Setting up an Equine Assisted Learning Centre
EAQ operates a franchise scheme for centres so if you are interested in joining us as and having the benefit of our experience, registered trademarks, policies, procedures and materials we can help and support you through the entire process! From finding premises to gaining customers!
In this short article we take a quick look at some of the most important aspects of setting up a centre.
This is the first stage in the process of setting up an equine assisted learning centre and will give you an idea of the size of the market and whether there are already other providers offering a similar service. Some of this information can be found on the internet, by talking to people or going to meet with potential customers.
- Is there a need in your area?
- Who will be your target group?
- Are there other providers offering a similar service?
- Where are they based and who do they work with?
- What could be your points of difference?
- Are there people who would be willing to use your services?
- Who are they and where are they based?
- How far would people need to travel?
- What facilities are available to you?
- Do you have qualified staff?
- What horses are available?
Once you have conducted your initial market research you will have a better understanding of the market in your area and be able to refine your ideas to put together a detailed business plan. Planning a new enterprise can be daunting, but EAQ can help you from initial ideas through to opening and beyond.
Your business plan needs to cover the short and long term targets for your business.
Your plan will include:
- Business Strategy, Aims and Targets
- Financial Plan and Budgets
- Marketing Plan
- Web Design and Building.
Your financial plan, cash flow forecasts and budgets will determine whether you will need to borrow money or be able to fund your business from your own resources.
An equine assisted learning centre requires a large capital outlay for premises and the overheads are high.
Set up costs might include:
- Purchase of premises or the deposit for renting
- Improvement of the facilities eg fencing, building a round pen
- Equipment such as computers or phone lines.
Fixed costs (or overheads) are the costs that you have to pay, even if you don't have any customers. With an equine assisted learning centre, the majority of your costs will be fixed costs. Try to be as accurate as you can when you look at your fixed costs. It is common to under-estimate the costs and over-estimate the income!
You might include some of the following:
- cost of premises - eg rent, rates, field maintenance
- wages for staff
- energy and phone
- horse costs including feed, vet, farrier.
Every business needs to cover costs. Some businesses make profits for their share holders while social enterprises or charities will use their profits for the good of the community. It can take years to make a profit from a business built from scratch so some questions to ask yourself here might be:
- How much do I need to earn from this enterprise?
- Is this realistic / achievable?
- When might I break-even?
- How will I fund myself / cover the mortgage in the meantime?
There are benefits and disadvantages for each legal entity and whichever legal structure you choose, there will be implications for costs, record keeping, legal requirements, regulations and tax planning. You might consider one of these common legal structures:
- sole trader
- limited company
- social enterprise
A marketing plan is one of the ways that you can plan how you will raise awareness about your equine assisted learning centre and find customers.
- Who will be your customers?
- How will you find them?
- How will you convert them into customers?
- How will you retain these customers?
- What is a ‘call to action’?
Web Design and Building
Every business needs a website these days but what are the pitfalls and how will you know that you are receiving value for money from your web designer?
- How do you purchase a domain name?
- What is web hosting?
- How much does it cost?
- Who can build your site?
- Will there be on-going charges for maintenance?
- Will you be able to make changes yourself?
Once you have thought through those main areas and put together your business plan you can begin to think about other, more administrative things. For example:
- writing policies and procedures
- taking photos and writing your marketing materials
- preparing copy for your website.
Help is at Hand
EAQ has a great deal of experience in setting up centres so if all this sounds rather daunting there are three ways we can help:
1. Attend an Introduction Day
2. Become a Certified Facilitator
3. Become a Franchisee.