Making Service Ordering Quicker Than Ever

One of the most common interactions users make with At The Yard is ordering an ad-hoc service from their livery yard.

This is great for liveries. By making it quick and easy to order additional services they can make the order as they think of it. No more forgetting to write it a book when you get down the yard like the old days. It’s also great for the livery yard. The easier it is for their customers to order extra services, the more they’ll do so and so the more revenue the yard makes! We think this is a pretty great win win all round!

So! With this in mind we’ve been polishing and refining the ordering process to make it easier than ever. To do this we made 2 small changes to how the ordering process works:

  1. It now defaults to opening the one-off ordering screen. This is the most common type of order and so it makes sense to show it first (you can always click a button to jump over to the recurring ordering screen).

  2. It now shows the ‘week style’ order screen first as it’s generally easier to click on a day than choose a specific date from a calendar. It also means if you need help for a few days in a row you can do it in one order rather than many.

With these changes (and a bunch of little others like improving the day selection checkboxes to make them easier to select) we’ve got the number of clicks for an average service order down from 9 to 5 (if our counting is right). This is not only quicker but it has simplified the whole process as well.

Sounds good, but seeing is believing! So take a look at old and new side by side and get a feel for how much quicker and easier it really is.

Out with the old!

Out with the old!

In with the new!

In with the new!

We hope you all agree that it’s a significant improvement.

This update is the latest in our ongoing series of refinement and polishing updates. These improve the day to day experience of using At The Yard. We’re having a great time making them and believe the cumulative results will lead to real benefits for our users over time.

So, if you have any suggestions for any little tweaks or improvements to a feature, please get in touch and let us know!

Lots of Little Updates

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This week, rather than bring you one big update of an existing feature or something brand new, we’ve launched lots of little updates and tweaks to existing features in At The Yard.

Charges Filtering

We’ve always had the ability to filter charges by date and by a specific ID. We’ve updated this to remove the ID filtering (it was never used) and add the ability to filter by description. This means you can now filter charges by a particular service (e.g. a Lesson).

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We’ve also added a total of the charges at the bottom. Meaning you can now choose a service and see the total income for a chosen time frame!

User Calendar Navigation

The user calendar is present on the front screen of every users page. We’ve updated this so that users can travel forward and backwards in time to see what’s going (or has been going) on. They’ll see their services, bookings as well as the public service and bookings of other users.

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There’s also a small update on it’s design. We now only show a week (as you can navigate through) so it uses less space and it now automatically increases/decreases in size to show all the calendar items present without having to go to another page. Finally depending on the view it’ll automatically enlarge todays forecast.

User Creation

When creating a user in At The Yard you had two methods:

1. Invite a user. This sent them an email with which they could sign up and enter their details. Once setup you could then start configuring their subscriptions etc.

2. Create a non login user. This would create a user who couldn’t log in but would allow you to instantly start configuring them. Once setup you could then later allow them to login, at which time they’d receive an email with instructions as to how to login.

These are still both present but we’ve added a third!

Create a Login User. This allows you to create a user who will instantly receive an email with instructions as to how to login whilst also allowing you to instantly start configuring their account.

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As part of this addition we’ve made a new menu which explains the various options and allows you to easily select them.

This should reduce any confusion that previously existed and add extra options to yard owners!

Create All Invoices

The create all invoice button allows you to automatically create invoices for all customers who have an outstanding debt. Previously when you did this you had no choice but to send an email. Today we’ve added an additional option which allows you to create the invoices without sending emails.

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That’s all for now!

There are a few extra little tweaks here and there (but they’re not too exciting so we’ll spare you the details). As always we’re working on new features and look forward to being back with more soon - in the meantime enjoy the little tweaks and small additions.

Published Calendars

It’s #FeatureFocusFriday again and this week we’re pleased to be launching another new feature for all our users.

We’re introducing Published Calendars. With published calendars you can choose a subset of your Facilities and Services to put on a calendar that can be embed’ed on your own website, available for everyone to see, no login required!

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This feature goes even further than last weeks’ Yard Wide Display by letting prospective customers (not yet registered in the system) to see availability and also get a general idea of what’s going on at the yard.

It can also be used for large format displays in common areas, tack rooms etc. to keep everyone in the loop and aware of what’s going on at your yard/equestrian centre (please send us photos if you do this 😁).

To help get you up and running we’ve put together a screencast showing you how to configure a new published calendar. Then we show you how to embed it in Squarespace and Wordpress. You can of course use other platforms as well and if you need help please let us know.

Check it out below

As with many of our new features this comes from discussion with our customers. If you have any feedback of existing features or would like to suggest new ones we’re always happy to hear them! Drop us a message on the contact form on our home page!

Enjoy your weekend!

Yard Wide Display of Orders and Bookings

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For certain services and facilities you want all your customers to be informed when ever a new order or booking is made. To make this possible, this #FeatureFocusFriday, we’re introducing Yard Wide Display of Orders and Bookings.

To setup yard wide display (also known as public display) you need to go to the Admin tab and click ‘Services' or ‘Bookings’, click Edit or Create. On the form that loads scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see a check box ending in ‘to all users?’.

Configuring a service

Configuring a service

Configuring a facility

Configuring a facility

When you check this checkbox, whenever a booking or order/subscription is made for the facility/service it’ll be displayed on each users individual calendar on their front page.

Like their own calendar entries the type will be denoted by it’s colour in accordance to the key. New with this feature, in the case of a public event it’ll be denoted with a 📍either side of the entry.

