Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team
 

Author Archive

Best Apps for Marketing Your B&B

April 26th, 2012 by Peter Scherman

5 tools that use word-of-mouth marketing to entice new customers
Guest Post by Jane Johnson

Bed and breakfasts (or B&Bs and BnBs) offer a quaint, intimate, and less expensive alternative to larger hotels for the North American traveler. However, if you run a bed and breakfast or guesthouse, your time is likely largely consumed by making sure your inn is spotless, your meals are fresh, and your guests are comfortable. Apart from cooking meals, meeting guests’ needs, and cleaning, you probably don’t have a lot of time to think about how to market your accommodations, improve your online reputation, and grow your business within your local community.

Luckily, using smart phone apps to help build your bed and breakfast marketing plan can help you focus your efforts so that when visitors plan to travel to your area—your B&B automatically pops up on their radar.

Thanks to a proliferation of devices, competitive pricing and innovate wireless internet products like T-Mobile mobile broadband services, more people than ever connecting to the web on-the-go. These five popular apps will help market your bed and breakfast or guesthouse wherever internet service is available:

1. Yelp for Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

The Yelp for Mobile app is made up of reviews from an active community of locals in the know! So it’s your prerogative to make sure your B&B is listed on Yelp. In fact, whenever I make travel plans for out of town business or vacation, I read the user reviews for hotels, B&Bs, resorts, restaurants, and tourist attractions on Yelp before I pull out my credit card. Yelp is the traveler best ally—it offers up thousands of results for places to eat, stay, shop, drink, relax and play. Users can use this tool to search for a variety of businesses according to geographical location, category, business type, or even by deal. B&B owners can list their contact information (including address, email, website, Facebook profile, directions, and phone number), and even offer special deals via the Yelp app in order to entice and introduce new customers to your accommodations.

2. foursquare (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Fifteen million people can’t be wrong! That’s how many potential customers you can draw by listing your bed and breakfast with the foursquare application. Not only is this an excellent business directory, foursquare also works as a viral word-of-mouth marketing tool. Users can use the app to see what restaurants, stores, accommodations, products, services and entertainment their friends recommend or they can use the app to browse local business by category to discover what’s nearby. This app is built on personalized recommendations from clients—if you gain enough, your business will be placed on a list of the best spots to go, stay, see, or do and shared with foursquare’s audience of 15-million!

3. Yellow Pages Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Join over eighty-million listings and include your business on the Yellow Pages Mobile app—the leader in local mobile search. This app offers users tons of customer ratings and reviews on a variety of businesses and services according to geographical location. Plus, the unique turn-by-turn voice GPS navigation tool (only for the iPhone) will ensure visitors can search for your establishment by voice, user rating, or deal (when you feature discounts in the Deal Section).

4. Urbanspoon Mobile (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android)

Urbanspoon is ideal for users who need some help deciding where to eat and where to stay (if you’re B&B offers dining). This app works like a dining slot machine—users just shake their smart phone to make the app spin, and they will view a collection of nearby restaurants with good user ratings. If you list your B&B with Urbanspoon, potential clients will be able to search for you according to neighborhood, cuisine, or price, and they can also use their current location to identify the nearest dining options to their current location.

5. Groupon (Free – for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

For B&Bs who want to appear on the list of the very best stuff to do, see, eat, stay, and buy within 500 cities around the globe—Groupon is the app for you! This app offers businesses the option to entice new clientele by offering spectacular discounts between 50% and 90% of the regular price! Groupon is renowned for handpicking every deal they deliver to customers’ smart phones, so if listed, your business is automatically viewed with confidence. Offer a deal to draw new customers, and users can easily redeem deals directly from their mobile phones.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a freelance writer for BBGeeks, a popular site that provides BlackBerry news, commentary, reviews and beginner BlackBerry tips for BB newbies.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The B&B Team®.

