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

Posts Tagged ‘aspiring innkeepers’

Chester Vermont-Country Inn and B&B Mecca

January 16th, 2013 by Janet Wolf

Chester, "the Vermont you've been hoping to find"

Chester, “the Vermont you’ve been hoping to find”

In southern Vermont lies a quiet, friendly town, Chester. The town is known for many things, it boasts of two historical districts and three villages as well as zero stoplights! Its location is idyllic, nestled on the eastern slopes of the Green Mountains in the heart of Okemo Valley, the well-known ski and year round cool resort for all. It is also known for the number of bed and breakfasts that dot the village streets and countryside. The Chester Vermont Innkeepers Association lists 13 properties totaling 125 rooms. In days of yore travelers would journey by stagecoach along the Green Mountain Turnpike that stretched between Boston and Montreal. Chester was a major stop for many a weary, hungry and thirsty traveler. Like many towns and villages in New England, Chester had an Inn and tavern that became the anchor of the Main street business district and it still stands as vibrant and welcoming as it did in those early days.

Going back to the article about Norman T. Simpson from 1982 featured in my previous blog, I quote the author; “It was near dinner time. The fire crackled and flames leaped high in the brick fireplace in the Inn. Guests and townspeople came in from the cold winter night, and stood in front of the blazing fire for a few moments before going into the formal dining room or the more rustic tavern.” This scenario has been played out numerous times in country inns everywhere, such a welcoming vision.

The fire crackled and flames leaped high

The fire crackled and flames leaped high

This Chester Vermont Inn with its lantern shining brightly is the gathering place for locals and travelers from away who join together around the constant welcoming hearth. The Inn features fine yet casual dining and tavern fare and has facilities for meetings and events. Yes there may be a number of restaurants and watering holes throughout the region but being the anchor, innkeepers of the Inn will always have that strong standing in the community. It is a great place to be. The lodging has been recently refurbished and rounds out the total picture.

The anchor of Main Street

The anchor of Main Street

The B&B Team is proud to represent this quintessential Country Inn in Chester, Vermont. Norman, in his search for country inns always looked for inns with a “distinctive personality, integrity, pride and dedicated inn keeping.” If you as an aspiring innkeeper are also searching for these qualities in a country inn or bed and breakfast we can help guide you through your search. The Okemo Valley Country Inn we are offering for sale is a prime example of the kind of Inn Mr. Simpson visited and recommended in his many travel books. The B&B Team invites you to read, learn and be inspired and join us in one of our ‘Better Way to Learn Innkeeping’ Seminars. I think Mr. Simpson would concur.

Thanks for listening

Janet Wolf


Tennessee Urban Inn In Chattanooga

October 15th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

Historic Urban Opportunity


Think historic romantic charm then think urban chic, put them together and you get The Stone Fort Inn in downtown Chattanooga. The B&B Team is pleased to offer this unique specialty lodging for sale. What is so wonderful about all the bed and breakfasts, country inns and boutique hotels we currently offer buyers is they are all special and unique in their individuality. This is what we love about our participation in the small lodging industry.

The Stone Fort Inn is a superb opportunity for an enterprising entrepreneur individual or group who is looking for properties that include facilities for special events, conference,wedding and meeting venues with a restaurant and bar. The public facility rooms can accommodate 150 for a stand up reception, 60 for a seated service and 80 for a buffet. The location is extraordinary within walking distance to the riverfront and the very active and chic downtown district. Chattanooga is known as the ‘Scenic City’ and Stone Fort Inn is a bright spot in that scene!

Chattanooga River Scene

The property offers 15 guest rooms that are truly styled for today’s traveler, business or leisure. Hear what guests have to say.

What is in this offering for the future owner of this one of a kind property? Do you like the number 5 multiplied? Occupancy is in the 50%+ range as are the current revenues in excess of $500,000. Growth opportunities, you bet. There is always room for new owners to improve and put their stamp on a successful business. The restaurant is currently used for events at the Inn but could easily be opened to the public and join the burgeoning downtown food scene. You like the night life? So would your guests and local Chattanoogans. The bar could become a lively night spot and a great profit center to add to the above revenue figure.

Guests come from far and wide



So aspiring future or current innkeepers who are looking to add to their portfolio I hope you found this information interesting and would like to delve further. The B&B Team would love to hear from you.