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When you click on a calendar entry it’ll load the usual detailed view. In the case of a public entry it’ll also display an additional line letting you know who’s made the booking or order.

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This feature helps in providing transparency and increased communication for your customers. If you need any help setting up your public services or facilities please feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!

As with many of our new features this comes from discussion with one of our customers. If you have any feedback of existing features or would like to suggest new ones we’re always happy to hear from customers (both existing and prospective 😀)!

Invoice Grouping

We’ve got a small update to the invoicing system on this #FeatureFocusFriday. It allows you to customise how you want to group similar charges made by a user when creating an invoice.

First let us take a look at an example where a customer has purchased multiple of the same supplement on different days. In the first image below we have the default grouping options which separates the purchases out by date.

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In the next image (below) we have adjusted the grouping options so that it ignores the date. This means that all purchases of the same type and with the same details will be grouped together. As a side effect of a larger group you’ll see a date range in which the all the charges were made.

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To change the settings all you need to do is click the Grouping Options button when creating a new invoice. You’ll then be able to check/uncheck the options you wish to exclude.

For example, if you want to exclude different dates as a distinguishing factor for your groups you would simply check ‘Date of charge’, if you want it included you uncheck it.

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As always, if you find yourself needing additional options let us know and we’ll add more as needed.

Enjoy your #FeatureFocusFriday!

Third Party Payment Requests

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It’s common for yards to look after a horse on behalf of the owner when the Vet, Farrier, Equine Dentist etc. comes to the yard. This is an essential service for owners who work full time and might not be able to get to the yard themselves.

When it comes to paying it’s simple when it’s a large business (like a veterinary practice) they just add it onto the owners account and have their finance department keep track. But when it’s a smaller supplier typically 1 of 3 things happens:

  1. The supplier bills the yard and then the yard recharges it to the owner.

  2. The supplier sends the bill to the owner (text/email/etc) and the owners pays them directly.

  3. The supplier asks you to give the bill to the owner.

Option 1 ensures the supplier is paid in full and on time (which keeps them happy) but mean’s you’re having to use the yard’s money, not only tying up capital but should the owner decide not to pay making you the one out of pocket.

Secondly when you recharge the owner it’ll count as an income from an accounting point of view (even though there’ll be an equal expense to cancel it out). Whilst this shouldn’t increase your tax bill can push you towards the VAT registration threshold (we wrote a blog post around this subject last year - https://www.attheyard.co.uk/blog/2018/5/11/the-future-of-vat-and-livery-yards). Many yards wish to stay under this threshold and certainly wouldn’t want to be pushed into it based on ‘recharged’ services where there is no upside for them.

Option 2 takes all the burden off of you but comes with other issues. You can end up being in the middle of a supplier and owner who’s paid late or not at all. In the worst cases this can sour the relationship between the yard and the supplier - something nobody wants to happen.

All this whilst being out of the loop of what’s going on and unable to step in and defuse the issue before it becomes critical. It’s the simpler option but perhaps not the most effective…

Option 3 is a middle ground. The yard would act as an intermediate, receiving the requests for payment and passing them onto the owner, who can then pay the supplier directly.

You can keep informed whilst never being out of pocket, the only real downside is it means more admin work.

What At The Yard CAn Do To Help

After considering all the options, and talking to our customers, option 3 looks to be the best approach and so, today, we are introducing Third Party Payment Requests into At The Yard.

With Third Party Payment Requests in At The Yard you get all the benefits of acting as an intermediate with none of the downsides. We’ll help you keep track of everything and keep the admin to a minimum.

All you need to do is enter the requests from the supplier into At The Yard when they give them to you. Once done the owner gets a notification of the request and can go ahead and pay it (and let you know). This way you can stay on top of everything - with At The Yard automatically showing you who has outstanding bills so you can give them a friendly prompt and keep relations between the yard, owners and suppliers in tip top shape!

How?

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As always, all current subscribers to At The Yard have already received this update.

As a manager user go to the manager tab and click payment requests. From here you can start adding requests for payments on behalf of the suppliers.

P.S. If you've stumbled across this page and have your own livery yard we'd love to show you more of At The Yard. Please visit our contact page and get in touch.


Setting up Products in At The Yard

A key part of At The Yard is getting your products setup for your customers to purchase either when visiting your yard or for the care of their horse when they’re boarding their horse with you. Once setup you can use many of the additional features in At The Yard that are based around products. For example included products as part of a livery package or in the feeding schedule system.

However, it’s important to get the basics setup first and that’s what we’ll be looking at today. At The Yard has three types of products:

  1. Full - Used for non dividable products like a wormer.

  2. Fractional - Used for dividable products such as hay or straw.

  3. Weight - Used for a item you purchase by weight, generally feeds.

For each type of product At The Yard will automatically calculate the correct price for the amount purchased, ready for you to bill for at invoicing time. Check out the video below to find out how.

Composite Bookings

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Over the last year we’ve seen our customers starting to use the booking system in At The Yard to schedule riding lessons. To make this easier we’ve been periodically adding features to make using it for this scenario more effective. One example of this development is the Request system we implemented a while ago which allows a user to request a booking and for you to approve, deny or suggest an alternative.

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When booking a riding lesson you also need to ensure that another facility (such as the outdoor school) is available at the same time (it’s not much good having a lesson if you’ve got nowhere to ride). Until now you’ve had to manually do this process, either by booking it before approving the request or by asking your customer to also request/book the necessary facilities when booking the lesson.

