!


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3 Ways Your Horse Stable Can Get Involved in the Community

3 Ways Your Horse Stable Can Get Involved in the Community

The Equestrian community may provide benefits to a lot of individuals who have yet to be exposed to horses. Reaching out to people who may seem uninterested in equestrian activities and successfully engaging them into the industry creates opportunities for anyone making a living working with horses.

Discovering creative ways to connect with individuals outside the equestrian industry and catering programs to that client segment will grow not only your enterprise, but the entire equine industry.

Horses For Education

A good way to introduce horses to people is to partner with schools. Reach out to schools within the community and volunteer your horses for educational purposes. For example, when students are learning about animals, you could bring in a horse for them to ride, touch, and interact with. You can also open up your horse stable to schools to enable field trips and introduce students to the industry. You never know which of them will fall in love with the experience and pursue an equestrian career.

Horses for Charity Events

Having your horses support a charity event is not only a goodway to get involved in a charitable cause, it is also an opportunity to introduce people to horses. Charity events often take place during Christmas which is typically a slow season for a majority of equestrian organizations. This can also make for a great opportunity to get involved in charity projects and events.

Horses for Mental Health

Horse related activities are known to be therapeutic for individuals of any age. Partnering up with a therapy clinic or rehabilitation center for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is a helpful way to expose non-equine people to horses.

My first introduction to a horse was on a public street. It was exciting and a small crowd gathered around the majestic well-groomed animal. We got to pet it but not ride it and looking back, the horse was very well behaved and composed despite the crowd. So when selecting a horse to bring out to a busy, noisy, and crowded area, choose the gentlest in the herd. One that would not react aggressively to commotions and big crowds.

Large animals can be intimidating and are usually not the most inviting of the herd. It is advisable, when trying to engage horses with non-horse people, to start with a smaller horse. One that is easy to handle in case a situation gets out of control. Take into consideration the horse’s age as well. Younger horses are more excitable, energetic, and playful and could be a little scary for those who are not skilled in horse handling. Older horses tend to be calmer and more experienced with being around people, making them generally more reliable and safer around non-horse individuals.

The equestrian industry is profitable and efforts need to be made both individually and collaboratively to preserve it. With stable management software from Stablebuzz, equestrian organizations can easily manage administrative tasks while taking the time to connect with members of their community. We’re committed to help the equestrian industry grow, and we do our part by providing software and insights that are profitable.

Take the leap with Stablebuzz!

 

 


Picture of horses taken by Annika Treial displayed on a blog for Stablebuzz Stable Management solutions

5 Ways to Win Over Your Non-Horse Neighbors

5 Ways to Win Over Your Non-Horse Neighbors : Equestrian Management

Good neighbor etiquette is great practice for any organization offering horse riding lessons, horse boarding services, or other equestrian management related activities. Understand that events taking place in your equestrian business can be disruptive and unpleasant to your non-horse neighbors. To avoid complaints, conflict, and friction practice these 5 good neighbor etiquettes.

Every situation will be different. Some neighbors will be more or less tolerant, so it is important to discern who will require more effort and who to not irritate with too much effort.

Being diplomatic can go a long way. Take the steps to communicate with your neighbors, especially if an event will be taking place that you know will be loud and potentially disruptive. It can be something as simple as giving them a phone call or walking up to their door a couple of days prior to the event taking place. Something along the lines of “Hello, I just wanted to give you a heads up on an event coming up this Friday. It might get a little noisy but it’ll only last from 5 pm to 7 pm. It’s a lot of fun and we would love for you to attend!” End your dialogue with an invitation and hand them a flyer. You would be surprised how such a gesture will resonate well with your neighbors. Perhaps some will attend and convert into new customers.

Always be considerate of your neighbors when it comes to the events your equestrian organization is hosting. Regardless of if you reside in an urban or rural area, nothing irritates us more than coming home from a long day to find a car blocking our driveway or parked in our spot. To avoid complaints and irritated neighbors, try to have guests park within the premises of your property instead of on the side of the roads. Also consider the traffic flow and try to avoid hosting events at peak traffic time, as it may cause traffic congestions in your neighborhood. Similarly, when receiving trailers and trucks in your horse farm, having enough maneuvering space within your premises is important as it avoids halting car traffic on the roads.

