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

W is for Winning

December 28th, 2011 by Rick Wolf

First and last, this is not about the silly rants from a known sit-com celebrity this past summer.

What it is about is a gentleman from the Kennebunks who recently passed away, Hank Spaulding. Didn’t know him well, in fact, barely at all.

I did however know of Hank and his wife through their local actions and community involvement.  Hank was a successful real estate developer in Boston who “succeeded in a business style that is unheard of in today’s business climate”.  Hank wanted people on both sides of the deal to win at the end of the day.  He felt that if both sides win…there would be more deals in the future!

He was eulogized by his son who stated that, “…he lived a life of possibility.  On his worst days the glass was half full and most of the time it was damn near full to the brim. His core convictions were simple and ran deep: Never forget those who helped you along the way, always be willing to pitch in, don’t complain, be grateful, and always have something you’re shooting for, something to look forward to.”

I have tried to start, like many of us, every New Year with a resolution for some personal betterment or goal.  This year it should be easy because the message here for me is simple and is a wish for all of us.

Let’s live like Hank did, full of possibilities.  Let’s be great listeners, let’s be grateful for what we have, let’s be the best at what we do and, let’s always strive to insure ‘win-win’ in everything we do. Think we’ll all be better for it!  That is my goal and wish for 2012.

On behalf of all of us at The B&B Team ….All the best for a Happy and Healthy New Year.

New Innkeepers at the English Meadows Inn!

December 30th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

The B&B Team is proud to announce that the English Meadows Inn was sold yesterday to Eric & Liz Brodar.  Both the Brodars and the sellers, Bruce and Valerie Jackson, were represented by The B&B Team.  The Inn is a 10 room / 1 cottage B&B located in Lower Village Kennebunk, Maine and is a member of the Historic Inns of Kennebunkport.

This lovely Inn has a great history and is always among the top rated Inns in the Kennebunks on Trip Advisor.  The Brodars have exciting plans for the Inn and will begin to implement them as soon as they return from Charleston and the PAII Innkeeping Conference.

Please join us in welcoming the Brodars to the Kennebunks and the Maine Innkeeping Community!

Winning in a Buyer’s Market

July 27th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

by Rick Wolf of The B&B Team

All the recent news would indicate we are now entering a period of sluggish sales, inflated prices, and higher interest rates. What does this mean for the seller?…lower selling prices and a loss of control over the sale of their bed & breakfast inn? What does it mean for the buyer?…lower buying prices and more control over the purchase of their (new) property? All of the above is potentially100% true…if allowed to happen.

When sellers get their property and all their preparations RIGHT before offering it for sale, it creates a positive environment for the right price to be negotiated, creating a win-win situation for both buyer and seller. If you’re getting ready to sell your inn, ask yourselves the following questions:

– Is your inn ready for the marketplace?

– Are your books in tip-top shape?

– Are they current and up to date?

– Are you using an understandable chart of accounts?

– Do you have the most recent P&L and tax returns available?

– Have your reduced or eliminated large miscellaneous, casual labor, or personal accounts/expenditures that are understandable … only to you?

– Do you have all the reports to support occupancy, nights sold, ADR, REVPAR, Lodging vs. F&B revenues?

– Have you maintained a calendar of improvements you’ve made to the Inn?…and created a spread sheet with these costs?

– Do you have the records as to when the septic was most recently cleaned?

– Do you know when the HVAC system was last serviced?

– Have you touched up the chipped paint? Glued the corners of the peeling wall paper?

– Have you done a thorough walk-thru of your inn with the “eyes” of a buyer or are you suffering from seller’s myopia?

If you can’t answer “Yes” to all of the above, then you are not ready to put your property on the market “for sale” and experience anything other than potential (financial) disappointment.