Whilst this has worked, it’s been an area that we’ve wanted to improve for a while. We want customers to just book the lesson and have all the dependencies booked automatically at the same time.

To make this possible we are today releasing the a feature called Composite Bookings.

Composite Bookings

An example needing the school and an instructor.

An example needing the school and an instructor.

Composite Bookings, literally meaning bookings made up of several parts, takes away the extra steps that have been involved in booking a lesson up-to now. It supports the ability to have multiple dependencies (e.g you can require the outdoor school and also for an instructor to be accessible) or simply just one dependency (e.g like a school in our original example).

Once setup, however simple or complicated your dependencies, it’ll automatically book everything needed. Your customers simply need to book the one thing they care about. In this case, the lesson!

Setting up the facilities dependancies

You cannot have loops in your dependency between ‘Facilities’.

You cannot have loops in your dependency between ‘Facilities’.

This setup process only needs to be done once by the yard admin. It’ll define the relationships between different facilities. Each facility can be involved in multiple dependency chains (e.g. Both Lesson with Instructor #1 & Lesson with Instructor #2 can both depend on the Indoor School being free). The one restriction that we impose is that you cannot have loops in your dependencies (as show in the diagram) - but don't worry it’ll let you know if you try and form a loop.

To start the setup process go to Admin -> Facilities Note: You’ll need to create all your facilities before creating the dependancies. To setup the dependancies for a facility, click on Edit for the respective facility. On the dialog which opens, scroll down to the Dependant Facility section. To add a dependancy click on the Green + button. You can then select the dependancies for this facility (shown in the diagram below for our example “Lesson with Instructor Number 1”). This can be repeated as many times as necessary.

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Once you’ve finished choosing the dependancies click on Update Facility. This will set your dependancies and from then on, in our example, any bookings for “Lesson with Instructor Number 1” will automatically make a corresponding booking for the School and for Instructor #1.

Making a Composite Booking as a Customer

An overview of all the bookings made, including the automatic ones made as a result of the defined dependancies.

An overview of all the bookings made, including the automatic ones made as a result of the defined dependancies.

The process of making a composite booking as a customer/member/livery is exactly the same as they’re already used to. They just go to the booking screen, select what they want, choose a time and then click on book. The difference is it’ll book all the other required facilities at the same time.

This result is shown in the diagram on the right/above. You’ll note that there is no Cancel Booking on the automatically made bookings. They’ll be removed automatically if/when the Cancel Booking button is pressed on the primary booking (in this case Lesson with Instructor #1).

A Note On Terminology

Reading this post you’ll notice that there are a few ‘inconsistencies’ in the way we use the term Facility(ies). For example whilst a Lesson would more logically be called a service we’re still calling it a facility. This discrepancy occurs because within At The Yard Services are typically date based (e.g. booking for a muck out for a date or a selection of dates) where as Facilities are time based (e.g. you have slots available to book and they select time from those slots). This discrepancy won’t cause issues for your users but we thought we’d note it here to remove any confusion that may arise when setting up.

What’s Next?

The next enhancements to the booking system will be attaching a ‘booking schedule’ to each horse. This means you’ll also be able to ensure that the horse they’ll be using for a lesson will be available at the same time as a lesson. This is great for facilities which have horses available to use as part of a customers membership.

Check back soon for more updates or follow us on Facebook where we post notifications of updates to At The Yard.

Equine Photography

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You may not know that we take almost all of the photos that you see on our website, blog, and Facebook posts. We’re not professionals but it’s become a bit of a hobby and we’d like to share it with you.

We are very fortunate that our mare is an old hand at being a model for our pictures, and is either happy to stand and be photographed or in the worse case scenario, tries to use the equipment as an ear scratching post.

But whilst she is beautiful (ok, we may be a little bit biased) we enjoy having a variety of horses and ponies on our website. So how do you introduce horses of all ages to photography equipment in a safe and relaxed way?

The first concern is always the horse’s safety, physically and mentally. We tend to introduce them to the equipment in a sand school which has the added bonus that if any of the equipment gets knocked over it generally has a soft landing and doesn’t break. By being in an enclosed environment which is big enough for the horse to move completely away from the equipment if it feels stressed, we can ensure that there is never too much pressure on the horse to do something they are not comfortable with whilst keeping them contained which allows photos to be taken without a bridle or head collar.

This being said, every horse we have photographed has been very curious about the equipment and so far we’ve had no problems. We introduce the camera stands first as these are static and vaguely resemble a jump stand. Most horses aren’t troubled by these. The more challenging things to introduce are the umbrella, the flash, and the reflector, which is a large round circle of crinkled silver fabric. (See the photos below for a few examples of the setup process).

We introduce these items one at a time. We also find it can be helpful to have the horse loose in the sand school so that they can decide how close they want to be to the equipment. Most horses are surprisingly relaxed with it all, and some have been known to give the reflector a little nibble!

The first photos might only be ‘ok’ whilst you get the lighting setup right

We also try and introduce the flash in daylight/dusk so that it isn’t too intense when they first experience it. The photos taken with a black background are usually shot at night and this experience can be overwhelming for a horse if they haven’t seen all the equipment and experienced the flash in daylight first.

We try and give each horse at least one session to get use to the experience before we aim to take any usable photos. We also try and do the photo sessions at a time when no one has to rush off after a set time so that there is no pressure to get things “right”.

