Posted on 17th September 2018
The introduction of a Livery Yard Handbook to clients can be a great resource for both yard owners and clients. Whilst livery contracts are becoming more commonplace, the inclusion of yard rules and specifics can often make these long documents and changes to situations or yard routines can make them quickly out of date. As an alternative option, a Livery Yard Handbook can be created and issued to all clients, and the acceptance and understanding of the contents included as part of the livery contract. Handbooks are an excellent way to kickoff effective communication with your new clients, and make sure that everyone is on the same page for rules, expectations, and yard routine from the start. But what should you have in a Livery Yard Handbook?
There are no rules… really anything you feel is beneficial for clients to know either in relation to physical attributes of the yard, the yard routine or rules and regulations. A handbook can set expectations and clearly define the boundaries for clients. As well as this, a handbook can protect yard owners by clearly stating the rules, policies, and procedures that can prevent liability. A well-structured and planned handbook can also save you time. It will be there as a reference point for all clients and will save explanation or reiteration of the rules to new or problem clients.
Remember, whilst you will be issuing to longstanding clients just as a reminder, you may also be issuing to brand new clients who are unfamiliar with the yard, and the local area. Below we have listed some considerations to make when thinking about issuing your own handbook. This is also an important list from the point of view of any livery clients who are reading this article as there may be points listed below that would be beneficial for you perhaps to know about your yard, but have maybe not had that information!
This list is not exhaustive and you will need to carefully consider your own yard, routine, layout, and practicalities. A good way to work it out is to keep a notebook on your yard for a week, and note down everything of importance you do in the course of managing the yard and caring for the horses- this should help you come up with a satisfactory list.
Although handbooks are an effective tool for managing yards, if it is not written properly, is too broad or too specific, or the procedures are not followed consistently, this may prove confusing to clients. Whilst it is important to be concise with the information included, you need to consider how likely such procedures and rules are to change between issue and possible update. For example, if you detail exactly the herds or who uses which paddock as they are at the time of issue, you do not really want to be re-issuing new versions of the handbook if this is likely to change within a few months. Anything which is likely to change regularly can be touched upon in the handbook, but exact details are probably best left to be communicated directly to clients at such a time as changes take effect.
You can issue your handbook digitally by email, a link on your website, or a hard copy when you give new clients their other paperwork, such as contracts. It would also be recommended to have at least one copy available on the yard for reference. When included as an appendix to your contract, you will need to include a statement within your contract such as “As part of this Livery Agreement, the Horse Owner confirms that they have read and understood the information contained in the Livery Yard Handbook’” which forms a legally binding agreement, and/ or you can issue them with an acceptance form to go alongside the livery agreement, and can also be issued for each updated version of the handbook to confirm they have read and understood.
Remember, as your business grows, the way you conduct your business changes, and therefore the procedures of your yard may change as well. It is recommended to review and update your handbook annually- however small the changes may seem- to update rules, information and procedures that no longer apply. Don’t be afraid to use a review of the handbook as an opportunity to get your clients input on what is working and what is not, as they are the ones who will be working according to the handbook and they can provide insight on procedures which can be added or taken away to enhance their experience. Keep in mind that details of other information- such as service providers, local clubs or other services details- may also change, which will also be a good opportunity to check this information when you update your handbook.
We have a Template Livery Yard Handbook available here
The inspiration for this article, and the basis of our template Livery Yard Handbook is thanks to the organisational skills of Terri Hill at Hill Livery in Bristol. Terri is a longstanding advertiser on LiveryList and her listing has an amazing 56 five star reviews on her listing! See her listing here.
Emma Hayes reviewed Westcott Farm
Wescott Farm is an excellent yard, my 2 horses settled immediately and Annette was extremely helpful in ensuring they had everything ... Read more
Jenny reviewed Westcott Farm
Absolutely fantastic livery yard- secure tack room with heated rug rails (a lifesaver in winter!), straw & hay included, good size ... Read more
Doreen Davies reviewed T and L Equestrian
Great yard to stable your horses in. Kim realy loves her horses.... Read more
Subscribe today and receive latest Livery List news and guides direct to your inbox