Thanks for listening

Janet Wolf

K is for the 5 Keys to a Strong Business at your Bed and Breakfast

February 28th, 2012 by Scott Bushnell

Marilyn and I had the good fortune this past weekend to work with 9 excited aspiring innkeepers at our A Better Way to Learn InnkeepingTM  seminar held at the Wayside Inn B&B in Ellicott City, Maryland.  What a great group!  We laughed and networked with Bill and Charlotte Schmickle of the Flag House in Annapolis but the real focus was on the KEYS to a strong business at your inn.

  1. Location, Location, Location
  2. Understanding WHO will be coming to your inn
  3. Wrapping your inn AROUND those guests
  4. Think Sunday-Thursday
  5. Being the Best

Each of these Keys can be put on a continuum numbered, say, from 1-10 with 10 being the strongest.  Let’s look at each one:

  1. Location, Location, Location:  This has been the buzzword for any real estate purchase but for a Bed & Breakfast EACH word has a separate meaning:  The first definition is the Macro-location…is the inn located near major metropolitan areas from which to pull guests?  The more population close at hand (gas is getting more expensive!), the higher on the continuum the rating.  For the Wayside Inn, being located nicely in the Baltimore-DC corridor, this inn ranks high on this Location…perhaps a 9.  The second definition of Location includes the area attractions in that region which will draw guests to the area.  And the broader the diversity of attractions (historical, antiquing, entertainment, soft adventures, etc.), the higher the likelihood of drawing folks out of the nearby metropolitan populations.  The third definition of Location is the Inn itself…its attractive location in the town, its curb appeal and its accessibility.
  2. The second KEY is identifying the guests who will be coming to those area attractions…and what their needs would be.  If the attraction is an amusement park or college, children will be coming.  If there are businesses in the area, corporate travelers have particular needs as well.
  3. Wrapping your Inn around those guests’ needs is the next KEY.  Room features, amenities and services must satisfy the needs of those identified guests.  Business travelers need desks, Wi-Fi, multiple outlets, a forgiving cancellation policy, early breakfasts, and NO advanced deposits.
  4. The fourth KEY can often be a difficult one…Thinking Sunday through Thursday.  Any inn can fill up on the weekend, but that is only 28% of the week…an occupancy not high enough to pay all the bills.  Marketing to corporate guests, elder-travelers, quilting and scrap booking groups, or offering discounts to weekenders to encourage them to stay an extra day or two becomes a high priority targeted activity.
  5. Being the Best.  This KEY is what will keep your parking lot full while the inn across the street wonders how you do it.  Investigate what the competition is doing (and NOT doing!) and Beat Them!  Have the best breakfast in town, offer a welcoming warmth that guests enjoy, and make their experience complete.

This dynamic group of aspiring innkeepers heard this important message and are currently defining the profiles of the inns that are RIGHT for them.  Congratulations to all of them as they continue their journey into the world of inn ownership!      Scott


E is for Entrepreneur

January 18th, 2012 by Janet Wolf


All of us at The B&B Team work closely with aspiring innkeepers in our ‘Better Way to Learn Innkeeping’ Seminars. And in the immediate future are looking forward to meeting and hopefully inspiring many aspiring folks at the upcoming PAII Innkeeping Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, January 23-26.  Aspiring innkeepers are also aspiring entrepreneurs. Innkeeper = entrepreneur, interchangeable!

Question? Can a person learn to become an entrepreneur or are the essential skills ‘born’ in you? Let’s take a look.



  •        Positive attitudes and belief in yourself. People who have lingering doubts and anxiety over stepping outside a corporate mentality are most likely not meant for entrepreneurship. We have had some aspirers in our seminars who have queried; What if we fail? I can honestly say that not once did the thought of failure enter into our thought process when Rick and I started pursuing our innkeeping career. We educated ourselves by attending a seminar and PAII conferences, consulted with our financial advisors and innkeeping consultants, we researched and visited properties, did our due diligence when we identified a property and finally, gathered all our business and personal skills together and focused on the process that would lead us to our goal. By going through this process you gain knowledge which translates into confidence and belief in yourself. A very successful entrepreneur once said; ‘We entrepreneurs have a hard time imagining that what we believe in so much could do anything but succeed.” More about him as we move forward.
  •       Innovative and inventive mind. Your business/Inn is your baby; it must be nurtured and fed constantly. For instance, we always suggest a business plan be written in pencil because you will revisit it on a regular basis, and it will be revised as needed. Your baby also needs constant attention. An inventive and creative mind will be put to use to breathe new life into your property and your ever-changing marketing strategies. Keeping abreast of the latest hospitality and social media trends and then creatively adapting them to your Inn is a practice that can result in real success. It is also fun and challenging!
  •      Move at a hare’s pace, not a snail’s.  Take your innovative ideas and implement them sooner rather than later. Always work to be a step ahead. Quick thinking people tend to be more successful.

Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (that successful entrepreneur I mention before) is one of the largest and most successful restaurant and hospitality companies in the world. But just like all entrepreneurs he started small with one restaurant. This quote from him highlights on the skills discussed so far. “The road to success is paved with mistakes well-handled. Overcoming adversity with imagination, courage, good humor and confidence is a crucial skill.” Mistakes? Yes, we have all and will continue to make some mistakes. Most can be foreseeable and avoidable from the beginning if you do your due diligence and go through the learning process. But I think Mr. Myers would agree that, if you make a mistake, have the courage to admit it, learn from it, change your direction and have the confidence to move ahead.

So, was the question answered? Can a person learn to become an entrepreneur? I think one has to listen to our internal voices. Do they say ‘go, go, go’ or do they say ‘maybe, I’ll see, I’m not quite sure’? Be honest with yourself when you listen to those voices! Then answer the question for yourself.

To conclude I will end with another quote from a favorite movie: A League of Their Own.  Coach Jimmy Dugan is talking to the team’s star player, Dottie Hinson as she is about to quit the team.

Jimmy: Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that.

Dottie: It just got too hard.

Jimmy: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.

Starting your own business/Inn is hard work and takes courage and conviction. But if you love the ‘work’ of providing pleasure for other people, which is the essence of hospitality, it can really be worth the entrepreneurial leap and the ensuing journey. Yes it is the ‘hard that makes it great’.

Janet Wolf

T is for Trust…Especially Between an Inn Seller and Buyer

January 11th, 2012 by Scott Bushnell

Just yesterday I received a call from an innkeeper with whom I have had a relationship who was considering selling his inn, a 7 room bed and breakfast inn in a nearby state.  Just what we do!  Thanks for the call!   We opened up a dialog about the inn, its size, its location, discussed the process, and then I suggested he send me a copy of his 2010 and 2011 financials.  You would have thought I was asking for his FBC (first born child).  “I just will not get into the hassles of trying to explain my financials and business with ANYBODY.  Just sell my inn!”  He was adamant and fixed in his stubbornness.

My antennae went up like a dog’s ears at suppertime.  After failing to convince him that this is an important step to understanding the revenue and net operating income of the inn (to help establish its value), we closed our conversation that perhaps the best way to sell his property is as a residence through the local MLS system since a buyer would never be able to get a commercial loan on that property without the bank seeing the financials.  He was satisfied with that…I guess.

But the point is trust.  I lost trust with him.  Was he cheating the IRS and did not want to let anybody discover it?  Were his numbers so poor that I would be trying to sell his inn only on its potential?  Does he even have records?  All kinds of distrustful thoughts went through my head.  I hope all them are wrong.  If a seller, perhaps even unwittingly, withholds information from a buyer, trust is jeopardized, and with the limited number of buyers and the huge inventory of inns for sale, buyers will look elsewhere.  Building Buyer/Seller trust is critical.  So how is it done?

Like a good Boy Scout…Be Prepared!

  • Having complete and accurate records (including taxes…they will be scrutinized during a buyer’s due diligence period)
  • Track occupancy by month from year to year.  A buyer wants to see the seasonal nature of the inn (especially to understand what happens in the slow season).
  • Have a complete Inclusion/Exclusion list of the furniture and fixtures will transfer with the property and what will go with the sellers.
  • For a smaller inn, have a property condition disclosure (available from any real estate agent) prepared.  This is required in many states anyway.
  • For larger inns, consider a Seller’s Inspection completed BEFORE a buyer’s inspector finds any defects (and they WILL find the problems!),  This inspection demonstrates full disclosure of the condition of the inn, provides a report accuracy defense in the event the buyer’s inspector overinflates the seriousness of a deficiency, and leads to a corrective plan to defuse emotions and begin negotiations.
  • Keep your gift certificate log current
  • Open and honest conversations about marketing, buyer’s opportunities, and full disclosure.

When Marilyn and I were looking for our inn long ago (the Dead Sea was only sick back then), the owner of one of our candidate inns pulled me aside and said “Don’t worry about the numbers, Scott.  I put two kids through college on this inn!”.  We left never to return.  If he was willing to cheat the IRS, he was willing to cheat us.