With a little work you’ll get the lighting just right (although no guarantee the ears will be forward).

If we found a horse was completely not ok with the process we would, of course, accept that not all horses want to be models for us and that’s completely alright. We are always prepared to accept not every session will result in a usable photo.

As we said, the welfare of the horse is always the most important thing to us, and the horse’s owner is always present throughout the session as photos are being taken. Also stressed horses look stressed, so we know that when we take care to help horses be calm and happy, it is reflected in the pictures.

These sessions are always a lot of fun, and all of our model horses are volunteers. Their owners get to keep all the photos we take for free and in return we use the pictures on our blog and Facebook posts for At The Yard.

If you’ve stumbled across this post and haven’t heard of At The Yard before please take a moment to visit our website and find our more. At The Yard is the game changing equine livery yard management app that we promise will save you time and money. Please visit our contact page and get in touch to find out more or follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with it’s progress or just to check out the latest photos.

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P.S. The same general techniques also work well on cats. Although in the case of this photo he ended up sitting on the reflector and breaking it!!!





Track Staff Working Hours & Generating Time Sheets

Running a yard requires a team of people to make it a success. This means you'll likely be hiring regular staff, bringing in helpers or using freelancers to help with the day to day running of the yard.

To help make life easier we’ve introduced tools into At The Yard to help you and your staff keep track of the hours they work. This makes it quicker and easier to pay them (which is great for both you and them) whilst ensuring the amounts are accurate and fair.

In the rest of this article we’re going to take a look at how to use this new feature.

Contents

Tracking Hours as a Staff Member

You can access the staff work recording area by clicking on the Staff Menu and clicking on Record Work. You’ll be greeted with the page shown below. You can enter your worked hours and review your previous hours.

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Entering Hours

The left hand side of the screen is dedicated to entering your hours. Staff can do this at the end of the day and can enter multiple times at once by clicking the green + button (this is great if they take a break for lunch etc). When they’ve entered all their work hours for the day all they need to do is click Record and the hours will be saved.

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reviewing Hours

Once you’ve entered your worked hours you’ll see them on the right hand side of the screen. There is also a label to let you know if it’s been approved by your yard manager or not. When they approve the hours this will be updated.

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Managing Staffs Hours & Pay Rates as a Yard Manager

Setting Staff Pay Rates

In the menu click on Admin and Edit Staff Rates. This will bring you to the Staff Pay Rates section where you can review your current staff pay rates and create new ones. The rate set at the time a staff member records their hours will be used to automatically calculate the total pay owed to them. Because of this it’s important to set up your staff with the correct pay rate before they record any hours.

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To create a new Staff Pay Rate click on New Staff Pay Rate and it’ll open a new dialog. In the dialog you can choose the staff member and set their rate. When you’re ready click Submit and it’ll be ready to go.

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Reviewing Staff Hours worked

Click on Admin and Review Staff Hours. This will bring you to the staff hours review page. Here you can record additional hours on behalf of staff members (useful if they’ve forgotten to enter any). You can also see all the records staff have recorded and approve them. Finally you can create time sheets (which can be printed). The timesheet will show all the hours worked and the total pay owed to the staff member.

Recording Additional hours on behalf of staff

This is the same process as listed above for a staff member. The only difference is that you need to select the member of staff it’s for. If you need to make multiple records just enter one, click Record and repeat.

Approve Recorded Hours

On the right hand side of the screen you can see all the recorded hours for the month (you can swap months by choosing a different month from the drop down box and clicking go).

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To approve a record click Approve. It’ll swap to ‘Approve by Your Name’. Once approved the record will be eligible to be added to a time sheet.

Creating a time sheet

To begin the process of making a time sheet for a user select the users name and click on New Time Sheet.

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You’ll see all the staff work records that have been approved and are not yet linked to a time sheet. If you want to exclude a record from this time sheet you can untick the box under Include?. Once you’ve finished selecting the staff work records you wish to use click on Create.

This will create the time sheet and take you back to the review page. You’ll see a new time sheet has been added. For each time sheet you can see the total time worked and the pay owed to the staff member.

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If you click on Show it’ll bring up the time sheet and show you all the details. Please Note: This is only a timesheet and does not act as a Pay Slip. If you need to issue a Pay Slip you’ll need to use appropriate tools for that.

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Summary

This new addition will give you the tools you and your staff need to easily and quickly keep track of the hours worked. It makes it easy to calculate the pay owed and reduces errors for both parties.

P.S. If you've stumbled across this page and have your own livery yard we'd love to show you more. This was one of our #FeatureFocusFriday posts where we highlight a feature in At The Yard but there’s much more to see. Please visit our contact page and get in touch to find out more.

Setting up Horse Shares, Syndicate Horses and Yard Horses

A few weeks ago we added the ability to share horses; between liveries, to the whole yard or for a syndicate group of owners.

All the sharing options are setup in the management horse view. To get to this view go to the menu and click Management -> Yard Horses and click on Show on the horse you’re sharing.

Scroll down and find the Add Share button to set it up. On this page you’ll have all the sharing options in the system with which you can configure your shares. The rest of this post will look at the different sharing scenarios available to you.

Sharers for a Livery Horse

This scenario is used when you have a livery on your yard who has a private sharer. You can set the sharer an account up and then share your liveries horse to the new sharers account. The sharer will then be able to book lessons, purchase products etc. with/for that horse.