Minimize the noise as much as possible. If speakers or megaphones are necessary to host your equine events, classes, or clinics, and they happen regularly, there are a couple of things you can do to avoid a strained relationship with your neighbors. The number one action plan is to position your speaker and events strategically within your farm. Avoid setting the volume higher than necessary. Once you have taken the appropriate steps to lessen the level of noise disturbance, approach your neighbors with a schedule of when these events will be taking place so that they are not caught off guard as that may increase the level of irritation. People are more likely to respond better to the noise and disturbance if they anticipate it. Make sure to let them know that you have taken the steps to reduce the noise level to the best of your ability so they know that you have taken them into consideration. Your neighbors are likely to be more understanding when they are aware that you make efforts to please them. It shows that you care.

Share your equestrian management passion with them. Tying back to what was mentioned earlier, your neighbors may not know much about horses, or about you. They don’t know why you run your equestrian business and your passion for it. Invite them for a tour of your horse farm. Show them your horse riding coaches in actions, discuss what you do, why you do it, and the impact your equine organization has on you and others. Make it passionate!

Try going the extra mile for those neighbors who require a little more effort. When plowing off snow, offer to plow their driveway as well. Give them season greeting cards for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and so forth. Bring them some snacks or cookies from the events. Engage in small conversation whenever you can and represent your equestrian business in the best way possible. Make sure you convey to your neighbors that you are concerned about the noise and traffic bothering them, and that you are doing your very best to be a good neighbor while running your business.

It might seem like a lot of time and effort being taken away from running your business but dealing with complaints will take just as much time and effort. Good relations are important for any business. Equestrian businesses using Stablebuzz’s stable management software are not restricted to an office space to run their equestrian organization. They have the freedom to roam around the neighborhood, and farm and still have access to their databases to complete their administrative tasks. So a walk to the neighbors doesn’t stop them from performing their duties.

Remember, the key elements of good neighbor etiquette to practice are to communicate, give your neighbors a heads up, and have them understand what you do so they can understand why certain things are taking place. By practicing good neighbor etiquette, you create positive relations and a certain level of friendship. You always want to position your business as something positive and the way you interact with your neighbors helps.

Take the leap with Stablebuzz today!


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4 Tactics to Market Your Equestrian Stable

4 Tactics to Market Your Equestrian Stables

Your equine stable has business potential that you may not be aware of. The equestrian stables industry has a global value of approximately 300 billion dollars with USA, Europe, and Canada representing $133 billion, $102 billion, and $16 billion, respectively. With proper management of your stable, you can unlock the full potential of your business.

The best way to do this is to market your equestrian stables effectively. Marketing is much more than digital ad spend. Ultimately, it is about building relationships with existing and potential clients. For a stable, or equine-related organization, an effective marketing strategy must contain a combination of tactics. If all you do is advertise, online or offline, but your website is hard to read or navigate, your search engine optimization strategy is weak, and your overall customer experience is unappealing, it will be much more challenging to generate revenue.

Deciding what to market, as an equine stable, can be difficult, especially with a tight or limited budget. Here are a few defining points that will guide you into the correct marketing direction:

  1. Define your goal for your business. What do you want your marketing efforts to produce? An increase in website traffic? More incoming calls and inquiries? Greater profit? More customers? Increased brand recognition? Defining what outcome you expect will not only aid in the creation of advertising content but will also help you determine the appropriate marketing channels to achieve your goals.
  2. Define your target market. Who do you want to attract? Who is looking for the services and products offered by your equine organization or stable? Where are your potential customers located? Defining your target market is critical as it will help avoid wasted time and effort marketing to uninterested individuals. It enables you to focus on the customers you can best serve and who will appreciate your products and services the most.
  3. Define your differentiation from competitors. What makes you different? Why should customers choose you instead of other stable or equine businesses? Do you have more experience? Is your infrastructure more modern? Do you have state-of-the-art amenities? Do you use advanced technology, such as the Stablebuzz platform, to ensure faster and more efficient customer service and satisfaction? Defining what makes you different is essential as it will be your selling point and what you highlight when promoting your equine business.
  4. Define your message. What will be your tone in capturing the attention of your customers? Playful? Professional? Authoritative? Consider who your target market is and what messaging they respond to, but above all, consider the tone that best suits your brand. Based on that and all mentioned above, decide what your message will be and what you will say. Will you convey the message of how affordable your equine organization is? Perhaps you can promote your five-star customer satisfaction? What message best entices your target market? This step is important as you must appropriately advertise your organization’s uniqueness consistently.

