Marketing Your Livery Yard Effectively
Whether you have a couple of stables at home or a large equestrian centre, if you’ve got livery vacancies, you’ll want to get them filled. The best way to do this is to advertise, but advertising can be a complicated thing and with so many yards available, getting an advert to generate enquiries means you need to put in a bit of work to make your yard shine!
This advice does not just apply to our advertisers on LiveryList but should be the same for anywhere you advertise your business. Do not miss out on clients because of silly mistakes or omissions, and do not be afraid to shout about how wonderful you are!
Don't advertise only when you have vacancies
Many yards fall foul to the simple mistake of only advertising when they have vacancies, in order to reduce costs and/or unwanted enquiries. The best way to advertise is year-round. That way you will not miss out on any enquiries and you can create a waiting list. Many yards use this technique so that when a vacancy does arise, not only do they have several potential clients on standby to take the space – meaning the can fill it almost immediately – they even have the option to select the most suitable candidate, rather than the first one who comes along. An empty stable costs money, so advertising year-round for the cost of a few extra pounds means there is no doubt that this is the way to go! Plus, if you offer other services aside from livery – such as rider training, facility hire or events – then you can continue to advertise these year-round, irrespective of whether you have vacancies or not.
In an increasingly online world, having an internet presence is the best way of selling yourself and allowing potential clients to find you with ease. Whether you have a continual advert on a site like LiveryList, a website or social media pages, keeping these updated and running throughout the year is a very low cost way to promote what you have to offer. As for dealing with unwanted enquiries when you are full, it’s far better to send regular ‘sorry we are currently full’ replies to a potential client than not to receive the enquiries at all, bearing in mind people may be looking to move yard weeks or even months in advance, so by then you may well have a space.
Have a permenant place to advertise, be this an advert, a website or social media pages
It does surprise me how many yards have no online presence at all. The cost is very little for a basic website these days, often costing less than £100 a year to set up and maintain. There are many simple websites these days, with basic editing suites that allow you to update as necessary, but you’ll still need some basic knowledge. Alternatively, you could spend a little more on getting a professional company to design, host and manage a website for you. Many yards do have social media pages, such as Facebook, and these are best used to a yard’s advantage if they are updated regularly with quality content about the yard, services or current news.
Another option is to have a listing on a website like LiveryList which is easy to set up, with its own dedicated link for the listing – this can then be used as a ‘website’ for the yard, as it has the ability to contain all of the necessary information. No skill needed, no worry about hosting or managing a website. Even better, if you opt for a 'Featured Listing' then the listing is professionally edited with brand colours, logos, unlimited photos and wording. This gives you a professional page that reflects your business and can be linked to from social media pages, Facebook adverts or other listings.
Regularly check and update
It is best to ensure you keep your adverts and website current at all times, or at least schedule in a regular reminder to log in and update them. Advertising on sites such as LiveryList, where you have control over your yard listing, permits you to log in and change or update any of your details at any time, whether this is as simple as changing a phone number, or a complete overhaul of your listing. Whilst there are many livery yard directory sites offering free listings, these are often unable to be edited and remain available online for many years, even if the details are incorrect. With no way to remove or update these listings, this can often lead to confusion for those seeking livery, especially if yards have closed or changed hands.
Make sure you include every single package, facility, and service you offer on your adverts and website, and ensure these are kept up to date. If you change your services or add facilities, ensure your adverts and website reflect this, and include photos of any new facilities or updates to existing facilities. Ensuring your listings are up to date will help potential clients get in contact, as well as meaning you'll be able to promote everything you have to offer. My recommendation is to take an hour once a month to log in to any listings and check that they're up to date.
Check your contact details
One of the most frustrating comments we hear from users of LiveryList is that sometimes they do not get a reply when they enquire to a yard. If you have moved yards, or changed your number or email address, don't forget to check and update any contact details shown on your listings. Failure to do this means you won't be able to hear from the people interested in your vacancies, facility hire or services, which leads to a potential loss of money!
It's been proven that only a small percentage of people would try to contact an unresponsive business a second time, so it would be a shame to miss out on potential clients because of such a basic mistake. If your contact details change, make sure you update your adverts as soon as possible to reflect these changes.
No photos or the wrong photos
Do you know that people are much more likely to click on an advert if there are photos? If you have an advert to which you can add photos… why not! Some adverts limit the number of photos allowed, so it is important to prioritise the images you feel best sell your yard to potential clients. Just by using two or three well-taken photos, you can put across the yard and its facilities well. Although you may be a professional rider offering your services, it is the yard you are promoting, so whilst adding one or two photos of yourself riding or competing won't hurt, the priority should be on photos of the yard and its facilities.
If you do not have any current photos of the yard, set aside some time to go and take some. It only takes a few minutes and a simple walk around the yard with your phone or camera should enable you to take enough suitable photos of the facilities on offer. Make sure the photos are clear and concise, and think about how they are ordered too. At most, a couple of photos of each area of the yard or each facility should suffice. The more photos you can upload, the better you can convey the yard. Photos are a particularly important part of your advertising at times like this, where unnecessary contact should be avoided, so the ability for a potential client to be able to ‘view’ the yard, or even take a video tour, is likely to save you both time if they feel it’s not the right yard for them.
Think about your listing title and wording
There are so many listings for yards with titles such as 'Livery Available', 'Full Livery' or '5* Livery Yard'. Describe your service, but also include your yard name in your listing title, as this will make it unique, help users find your listing and make it stand out! As well as this, the content for yard adverts is hugely important. The advert description is your chance to convey what you have to offer, both in terms of the yard and its facilities, and as a business. You should include all the things offered by the yard and stick to the positives. Although some of the details may be found elsewhere on the advert, the description allows you to convey what you have to offer in a concise way, and is the perfect opportunity to sell your yard's services, location, ethos and more to potential clients.