Innkeepers…think about the “surprises” that made YOU angry when you bought your inn.  We’ve all been there.  Think like the buyer of your inn.  What roadblocks can be removed now to build Trust and not jeopardize the chances of a timely and financially rewarding transfer.

Anybody have any trust surprises when you bought your inn?  We would love to hear about them and what could have been done differently.   Scott

Innkeeping Seminars – A First Step

February 28th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Education is a key component in any endeavor we choose to pursue in our lives. As toddlers we rise to a new level and explore new heights.  We look, touch, feel and then store in our memory banks everything we learn.  We also learn a few things not to touch, the ouchies?  Hopefully as adults we have gathered enough knowledge to avoid the ouchies, especially monetarily. But do we?

We at The B&B Team believe so strongly that everyone looking to pursue the innkeeping profession should (or to be more emphatic, must!) take an aspiring innkeeping seminar. Can you imagine entering into a new career without being trained? NO. So why do so many aspirers make that plunge without the education?  We don’t know but what we do know is that we try very hard to convince our potential seminar attendees and clients the importance of this very important first step.

Of course we would like them to take our Seminar for Aspiring Innkeepers because we believe we offer our attendees a very comprehensive group of sessions that cover a multitude of steps to guide you towards your goal. But…we feel so strongly about education that if you take someone else’s seminar, well at least you took a seminar!

Another point we make with our attendees is that if they walk out the door after taking our ‘information packed, mind blowing and fun filled seminar’, (shameless plug), and say …”no way”!, then we have done them a great favor. Uneducated innkeepers often become unhappy innkeepers and as a result may drive a perfectly good business into the ground. This does NOT do anyone any good. But if they leave our seminar with a smile on their face and a big sigh of relief and say…”now I think I’m ready to take the next step”, then we have also done our job and everyone is feeling good.

So to the aspirers out there who dream of owning and operating a bed and breakfast we would love to guide you through your first steps. We promise we will help you to avoid the ouchies! We look forward to seeing you seated before us with our seminar book in hand, with an open mind and an eager heart. As a final thought I would like to leave you with this. A friend and colleague, Dick Matthews, wrote a wonderful book about innkeeping entitled ‘Notes from an Innkeeper’s Journal’. The first chapter is called ‘A Noble Occupation’,we agree.

Janet Wolf

A Soothing Sanctuary: Room Design That Works

July 27th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

by Janet Wolf of The B&B Team

A warm and inviting, well appointed and soothing sanctuary. Isn’t that what every innkeeper wants to provide for their guests?  How do you achieve that?  Interior design can be a daunting task and choosing the right style for your inn is a very personal and individual journey.  I have come up with a few basic guidelines to consider when redecorating a guest room or when you start the process of making your newly purchased inn your own.

o   Clean Lines

o   Classic Style

o   Balance

o   Absence of Clutter

o   Gender Neutral

o   Thoughtful

To help define these terms I have chosen examples of guest rooms from two different inns.  The innkeepers of these two inns were graduates of our Aspiring Innkeepers Seminar and have created some exceptionally beautiful rooms as well as becoming very successful innkeepers.  We at The B&B Team are very proud that we could play a part in their success.

Maury Place at Monument is a newly opened urban bed and breakfast in Richmond Virginia.  Innkeepers Jeff Wells and Mac Pence have lovingly restored and decorated their urban inn in a style they describe as “both sophisticated and refreshingly modern, while still taking cues from the dramatic neo-classical architecture.” Go to their Rooms Page, and while viewing the rooms read the following comments.

·         Their window treatment choices enhance the classic lines of the window frames by not covering up the beautiful details of the woodwork.  The shutters, shades and fabric have either vertical or horizontal lines which give the windows a streamlined clean look.  The use of less instead of more fabric in the window treatments emphasizes the architectural elements and the views.

·         Many of their major pieces of furniture are classic traditional reproductions or antiques. The beds, dressers, desks and chairs are all timeless designs, not trendy.  This classic style creates a stately quietness and a visual balance to a room.  The beauty of these pieces will be enjoyed for a long time without going out of style.

·         A good example of the use of symmetrical balance is found in the Fontaine Suite with the elegant elongated mirrors placed behind the bedside lamps.  The bedside tables are not a matching pair which is an example of the use of ‘near’ symmetry.  The tables are the same height and wood tone which creates equal visual weight and complement each other.