Innkeeper Poem

January 30th, 2012 by Peter Scherman

“Innkeeper”
by
Brooks Bradbury
Read and Presented at The Innkeeping Show, Jan. 26, 2012

YOU CHECK LEGIONS IN
CHECK LEGIONS OUT
YOU’RE PLEASANT EVERY DAY, NO DOUBT
YOU SERVE CANAPÉS
FRUIT AND CHEESE
WORK ENDLESS DAYS
YOU AIM TO PLEASE

YOU’RE CALLED OUT ON TRIP ADVISOR
AND NEVER KNOW WHAT THEY’LL SAY
GOOD REVIEWS MAKE YOU SEEM WISER,
THE BAD GIVE YOU HELL TO PAY

IT SURE BEATS LIFE IN A CUBBY
OR A TEDIOUS NINE TO FIVE DRAG
WITH MORE WEEKENDS OFF
YOU’D BE EVEN MORE CHUBBY
PROBABLY HALF IN THE BAG

ALL OF OUR GUESTS BRING JOY
TO THE HEART–OH I’M SURE–
MOST ALL AT ARRIVAL
BUT SOME AT DEPARTURE

WE’VE GOT PLENTY OF SECRETS
TO GET OFF OF OUR CHESTS
EVER GRACIOUS UNDER STRESS
WE APPRECIATE RETURNING GUESTS

WE’VE GOT HOLES IN OUR TAPE CHARTS
WE’RE DESPERATE TO FILL
THIS AIN’T FOR THE FAINT-HEARTS
NOR THE OVER-THE-HILL

WE CARRY THEIR BAGS AND SHOW THE WAY
POUR THE COFFEE AND SCRUB THE LOO
WELCOME STRANGERS, THE OCCASIONAL STRAY
WE OFFER ADVICE RECEIVE OUR SHARE TOO

YES, WE’VE SEEN OUR GUESTS NAKED,
AND WITHOUT INHABITIONS
WHEN THEY LOCK THEMSELVES OUT
IN AWKWARD POSITIONS

WE ARE IN TUNE WITH OUR GREASE-TRAP
BRAVE THE OCCASIONAL MOUSE
WE APPLAUD OUR SEPTIC–NO NEED TO CLAP
WE PRAY FOR IT WHEN GUESTS ARE IN-HOUSE

SO WE CLEAN UP SPILLS
PAY HEAVENLY BILLS
FLASH MILES OF SMILES
VACUUM HAIRS OFF TILES

SILENCE THE BEDSPRINGS
BUILD WALLS AGAINST SNORES
RETURN LOST & FOUND THINGS
SETTLE CHECK-OUT TIME WARS

WE POINT TOILET PAPERS
FOR NO CLEAR-CUT REASON
IS IT DIAMOND-STAR ENVY?
OR ARE WE OVER-REACHING?

WE SPRAY LYSOL ON VAPORS
PUT CHOCOLATES ON NIGHTSTANDS
GIVE OUT FREE MORNING PAPERS
PERFORM ABNORMAL HEADSTANDS

WE SPEND LONG HOURS AT LABOR
WITH NO HESITATIONS…
BUT AS WE ACTUALLY LIVE WITH OUR CUSTOMERS
WE DO HAVE A FEW RESERVATIONS

PERPETUALLY IN NEED
OF A LONGER VACATION
WE ARE THE FAITHFUL
OF THE INNKEEPER NATION

WE’RE GIVEN ONE CHANCE
TO MAKE FIRST IMPRESSIONS
WE LOOK ASKANCE
AT INDISCRETIONS
BECOMING AN INNKEEPER
MEANS WE’RE IN EVEN DEEPER
AND WE FLY BY THE SEAT OF OUR PANTS

IT’S OUR GUESTS THOUGH WE TREASURE
AS FRAGILE AND RARE
OF COURSE! IT’S MY PLEASURE!
YES–I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!

IT’S UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL
WITH SYBIL-LIKE ROLES
SOMETIMES WE COULD BITE OFF SOME HEADS
JUST TO SPIT IN THE HOLES!