Think about this clichéd comment for a moment: you have to spend money to make money. Well, in this scenario, it is not a cliché, but rather a viable and reasonable expenditure. You know your buyer will be bringing in an inspector/engineer for a full report on the infrastructure, so why don’t you order the report, now, and fix the little stuff, now, so that those little problems don’t become big issues later? A few hundred dollars spent now will save you potentially thousands during the negotiation process. Buyers will be pleased with this because they recognize you care about your property. You have saved everyone time by eliminating much of the “unknown” and have elevated your inn above others for sale, many of which have infrastructural issues and/or cosmetic issues needing to be addressed. Alternatively, and much more cost efficient, utilize the original report from when you purchased your inn. As necessary, update this critical document as your Inn’s maintenance record, showing when the improvement was made, by whom, and the cost….then, share that with qualified and serious prospective buyers and the same positive result will be achieved in the negotiating process.

In another article, I wrote about “Value vs. Price…There is a Difference”. This is a classic example of such. In the above scenario you have provided real value to your prospective buyer helping validate the price you are asking! In simple terms ask yourself why anyone would want to buy your problems? But if the problems simply aren’t there or have been greatly minimized, you can go on to a cleaner set of negotiations, leaving out the bruising exercise of negotiating who is to be responsible to pay for the repairs of this and that. This is how you have created added value as a part of your selling strategy and price.

As a buyer, you need to be aware of sloppy, poorly maintained, incomplete or unavailable books, unavailability of supporting numbers and often, a general malaise that surrounds far too many inns when they enter the marketplace. Likely this malaise is an indicator that there is potentially more here than meets the eye (and most of it not so attractive) so you should look with a more critical eye towards the business and as a result, approach the negotiating table with tactics and strategies to protect yourself from the great ($$$) unknown. If the above is not the case, then you are in a much better position to focus your energies onto the business at hand and proceed more aggressively with your due diligence and minimize the time required to investigate those great unknowns that the seller has provided for you!

So often it is the case that these transactions become adversarial because the sellers haven’t prepared themselves fully to sell, and the buyer is now in the position to dictate terms that will most likely be unacceptable to the seller, and then the battle ensues!

Sellers, it is your responsibility to yourselves not to let a ready, willing, and able buyer pass you by, and that is where your selection of the right broker and their advice comes into play…but more about that in future articles. Yes, you are ready to move on, but if you start the process right, you will sell your inn for the right price, most likely quicker than others and the buyer will have purchased their new inn at the right price, and the sky is clear enough for all parties to see that they both have, indeed, “Won!”

A Good Table

June 17th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

After Peter’s recent posting about the simple joys of sitting on the porch and the numerous comments it elicited, I thought I would share a brief ‘reading’ with you…one I wished I had written, but will be pleased to share with you instead.

A couple of weeks ago, Jan and I went to the wedding of Kate Lindblom, the daughter of Innkeepers Sarah and Erik Lindblom of The Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport. It was a beautiful day for the wedding, Kate was a lovely Bride and Sam the handsome Groom, and it was so nice to spend the afternoon with friends and colleagues in a wonderfully non-business environment.  There was an abundance of food and wine after the ceremony and we were all enjoying an early summer afternoon in Maine.  There were toasts from the best man, the maid of honor, and another from Kate and Sam’s friend, Finn MacDonald.

Finn is one of the Owner/Innkeepers at our old inn, the Captain Fairfield Inn. Finn’s toast brought a thoughtful hush over the crowd with its simple elegance and heartfelt meanings.  With Finn’s permission, I would like to share it with you now…and share a photo of us with family at our Good Table when we were Innkeepers.

“A Good Table

Beginning tonight, let there always be a good table for you both to gather around.

Let it host friends and family.

Let it present birthday  cakes, Thanksgiving Turkey, everyday meals, leftovers, your new best efforts and your burnt best efforts.

Let milk spill.  Let fists pound. Let hands unite in prayer.  Let the wax of candles drip.  Let the rings of beer bottles multiply.  Let the day’s trivial gossip and life’s great questions speak freely.  Let others bore you to tears.

