- May 8, 2009
- Reaction score
Bree, I wasn't referring to your individual case at all. I was just making some general observations. I've gone back and read some older threads from around here and have a little background on more than one might think.You've missed a lot of my 'PO' stories. Here's a short rundown...these are people who WANTED to be innkeepers so badly they spent all of their money to buy this place. By the time we came along (4 years later) they were snarling at each other over breakfast. (We stayed here on vacation.) OK, HE was snarling at her and undermining her at every turn. SHE was nice as pie. They went back to work at their former occupations and as far as I know are perfectly happy at them. They have spending money, they have their weekends off, they are doing work they love, they can indulge their expensive hobbies.Length of time in business is a double-edged sword. You have time to get the repeats, but you also have time to lose them by burning out.I think one must consider length of time in business very heavily in the calculation. Local competition should also be factored in.
I would imagine an area that is within a few hours drive from a major metro area with few choices would have a much higher percentage.
We've seen our repeat guests increase every successive year, but it certainly isn't anywhere close to 50%.
Does the multitudes of guests who go on and on about how they are going to tell all their friends count?
That one could go in the "I can't wait to get home and write a review on TA for you" category..
.Was only pointing out that it takes time to build a clientele to the point that they would return to the same place for a vacation or weekend more than once.Bree said:Length of time in business is a double-edged sword. You have time to get the repeats, but you also have time to lose them by burning out.
This freakin' business amazes me.
We have all this talent here with all these backgrounds, skills, professional and life experiences and many folks will defend how great their guests are, the decor, approach, menu, towel choices, profitablility, etc. of their B&Bs, blah....blah...blah..... but losing repeat guests to OUR own burnout is a major factor ?
I don't get the incompatibility in that mentality in the slightest. If there is a pattern to that its in my opinion self-induced because of the typical track people take to becoming innkeepers. Nobody told the vast majority of innkeepers to wait until they were in their mid to late 50's to open or buy a B&B.
So somebody will work 30-40 years for some corporate entity or company, but they open a B&B and suddenly 5-7 years is all the sotmach they have for hard work, dealing with customers, etc.?
We didn't start our working life as innkeepers, but I'll tell you what, I've worked for some real jerks in my other work life and this is the easiest, quickest to learn, easist to be good at set of skills I've ever tried to accomplish.
Some people just find it easier to not be in charge. It's easier to let someone else take the brunt of unhappy clients. 'You'll have to speak to the manager/owner/supervisor' is a great way to avoid having to deal with situations you don't know how to handle. Such as guests using the kitchen and myriad other issues we ran into our first year here. They let the inmates run the asylum and sold when they realized they couldn't take charge.
I see how it happens because we have guests now who think the rules don't apply to them. 99% of the repeats treat this place as OUR home, but 1% treat it like THEIR home. We have to gently nudge them out of the non-guest areas without seeming like we're doing that.
So, yeah, SOME people get in over their heads. They didn't/wouldn't say no and it got out of hand. They gave up. They retreated to their room and didn't come out until breakfast. Where they argued with each other in front of the guests. Even my BIL, looking at their info page on the website said, 'Knock off another $25k, they hate each other and can't wait to sell.' (He was right.)
Our first day here as owners the POs came to 'help' us get set up. 3 hours late. HE called my husband names in front of the guests who were standing around and that was the end of that. We said we didn't need their help, thank you very much, and away they went. But not before they insulted us a few more times and made us realize how penny-pinching they were and how that can make you a sour person very quickly. (ONE tbsp of ham was a serving size. TWO spritzes of cleaner were 'enough' to clean a whole shower. If you can get by without fixing something, it's money in your pocket. So, yeah, they still have us beat on the money thing, but we're a heck of a lot happier in our work.)
I think I said before I didn't get into this to serve the public, but, like yourself, it's something I find I do fairly well and it's easy to learn.
Your case is a very big reason why we feel we made the right decision to start from scratch. Some of the stuff you've dealt with are the exact red flags that kept popping up for us as we neared our decision to go the route we went.
Even with all the resources out there to help educate ourselves, opportunities for aspirings to test the waters by seeking employment at B&Bs, innsit, etc.. you name it, its no piece of cake.
Until a person or couple gets their feet wet and survives that initial departure from the kind of work life they had and adjusts to the B&B work life they now have, its rough.
In my opinion, its all about how set in your ways are you.
How do you handle both the physical stress of the long, hard, somewhat menial task days and the mental stress of being a diplomat, a concierge, a cook, marketing consultant, bookkeeper, babysitter, psychologist, sociologist, and all the other dozen or so "jobs" we've chosen to take on.
I personally have enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills and exposing internal issues about myself that never got confronted when working for others.
Even just the few months I've been hanging out with you all, I feel like I've become a better and more complete innkeeper.
This weekend is a great example. We're hosting family members of the next door neighbors and they've tossed multiple curve balls at me already and I'm hit all of them out of the park with a combined level patience, diplomacy and pragmatic firmness about our policies and expectations that might have tripped me up in years past.
As of 7:30pm last night with all 9 guests checking in today, we had zero contact with any of the guests for the last three months, no clues to any dietary stuff, no itinerary clues to plan for, not even a final head count for where to put everybody. But we love the neighbors, they are great people and we're make sure its a memorable weekend for all of them.