BUT WE SMILE THROUGH OUR ANGER
RESISTING THE URGE
WHEN WE’RE OVER-THE-EDGE
AND OUT ON THE VERGE

THIS IS OUR CALLING
WE ARE DESTINED TO SERVE
WE’VE GOT THE MANNERS,
THE BRASS AND THE NERVE

GUESTS RETURN JOY
AND LOVE YOU IN TURN
RESPONDING TO KINDNESS
WITH LOYALTY THAT YOU EARN

BUT SNOOZING AWAY
IN THOSE EARLY MORN HOURS
WHEN WE AWAKEN FROM DREAMS
OF FRETTE AND FLOWERS
REMEMBER THERE’S ONLY ONE
CHOICE WE NEED MAKE

IT’S NOT WHAT ROOM TO CLEAN FIRST
OR WHICH MUFFIN TO BAKE
NOT WHETHER QUICHE OR FRITTATA
OR THE GLUTEN-FREE CAKE
OR WHICH POTPOURRI
YOU’VE DECIDED TO USE
OR IF YOU NEED PADDED HANGERS
OR JUST PADDED ROOMS

BUT THE HEART OF THE MATTER,
THE REAL CRUX OF THE THING
IS WHEN YOU WAKE UP
TO AN ALARM BELL’S RING

A MOMENT OF TRUTH ARRIVES
EACH DAY IN YOUR LIFE
A DECISION YOU MAKE
THAT CUTS LIKE A KNIFE

YOUR ONLY CHOICE
IS THIS ONE, TO GET BY:
ARE YOU GOING TO LIVE?
OR ARE YOU GOING TO DIE?

IF YOU’VE DECIDED TO DIE,
PLEASE — FALL DOWN QUICKLY
AND SPARE ALL THE OTHERS
FROM THE NEGATIVE AND PRICK-LY

BUT IF YOU’VE DECIDE TO LIVE:
THEN BY ALL MEANS FLOURISH!
GROW JOY IN YOUR SOUL
LOVE AND BE NOURISHED

IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS,
IT’S THE GIFTS THAT WE GIVE
THE TIME THAT WE SHARE
THE WAY THAT WE LIVE
THE GIVING BACK
THE BEING THERE
IT’S THE FRIENDS WE MAKE
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE

THE TIME GETS SHORTER
NUMBERED DAYS WHIZ BY
PLENTY OF WORRIES
TO STOP AND ASK WHY

IT’S AN INNKEEPER’S LIFE
OUR LIVING TO GIVE
SHALL WE SHRIVEL AND DIE?
OR, TURN-ON AND LIVE?

F is for Feasible Inn for Sale

September 7th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

Feasible? What’s “feasible?” On our Inns For Sale page, The B&B Team® defines different types of inns as being either “lifestyle,” “financially viable,” or “feasible.” Unlike lifestyle or financially viable inns, by “feasible” we mean “properties with a size and location that have the realistic potential to become financially viable. They may include unique hospitality properties that are distressed, closed, under-performing, or currently used for other purposes.” What kinds of bed & breakfasts are we talking about?

In this era where many inns have gone out of business, closed by choice, or been foreclosed upon, there are potentially a number of feasible properties for sale in this category.

Take the example of a bed & breakfast that was purchased at the peak of the market in 2006. The buyer may have paid top dollar, may have bought it figuring he would make money reselling it no matter how the business did, “because real estate always goes up” (did you ever hear that before?). That buyer may even have invested in fixing the property up, assuming that money spent translated to increased value. When the Recession hit and business went down, he could no longer afford the mortgage, and the bank now owns a property that is closed, has no business track record to speak of, but is ready to go. This is the “perfect” feasible inn to buy if it has the size, location, and condition that lend themselves to a successful business, but there’s no cash flow to help acquire it. So, it takes some financial wherewithal to make it happen, but banks are often willing to offer favorable terms to a strong buyer.