Horses Available Yard Wide

This scenario can be used for yards which offer yard horses as part of a membership to the yard. Once setup every user at the yard can access the shared horse to book facilities (the school) or order services (a lesson) with/for that horse.

Syndicate Horse

Syndicate horses are horses that are owned by a group of users. A key element of these horses is that everything involved in the horses upkeep must be billed to the horse and then split amongst the syndicate owners. When it comes to billing time At The Yard will automatically split the bill amongst the syndicates. Take a look at the video below to see how.

P.S. If you've stumbled across this page and have your own livery yard we'd love to show you more. At The Yard is the game changing equine livery yard management app that we promise will save you time and money. Please visit our contact page and get in touch.

Editing Logo Size

Following on with our tradition of being late with #FeatureFocusFriday today (a Saturday 😂) we’re looking at how to change the size of the logo used on your invoices. It’s really quick and easy but can have a significant impact on the look of your invoices.

Step 1

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Visit the Configure Yard page by clicking on the Admin menu button and going down to Configure Yard.

 

Step 2

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Scroll down and click on Edit Logo Size

 

Step 3

Move the slider back and forth to change the size of the logo. When you’re happy with it’s size click update.

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That’s all there is to it! From now on your invoices will have the correct size logo. If you’re not happy you can always come back and tweak it again and again until you like it.

See you all next Friday (hopefully on time 😂).

Introducing Shared, Syndicate and Yard Horses

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We’ve been hard at work for the last 6+ weeks working on introducing the ability to share horses between your customers in At The Yard. This latest feature represents significant changes throughout the system from subscriptions through to invoicing and much more. It’s moved us away from the one horse - one user paradigm we’ve had up to now.

We’re excited at the new opportunities this change of paradigm brings to our customers, both now and into the future with features coming down the pipeline.

Lets look at a few of the new scenarios you can now manage with At The Yard.

Sharers for a Liveries Horse

A common arrangement is for a livery to have one or more sharers for their horse. These sharers are generally responsible for feeding, grooming, mucking out and everything else that the horse might need on their days.

Whilst looking after the horse it’s likely that there will be costs for feeds or other supplies. The sharers can now be given their own account in At The Yard and be given permission to record these against the owners account. This will save further time for owners and the yard staff alike whilst further reducing the chance for charges to be forgotten or missed.

By having their own account they can also now book facilities and order services in their own right and receive invoices for them directly. Again, further simplifying the admin burden for both owners and the yard manager.

Horses Available Yard Wide

If your yard keeps a collection of horses that are made available to liveries, members or regular customers you can now represent this within At The Yard.

Once setup the horses will then appear to your users when booking facilities, lessons, cross county courses etc and allow the costs of these activities to be billed to their individual user accounts.

We hope this addition will allow yards to explore additional business models and revenue streams and offer new and exciting services to their customers.

Syndicate Horses

Syndicate horses are owned by a collection of owners who both benefit from the horse as a group and cover the cost for the horse as a group.

With this latest update you can now support these arrangements in At The Yard. You can record the various stakes different members have in a horse and make the horse available to all the syndicate members.

Much like with the shared horses, described above, costs incurred whilst the yard or a syndicate member is looking after the horse can be billed directly to the horse’s own account.

And again, by having their own account they can also book facilities, order services that are for their individual sole benefit and have them billed to their own individual account and receive invoices for them directly.

Finally when it comes to invoicing, At The Yard will automatically calculate each member of the syndicate’s individual portion of the invoice they owe, based on the stake they have in the horse - whilst still showing them the overall invoice for the horse so they can see all the costs involved.

Getting the new shared horses feature

As always, all subscribers to At The Yard have already received this update. Throughout the system these options are now available. Over the coming week we’ll be releasing a collection of guides on how to setup each of the scenarios and also how to complete invoicing for syndicate horses. In the meantime if you’re looking to get this setup ASAP get in touch and we’d be happy to arrange a support call to guide you through the setup process.

Finally if you've stumbled across this page and have your own livery yard we'd love to show you more of At The Yard. Please visit our contact page and get in touch.

P.S. We know we missed this weeks #featurefocusfriday - we were aiming to have this ready for Friday but the final testing setup meant we slightly missed it. We’ll be back next week with another #featurefocusfriday.

Yard Events - #FeatureFocusFriday

Every #FeatureFocusFriday we focus on a particular feature in At The Yard, exploring how you can use it for your yard. This week we’re looking at the Yard Events feature.

Every day there is something going on, from vets and dentists visits all the way through to construction work that might be taking place. Keeping everyone informed is essential for keeping a harmonious and safe environment for everyone (both horses and people).

Making a New Event

Any user can make an event. In this example, we are going to make an event for the entire yard as a staff member. Step 1 is going to the “Staff” menu and clicking on ‘Yard Events’.

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And then click on ‘New Event’.

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This brings up the ‘Yard Event’ page which allows you to enter the details of the event; time, date, duration, description and user to which it applies (if applicable). Finally it has the option to tick the ‘Public’ button. When ticked it’ll make this event visible to every single user at your yard - great for when something is happening yard wide.

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Done!

And that’s all there is to it. The event will now be visible to staff and liveries alike and everyone will be kept informed of the construction work (or whatever’s happening at your yard).

The Event in the Staff Calendar

The Event in the User Calendar

Like all features in At The Yard the aim of the events system is to make things quick, easy and simple. In this case it’s getting information to your liveries in a timely and visible fashion, helping keep livery satisfaction high whilst saving you time.

See you next Friday!

