How to keep the momentum going?

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I'm kind of psyched for the upcoming season. (I have a few months before it hits.) How do I keep this energy once the guests start wearing me down? I've got the basics...eat right, exercise, sleep enough...but how to keep the mental game going? I really don't find that the diet, exercise, sleep thing does what I need it to. Obviously it is worse if I don't keep up with all of that! But, it's not quite enough at this point.

Going away on vacation in the middle of the season only makes it worse. We come back to immediate 100% occupancy, grousing guests, problems so it seems better for us to not go away.

I need some mental games to play on myself!

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birdwatcher's picture
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I understand were you are coming from-Madeline and I feel the same sometimes-I have all these ideas to bring in the guests-maybe colaborating with the two farms here one has a vineyard and the other sells cheese-how about a partnership so we can have a cheese and wine tasting? Its been kind of hard cause this B & B is in the burbs and the neighbors don't want ANY kind of event and the varience wont alow it-the owner didn't do much research in this and its a shame cause I'm all geared up to do it and we cant do it. And its winter-so I cant even go outside and garden-so what am I doing?

Like someone mentioned-if its slow and all is done maybe a class? I go to the gym here its a wellness center actually - I do Zumba, Yoga and some other classes-if this isnt your thing how about a cake decorating class? You could offer these to your guests for special occasions-or so many other things that these craft stores have..just a suggestion.

Its all good-sometimes you are the only one to pump yourself up and I feel like sometimes Im just hitting my head against the wall. I'll keep you in my thoughts-spring is right around the corner!

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

So what would prevent you from planning promoting and sponsoring an event at the farm or vineyard?

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Silverspoon's picture
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 I hear you.  It's tough by the 3rd week in August...especially if the guests I get are PITAs. So, I try to plan some wonderful treat for us and can convince myself that every bed I make and every bathroom I clean is getting me one day closer to...Italy?, France? a new car?  ...you name it.  OK so it's just a gimmick, but when I feel like I don't REALLY need the money or that "poor me" is not having any fun I tend to get grouchy.  And as we all know, a grouchy innkeeper  does not have a happy day.

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gillumhouse's picture
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I once had a guest who told me she cleaned offices for a living. She said she determined how much she wanted to do something or buy something by asking herself, "How many toinlets do I have to clean to get/do this?" If the number did not gibe with how much she wanted to do whatever, she did not do it because she obviously did not want it that badly.

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gillumhouse wrote:

I once had a guest who told me she cleaned offices for a living. She said she determined how much she wanted to do something or buy something by asking herself, "How many toilets do I have to clean to get/do this?" If the number did not gibe with how much she wanted to do whatever, she did not do it because she obviously did not want it that badly.

I understand where your guest is coming from Smiling  I'm really hoping to buy a place where I can open my own bed and breakfast/Inn, so I won't have to drag myself into work each day just to make beds and clean toilets.  I'm looking forward to the management part (which I will have to learn).  How many hours a day do each of you spend in your 'office'?

Joey Camb's picture
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I probably spend 2 hours a day but the avergae day is not all in one go ie

6.30am get up put sausages on start setting up for breakfast

7.30 open up for breakfast

9.30 close up for breakfast and finish clearing the tables and getting everything scraped and ready for the 2nd dishwasher load. Chamber maid arrives

10am - try and have a go at servicing the first room a service takes an average 20 mins if they are tidy - if they are too messy then they are on their own.

10-11 get the last few stragglers checked out cos you can guarantee that there will be one room holding out to the last minute.

11.15 have a cup of tea and try and breakfast before it all kicks off.

11.30-13 do any grocery shopping, going to the tip etc any jobs that need me to be out of the house.

between 2pm and 9.30 checking people in, dealing with random phone calls, mailings, people at the door all sorts.

 

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gillumhouse's picture
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I have 3 rooms in Podunk - meaning I am NOT in a high traffic area like Maddie. I am also involved with my City. Tonight I have a training sesion for my poll workers for a levy renewal election and Feb 7 will be doing that - checking on my polls to see if they need anything, etc from 5 AM until they are finished counting the ballots after the polls close at 7:30 PM and I collect the results. Since it does not take long to do 3 rooms, I spend most of my day (most days) in my office or doing things DH wants/needs.