Another example could be the ten guest room B&B that was started in the early 1990’s. It was run well for a few years, but became tired. Business declined, and the owners thought they were too old to learn all the new tricks (social media, blogging, online reservations, etc.). The bed and breakfast may have had a good reputation, and may still enjoy some good will, but it needs updating in decor, amenities, and marketing to make it financially viable. It doesn’t have revenues that live up to its inherent potential. Priced right, this could be another example of a feasible inn. Fix it up, ramp up the marketing, and you’ve really got something.

Then there’s another possibly feasible inn. There are two structures, one with 9 guest rooms, the other with four and a restaurant that has been open and closed three times in the past three years, and the rooms are a disaster. The property has a good location but has been abused and neglected for a long time. No one would seriously consider it for a residence, so it really should be an inn again. But it needs a LOT of work. In theory it might be feasible. A professional feasibility study of the property indicates that the size, location, and potential business mix have every reasonable potential to make money. The price tag from the bank (it’s another one of those bank-owned properties!) seems reasonable. But the fix-up costs seem daunting.

In this case, the study reveals that successfully renovated, updated, and operated the inn could, in fact, be a money-maker, but whether it would make financial sense and could become viable depends upon the fix up cost. If the work could be accomplished for $500,000, the feasibility study indicates that the buyer could eventually (in 5-7 years) realize a solid return on their investment. But if the fix-up costs were to reach $1,000,000, one would be ill advised to take on the project. So, “feasible” becomes a potentially risky and expensive proposition, depending on the total initial investment.

Is there a risk-reward equation to consider? Certainly there is, as with any investment. And a smart buyer will want to have a feasibility study performed to assess the inherent risks and potential rewards before acquiring an inn that is distressed, closed, under-performing, or currently used for other purposes. “Feasible Inns For Sale” can afford excellent opportunities. To know the risks and evaluate the opportunities, hire professionals who can guide you to an educated decision. You’ll be rewarded for taking the time and investing in seasoned advice.

At The B&B Team® we love this kind of work. We enjoy sharing creative ideas with you to look at the exciting possibilities. But we also bring you down to earth about the realities. If it makes sense, we’ll support you all the way. And if it’s seems like a bad choice with unacceptable risks, we’ll let you know that, too. The job of the inn consultant is complex, but the role of the inn consultant is simple: We guide. You decide.

V is for Values in Business

August 30th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

Wikipedia defines “values” this way: “A personal and/or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based.” Do values matter in business? I think so.

We all like to think that we are being treated “the right way.” One can argue that “the right way” may vary from person to person, as what is “right” for one person may not be so for another. But there are some fundamental practices that embody values and “the right way” to treat others in business. In the simplest and broadest sense, being honest is core to the concept of values. Honesty is not subjective; either someone is telling the truth, or they are not. They might make a mistake, but that’s not the same as being untruthful. So, honesty matters.

In the business of inn brokerage, whether representing someone who is buying a bed and breakfast or someone who is selling a bed & breakfast, being ethical is core to reflecting values in business. Many professions have formal codes of ethics. The one which we at The B&B Team® refer to most is the Realtor Code of Ethics. The Code can best be described as codifying the Golden Rule.

As an ethics instructor, I teach the importance of adhering to the Code, not just because it’s the right thing, but because it’s good business. The concept of “representing” a client means putting the client’s interests ahead of one’s own. Too often we see practitioners who place their own interest in “getting a deal done” and getting paid ahead of whether it’s the right decision for the client. Frequently those people who are disillusioned with how they have been treated by others come to us to complain and, hopefully, help them put things right. We cannot undo the past, but we can certainly treat them right going forward.

Being ethical also means obeying the law, which seems like a “duh!” kind of statement. But consider this: anti-trust law is intended to prevent collusion in setting rates of payment or commission structures. In our business we often share fees that we earn with cooperating inn brokers and inn consultants. It works like this: an innkeeper hires us to sell her inn. We have a fee arrangement with the sellers that establishes what we will be paid under different scenarios. Many times another broker with a buyer will ask us what we are being paid and if the “split” is 50/50. Our response is always to tell them what we are offering as cooperating compensation, nothing else. It would be a violation of the law to tell others what our fee structure is, as that could be construed as collusion or “setting rates.” Besides, it’s a confidential, contractual agreement between us and our clients. Likewise, when we ask what compensation would be offered to us if we bring a buyer to the table we are often told what a listing broker’s commission is and what the split is. I cringe every time, as that is NOT what we asked for!

