How's Business?

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I love this question from a person who has just checked in, and in fact is not even to their room yet.  I just want to turn and say "How is your financial life? Able to make your bills each month?" Oh a little too personal is it?

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 Have you ever had anyone ask "Who does your cleaning"?  I have had that question asked twice and I got all paranoid thinking they must have found some dust or something.  Both times they were PITAS so I never gave them a straight answer.  I would never ask an innkeeper "Who does your cleaning"?

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Madeleine's picture
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I always tell them we do the cleaning. If they have a problem with it let them say so straight away. If we do have someone helping I will mention that there is a girl who cleans on weekends.

Just in case they want to leave her a tip, want to know if they should secure their valuables against theft by the illegal (not), low-paid (not) housekeeping staff or they want to complain about something.

I would really rather they complained to me than griped about it to everyone they meet.

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Victoria wrote:

 Have you ever had anyone ask "Who does your cleaning"?  I have had that question asked twice and I got all paranoid thinking they must have found some dust or something.  Both times they were PITAS so I never gave them a straight answer.  I would never ask an innkeeper "Who does your cleaning"?

One time and it was this litt;e overbearing granny who couldn't even walk up the stairs, MY INSTINCT told me it was the same thing you mentioned. I looked her boldly in the face and said "I DO" and that was that.  You have more time to stand and stair at the dust than the average person.

Happy Keeper's picture
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Since we don't think great=always full=always busy, we can honestly say, "Business is always great. We're fortunate to be so small. It impacts us less than a big hotel." I often add that, "We're grateful guests are choosing us."

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greyswan's picture
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I like your answer, GH

greyswan's picture
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I like your answer, GH

Proud Texan's picture
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I think it would be funny to answer them with "Why?  What did you hear?"

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 A guest just asked us "Do you plan on doing this long?" I said "We're in our 8th year, we will do it until we hand it off to the next set of caretakers" ... 

Listen, those who do not operate inns have no idea what we speak of, people come in and feel they can ask any question under the sun, and they do.  As I often say "You rented a room, not the innkeeper!"  I say this after spending an hour speaking and sharing stories with our sweet adorable Kalamazoo guests this morning. So remember, what we say here and what we do inn person may seem contradictory, but it isn't. We give give give of ourselves.  There is a line that shan't be crossed, however.  Delving past the usual rigamorale - if you don't kiss me first. You get my drift.  If you are super sweet and we converse, then the world is our oyster. 

Madeleine's picture
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We sometimes have the longest conversations with guests who are headed out the door at the end of their stay!

We also get queried about how long have we been doing this and how long do we plan to continue. For the repeats who know of our '10 year plan' they are now asking (on the verge of year 10) if the plan is still in place. In that case we let them know it's all up to the economy at this point. If we can sell, ok; if not, then we chug along for a few more years.

Every year we go through the obnoxious period of guests where we would both walk out the door in a heartbeat and then the nice guests start showing up and we start enjoying this again. Good thing!

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06/24/2008

We too have been asked 'how's business'... more in the last year or 2 than ever before.  I also think it is more about the economy than it is about wanting to know about our financial situation.

Those are the ones that ask how much we paid for the house, etc...   To that we say - Not nearly as much as we have in sweat equity!  And to that it ends, usually and if not the subject gets changed.

I like the 'working harder than ever' to the how's business question, DH has said that in reference to running this business for ever.. so now it can and does apply to this question as well. 

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04/21/2010

I can see where it is annoying but I do it all the time. I think of it as a conversation starter and maybe I should stop. Sad

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A lot of people seem to ask about the cost of the house. I give them an idea by suggesting that it is in the 7 digits. Whereupon that is usually the end of the discussion.

They ask us about our busy season... we tell them it's April to the end of October. No one has been so gauche as to ask occupancy, but usually we just say that we are busy year round. Some people think we just roll over and play dead in the winter... like we only really live for 6 months a year and then hibernate.

If they ask me about my salary, I can easily say that I make nothing. I haven't officially written a pay cheque, ever!

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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Years ago I used to get the really nosy questions, like what's your occupancy rate?! Not anymore. I don't know why, but I'm certainly glad about it. Now, it's mostly guests hoping we were not hurt by the economy, or secretly wishing that they were able to make a living working from home like we do.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

Years ago I used to get the really nosy questions, like what's your occupancy rate?! Not anymore. I don't know why, but I'm certainly glad about it. Now, it's mostly guests hoping we were not hurt by the economy, or secretly wishing that they were able to make a living working from home like we do.

Interesting.

I just find it odd, they think DH is a hired handyman outside and my children are hired maid service, and I am hired too.  It goes the full sprectrum, one guest's perspective to the other. I just can't imagine asking anyone that question. Maybe I should grab a box of kleenex next time and let them have it. haha  But you know, they don't know anything about what we do, they think we are a hotel, people drive in and stay here. They - even finding us online - do not get that we have to market our businesses.