The what you do and how much time it takes varies from inn to inn and day to day and innkeeper to innkeeper.

This morning as I was checking e-mail: got a call from my potter about my new mugs (YEA!! he is potting again!), then got a Skype from another innkeeper asking for info. He waited for me to finish with my potter and then I had a call from the City Manager, finished the call from the innkeeper (with interruption from DH) and got a call from someone wanting a gas voucher from the Council of Churches. In the e-mail was a pitch from another magazine about an ad. This one I said no, the one yesterday I said yes.

And it is not just divided between housekeeping and office. I have to make time to go to the produce store tomorrow morning after accompaning DH to his doc appt and get back in time to teach my knitting classes. There is shopping to do, yard work that needs done, etc, etc....

Madeleine's picture
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Olga wrote:

  How many hours a day do each of you spend in your 'office'?

It depends on whether 'in the office' also includes chatting here! Otherwise...

  • Bookkeeping- about 4 hours/week
  • Reservations (taking, emailing, answering questions)- about 10-15 hours/week
  • Marketing and research- 10 hours/week
  • Newsletter- 4 hours/month
  • Blogging- 8 hours/month
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, checking reviews, responding)- 2 hours/day
  • Working on website (adding info, changing photos, adding pages, making corrections)- 4 hours/week (sometimes it's 10 hours in one day!)
  • Creating packages- 2 hours/week (over the course of the year, usually I work on them quarterly for 8 hours at a stretch over a couple of days)
  • There are a lot of little things we do every few months that probably add up to 40 hours/year.
  • I also spend a fair amount of time shopping online for linens, office supplies and the like. I'm going to guess around 20 hours/week in the slower season. In peak season I don't shop!

I'm sure I've forgotten a ton of stuff. If you are going to do a biz plan you will need to lay out a plan for your day. It will not go as planned but you do need to figure out what needs to get done, how long it will take and who will do it.

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I think I've known you for enough time to say that it seems that your momentum slows (like many, many innkeepers) when you start to feel like your guests are taking advantage of you and/or creeping more and more into your personal time.

So, protect your privacy.  Guard your time with your dh fiercely!  Make dates to have fun and be playful, and keep them.

Set your limits and stick to it. You know what gets under your skin. 

Let the petty complaints of the boorish guests roll off your back and embrace the guests that are wonderful.

You are GREAT at what you do, and you should know it! 

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Happy Keeper's picture
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Great! Just great! IT is really important to avoid compromising the things that work for you.

Joey Camb's picture
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Also men tend to be better than women at believing and understanding how great they are! (not knocking people/men who do its an incrediably important self realisation) I am not talking about a whole tone of psychobabble crap but look at what you have done, look at what you have achieved these are the things that are important any minor set backs are nothing don't dwell on them!

1- make a list of the skills you have learned in 2011 things you never new about at all before eg google plus, QR codes all these things as an individual you have mastered or know about. Can be anything not just work related - new zumba class, flower arranging when you add them up you will be amazed! You are an amazing individual don't let anyone tell you otherwise! For a start you run your own business not everyone has the strenght to do that or determination so thats a start.

2- stop thinking about tiny things you have done wrong they are sooooo unimportant - I always imagine in the future if they wrote a biography of my life the day I only put 1 set of towels in a room instead of 2 will not feature large in the grand scheme of things. Stop punishing yourself and look at the big picture!

3- read your reviews but remember one important truth (my BB friend mike told me this and he is right) 90% of the time the problem is with the person writing the review, if they point out a specific problem you can get it fixed if it really is a problem but otherwise don't let it get you down!

4- have a file of guest thank you's and take a look in your guest books now and again! it always picks me up.

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I think I know what you mean by mental games but if I'm off, just ignore me.

Firstly, what's the part that wears you down? The guests that drain energy? If so, then try holding a picture (or even posting a real photo) of the guests you've had who GIVE energy instead of take it. Some people actually recharge my batteries, even though I'm still working hard in the middle of chaos. Some enrich my life, just in the brief time I meet them. Some, I can see that they got something they really needed by being here. It's corny, I know. But it makes me realize that the work I do here is important for me and for a portion of the guests who pass through.