Another key component of values and ethical behavior is maintaining confidentiality. If you tell us something that is personal (you are ill or in a divorce, for example) or confidential (which can include negotiating strategies, bottom or top line price, etc.), that information helps us understand your situation, but we will NEVER disclose that to anyone else EVER unless you authorize us to do so or we are required by law. Does this seem complicated? Not to us. Not when it’s natural to do the right thing. Not if we keep the Golden Rule in mind.

Our goal at The B&B Team® is simple. Our mission statement says it all: “We help our clients reach their personal and financial goals in the Innkeeping industry.” To be certain, we have our own financial goals (after all, we are in business), but they are not to be obtained at the expense of a client’s. Ever. Period. We believe that if we do the right thing by you, you will reward us with repeat and referral business. Our reputation is more valuable than any fee we earn.

People considering hiring us always ask us good questions about how we work. And the response is rather lengthy and, frankly, something only to be shared with a prospective client, not the world. If you’d like to understand better what we do, how we do it, and really understand what our VALUES are, I invite you to contact any of us. I  started this company in 1993 on a foundation of ethical behavior, and every person who represents The B&B Team® brand is someone you can have absolute confidence in. That is our promise to you.

Among Asheville’s Best Bed & Breakfasts for Sale

June 8th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

Asheville, North Carolina is a city known around the country as a wonderful destination. Not only does it enjoy a moderate, temperate climate that can be enjoyed four seasons, but it boasts an array of activities for virtually any taste, from music to crafts, art and theater to hiking and biking, architecture and museums to history and eclectic dining. In short, Asheville has something for everyone.

On the lodging side, Asheville can rightfully claim to have some of the finest bed & breakfasts gathered in one location that a traveler will find anywhere. From small to large, simple to opulent, and with much in between, if you like inns, you’ll love Asheville’s choices. And for aspiring innkeepers who dream of owning a beautiful B&B one day, this is a town whose name is mentioned to us at The B&B Team® more often than almost any other, often as a benchmark: “I’d like something in a place like Asheville.” That line is often followed by “But we can’t afford Asheville.”

To be sure, real estate and inns for sale in Asheville are higher than many places. There are a number of reasons for that. One is that Asheville is simply a very desirable place to live, and that always creates superior demand and a marketplace premium. But another reason is that the inns in Asheville enjoy a level of business that many areas are jealous of. Great revenues help create great value. So, while prices can be high, there is often a justifiable reason for that price. But there’s a caveat…

We often mention “the Asheville premium” which is frequently attached to inns for sale. While there is logic to this thinking, the actual rationale is sometimes flawed. To start with a sustainable price and then add a premium doesn’t work. If the numbers (revenues and asset value) don’t support the price, then the premium isn’t justified. But when the numbers support the price, then even if the price is high, the value is still there, and the price can be considered “reasonable and defensible.”

We are very pleased to be representing one of the B&B’s in Asheville, Hill House Bed & Breakfast Inn. With a charming cottage and nine guest rooms (only eight are used), and a delightful new owner’s residence on the property, this B&B is in fantastic condition (a prerequisite for good revenues), is very well marketed (another requirement for business), and boasts a style and décor that match today’s sensibilities and appeal to a sophisticated traveler of any age. The up-market styling, combined with a superior guest experience, creates a business that is strong, profitable, and that supports the asking price of $1,995,000. And considering that the owners live in a comfortable, two story residence that is convenient and private, Hill House Bed & Breakfast Inn represents superior value for a serious buyer. So, for anyone considering an Asheville, NC B&B for sale in their future, this is one not to be missed. Check it out at our website.