Creating Additional Admin Users

No Man is an Island
— John Donne

No man (or women) is an island and either is a yard owner. It takes many people from the owner, to grooms through to perhaps your bookkeeper or accountant. With At The Yard you can add all your team to the system with their own account.

This guide will show you how to setup an additional admin user but the same principle can be used to create users with any roles (e.g staff users).

Step 1 - Go to the Admin Users Page

Click on the Admin button and click on Users.

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Step 2 - Creating a new user

Note: You may be able to skip this step if you’ve already created your user and only wish to make that user an admin.

Click on ‘Create a Non-Login User’.

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Fill in the new users information.

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When finished click on ‘Create User’. It’ll go back to the admin users page. Find your new users and click on ‘Manage User’

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Navigate through the page to find the ‘Manage User’ box, within that box click on ‘Allow user to login’.

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At this point you’ll need to log out of your original At The Yard account by clicking on your name and clicking Sign Out.

You’ll have received an email asking you to set a password. Simply follow the instructions and you’ll have a new user in the system.

You will then need to then log out of your new account and log back into your original admin account before proceeding with step 3.

Step 3 - Making the user an admin

Once you’ve logged back in as your original admin user go back to the Admin Users page and find your new user. Once again click on ‘Manage User’ at the end of their row. This will load the new user management page. Find the Manage User box and this time click on ‘Edit User’.

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Scroll to the bottom and find the section call ‘User Roles’, by default it’ll only have the User box ticked. Select all the boxes for the roles your new user requires. It is our recommendation to include all roles (apart from Assistant) for an admin user (e.g for an admin user tick Admin, User, Manager and Staff).

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Click on ‘Update User’ and that will save the users new roles.

The user has now been made an admin. You can log out of your original account and login with your new user and you’ll have access to everything you need to get your job done.

Solar Power at Equine Livery Yards and Stables

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Perhaps you’re keeping your horses out 24/7 with only a field shelter and a port-a-cabin. Or maybe your yard has a full range of buildings but no mains electricity. Either way it remains that the challenges of having no electricity can be difficult.

From lighting and clipping through to providing power for the visiting vet, having a reliable power source is both convenient and essential. There are many solutions other than running mains power to the area. This could be installing a diesel or petrol generator, solar panels, wind turbines or one of the many other myriad of possible solutions.

In some ways a generator can be the most reliable solution. Once setup the only day to day chore is to keep it topped up with fuel and turn it on when you need it. However there are some negatives. Firstly they’re very noisy and if we’re honest ruins the peace and tranquility that often comes with remote locations. Secondly having to manually turn on the generator when all you need is one light to mix up some feed or find a piece of tack can be a pain. Finally there is the cost. Petrol/diesel being the price it is these days means that the fuel to run it adds up quickly and thats before you have to do pay for any ‘unplanned’ repairs. You also need to perform the routine maintenance such as oil changes when needed.

At the other end of the spectrum there is solar/wind power. It has the benefit that the ongoing costs are minimal, as instead of continually adding in more fuel the ‘power’ comes from the environment. In the case of solar it even does this without making any noise at all. You’ll also be getting on the renewable energy train which has got to be worth some extra brownie points from an environmental point of view. The downside is that it’s not always reliable, if the winds not blowing or the suns not shining (a definite possibility in the UK) the ‘power’ going in from the environment might not meet the need you have for power at the yard.

A member of our team recently volunteered to help out a small stables in this exact situation. The aim? An off grid, reliable supply of energy for lights thats as convenient to use as mains electricity. Sounds good? Well read on.

Firstly let us add the much needed ‘required disclaimer’. We’re not professionals in this area. So don’t take anything we write here as certain. We just wanted to share what we’d learnt as a way of helping you on your journey. But if you’re not confident consult an expert.

The Requirements

With the overall goal decided we needed to work out what we’d needed. 

We needed to be able to provide light to 3 stables and the outdoor areas for about 2.5 hours a day (an hour in the morning before the suns up and an hour in the evening to complete all the daily chores + a bit spare).

We’re going to light everything using outdoor rated LED strip lights and for the stables this meant we needed about 12.5 meters of LED strips.

Something like these (x 3): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waterproof-Daylight-Striplight-Outdoor-Lighting/dp/B00HSF66JO

The spec sheet lists that they use around 3.6 watts per meter. So it means we’ll be using 45 watts if we wanted to power them all up a the same time. However generally only half will ever be on at a time so 22.5 watts. If we’re running them for 2.5 hours a day that equates to 56.25 Watt Hours a day. This is the number we need to ensure that we can a) generate each day b) store in a battery during the day time ready to be deployed back at night time.

The Plan

We decided to go for solar power. It’s relative simple installation and affordability were the deciding factors. We looked for a solar power kit that would come with a panel, connecting wires and an appropriate controller to hook it all together.

We choose a kit a bit like this one https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B010FLW6DC 

We also needed some additional wiring to connect everything together, some fuses (because fuses are always a good idea), a battery and the lights themselves.

The Maths

Ok, so there is some maths. To be honest we just guessed it would be ok and have gone back and done the calculations since. However if you’re worried about making sure things work first time for your needs it’s probably a good idea. However if you like to live on the wild side and just ‘wing it’ feel free to skip to the next section.

The kit provided us with a 100 watt panel. Note: this is how much power the panel generates in an optimal situation which is never the case. There are a number of things which can effect the power you’ll get: panel positioning, type of charge controller, panel angle relative to the sun, time of year.

