You can create a higher income for your riding school without buying more horses, equipment or riding areas by simply filling in non-peak lesson time using the existing facilities. That itself is a fairly simple statement, but the real question is how do you fill in non-peak lesson time.
Most riding schools are often quite busy on Saturdays, Sundays, after school as well as school holidays. If they have floodlights, these lessons can go on into the evening. During the day and during the week are usually the quieter times for a busy riding school. This is because traditionally the majority of riding school students arealso school students or people who work in a Monday to Friday job.
You might need to think a little ‘out of the box’ to fill in those non-peak lesson times. What type of person is not busy during the day and during the week?
Riding lessons for school students in non-peak lesson times
What about school students who home school? Their time is more flexible and they may prefer to have lessons during the day. If students are at school in another area, another state or another country, then they may be on holidays during your local school students school time and have some free time for a lesson when you are not busy.
International school students often visit another country to learn the language and have a unique cultural experience. If you establish contact with a business who organizes Study Tours then you could have a steady stream of extra business for a couple of summer months each year.
Another option is to talk to the schools in your area to see if they would like to incorporate their school activities at your riding school. This could include sports activities, vocational education or another special type of activity that can be included into their curriculum.
School students are often looking for work experience within a horse setting. This may not always be an income-producing proposition, although working with the rest of the community to encourage school students into the workforce can create an enormous amount of goodwill that will be returned to you in many ways.
Put special event dates in your diary to fill up public holidays with income producing activities. Keep your regular lessons in the afternoon or evenings of public holidays but create a morning ride or a small competition. The idea is that your students don’t do this instead of a lesson that week, they attend the special event as an extra activity.
In the school holidays, have some ‘day camps’ (or overnight camps if you have the facilities). Do more than just lessons. Make it special for the kids, have some proficiency certificates for them to achieve so they can take their certificate home to show to their friends. Photos and certificates go a long way to promoting your riding school by ‘word of mouth’ to your students’ friends.
Riding lessons for adults in non-peak lesson times
Shift workers are often available for lessons during the day and weekend workers will prefer lessons during the week. Other workers are moving towards having an ever-increasing ability to have flexible days, hours and even work places. More people are working from home and fitting their work life into their social calendar and other interests.
Mothers are also another area of the population who can be targeted to fill in non-peak lesson times. This is particularly true if you were to provide a comfortable place for them to sit down and enjoy each other’s company over a cup of coffee after their ride. They look forward to their ‘Mothers’ Mornings’ each week, often for the social gathering afterwards. If you hold these weekly events, an investment of a cake for morning tea can be a wise move for their special brand of customer service.
Early morning rides can be popular in the summer. The daylight hours are longer and people find it exhilarating to go for ride before work. The only problem is that they then can’t concentrate at work as well because their mind continually moves back to the ride that morning!
Don’t neglect the business community. Team building exercises with horses are becoming increasingly popular. Another business area is for higher-level executives who are often looking for a unique experience that will impress their overseas visitors. Forget the golf, try horse riding!
Staff professional development in non-peak lesson time
Remember your own staff, your work experience students and the education of your riding school horses. The non-peak lesson time activities are also a good time to educate/ re-educate your lesson horses (yes, they are staff and they do need regular education/ re-education).
If you have work experience students who can already ride, this is a good time to spend some time with your staff professional development. You teach and educate your staff, who are teaching your work experience students who are reminding your horses about their job in the riding school.
This staff training is invaluable. You can spend one hour teaching four members of staff who are teaching four work experience students who are teaching four horses. Using this leverage system is very efficient, you have worked only one hour with twelve hours benefit. Using this leverage in non-peak lesson time when they are all available may not have a direct income producing effect, but the staff education can increase income many times over.
Other non-peak lesson time activities
Remember that non-peak lesson time allows you to complete all those extra tasks that are required to make a horse business run smoothly, with out the hassle of extra horses and people to consider.
It is often difficult to find the time to complete tasks like organizing feed delivery, farrier visits, repairs and maintenance or even visits into the local community and schools to promote your business.
As a final piece of advice . . . if you as the business owner don’t want to work these extra hours in non-peak lesson time, there are lots of horse riding instructors who are also in their off peak time during the day during the week. These instructors may appreciate the extra opportunity to earn some extra cash.