Innkeeping Excellence

May 16th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

The B&B Team is incredibly fortunate  to work with a number of inns who exemplify excellence in Innkeeping. Whenever we see innkeepers doing all the things that make inns great, we are so pleased, especially when we’ve been able to play even a small role in that success.

This past weekend we held a seminar for aspiring innkeepers, people who are thinking about starting a bed and breakfast, at The Lakehouse Inn and Winery in Geneva on the Lake, Ohio. This was a wonderful setting for a seminar, because the location, itself, is so demonstrative of how to do everything right, one step at a time, over a period of years.

The Lakehouse Inn and Winery

At breakfast our first morning, Sam Fagnilli, the owner and winemaker (and carpenter, architect, visionary, and resident handyman) explained to our attendees how they had started in 2000 with a rundown building with a poor business but a location they were seeking: a home on Lake Erie. Being larger than they needed for a house and more than they would have spent for a house had they found it, they decided to make it a business to pay for itself.

Once they had a few rooms open, they soon realized that they needed a draw to their inn. Located on the Wines and Vines Trail district of northeastern Ohio, they decided that wine would bring people, so they started making wine and opened a winery. That led to a core part of their business model.

With no quality restaurants in the area and none open in the winter, they had to feed guests an evening meal, so they opened a small restaurant, initially only for guests. Eventually that led to a separate building with patio dining open to the public. The tasting room and barrel storage eventually found a home below the “beach house” they renovated and turned into a luxury accommodation. Soon a beach-front dining deck complemented the tasting room. In recent years terraced stone walks and patios overlooking Lake Erie have further added to the property’s attraction. And weddings have added to the cash flow.

Did I mention that all of this was paid for by cash flow from the business, not borrowed funds? Today the inn has eleven guest rooms, wine making facilities, wine tastings, small restaurant with large patio dining, and a loyal clientele.

Last year they had the chance to purchase a small property across the street. In what was the living room of the old house, we held our Innkeeping classes this weekend, and we’ll not see it that way next year, as they will be turning the house into a good sized meeting room for indoor functions and a day spa. They’ll create additional parking for weddings and large events as well as summer staff housing on the property, solving past challenges at the same time. Once completed, they are going to expand the restaurant facilities to enclose what is currently open-air patio dining to make it a year-round facility with wine tasting in the winter months. Can you say “destination property?”

For the eleven years that this family has owned The Lakehouse Inn and Winery they have defied the odds. Every year they have grown their revenues, and there’s an important reason why. They believe, as we teach, that you can never stop moving forward, or you start moving backward. They have always paid attention to and studied their business, looking for opportunities to fill-in weak times and arenas. They understand the linkages that create reasons for people to come to their inn and provide memorable experiences. They have always attended PAII conferences to learn and get great new ideas. And they truly understand the meaning of hospitality. So, to Sam and Karen, Andrea and Lance, Nathan and all the staff at The Lakehouse Inn and Winery, kudos for showing us Excellence in Innkeeping.

Massachusetts and Arkansas B&B’s For Sale are Contrasts in Style

February 18th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

Two Select Registry® bed & breakfasts for sale, one in Arkansas and the other in Massachusetts, offer contrasts in style while demonstrating striking similarities.

In Stockbridge, Massachusetts (recall the James Taylor line, “…from Stockbridge to Boston”), The Inn at Stockbridge is a beautiful, historic 15 room bed and breakfast inn that offers its guests a variety of beautifully appointed guest rooms in three buildings. Enjoying a location that takes full advantage of the Berkshire Mountains, the original colonial style home on almost 12 acres was built in 1906 and boasts 7 guest rooms, spectacular common rooms with porches and terraces, and superb owner’s quarters. Two additional buildings, the “Barn” and the “Cottage House” each have 4 over-sized luxury rooms. Whimsical sculptures dot the yard and add a special uniqueness to each guest’s arrival.