Oh yeah I have been asked point blank what our revenue it, what our occupancy is, etc etc. Butt out sticky beaks.  Some times if I am in the mood and feel the guest might be in for some light humor I will ask "Why are you looking for a job?"  But again, in 2 minutes I have to determine who and what they are.

Madeleine's picture
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We've had relatively few guests ask if we own the place. I think most of them assume that.

These new guests did refer to DH as 'the guy who answered the door'. When I said he was my husband they seemed surprised. He said he was vacuuming when he answered the door so that might be why. My guess on that is most people think we have help. And a lot of guests ask about having help.

'Do you do all of this yourself?'

Could go either way- they want to know if they should tip the housekeeping 'staff' or they're trying to figure out HOW we do it all!

A lot of them ask when we go on vacation. And how do we do that? Do we hire staff to take over, close down, how does that work?

I just look at myself as the education committee. Here's how this B&B works. But, they're all different.

Madeleine's picture
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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Oh yeah I have been asked point blank what our revenue it, what our occupancy is, etc etc. Butt out sticky beaks.  Some times if I am in the mood and feel the guest might be in for some light humor I will ask "Why are you looking for a job?"  But again, in 2 minutes I have to determine who and what they are.

Yes, that point blank questioning about income and occ rates gets the same sort of response here, 'Make an offer on the property and all will be revealed.'

I've not yet turned it back on them to ask their salary. Maybe because it's so infrequent that anyone gets that bold.

2 guests just walked in. They asked in the first couple of minutes, 'How's business been?' It's so routine to hear that I just answer, 'Great! Really busy. As you can see we're full tonight, hope you made reservations for dinner.'

It's that common here. I didn't realize it until this thread and now I bet I could say there are fewer guests who don't ask.

Madeleine's picture
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While cleaning rooms this morning, we had a little chat. DH is of a similar mind to me, (quick mark this day on the calendar!) that the guests are really inquiring about the state of the economy in general and not your pocketbook in particular. Of course, you may be experiencing a completely different guest who really IS prying into your personal life, but I've taken that new acronym to heart now...QTIP. It's not about me.

Which is why telling the guest that business is great (it really is) works for me. And if they push, we always say, '3 years ago it was bad, but we weathered the storm thanks to people like yourselves!' (I know, it sounds horribly chipper and it is, but it works.)

And, when guests come in with souvenirs and other stuff they've bought, or tell me about a great restaurant in town, I always say, 'Thanks for supporting our economy, we REALLY do appreciate it.'

Another thing I've noticed this month that hasn't happened too often is that a lot of guests are identifying themselves as the head of their area Chamber. So they really are interested in how the economy is doing here. And they tend to have a lot of business questions they ask to see what ideas they can bring home with them.

Joey Camb's picture
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I think partly it is how it is asked I can spot the nosey parkers a mile away! some people are in similar industries etc. and are just curious.

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05/22/2008

 It is none of their business. A simple...we are doing just fine and let it go at that. I don't want to hear what they think is going on with other inns either. Like JB, I just smile, and change the conversation to something else.

Joey Camb's picture
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my answer is we are doing less business trade but a lot more tourist trade so it all balances out. Yes some people are just fricking nosey but in the main I think it is more in the way of making conversation. For example have a lot of 2 night holiday people in this weekend and one enquired is it always this busy here? was happy to report back Harrogate is always busy on the weekends.

Madeleine's picture
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I have learned that the correct answer to that question (for me) is to say, 'Best year ever, thank you for staying with us!' Saying anything else (like business is down or flat) makes them feel like they came to the wrong place. They also ask about how business is in town, especially if no one is around when they go out for dinner.

If I can come up with anything new that has happened in the area to show that business is really good, the economy is good, this IS the right place to be, then I tell it. I want them coming back. I don't want them thinking that this isn't the place to be.

No one has ever pried further into actual dollar amounts or occupancy.

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My response usually involves "Working harder than ever!" and if they try to PRY further I do the quick change artist move of showing them something in their room or similar, ah here is your restaurant list I know you will be heading out for a bite to eat, etc.

BTW when guests arrive here from a night at another B&B they usually compare notes. They tell me of the other inns money troubles, etc.  Just an fyi, so when they ask they aren't just asking us.  I feel bad, I don't want to hear anything like that about another B&B, thank you very much. 

PS Just wanted to add, you all know me, you know I am open and friendly, but I feel it is too bold for someone to be in your business.  Not sure what they want to hear, the woes or we will be closing up shop or something.  There is no good reason for them to ask, do they leave an extra $20 on the nightstand? No, so they need to basically, BUTT-OUT.

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03/11/2009

Yes, I get asked this often.Especially by college people down the street. They assume the motel on main street (that opened 2 yrs ago) is ruining my bussiness. Have not seen any difference here. I used to try to explain I am a B&B not a motel...gave up

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I get asked that in town all the time. Mainly I get asked do you stay busy? because they cannot imagine people coming here as we are NOT a tourist attraction town. I always smile and say yes, it is busy.

When it is a guest, I reply, "It is great! You are here."

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06/26/2008

What gets me is when you reply "good" I get patronizing "good for you" in a weird tone of voice.

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