Considering winter is when the lights will be most needed and is also when the panels receive the least amount of usable light, we’ll do our calculations based on this. We reviewed various sources and found that the usable solar generating hours a day can get as low as 2 hours. For argument sake lets say the efficiency of our system is about 60%. This number can change a lot but this seems like a good starting point.

So with these assumptions in place we can estimate that we’ll get 120 watt hours per day (100 watts * 0.6 efficiency * 2 hours). As this is greater than our estimated use of 56.25 watt hours per day we should be ok with our 100 watt panel and have some to spare (always good so we can try other things in the future).

The final thing we needed to calculate and consider is our panel mount angle. For this we went to the great site at  https://www.solarpaneltilt.com/ . You can work through it for your own setup. This yard is based in the south of England (latitude of about 50 degrees) and as we’re optimising for the winter months (so we’ll pretend we’re adjusting the panel twice a year but we’ll most likely just leave it in the ‘winter setting’) it works out to be an angle of around 60 degrees relative to the ground and pointing south.

Battery

There are numerous types of battery setups to choose from. From Lithium Ion Cells (like they use in electric cars) through to old ‘traditional’ car batteries. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. However in this setup we have the benefit that what we need from the battery is quite minimal and space is not really a problem. So we chose our battery type based on overall cost.

Because of this we chose a Lead Acid Battery. Even within this type of battery there are a huge range of ‘sub types’. The type which is most likely the best for this situation is what’s called a ‘Deep Cycle’ battery. This battery is designed to allow you to drain more out of the battery without damaging it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep-cycle_battery). If you’re buying a new battery for the project we recommend looking at one of these.

However something most equine people seem to have a lot of is old car batteries (we all need to power the electric fence! Right?). These are not ideal batteries for the job as they don’t like being discharged much and if you do they get damaged over time. As we’ve said the demand on the battery is quite limited. Because of this we can normally get away with it. This is what we did to start with and it worked ok (we did end up changing it in the end to one of these https://www.eurocarparts.com/ecp/p/car-parts/car-body-parts-and-car-exhaust/exhausts/heat-exchanger/?444776773 as the battery was very old and wouldn’t hold a charge. However this speaks more to the condition of that specific battery rather than the idea of using an old car battery overall).

Mounting the Panel

Right, now we’ve done the boring bits lets get started! We mocked up a rough 3D representation of our panel so we could visualise what we’re doing and experiment with various mounting approaches.

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In the end we decided to mount some wooden battens to the roof and then use that as a point to attach everything to. Next we built a simple wooden frame that would hold the panel at 60 degrees relative to the equator (as per the solar mounting website). Then we bolted the panel to this frame and lugged it onto the roof and attached it to that.

Setting it Up

With all the equipment acquired and the panel in place we then set everything up. Below is a rough wiring diagram of the overall system. As you’ll see the wiring in concept is actually quite simple. It can begin to look a bit messy in reality once you’ve added lots of different lights but so long as you keep it organised it’s not too bad.

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An approximate circuit diagram showing the setup for the Solar Panel, Controller, Lights and the Battery

Wiring the controller up

The controller should be located near the solar panel, the battery and ideally the lights.

There are three sets of wires that need to feed into the controller; the battery, the solar input and the load (the lights). We’ve run each of these into an individual isolator switch which allows us to isolate any part of the system to allow us to work on it. The battery is also connected with a fuse on both the positive and negative terminal. This should protect the system if the battery is ever shorted up stream.

The kit came with some specialist solar cable which on one end is stripped and connected to the controller and at the other end is terminated in a solar connector which can plug into the panel. Please note: it’s advised to cover the panel with an opaque material when making any connections. This is because the panel is generating electricity when exposed to light and there is a possibility of danger when connecting it whilst it’s doing so.

Finally the load is connected up to some sort of power distribution block (we used terminal strips as our current/voltage requirements are relatively low - but ensure you check this.)

On some systems it’s advised that you ground the panel and other components - our panel suggested that this was not necessary for a 12V system but we’re planning on doing it anyway for extra peace of mind.

Wiring the lights

A requirement that we wanted to meet was for turning a light on to be as simple as flicking a switch like you would with a mains powered system. So we decided that we’d run a connection to each light from our distribution block with it’s own switch. This kept our wiring very simple (if not the most efficient use of wire) and meant we could just repeat it for each new light we needed.

We looked at available boxes for the switches on the market but decided we’d build our own (mostly as we wanted an excuse to use the 3D printer). We purchased a waterproof version of a switch like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunerly-Trailer-Illuminated-Rocker-Switch/dp/B072PY65Z8 and then designed a couple of boxes in Fusion 360, to house the switches, which were then 3D printed.


We mounted the boxes inside in the stables and so they didn’t need to be 100% waterproof just resistant to horse slobber! The lights themselves were mounted using the self adhesive strips that comes with the light and were reinforced using cable clips over the strip (being careful not to actually pinch the strip which could cause damage).

We then wired everything up (we used this wire https://www.screwfix.com/p/prysmian-6242y-twin-earth-cable-2-5mm-x-50m-grey/83956). Our wiring process for each set of lights went as follows (also see the diagram above):

  • Connection to positive of the load terminal on the solar charge controller (or the positive distribution block) to one of the terminals of the switch.

  • Connection from the other terminal of the switch to the positive of the LED strip.

  • Connection from the negative of the LED strip back to the negative load terminal (or the negative distribution block) on the solar charge controller.