At The Inn at Stockbridge, quality amenities and service, which are the hallmarks of Select Registry inns, are what make it very much like another B&B halfway across the country in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast has five guest rooms which, in their own way, couldn’t be more different from those at the Inn at Stockbridge. Owned by a young couple who have brought a contemporary flair to their 7,000+ square foot Craftsman style B&B built in 1890, Hilltop Manor offers 1,000 thread count sheets, large flat screen TV’s, and iPod docks in every room. Sitting on over 5 acres on the edge of Hot Springs and surrounded by National Forest, the B&B can tell the tale of famous Prohibition Era gangsters partying into the night and perhaps escaping into the woods during the frequent police raids. Creative packages provide each visitor the opportunity to customize their stay.

While both of these B&B’s are incredibly different, they share a lot in common. They are both members of Select Registry®; they are both upscale lodging establishments that offer their guests a high-end lodging experience; both cater to the needs of their guests in a very personalized way; both enjoy a country setting with convenient access to in-town amenities like restaurants, museums, and entertainment; both are very profitable businesses; and both are represented for sale by The B&B Team®.

Hilltop Manor Bed & Breakfast is available for $995,000, and The Inn at Stockbridge is offered for $2,750,000. Different? Yes. Great value? Double yes! It’s one of the reasons why we at The B&B Team® love what we do because we work with some of the best inns in the country!

Best Inntentions TV Show

January 21st, 2011 by Peter Scherman

Peter and Rick on TV? Really? Wow! I can’t wait to see that…. Alas, you might have to.  Please, read on.

In mid-2009 Buck Davis contacted PAII with the idea of wanting to create a reality TV show about Innkeeping. He wanted to showcase the industry in a positive light, but he also wanted to create something entertaining. Having been mentioned in a PAII newsletter, we at The B&B Team® contacted Buck to offer our assistance in any way we could. The ensuing phone calls were very interesting.

Buck picked our brains about different topics. He wanted to showcase really beautiful and interesting inns. Could we direct him to some really nice ones? We did, and he was thrilled. He wanted to feature a variety of inn owners, including minorities and gays, could we direct him? We did, and he was even happier. He wanted to do a show that followed inn buyers through the process of acquiring an inn along the lines of House Hunters on HGTV. Oops. If he had a few years to follow someone around the country while they looked, and then weeks (or months) while they did due diligence and got financing he could do that, but maybe not. Well then, how about following an Innkeeper as they readied their inn for sale and sold it? Double oops. If he had the typical 2-3 years to hang around while the right buyer arrived, he could do that, but maybe not.

Poor Buck was getting discouraged. What did we do with innkeepers that he could film and make into a TV show, he wanted to know? It had to be a shorter term proposition. We discussed some of our different consulting arenas and suggested that an Inn Tune-up™ might be something he could track. After all, for an Inn Tune-Up™ we go through an inn in great detail, make recommendations, and hope that the innkeeper will implement and enjoy an increase in business. That sounded like a good idea. Of course, we reminded him that sometimes success only shows up on a spreadsheet, which isn’t exactly great for TV, but at least we had a plan.

As a test run Buck and Suzan Satterfield, the producer at Picture Window Productions, traveled to Bruce, Mississippi to observe Rick and Peter do a Marketability Assessment and Valuation (including an Inn Tune-up™) at the Cart Barn Inn @ Yoda Creek. After that, they were sold on The  B&B Team!

Since the production company Buck was going to work with was based in Atlanta (they had produced Ground Breakers for ten years for HGTV) he wanted to find an inn in the region for their “sizzle reel,” a short piece they would use to pitch the show to networks. They found the Ashford Manor B&B in Watkinsville, GA. Picture Window Productions flew us down to the location. When we arrived at the B&B, there were a pile of vehicles and a van in front. No sooner did we knock on the front door when we were greeted with a smile and a finger to the lips to keep us quiet. Lights blazed in the parlor, people were standing around, and we were told (in a whisper), “Make-up!” as we were rushed to the kitchen. Wow, this was real stuff!