Let the sturdy legs and a strong surface absorb frustration, pain, uncertainty, and fear.  Let it be the stage to let it all out on…then, let it be the foundation to build from.

Let date nights, late nights, anniversaries, picnics, pizza, salad bowls, super bowls, chowda, chili, ice cream and cake bring you together. Let your focus, for just a moment, be on the person next to you or across from you.  Let the rest of life wait until you’re finished.

Let this table take some responsibility off of your love for each other.  Let there always be a good table in your life.

No matter what distance or disturbance may exist in your life, let the table be a bridge or a barrier.  Let it be a functional bond.

Let that Good Table bring you both together.

Thanks Finn for allowing me to share your words.  My wish to you all is that as you charge through your busy days as Innkeepers, taking care of your guests and your business, that you allow time into your day to take care of yourselves and to enjoy the ‘Good Table’ in your life.


Why not make Lemonade out of Lemons?

March 19th, 2010 by Rick Wolf

The enormously successful Innkeeping Conference finished last Thursday evening, but for The B&B Team, it finished Saturday evening after an extra day of meetings and a great night on the town in Austin. Sunday morning rose beautifully in the Hill Country of Texas and all seemed right for our trip home.  Well, not so fast….the East Coast was being pummeled by storms of incredible proportion and we discovered that flights had been canceled Saturday and delays were expected Sunday.

To make a long story short (and avoid a rant!) that's where the problems began.  I can't find fault with the airlines over weather, but when they do not act in a proactive and informational manner and then put hundreds of stranded passengers in the hands of un-empowered and insufficiently trained employees, customer service and hospitality get a black eye …and then I do find fault with them.

On Sunday evening, after 8 hours of delays and finally a canceled flight, I was told the first JetBlue flight available to us was Thursday and that we would be on our own in terms of lodging, food, local transportation, etc.  If we decided to make our own plans, we were still on our own.  When asking about any question pertaining to what JetBlue would do to assist us……the answer was always, "NO", we don't do that….but we'll see you Thursday!

No, we can't book you on another airline.  No, we do not have any food vouchers. No, we do not have any hotel vouchers…the last 2 'No's' at 8:30 PM!  In short, NO, NO, NO, thanks, you're on your own and have a nice day!  Sadly, Peter Greenberg may have been right when he commented the airlines mantra has become, "We're not happy until you're not happy".

Deep breath and an observation or two. If our owner operated industry mistreated our guests like thousands of air travelers were mistreated last weekend, we would be raked across the coals in every manner possible!  This little mishap, cost us over $2000 extra so we could get home late Monday/early Tuesday morning instead of late Thursday/early Friday morning.  If as Innkeepers, we were so cavalier in our treatment of the public when problems occur, even those problems beyond our control, we would find ourselves spiraling out of business.

The solution?  Be empowered and make the right decisions.  Relegate the word 'No' to the trash heap with those other objectionable/nasty words in our language.  Even when the answer may have to be 'no', find a way to incorporate a touch of humanity and care in the response.  Recognize that without guests, we don't have a business…and perhaps most of all, recognize that the absence of 'No' is at the core of Hospitality and Customer Service! JetBlue had the opportunity to be a hero in the eyes of thousands of stranded passengers through any of the most basic of acts, but they chose not to and as a result sat with a bag of lemons just waiting to be made into lemonade.

Let's not allow ourselves to sink to the level of the airline industry in terms of customer service and hospitality…just another reminder of how important it is that we need to strive to be the best we can be everyday!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

December 21st, 2009 by Rick Wolf

In the spirit of the season and with a wink and a nod to "political correctness", The B&B Team extends greetings to all for a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.


As this very challenging year comes to a close, we want to thank all in our industry who give so much of themselves to others.  Innkeepers have a rich tradition of extending a welcoming hand to travelers and for putting others ahead of themselves. Thanks for being who you are.