However, it is also important not to include too much information. Wording should be kept short and to the point. There may be specific details that only need to be mentioned when the yard is viewed, or in specific circumstances such as the detailed inclusions of livery packages. There are some suggestions below as to important points to cover. If you have a website that potential clients can click through to where this information is already available then you can leave some of this out, but it's important to make sure that the information is consistent between your advert and your website!
Important points to cover in your advert description:
- Where are you based? What is the surrounding area like? Are you easy to access?
- Who runs the yard and what experience do they have?
- What makes your yard stand out?
- What livery packages do you offer?
- What sort of liveries do you have (i.e. competitive riders, retired oldies)?
- What facilities do you offer or include for livery clients?
- Is the hacking good in your area?
- Are you an Approved yard, or have qualified staff or instructors on site?
- Do you run shows or events, or offer training at the yard?
- Are you near to competition centres or training venues?
- Do you offer facility hire or any services to non-liveries?
- Do you have any specific rules that may turn people away (i.e. no children, isolation, mares only)?
- How is it best for them to contact you?
Think about creating a brand
Whilst creating a brand may seem a little over the top for a small livery yard with just a few spaces, to have an identity for your yard can only be a positive thing. By having a brand, or even just a logo and a brand colour – you can make your yard seem more professional and stand out from the rest. This is not only beneficial when it comes to your adverts and website, it can also be used to make your yard documentation stand out and can even be incorporated into staff workwear or competition clothing. Gone are the days where a brand was an expensive thing to create; logos can easily be created for free on websites such as Looka, and having a brand colour is as simple as changing the colour of your text, or other elements, to match that of your logo.
Check your advert before submission
You do not want something trivial such as poor spelling to affect people’s perception of your yard, as they may think you take just as little care with your liveries! If you can, you should check an advert, or anything posted online, prior to it being published. There is nothing worse than submitting an advert only to spot a glaring error after its published – even more so if it's an advert that you cannot edit after submission! Sometimes, it's only due to the slip of a finger that 'equestrian' becomes 'equestrain', but it's important to check an advert word for word before it's put into the public domain.
Previewing your ad is an important step, not just so you can check the wording and details, but also to check the adverts finished look. Whilst a photo may look great when you upload it, it may not come across so well on a published advert (for example, if the file is too small or has not uploaded properly). It's also important to check any links that you’ve submitted to ensure they work correctly.
Let them see more
Many listing sites will allow you to include links to your website or social media page, but these are only good if they work! It is important to make sure these links are active and go to the right place – it's quick and easy to check the links before adding them to an advert – and remember to keep them updated. For example, if you change the username of your Facebook page, the previous link will no longer work and will take users to an error page. The same goes for website links, so it’s important to check your website regularly for any issues. One click of a faulty link to your website or social media page can mean the user may not bother to look any further for the information they were seeking.
Let others sell your yard for you
It’s all very well selling your yard on the basis of a well laid out, informative advert or website, but client reviews come 'from the horses’ mouth', as it were! What better way to fill your vacancies than by letting your current or past clients help you fill them. If you can get reviews for your yard added to your listing or social media pages then this will give potential clients an idea of what it's like to be part of your yard family. On LiveryList, for example, we have thousands of yard reviews submitted by past and present liveries at our listed yards, and every time a new review is added it gives the yard in question a little bit more promotion, with no extra effort from the yard owner.
If you have vacancies, let everyone know
Advertising year-round is a great plan, but when you’ve got existing vacancies, you need to shout about it! You can share adverts on local Facebook groups, update your own website or share post on your own social media pages. Even if you are simply putting up a card in a local tack shop, you still need to make your advert stand out! It’s important to get as much exposure as possible, so contact the sites you advertise your yard on and see if they can give you any extra promotion when you’ve spaces available. For example, at LiveryList we follow all of our yards with 'Featured Listings' on their social media channels so we can share any posts about available vacancies, or other yard owners can simply send us a message and ask for us to post about their vacancies. These posts are then seen and shared by all of our followers to help them get enquiries. The best way to get your spaces filled is to get your adverts in front of people!
Respond to enquiries promptly
Whether you have vacancies or not, it is important to respond to any enquiries in good time. It would be a shame to miss out on a space being filled due to simply being too slow to reply to an enquiry. Even if you are full, a polite and courteous message can do wonders, and you may well find horse owners returning for follow up enquiries at a later date.
Advertise on LiveryList!
If you have livery vacancies to advertise, there is no better place to advertise than LiveryList. It is an established and proven platform for yard owners to advertise their vacancies and services. You can advertise your yard from just £12 a year and the design of our listings means they are effective and easy to maintain. We also have a huge social media following, as well as links to many professional equestrian associations and businesses, meaning it’s a well-respected and widely shared platform for yard owners.
With LiveryList you can:
- Log in 24/7 to update your listing
- Upload an unlimited number of photos and there is no cap on the description length
- Include detailed information about the packages, service and facilities you offer
- Provide links to your own website and social media pages
- Take out a 'Featured Listing' which will be professionally edited
- Incorporate your logo and brand colours
- Get enquiries direct to your own inbox, making it quick and easy to respond
- Advertise all year round
- Show users when you are full or have a waiting list
- Have reviews submitted to your listing
If you are a yard owner looking for support to manage any aspect of your yard, LiveryList also runs the Livery Yard Owners UK- Discussions and Advice Facebook group. A closed group especially for verified owners across the UK, it is a friendly and welcoming group, allowing yard owners to discuss and share advice, as well as network with other yard owners in their area.