We spent a fascinating weekend with a bunch of fun and extremely talented professionals. Everyone from the makeup artists to the producer, cameramen, sound folks, and hands were amazing. Dave and Mario, the innkeepers, were real sports, hamming it up as needed. Sadly, the sizzle reel, which was presented at a major TV convention, wasn’t picked up. Probably a good thing, since they needed to do 16 episodes, and the problem was, as soon as we would start to get into any real substance with Dave and Mario we’d hear “Cut!” and we were moved on to the next scene. This was TV, not real consulting.

Earlier we had put out a call to ask for volunteer innkeepers with ideas on how their inns could be used in the show, and we had a great response. To all of you who did email us (some with terrific ideas), we thank you. And to those of you who were wondering whatever became of it, here it is. Peter and Rick are NOT big TV stars, but these guys sure made us feel like it for a weekend. Enjoy!

I Have A Dream

January 17th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

When I was in grade school we had public speaking competitions starting at an early age. They thought is was an important part of our education, and, given all the speaking I do at Innkeeping conferences these days, something must have rubbed off.

Thanks to my father, who knew great speeches and the effect they have had on history, I was no doubt helped by the selection of great pieces to memorize and, with some coaching, deliver with some effect. I won a couple of those competitions with great speeches by Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death”) and Winston Churchill (“Blood, sweat, and tears”), and it gave me an appreciation for what inspired oratory can accomplish. Of course, that was in the early 1960’s (I guess I’m dating myself!)

Had the speech been given by the time I was in those competitions, I’m sure that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” would have been a perfect choice, as it remains one of the greatest, most inspiring pieces of oratory in the English language. In watching the news tonight about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington in 1963, I was moved once again, as I am every time, by the power of the oratory.

As a nation we have come a long way. At the recent PAII conference in Charleston, I was talking with Monique Greenwood of Akwaaba Inns and Monica Edwards of Morehead Manor B&B, both African American innkeepers. They remarked, and we concurred, that Innkeeping remains a very Caucasian industry. Unlike the early days of our American history, it’s not because of any overt racism. But it remains a fact. All of us at The B&B Team® hope to see that change one day, even as this wonderful industry continues to evolve with younger innkeepers and ever more diverse innkeeping styles. Change is good.

And because it’s an awesome speech, if you have a few minutes and want to be uplifted, take a look at the original. It never gets old for me!

Peter

PAII Conference 2011

January 13th, 2011 by Peter Scherman

What a conference this was! Despite terrible weather that prevented some from getting to Charleston, the turnout was excellent. The B&B Team®, like all the vendors, found it to be a very successful show.

A highlight for Rick and myself was at a session we presented called, “Thrive, Make More Money in 2011.” In a room set up for 50, we had to bring in extra chairs and had folks sitting on the floor and behind the podium for over 75 with many listening from the halls. Do you think they wanted to get some money-making tips?

We discussed ideas to raise room rates and occupancy by updating the rooms themselves, providing today’s guests with the services and amenities they want, and communicating with them using the tools and vehicles that they prefer. We can almost hear the credit card machines in a few inns going “Ka-ching!” Thanks to all who attended.

One of the vendors we know, having heard about the throngs in the hallway, pulled us aside the next day and said, “You know, it’s really not appropriate to show porno films at a PAII conference!” We couldn’t agree more!

A Better Way To Stay got a HUGE boost here, as PAII‘s CEO Jay Karen offered to have his beard shaved if they could raise $35,000 by the end of the conference. Well, in an effort headed by Twyla Sickmiller and supported by many volunteers and the innkeepers, vendors, and associations who contributed, PAII raised nearly $100,000! The campaign is aimed at raising awareness among the general population about bed and breakfasts as a “better way to stay” when traveling. Needless to say, Jay got a “beard-cut” in front of 500 diners today.  The B&B Team® as a group, including Scott and Marilyn Bushnell of The B&B Team® Bushnell & Bushnell, Inc., have committed to donating $3,000 a year toward the campaign. We are pleased to be a small part of a big effort.

There were many other events worth discussing, but enough for now. How did YOU like the conference? Weren’t here? You missed a great event. Join PAII for a mere $89.00, and next year come to the greatest Innkeeping Show on Earth!

Peter

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