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

Day 3-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

February 6th, 2017 by Rick Wolf

Day 3-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

What a great conference. Thank you AIHP, CABBI and Select Registry

Day 3-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace.

The B&B Team was so happy to see so many of our recent clients attend this conference. Between all of us we counted about 12 to 15 couples and singles, aspiring innkeepers and new innkeepers. All of them have attended one of our Aspiring Innkeeper Seminars. We always advise our attendees to attend conferences, and this group listened!

Morning sessions Day 3 included another well attended New Innkeeper Path session. ‘Marketing for the New Innkeeper: What You Need to Succeed’ Led by both professional consultants and seasoned successful innkeepers. This session’s goal was to help new innkeepers answer the question, ‘where do I start’?

‘Dealing with the Skeletons in your Digital Closet’  Lisa Kolb, Acorn Internet Services knows her Google! Your listing placement is influenced by so many factors. And it is constantly changing. Knowing where you land and how to rid yourself of the skeletons that may be holding your placement hostage. Good stuff to learn.

“Rooms Reborn” presentation with a nearly full room. Mathew Lovette, Jumping Rock Photography

The remaining sessions were culinary, staffing, more marketing, guest spaces and preventive maintenance.  Last day is a half day. Total of 10 sessions.

Marketplace closes and we are all off to the closing general session and lunch. The speaker at the lunch was Joshua Evans, ‘Enthusiastic You! Rediscovering Your Passion and Energy for Hospitality’. We all need to rekindle our enthusiasm from time to time. Being engaged in what you do and having fun doing it! A good thought to end the conference.

Day 3-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

So long! Queen Mary, Long Beach – California

Tough to say goodbye. Hugs all around. Check to see if we all have our Deneen conference mugs and those collected business cards.

From all of us at The B&B Team.

Thanks for Listening, Thanks for Attending and just Thanks!

 

 

Day 2-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

February 1st, 2017 by Rick Wolf

Day 2 InnSpire Summit & Marketplace. Good Morning -Unique Angles, Marcus Berg Photography

Day 2-InnSpire Summit & Marketplace.

The conference this year is a collaboration with the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals, AIHP, The California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns, CABBI and Select Registry. This took organization and hours and hours of work. As in any non-profit organization much of the work is done by volunteers. To list all of them would be tough, especially if I leave someone out! So here is a BIG shout out to them all, in all three of the organizations.

The morning sessions included branding, cleaning, OTA’s, revenue management and yield management and ADA. I took some time and wandered through thhe crowd and did a mini survey, talking to innkeepers to see which sessions talked to them.

‘Financial Benchmarking-Getting More Profit from Your Inn’. Presented by Terry Hammer, Hermann Hill Vineyard Inn & Spa. Terry always gets high praise and respect from innkeepers that attend his sessions. “Terry is amazing…his attitude and respect towards his staff and guests is primary. I would not only stay at his Inn but would also work for him anytime.” Profitability for Terry is never at the expense of his staff. “The intent and actions of an individual (cause), influence the future of that individual (effect)”.Good karma works every time.!

‘An In-depth and Personal Look at ADA and How It Affects your Property’ An innkeeper from New Orleans commented that she had to become ADA compliant when she did renovations on her property after the hurricane damage. She said if she had been more informed about the process she could have saved a lot of time and angst! Education can take away the fear of the unknown. Especially when it comes to the bureaucracy of compliance.

Peter Deneen, Deneen Pottery working the floor!

Lunch in the Marketplace. Time to refuel and visit the booths.

Afternoon Sessions:

‘Did Someone Say Insurance?’  A subject that is often avoided, perceived as boring and scary. But so necessary to our business and something that should never be avoided. The conversations included real case studies and their ultimate happy endings. Learn and the scare goes away.

Now there are some fun food sessions. A feast for the eyes and the soul. ‘Tablescapes and Pretty Plates’. We all need some new ideas in this category.

16 sessions in all for this day.

InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

AIHP CEO Rob Fulton and Kelly

6:30 to 11:00  Inspire Summit Gala and Live Auction  Time to dress up and have fun!

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

The InnSpire Summit & Marketplace-Value Added

January 31st, 2017 by Rick Wolf

the InnSpire summit & Marketplace

The InnSpire Summit & Marketplace, Queen Mary. Long Beach CA

Day 1…The InnSpire Summit & Marketplace, The Queen Mary, Long Beach CA. Ran into and old friend and colleague. Started chatting about innkeeping conferences, current and past. He told me about a comment from an innkeeper that he would never forget. He asked this innkeeper, what is the value you get from attending an innkeeping conference?

“Attending a conference gives you the opportunity to place yourself high on a mountain top and view the battlefield landscape to help plan your attack. The alternative is to stay bogged down in the trenches, trying to dig yourself out and getting nowhere.”

Love this!

Here is a sample of some of the sessions offered, the landscape.

There are different paths or categories to choose from.

New Innkeeper Path

Guest Experience Path

Heads on Beds Path

Back of the House Path

The InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

Peter Scherman-The B&B Team

One of the first sessions was for the newbies, ‘Benchmarks for the New Innkeeper: How do I Measure my First Year in Business?‘ The room was packed with new and seasoned innkeepers. Peter Scherman, and innkeeper Don Lynch presented some tools and stats to help you gauge your business success. Ways to work ‘on your business’, not just ‘in your business’. Big difference.

The ‘Guest Experience Path’ offered, ‘The Dynamics of Creating Consistency’. A panel of seasoned innkeepers talked about their approach to brand consistency at their inns. How they deliver on the promise their marketing presents. Their experiences triggered lively audience participation with questions and more great examples. You could see light bulbs go off.

The InnSpire Summit & Marketplace

Chip Conley-Airbnb

Heads on Beds Path. ‘How Airbnb and Professional Bed and Breakfast Can Collaborate and Win Together.’  Now you can imagine how packed this session was! Led by Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Airbnb. How the future of a collaboration between B&Bs and Airbnb is one that can benefit both. The presentation and discussion, among many, involved the plan for Airbnb to launch a ‘Professional Designation’ category on their website. This has been promised in the past and is still in the working stages.

Lunch was served in the Marketplace for attendees and Allied Partners. Time to shop and network with variety of old friends and new. 58 booths in total. From Amenities to Website Design. The buzz and enthusiasm in the hall is invigorating.

After we all refueled, back to education. How about some help with Social Media?  ‘Mastering Social Media Advertising’. Alex Cameron, founder and CEO, Signature Marketing Consulting offered great ‘how to’ advise on Facebook Ads. Step by step tools, simply presented and applicable for our business.

Late afternoon sessions. Time to grab some coffee at Starbucks. The landscape is broadening.

Back of the House Path offering, ‘The State of the Marketplace: Are Inns Selling? Are Banks Lending? Are There Buyers and What Are They Looking For? Rick and Peter are finishing this session as I am writing. I hope they left time for plenty of questions.

There was a total of 23 sessions today. Most innkeeper couples and/or staff divide and conquer the battlefield then gather to plan their next attack. Day 1 coming to an end. See you tomorrow.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

 

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.

Rick

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.

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