The advertised message has to match what is being emphasized on your website, your social media, and other publications both online and offline. Remember, avoid being all things to all people. Define your equine business’ strength and target whom you appeal to. A jack of all trades is a master of none, therefore, convey a message that your equestrian stables business is specialized in one unique feature and customers will come to you for that feature and discover more of what you can offer.

With the steps listed above, your marketing strategy should take shape. However, the most important step of them all is implementation.

If you invest resources into strategizing what the optimal goals are for your company and how to achieve them, but don’t implement your strategy, you will not gain results and will not be able to optimize profitability for your stable.

We understand that implementation and strategizing can be time-consuming and complicated. The Stablebuzz stable management platform has built-in marketing automation capacity that allows you to build content and post on-the-go. On the same software, review reports, and measure if your marketing initiatives are effective based on your results and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Stablebuzz is committed to preserving and growing the equestrian sport for future generations, and one way we do that is by providing stable management solutions that aid in making existing and future equestrian businesses profitable.

Take the leap with Stablebuzz today.


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Why Managing your Release Forms is Important for your Equestrian Business

Why Managing your Release Forms is Important for your Equestrian Business

I once spoke to an equestrian business owner, a woman who owned a stable and I became excited as I had been looking for a place to experience my first ride on a horse. Sadly, she informed me that she no longer offered riding lessons or services as the liabilities and risks were too high. She explained that after a lawsuit, she decided to no longer offer rides or lessons as she was unable to renew her insurance.

When asked why she didn’t better protect herself, and if she had her customers sign a release form or liability waiver, she simply waved it off with an exasperated, “it’s not as easy to keep up with as you think.” Based on the scarcity of equestrian business owners offering riding experiences and lessons, it dawned on me that she might not be the only stable owner facing legal difficulties resulting in no coverage from insurance companies.

Amongst many stable management tasks, a release form (or liability waiver) is a crucial document to have and manage in case legal actions take place. As most stable owners know, tracking and managing the signage of release forms is critical administrative work but it is easy for these to sometimes get lost or get missed entirely.

Why Release Forms Are Important for Equestrian Business'

Release forms will limit liability in the event a member of your organization gets injured or hurt while participating in the activities conducted in your stable. This document should include details on what activity is the subject of the release, who will be released from liability, who will be participating in the activity, the emergency contact person, and their relationship to the signee.

In order for your release of liability be binding and validated in court, you must clearly state the risks involved in the activities. Through precise, clear, and understandable language, your customer should fully understand the risks they are voluntarily assuming by participating in the activity prior to signing the form. To ensure proper wording always contact your insurance company to approve the contents of your release and comply to any changes they suggest. If you live in an area that doesn’t have insurance coverage available, ensure you get a lawyer to review the contents.

Certain countries, states and provinces, have laws in place to protect stable owners from liability. Despite laws regulating liabilities, stable owners must inform customers and workers of the dangers that they are assuming and a release form can help with this. Always get proper legal advice on these topics as the specific laws differ from place to place.

Liability waivers and release forms play an important role in shifting some of the responsibility from the owners to your customer as they agree to not pursue you or your equestrian business. Although having a release form or liability form is important, it should not be an excuse to become negligent – always make sure you do your part in making your stable safe for use.

The Problems of Managing Your Release Forms and Keeping Them Up to Date

Traditionally, documents are signed on paper. The reasons vary - having a witness verifying that the person of interest is the one signing the document and not anyone else is a major one. Signing paper documents with a witness was a good solution to minimize dishonesty. However, keeping up with the files in office when many different people can be involved can lead to mistakes and has certainly led to decreased efficiencies.

Many stable owners have struggled and continue to struggle with managing their release forms and are at greater liability or risk because of it. Having release forms signed by paper requires customers to be physically present; meeting with them takes up valuable time you could spend providing better service. In addition, paper documents easily get misplaced or lost, and always need to be printed in advance to be readily available. If your stable receives legal advice to update the release form, the process of getting every customer to sign the new forms can become cumbersome and you may end up missing a few. This puts your horse stable business at grave risk and compromises its chances of being profitable.

Statistics show that 81% of riders have been injured at least once in their lives due to horse riding activities, so the chances of legal actions being taken against your stable at some point are fairly high. It is crucial to get 100% coverage on your release forms. It is also important to take the initiative to operate your business efficiently while you protect it.