This, sad to say, is another year when so many in our armed forces will be spending this time of year away from family, friends, and home so that we might enjoy our precious freedoms.  To everyone of them, we also extend our greetings and all good hopes and wishes that come next year they will all be home safe and sound and able to enjoy the warmth of family and friends.  Thanks for being who you are.


As we look forward to the new decade, the "10's", we do so with a renewed optimism for our industry.  2009 was without a doubt one for the books, but we look forward to the new year with anticipation and an awareness of the contributions and difference we in the Innkeeping industry make.  Thanks for being who you are.


So, to you, our friends and colleagues, all our warmest and best wishes to you and yours, from all of us at The B&B Team.

Thirty Years and Still Going Strong!

November 25th, 2009 by Rick Wolf

What a great turnout at the PAII New England Innkeeping Conference & Trade show held this month in Nashua, New Hampshire.  All of us at The B&B Team appreciated the opportunity to meet with some of the true veterans of Innkeeping.

Among those veterans are friends and colleagues, Marian Burns, Innkeeper from Mira Monte Inn in Bar Harbor, Maine and Rick Litchfield, Innkeeper from the Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, Maine.  Unfortunately Rick Litchfield’s dynamic other half, Bev Davis, was not able to attend, as she was busy at the mansion decorating. What else! What these innkeepers have in common is over 30 years of innkeeping under their respective belts. Not many out there can claim this number!  Besides their longevity they are also terrific and successful innkeepers. We believe part of their success can be attributed to never, never stopping the process of educating themselves at conferences. We didn’t ask them, but I am sure they have been to as many conferences (if not more) than the years they have been innkeepers. 

PAII NE group Pictured at The B&B Team’s booth (from left to right) are Peggy and Peter Scherman, Jay Karen (President and CEO of PAII), Marian Burns, Rick Litchfield, and Janet and Rick Wolf.

There is always something new and exciting going on at the Captain Lord Mansion, a recent renovation of a former conference space into a spa and lounge and a new state of the art kitchen are the latest. Their guests also have a history of longevity.  Ten visits to the mansion will earn a guest an engraved stone in their “Memory Garden”. Needless to say, there are lots of bricks and more to come.

Marian at Mira Monte is very interested in solar energy and has installed panels on a portion of her buildings and hopes to install more in the future.  She is planning a solar workshop in the spring to bring guests in to enjoy Marian’s ‘Innspring’ package plus some education.  Marian is a native of Bar Harbor and is a wealth of information about her beautiful part of Maine.  Guests come back time and again to extract knowledge of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park from this thirty year veteran.  

Marian, Rick and Bev have never put their inns on auto pilot and continue to renew their pilot licenses!  Are there any other thirty year veterans out there?  We would love to hear from you.

The “Death” of Bling and Getting Back to Basics

June 5th, 2009 by Rick Wolf

Had a most interesting conversation with Taittinger Champagne's National Director of the Americas at the opening event of Kennebunkport's 5th Annual Arts In The Inns last night.  Strange intro to start off with Champagne and the demise of bling…but bear with me.

Jerome is a charming gentlemen and we wound up next to each other in line for a glass of bubbly.  After brief introductions, the conversation began with the obligatory, "how's business?"  He responded that he was pleased to see a public return to desires for value, quality, and integrity of product.  This equated to a positive answer for him as the public's desire was showing the beginnings of a re-emergence and re-interest in, by almost any ones standards, a luxury product!  By the way, Taittinger is the third oldest producer of Champagne and has been around since 1734.

As a writer put it, "Champagne is a celebration….but the truly impressive choice doesn't need a second mortgage to afford and therefore can be enjoyed all the more.  This seeming paradox of Champagne is found in a bottle of Taittinger."

