The Seven Year Report

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Happy Keeper's picture
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The Seven-Year Report
 
No score and seven years ago, our labors brought forth onto this island, a new station, conceived in optimism, and dedicated to the proposition that all inns are not created equal.
 
With that in mind, here is the seven-year report.
 
·       The importance of doing it all. 
The first year and a half, we did it all. We cooked, we cleaned, we marketed, we maintained, we promoted, and we socialized. It was a critical time where we dedicated ourselves to testing and improving the newly built structure, the bedding, the decor, the food, the workflow, and everything you are thinking when you read this. IT WENT WELL.  18 months Open with a budget rate
·       The importance of delegating
Once the dust (literally at times) had settled and we had a sense of how things worked best, we selected the jobs that we fit into best and began to look at delegating others. This was a trial and error time. We found a cook, a host, a server, a bookkeeper, a web master (use this term loosely), a marketing executive, a concierge, and a reservation specialist in ourselves. We found a room manager, a heavy maintenance man, and suppliers of local foods and services in others. 12 months Rates climb 7%
·       The importance of discovering our perfect guest
As we worked to gain exposure, we realized that there were guests we liked and that we wanted to have more of those folks. We went through an exercise to figure out who our perfect guests were and we kept them in mind as we created our web site and brand.
12 months rate climbs 19%
·       The importance of creating and adding value
We threw ourselves into savings mode when the economy tanked and reviewed all the strategies that we could consider in response. We opted to increase our rates and add value. This was, perhaps, the scariest choice we have made. It may also have been one of the best. It forced us to push ourselves to do more with less. We traveled less, saved more, added amenities, and crossed our fingers. As expected, our occupancy went down. Happily, our revenue went up. We stumbled into the “work smarter” concept and we are determined to keep that going. 12 months Top rate increase of 31% with some downward pressure.
·       The importance of creating a lifestyle
We didn’t really understand this at first. We were so busy creating a business that we didn’t ask ourselves much about us. Eventually, those questions popped up and we had figure out how to do the things we wanted to do, like travel, and the things we needed to do, like exercise and eating well. It’s interesting that we solved those things by including them in our business plan rather than separating them. Travel became a promotional tool, exercise became a rule related to socializing, and eating well became our new brand. 12 months Top rate is flat but average nightly increases.
·       The importance of being earnest
It’s fitting as a section title because half the challenge in our desire to be the best innkeepers that we can be is to find some time to make fun of ourselves and take ourselves a little less seriously. This is an ongoing adventure, but we have noticed a gradual relaxation of our style. We still apply the basic tenets of the hospitality industry, but the angst of missing the mark has lessened. Current Top rate going up 8% with soft introduction
·       The importance of concluding
Just like this report, we have to have an endgame and we are getting closer to what that might look like. We love what we’re doing, we’ve built things we like into what we’re doing, and we are thinking about how and when we will stop doing it.
 
Most pleasant surprise: That it continues to grow in many directions. It’s a lot more than just people staying with us.
 
Best discovery: We can tailor our business to work for us and still be successful. You don’t have to sacrifice until it hurts.
 
Most amazing thing: We have gained a certain stature in our community. Guess folks don’t know knuckleheads when they see’um
 
Biggest Ongoing Lesson: How, when, and where to expend your time and energy.
 
Greatest Future decision: Expand business up or out
 
Largest project ahead: Assembling and Marketing a multi-media package for sale to a broader range of visitors
 
New strength: Ongoing garden and composting.
 
Super Satisfier: Attracting guests who appreciate the quiet rural lifestyle and quiet evenings. Finding  guests who wish to be a part of maintaining the natural resources and understanding the culture and history of where we live.
 
Secret favorite ritual: When we have an empty house, sitting on the front porch with a couple of appropriate vices and chatting about the current hot topic of business doings.
 

 

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InnBloom's picture
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09/03/2010

Wow....I've been away from the forum for a week or so and I just read this.  During a quick dinner, aloud to DH.  We were shocked at how much you seemed to be talking straight to us (about exercise and eating right, especially!) and how much you seemed to be talking about OUR lives and OUR inn.

Thank you so much for writing this down and giving us all things to savor and ponder.

So much wisdom here.

 

 

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Bloom where you're planted...

 

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Thanks for the kind thoughts. That's part of the multi-media project I mentioned. We have a returning guest coming back in a few months and she's gonna want to see some progress. She may have to settle for a project outline.

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06/24/2008

What a great post, gives me lots to think about! 

   

Ice
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copperhead wrote:

 

   

They're rooting for the Cardinals!

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"Do not put off until tomorrow what can be put off till day-after-tomorrow just as well." Mark Twain

 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

What IS that called? A smiley wave? I need that.

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Everyday, for good or ill, we intersect with some else's story and become a part of it.

 

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05/22/2008

 A smiley wave? I need that.

Just do a right mouse click on the image and save it Smiling

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Thanks. Did it.

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08/12/2009

This may be the best overall post I've yet read on this forum.  We often do the two column, pluses and minuses, when looking at making additions or changes, but have never been so deliberate in the planning process.  Thanks for the structured 'advice'.

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05/22/2008

 Great to read and glad you have discovered what works best for you. Welcome back. You always write so beautifully. Think about writing that bookSmiling

Hollowwood's picture
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10/14/2011

I am very glad you gave this report. You re-enforce the beliefe that B&B owners must first satisfy themselfs to be able to satisfy their clients. If you enjoy what you do, it will show and be rewarded.

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Arthur E Cook

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I told you that you had been missed! Excellent.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Thanks- It's great to see what stands out for others.

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Its why right now im investing in my property with every penny and thinking about expansion when others are cutting back to the bone. Its a good time to buy if you have the cash cos in the uk the prices are way down.

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Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Well done! Thanks!

As expected, our occupancy went down. Happily, our revenue went up.

I love that. It's the thing so many people don't realize. When you raise your rates in a smart way, the handful of people you lose are more than offset by the higher rates the rest are still paying. So you work less and make more.

And often, the ones who drop out over a rate increase are not your favorite people anyway.

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All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep hotel. ~ Mark Twain

 

Madeleine's picture
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05/30/2008

Where's the "like" button? 

Kudos on a great report...there's a book in there somewhere. 

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People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

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Samster wrote:

Where's the "like" button? 

Kudos on a great report...there's a book in there somewhere. 

Instead of a like button I want to find the GROUP HUG smiley. I so appreciate when people share these things, I will ponder this all day, and all week!

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Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

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05/30/2008

I agree, JB, a group hug smiley would be awesome! 

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10/07/2008

Thank you so much for sharing.  

How can it be your report, especially the conclusion brings tears to my eyes? Either it is extremely well written and heart felt or I am a softy.  Both, me thinks.  Your conclusion really nailed it. Thank you for the reminder, of all of the above, I have been thinking of late that the garden composting might be us if we are not careful in this business.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Thanks JB

It is really nice every so often to look back at how far you've come. You made me laugh at the end. We'll be compost soon enough, so we might as well enjoy ourselves.

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