The Solution

The solution to simplify and accurately track your release forms is to use a modern online system that is tied directly into your customer list. Technology has simplified business processes for nearly every industry, and this now includes the equestrian sport.

With Stablebuzz’ all new online platform, your release forms are safe and secure. You can email your customers a request to sign the release form instantly, and when they sign it, it is automatically saved into your system. You can easily track who has signed and when, and late or outstanding signatures. It is easy to update your release forms and resend it to all your active customers from your phone, tablet, or laptop for free using Stablebuzz, which is also a complete Stable Management system. You don’t have to be tied down to an office space with intimidating piles of paper. Many of your administrative tasks can be done on the fly while your customers ride, while feeding your horses, or supervising workers and making sure everything is running smoothly at your stable.

If an unfortunate legal event takes place, you will have all your documents available for your insurance company with proof that it was signed by the plaintiff. The Stablebuzz release form system contains trackable features confirming that the plaintiff agreed to assume the risks stated in the signed release form.

Stablebuzz offers the ability to protect your stable business and gain control of your administrative tasks. Stable management is not always a walk in the park, but with innovative technology you can spend less time worrying and more time running your business with confidence.

Stablebuzz is committed to preserving and growing equestrian sport for future generations, and one way we do that is to provide stable management solutions that aid in making existing and future equestrian businesses profitable.

Take the leap with Stablebuzz today.


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4 Ways Equestrian Directories can Increase Profitability for Stable Owners

4 Ways Equestrian Directories can Increase Profitability for Stable Owners

Online marketing is growing rapidly and has become an effective and cost friendly tool to Stable business owners. So much so, that prospect customers and employees judge your company’s credibility and reputation based on your online presence and brand image. Stable Directories are one of the most efficient ways to market your company, and here are four reasons why you should invest the time to enter your business name in local and international directories.

1. Increase Exposure
Listing your business in online Equestrian directories helps your website gain exposure as long as these come from reputable, quality sites. Thousands of people use online business directories every day to find companies who provide the services they are interested in. These individuals are actively searching for websites that are directly related to the services you offer. Whether you offer horseback riding lessons as a coach or run a horse stable, customers are already looking for the services you offer - all you have to do is make it easy for them to find you. Online business directories will expose your business to more online visitors, which could increase traffic to your website, your phone line, and your email inbox.

2. Search Engine Optimization Benefits (Increased Discoverability)
Online stable business directories, such as Stablebuzz, can significantly improve your search rankings. There are three important things that search engines, such as Google, consider when scanning your website and evaluating your credibility prior to suggesting your website to a searching customer: links, content, and user experience. Inbound links, also known as backlinks, come from external sites to yours. For example, the Stablebuzz directory linking to your website. These types of links are known to increase your website’s SEO, because the more backlinks that a search engine crawler can find, the more relevant they will rank your website. The higher your SEO, the greater your chance of appearing as the first suggestion in a search engine such as Google or Bing. 71% of searchers click on results found on the first page and only 6% of searchers click on the second and third page combined. The importance of ranking on the first page is evident.

3. Strengthened Reputation
When your brand is well marketed and easily discoverable online, it extends a sense of trust to potential customers. A ranking in the search results implies that your business is one of the best options because search engines top suggestions are ranked based on how relevant and credible your website is to the searching individual. If they come across your business in multiple online locations and you have a good social media presence, searchers will be under the impression that you are well recognized and this increases trust.

4. Affordable Advertising
Listing your equestrian business in a directory is extremely affordable and in many cases free. For example, Stablebuzz’s directories allow you to list your horse boarding and/or riding lesson services to gain extra exposure at no cost. Other online business directories are often inexpensive to join and they can offer a lot of exposure for the price. Consider joining your local chamber of commerce and regional equestrian non-profit organizations. These directories not only increase your visibility to those browsing them, but they also improve your SEO because they have great reputations already.

Online business directories are great for your business. Listing your equestrian business on them makes it easier for potential customers to find you and it is very affordable. We encourage you to take the time to register your business and offer your services on Stablebuzz' riding lessons and horse boarding directories.

Stablebuzz is committed to preserving and growing equestrian sport for future generations, and one way we do that is to provide stable management solutions that aid in making existing and future equestrian businesses profitable.

Take the leap with Stablebuzz today.