The point of this homage to Champagne?  Our industry and all of us as Innkeepers offer our guests a celebration too!  Times together with someone special are times to celebrate.  A well deserved getaway is a time to celebrate.  Staying with hospitable Innkeepers in a glorious Inn is a celebration too.  Just as Jerome suggested that Champagne can be enjoyed on a regular basis, instead of just on birthdays, anniversaries, and so on…your Inns can also be enjoyed too on a regular basis.  We offer a similar paradox to the public in that we offer value, quality and a luxury product that doesn't require a second mortgage.  The challenge is for us to continue to communicate this message to the public in frequent, convincing and compelling ways.  We can be enjoyed regularly too!

Inns today are catering to those travelers looking for a more authentic experience…and leave the bling behind!  This new (at least new within the past few months?) sensibility bodes well for us on multiple levels.  Leaving aside the more sensitive issues of politics, religion, and the world, let it suffice to say that this new sensibility does bode well for B&B's and Inns as we are the keepers of the keys to creating an authentic experience for our guests. One that is driven by the basics of hospitality, value, authenticity and integrity of experience. The Bling in our lives during this decade has been shown to be flashy, transient, transparent, and of little real lasting value…no room at the Inn for bling in 2009!

So to all of us in the unique lodging industry, I propose a toast, with a glass of Taittinger of course, and wish you a summer of blue skies, full rooms, and a lasting legacy of gracious hospitality.  Cheers!


The Innkeeping Conference / Atlanta / April 2009

April 17th, 2009 by Rick Wolf

What a great conference! 

High energy, a true sense of camaraderie and a realistic and renewed optimistic outlook for 2009.  Kudo's to all the attendees who made the trip to Atlanta, the PAII staff, the vendors for their support, the sponsors and all the speakers who shared so much information and thought with us all.

Peter and I had the "Privilege of the Podium" for several different speaking opportunities.  One of the highlights, for us, was a collaborative effort with Peter Yesawich, of Y Partnership, on "Inside the Heads of Your Guests….How the latest on Traveler Behavior Affects B&B's and What To Do About It!" This presentation incorporated the latest information from Y Partnership's most recent travel and hospitality industry overview and is now blended with The B&B Team's overview and information about the B&B and Country Inn industry.

Key areas covered include: Web 2.0,Travel 2.0, Social Media Tools, Blogs, Twitter, Reputation Management, Mobility and more.  For those of you in Atlanta, thank you for joining us in this session.  For those of you who did not attend the conference, we would be pleased to share the findings, observations, recommendations and suggestions that will help you navigate the 2009 season.

For more information,  Peter can be reached at 434-286-4600 or I can be reached at 207-967-1995.


The New Year

January 2nd, 2009 by Rick Wolf

While we're only into the New Year for a matter of hours/days, it already feels good. Not because things have magically become better or easier, but because a New Year brings a new beginning and a fresh start.

Because of the current news and the pundits telling us about the economy, I added a posting to our blog on the 31st about Corporate Darwinism and how it is projected in 2009, that it will be the strong who will  survive. I hope you'll take a moment and read it. This morning, I read another view of this timely topic by Scott Testa, a marketing professor at St. Josephs University in Philadelphia.

As he and his views are more marketing/brand driven, I found his comments so very appropriate to our industry.  He talks about many of the things that The B&B Team talks about (and does so with regularity), your Brand (your Inn), your Brand's Promise and the Experience your Brand provides.

Professor Testa states, "The really smart companies, when things are bad, take the opportunity to really grow their brand."

Rita Rodriquez, a CEO for a large branding company adds, "Companies will have to find ways to stand out and that includes making sure customers picky about where they spend their money have a better experience….The brand is going to have a bigger opportunity to stand out and to articulate a promise and to deliver the experience…and it's going to have to do that in 2009."

Couldn't have said it better!  Since I can't, I can only restate what we've said all along: Good Inns are  the ones who stay focused on: their Brand, their Strengths, Creative Marketing Initiatives, understanding their Guest, being Authentic and creating a Sustained Emotional Bond with their Guests, responding to the times…the i.guest…social media…web 2.0, knowing that it's about Value…not just price, but Value, and finally, being the Very Best!

Happy New Year.