You're a writer, so you could even jot down a few vignettes about the stand-out guests who have made you feel like this over the years. Then go and read those stories when you're feeling the weight of the energy-suckers.

If it's not so much the guests but the relentless hours of work and repetitive labour, try thinking of the alternative. If you weren't working your own B&B, would you be a wage slave in a cubicle farm? Would you be working nearly as hard and long to build someone else's business? Do a google image search on "cubicle farm" and print out some reminders of why you do what you do.

What else... if venting to other innkeepers helps, then do that (either here or with a local group). But if you find that too much venting just feeds a dark cloud over your head, then stay away from it while you're going through the hardest slog of the season. Or have ready a network of cheerleaders who will say "attaboy", or tell you to buck up, or whatever type of encouragement works for you.

One thing that really keeps me going in the thick of our busiest season is the sheer quantity of guests telling me how lucky I am to live here. You know, they're right! I'm glad they don't let me forget.

Joey Camb's picture
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I try and only speak to positive people can't be doing with people who are always "oh its terrible, blah blah blah" can't be doing with it. My parents unfortunately are two of these so just say blah blah blah and put my fingers in my ears! or anyone who says "this is what we've always done and this is what we always do whaaaa whaaaa" I always say well its clearly not working so maybe you should stop wasting you time and mine!

gillumhouse's picture
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Good list. I find I am at my worst when there is nothing happening. I know it sounds stupid, but I seem to function better when I am "making an appointment to get to the loo" busy.

Weaver's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

Good list. I find I am at my worst when there is nothing happening. I know it sounds stupid, but I seem to function better when I am "making an appointment to get to the loo" busy.

Took the words out of my mouth.  As I begin my search I think frequently about "in season" and "off season".  Will the bordom of too few guests make me want to blow my adled brains out, or will I learn a new skill with 3 ft of snow on the ground?  Option two is to be in a locale that is year round and never get a break?  Hmmmm what's that saying...busy hands.....

One thing I have found that works great for me regardless of the situation; I write myself little notes and leave them where I will see them, ie. the computer screen, the vanity mirror, the wall on the stair landing as I leave my room, the kitchen door, and other silly places.  My kids think I am nuts, I am sure I am.  Positive affirmation is a positive thing.  Keeping the target (whatever it is) in sight makes the journey a little less bumpy.

 

Madeleine's picture
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Weaver wrote:

Took the words out of my mouth.  As I begin my search I think frequently about "in season" and "off season".  Will the bordom of too few guests make me want to blow my adled brains out, or will I learn a new skill with 3 ft of snow on the ground?  Option two is to be in a locale that is year round and never get a break?  Hmmmm what's that saying...busy hands.....

 

The same question we asked ourselves! We did not want a strictly seasonal place where we had 6 months of nothing to do. Now that we have been doing this for years we wish we had picked a seasonal place so we would have 6 months off! As it is, we have 5 really decent months and 2 so-so months and 5 crappy months where we wonder how we're gonna pay the bills. (But it's not enough time to 'get a job' and no one is hiring now anyway.)

When we bought, this was a going concern for 12 months of the year. Changes in the town we live in (do your research!) made it so that there are way too many empty hotel rooms going for $59 at this time of year so relatively few people will pony up for a B&B at higher prices.

gillumhouse's picture
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This is my off-season. So far in January I have worked one election, rounded up poll workers for my own election (City Clerk runs the elections), attended a training class (for BOE election), held a training (for my election), atended several meetings - City Boards, City Council, and civic orgs, had more guests than usual for a January, started planning the Lenten Services schedule (lining up 6 ministers for the 6 services plus Good Friday as prez of Council of Churches) and Sunday leave town for a Municipal League Conference with a one-nighter coming in Sunday afternoon (he is warned so DH will handle it IF I have everything ready before I leave). So far in Feb I have 2 meetings on the 6th (Devel Auth & Council of Churches 1/2 hour apart), electin on the 7th, leave town for 2 days on City biz on the 8th, Tourism Day at the Capital on the 13th and Council meeting that night. And I teach knitting at 3 & 5 on Wednesdays at the Library. Band rehearsals will probably start in March or April on Tuesdays. July will be my crazy month this year. Have the straight jacket at ready! I do not do well with slack.