To make working on the system easier we later wired up an isolator switch (something a bit like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Techniks-BS01-Battery-Isolator-Switch/dp/B009CRM34I). This went between the positive load terminal and all the positive connections to the switches. This allowed us to use one switch to isolate the loads from the system (which is good if you need to do repairs or make changes).

At this point if everything has gone to plan it should be good to go! Flick the switches and you should have light!

Measuring Our Real World Performance

Because we’re engineers at heart we love to track the performance of our system and collect data! We purchased a pair of Digital MultiMeters (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01JOUZELG). These allow us to measure voltage and current from which we can calculate the amount of power we’re generating/using. These work by connecting a ‘current shunt’ inline with the wiring we had. The first we connected to the solar panel to keep track of the power coming in. The second connects to the load output from the solar charge controller to measure the total amount of power being consumed by our lights.

We ran these for about a week and found that in our location with our setup we generated 240 watt hours from the solar panel (this is the amount of power from the panel that we were able to utilise and not necessarily the peak amount of power that could be generated).

We also found that we were consuming approximately 100 watt hours a week (this will of course vary greatly depending on your specific use but we were mucking out two horses for a frame of reference). This means that we are generating more than twice the amount of power than we’re using. We’re quite happy with this margin and it should mean this system operates smoothly going forward and will keep our battery healthy.

Totals

Below is a rough breakdown of the costs involved. These will change depending on your exact choices however it will give you a rough idea of costs.

Item Unit Price Quantity Line Price
Solar Panel Kit 134.00 1 134.00
Led Lights 7.99 2 15.98
Battery FREE (Used an old car battery) 1 N/A
Switches (Pack of 8) 5.99 1 5.99
Digital Multimeter (Optional) 12.39 2 24.78
Wire (50 meters) 32.48 1 32.48
3D Printed Boxes Hard to quantify but about £0.50 each 5 2.50
Total 216.73

The goal of this was never to save money but it’s interesting to do the sums to see when we would. At the time of writing (Dec’18 in the South East of UK) the price of electricity is £0.147 per kWH. This means that to recover our costs we’ll need to generate 1,474 kWH of electricity. At 200 watt hours a week this will take 7,370 weeks (141 years) to recover the cost. Clearly this isn’t a good idea if all you’re looking for is to save money on electricity. However if we consider the yearly standing fixed cost of £70.30 that would apply if we had a mains connection we would recover the costs in just over 3.5 years (and this doesn’t even consider the upfront costs of getting a mains connection to the yard if you didn’t have one).

We used information from https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-cost-electricity-kwh-uk for our average costs and standing fixed charge costs.

Conclusion

This system has been running for a couple of months now and they’ve been very happy with it. Being able to flick a switch and have the light has been a huge improvement over the collection of torches that were being used before. The next steps will be adding an inverter to allow low power 240 volt AC devices (the kind that plug into a standard UK wall socket) to be run from the system for short periods of time. This would, for example, allow clippers or a vet’s laptop to be plugged in.

If you’d be interested in finding out more about that leave a comment and let us know. We’re going to try and also update this post as changes are made to the system and more lessons are learnt.

Product Guide - Setting Up an All Inclusive Feed Package for Your Livery Yard

At your equine livery yard you may offer an all inclusive feed package to your liveries. They pay a standard fee once a month and get all feeds included. In At The Yard this is easy to setup whilst still allowing you to keep track of how much feed is used by each horse.

Setting Up The Service

We’ll begin by creating the new service which we’ll call the All Feeds Inclusive service - though you can call it whatever you want. In this screen we can set the price, the billing period and everything else you’d normally setup when you create a new service.

As always you can do this by clicking on the New Service button on the Admin -> Service page.

You’ll be greeted by the standard Service creation form. The only significant thing you might want to do differently is remove the checkbox for User under the Users who are able to order/subscribe to a service section. This will stop users subscribing to this service without your involvement. This is typical at most yards as you don’t generally want your liveries being able to sign up for this sort of package without talking to you first.

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Once you’ve created the service it’ll be listed under your services.

Click on the Edit button and click the Edit Included Products button.

Under this menu you’ll be able to select how much of each product is included when a livery has a subscription to the the All Feeds Inclusive service.

If you check the Unlimited checkbox it’ll allow the livery to have an unlimited amount of that particular product. Alternatively you can of course enter a specific quantity that a livery is allowed by typing it into the form field above the Unlimited? checkboxes. Once you’re ready just click on the Update Service button to save the new allowances.

That’s all you need to get the service setup.

Subscribing Liveries to the Service

Now you’ve setup your new service all you need to do is subscribe your liveries to it. To do this go to the Management -> Order/Subscriptions button.

Click on the New Order(s)/Subscription(s) button and select the new service (All Feeds Inclusive) service from the dropdown box and click Next.

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Select Subscribe  from the dropdown box and click Next

On the screen you see you’ll need to choose:

  • The date you’d like to start the new subscription to the service for your liveries.

  • The horses which you’d like to subscribe to the service.

Once you’ve made these changes you just need to click Create Subscription.

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That’s all there is to do. The liveries now have the appropriate subscription and will get all their feed included. So just log feeding as usual and it’ll handle it all for you.

If you have suggestions for new guides you’d like us to write about the other features in At The Yard please let us know by using the feedback link at the bottom of every At The Yard screen or by talking to your account rep.

P.S. If you've stumbled across this page and have your own livery yard we'd love to show you more about At The Yard. Please visit our contact page and get in touch.