The new year is the perfect time to roll out any new, or updated policies or procedures that you have for your program. Actually, in general, it is a great time to roll out anything new.
So, lets jump in to it. Here the main policies and procedures each lesson program should have and why:
The length of your lessons, and what is all included in a lesson.
Why? So that all of your clients know exactly what to expect when they come for their lesson with you. It’s even better if you can break down the amount of time you take to do each task. For example. “ Lessons with average the the time of one hour. Lesson will include 10 minutes of tacking and grooming in the beginning and in the end of the lesson, with a total of 40 minutes riding time.”- The more specific the better.
When payment for lessons are due.
Be strict about this. You have bills to pay, and horses to feed. Now, it is alright to be understanding with clients in some cases as we all know that things in life can happen. On the other hand, make sure that it is known that if clients do not pay, you cannot hold their spot. This is very important for when your program comes to have a waitlist.
How your lessons are scheduled
Ensure that your clients understand how they make it on to your roster. For example You can say, “Lessons will be scheduled based on academy availability and rider availability”. If you do not have a spot for them, then they will go on the waitlist.
Bad weather policy.
Always have what will happen in the case of bad weather. An example would be, “In the event of bad or severe weather, lessons will be cancelled and rescheduled at no expense to the rider, by the barn staff. If a lesson cannot be rescheduled then a credit will be given towards next months lessons.”
Make sure to have a MINIMUM 24 hour cancellation policy. Your time is valuable. This is also why it is important to receive payment up front so that if there is a late cancellatio, you and your staff will still be paid. Here are some words to say: “To cancel a lesson, ”contact person” must be contacted 24 hours in advance of the cancelled lesson, and a make up day will be scheduled, or a credit towards the following months bill will be given. Cancellations less than 24 hours will result in full charge for the lesson. Emergencies will be handled on a case by case basis. “
This policy is very important. Especially if you have riders back to back. Your time is valuable, and it needs to be respected. Here are some words you can use for this policy: “If a rider is late to a lesson, the lesson will still end at the scheduled ending time of the original lesson, and the full amount will be charged. “ or “After 15 minutes into the lesson the rider is not present, the lesson will be forfeited“- it’s up to you what type of policy you would like to have.
No Call No Show Policy
Always make sure you have this policy for your program. This is also why it is important to receive payment up front in full. It is a very simple policy to add- “There will be NO REFUNDS on a no call, no show. Full amount will be charged.”
Forms and Processes of Payment
Always have the way your clients can pay you, and the process of how you bill visible so there is no misunderstanding of how things are calculated. Example of forms of payment are cash, check, venmo, quickbooks, etc.
Right to refuse Service
You have the right to refuse service to anyone. Here is what you can say- “Failure to meet any of the above requirements will result in termination of lessons.”Insert Barn name here” reserves the right to dismiss a student or amend the lesson requirements at any time.
Remember- Have you policies and procedures very visible where any and everyone can see them so no one can say, “Well I didn’t know.”
As for me, I email all of the clients via the email list I keep about any updated policies and procedure, as well as have them posted in the barn. The least amount of confusion, the better.
Another thing that is great to roll out in the new year is any price changes, and anything changing administratively in your program.
So, go review your policies and procedures list and make sure to send them out for the new year.