We get along ok. I’m pretty proud of the service we provide. Even after 13 years, I could count on one hand how many times we have not been ready and on time for a scheduled job.
This does not mean it is all smooth sailing however. The bits you don’t see- preparations of what we do are by far the hardest part.
Back when we were starting out, we had one lightweight, dark coloured horse, in Calvin. One gorgeous Victoria carriage, which was light weight, easy to manoeuvre and it was (well at least it seems like it now) really quite easy to clean, prepare load and do the whole job.
At the time it wasn’t, at the time we were sure that when we had more ‘things’- a nicer trailer to move the carriage, or a truck we could fit it all in, a proper wash bay, a bit of experience; that the whole job would be a lot easier to do.
We were wrong. I guess what we didn’t take into account, was change. As we grew, so did the size of our things.
We bought a bigger carriage (or a few bigger carriages more accurately). Ones that are not easy to load. Upgrading the winch on the trailer helped, but the new carriage is wider- so it doesn’t fit between the wheel arches of the trailer, meaning the safest way to load is an extra person on brakes. Then a bigger carriage again, meaning more people to manoeuvre it. And just more space required.
To pull these carriages it mean bigger and multiple horses. These horses also were a different colour- ie they are white or have white bits and are much hairier. Calvin would look awesome after a 15 minute wash. These days I allow at least an hour per horse.
With the extra horses, land management is harder, cost increase exponentially, with feeding, farrier, vet bills etc.
Back when we were just starting out I was always worried that as we only had one horse, and if something happens to him, we wouldn’t be able to fulfil bookings. Now, there is probably a substitute I could use, but the challenge is always there to find select the most suitable horse for the job at hand.
I guess some things have got easier, having a knowledge of some of the venues, having familiarity of suitable routes or parking spots. All these things can mean we don’t need to go and check out a venue beforehand, which definitely does save time.
Marketing is another thing that hasn’t got easier. With the increase in costs, comes the need for an increase in revenue, let’s not even start to think about hoping for an increase in profit.
Marketing is one of those really tricky things, where it is impossible to know where it is best to spend time and money.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of trying to be ‘everything for everyone’ rather than picking one area, and being really good at that. But then, with such a range of tours of offer, we can appeal to many different audiences, rather than honing in on one ‘target market’. It’s also fair to say the market changes with the season.
With so many variables, and so many markets, there is no one way to market that is going to be best- but then there is really no way of knowing which marketing method is actually reaching the people.
Hindsight can be rather cruel, in that it’s so easy to say ‘we should have focused our attention on A instead of B’ but at the day, we didn’t, we have followed the path that we have, and we need to make the best of the situation we have now.
Perhaps I’m just being a grump currently, as it’s the middle of winter, and this year it seems like a hard slog. It is scary quiet currently. I’m this game it goes from busy, to quiet in the blink of an eye, but when it’s quiet, with no work on the short term, it does get hard to keep the spirits up.
Hopefully I can use the break to get some work into the delinquents, and have Boris online for no frills rides by spring. No promises, but it is looking very promising with the way he is working this week.
Thank you for following our journey, If you’ve made it this far, thank you for following my ramblings. Sometimes it’s just nice to get things off one’s chest. If you are thinking about a carriage ride with us, now is a great time. To thank you for reading this far, if you book using our online booking, and use the code ‘blogbonus’ you will get 20% off any of our services that you can book online until the 31st of December 2023.
Progress is progress, however slow, so we continue trudging along, hopefully the new season will bring renewed enthusiasm.