One of the biggest steps I had to take as a business woman and a rider was letting go! To become more productive- really get things done that were bigger than me, I needed a paradigm shift in the way I saw myself working in the barn.
I started the Equestrian Centre from scratch- from day one I had to be everything while we got the facility up and running- Coach, trainer, stall mucker, barn hand…..everything from mucking out, turn out, feeding, night check, teaching lessons and training horses. I was very lucky to have a very good support system in the people around me. In the initial phase of starting the Equestrian Centre many, many people pitched in to make it a success.
I remember the moment I had to let go and stop trying to be everything to everyone. I was in the barn mucking out. I was by myself and going through the extra long list of important things I needed to do for the day in my head. I put the pitch fork down and it hit me. I realized that mucking stalls was not adding value to the business. It was non-value added work and my skills were best directed to taking care of my wonderful clients and bringing new business to the table. As a horsewoman I wanted to be in the barn all the time caring for the horses but I realized that I had to let that part go if I wanted to grow the business successfully. I moved up a level in leadership- I became a manager that day. I hired my first employee and through trial and error developed a pretty solid system. Over the years I learned a great deal about managing an Equestrian Centre and the people that make up the team. We added more staff and brought on working students, volunteers, co-op students, and hired people with intellectual disabilities. The best part was the sense of teamwork that flourished in the barn. With adding the right people to the team our productivity skyrocketed.
With the changes of management in the barn, came new processes that need to be in place to keep things running in top form and with consistency.
I integrated tools to help with the process:
1)Daily schedule- A hard copy schedule posted everyday in the barn. This included:
Which horses where to be ridden
What lessons where scheduled when
Extra work that needed to be completed.
We were able to change the schedule if things didn’t go according to plan.
The hard copy was great to keep for future use (ie Billing or record keeping)
If I ever forgot “The List” I would hear about it from my team (insert sheepish look here)
2) Email Lists
I had email lists in place for the clients as well as the employees. I cannot express how important communication is. Clients want to know if the farrier was there that day, or if their horse got worked so they can plan accordingly. Just touching base twice a month to update clients on what is going on in the barn helps keep everyone in the know and as a bonus: builds a sense of community.
3) Google Calendar: Super way to have an online schedule for arena use and lesson times. Easy to make private.
4) Facebook Group: Great way to acknowledge competition results and team successes. You can also have a private group just for barn members for specific barn related discussions/updates.
I would be interested to hear what systems you have in place at your stable to help with productivity and communication. Let us know in the comments section of the blog!