Highlands John's picture
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This exact topic was on my mind this morning.

I'm trying a new breakfast menu system at the moment and also trying a few different (and more complex) recipe ideas. We're in the middle of re-vamping some rooms, deep cleaning others and adding new touches all round.

I'm all fired up with enthusiasm at the moment, but I know by the end of April I'll be slipping back into treadmill mode.

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Joey Camb's picture
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I try brain storming with other local B&B owners, Have a stack of marketing stuff to read (books and Hubspot have some excellent free electronic books) also I find chatting with other busines owners ie non B&B sparks me up as well for example the committee Harrogate at Christmas who normally just run the xmas lights are expanding this year into organising a Christmas market (or hope to) so am going to a meeting about it on the 26th which should be good. The chap in charge of it is red hot! and really gets things done so. Also he is working with the Harrogate Food and Drink people as they will be organising their 2 week festival at the same time and it can all tie in together as to be honest our christmas offering here is crap all we have is a lights switch on and thats about it! So hopefully from this year we will have a 2 week food and drink festival and a christmas fair! So am on the committee for harrogate Food and drink, chirstmas lights and like as not christmas fair as well! I call it sparkage when other people are really excited about a thing it really get you excited about it as well! It is one thing that is a benefit of the economic downturn you have to get off your arse and do things yourself!

Also we have secured a partnership deal with the Buxton Gilbert and Sullivan festival which should be really busy (fingers crossed) and the thing I am most excited about is this - http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Harrogate-Royal-Hall/99682289078  which we (locals) raised 14 million pounds (approx 28 million dollars) to restore then the coucil who own it had no frickign clue what to do with it! It is a 1000 seater theatre and would be an amazing money spinner but last year it lost £365 thousand pounds through bad management. So they have been looking for someone daft enough to take on managing it since about last august. Harrogate theatre which makes money and is a really good and popular venue have bid among others to run it but the council keep changing the goal posts of what they want or will do - ie there will be a subsidy or they wont do one or they will do for the first year and so on. But they have fianlly agreed terms, the board of the theatre have voted to say they are all set and the final hurdle is a vote by the council on the 6th of Feb. The theatre have 60 events lined up for the Royal Hall already with some really big names such as Elaine Page and Darrah O'Brien (the comedian) so if this is run properly then as we are only 5 minutes walk away will generate a lot of revenue for bookings as well as the shops and restaurants. Therefore looks like an exciting 2012!

gillumhouse's picture
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I get what your excitement is. We (City) have a grant to do a feasibility study, biz plan, etc to buy, reno, and turn a building in town into a biz incubator. And I am involved in the stuff in the City. The City Manager is getting things started for look for the mere $5 million we need for our Community Building. I finally got my poll workers lined up for our Levy Renewal election. Tomorrow is a Board of Education Bond Call election (I work the polls), Jan 24 I run the training session for my poll workers, Jan 29-31 I will be in the Capital for the City including a class on Municipal elections (have one of those to run in June), and Feb 7 is our city levy renewal election. Winter is slow season for the B & B but the City stuff ramps up - especially with the Legislature in Session. Also Council of Churches stuff ramps up with the Lenten Services - lining up the preachers for 6 weeks of Lent Wednesdays plus Good Friday.

Nov/Dec is when things get boring here.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

It's a shame you couldn't attend next week's PAII conference. There are several classes on this very topic: keeping the momentum going, regaining lost enthusiasm for one's inn, updating the place to make it fresh both for yourself and your guests, etc.

I'll mostly be attending the nerdy ones, though. Here's my schedule:

  • Using Google Places
  • Measuring the Success of Online Marketing
  • Surviving the Off Season
  • Embrace Social Media
  • Video Making Basics for Innkeepers
  • How do you engage the newest generation of travelers?

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