·         The bedding in all their guest rooms provides a neutral background for a few well placed accent pillows.  This is another example of creating clean lines.  The classic style of the beds is a perfect silhouette for the clean, fresh, crisp linens.  Their beds make a guest want to slip into their comfortable depths!

·         Another good example of balance is the wall prints that are placed in harmonious groupings in all of their guest rooms.  Many of the groupings consist of lovely, classic old prints that create interest and color to the neutral background of the walls.  You will also notice that the colors in the prints and paintings compliment the pillows, window treatments and coverlets.  The eye picks up on these accessories and helps bring the rooms together.

·         There is clearly an absence of clutter in these rooms.  An uncluttered environment is very conducive to a good night’s rest.  Using a few well placed decorative items that do not take up a lot of room on the bedside tables and dressers is also thoughtful.  Guests need enough space for their stuff!

·         Providing a desk or table with comfortable seating is also a thoughtful addition that guests appreciate and may require, especially in an urban setting where the possibility of having business travelers is higher.  You can see in the floor plans they provide that three of the four suites have desks.

·         When viewing these rooms you can see very clearly that they would appeal to both men and women.  The clean lines, neutral colors, and absence of clutter and inclusion of well-appointed accessories would appeal to all, thus the term gender-neutral.

2.       Addison on Amelia is a beautiful inn in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Florida (Amelia Island).  There are three separate antebellum style buildings that surround a fountain courtyard with many architectural details inside and out.  Innkeepers Bob and Shannon Tidball have decorated the guest rooms in a style they describe as “Old Florida elegance with understated hints of the tropics.”  Again, view their rooms on their website while reading the following comments.

·         The neutral and occasional bolder accent colors in their rooms reflect the inn’s tropical location.  Corals, leafy greens, sky and ocean blues, sunny yellows, and sandy beiges are used to create a clean, restful, and soothing environment.  The color scheme is repeated in each of their guest rooms as well as the common rooms, which provides a common harmonious link from room to room.

·         The bed treatments in their rooms are very ‘spa’ inspired.  Natural textured cotton or bamboo coverlets and luxurious and tailored linens are used to create a clean and inviting effect.  A guest can definitely see themselves slip between these cool , crisp, and clean lined linens.

·         The use of ceiling to floor drapes in many of their rooms enhances the 11 foot ceilings, delivers elegance and adds accent color that is artfully repeated in other areas of the rooms.  The use of the drapes and the wooden blinds produces the vertical and horizontal lines that create the clean streamlined look that is so pleasing to the eye, allowing the guest clear and unobstructed views.

·         Not having everything in the room match does not throw off the balance.  As an example many of their rooms have fanciful tropical style bedside lamps that do not match.  Yet they are of equal visual appeal and weight and attract your eye which achieves a balanced look.

·         Some of the rooms at the inn have more traditional classic four poster beds, armoires, and bedside tables that are timeless in their design.  These pieces help create the “Old Florida elegance.”  Other rooms have more modern rattan and woven wood pieces which reflect the “hints of the tropics.”  They have done a wonderful job of blending these two styles to create an easy, relaxed atmosphere.

·         There is a definite absence of clutter in these rooms.  Their guest rooms are accessorized with a light touch.  A well placed orchid plant and jardinière on a mantel piece is just enough.  A potential guest can view these rooms online and picture themselves in the calm uncluttered environment that has been created.

·         Besides providing desks and comfortable seating for your guests, another thoughtful and often times neglected necessity is providing enough lighting in a room.  As you can see in these rooms there are always two bedside lamps, a desk lamp, and a lamp beside a seating area, at least four sources of illumination.  The height and size of a bedside lamp is especially important.   The illumination from the lamp must cast enough light on the bedside so a guest can read comfortably.

·         The successful use of cool, soothing, and restful colors, natural textures, clean lines, and uncluttered environment that has been created in these guest rooms would be pleasing to all, definitely gender-neutral.

Interior design is the art of shaping the experience of interior space.  When you have created a warm, inviting, and well-appointed (thoughtful!) soothing sanctuary you have succeeded in creating an experience for your guests that they will remember in their hearts and minds and return for more! As seen from their guest comments, I believe Mac and Jeff, and Shannon and Bob have most assuredly succeeded in creating sanctuaries any guest would come back to experience again and again.


The B&B Team is Growing!

January 4th, 2010 by Peter Scherman

Peter Scherman and Rick Wolf of The B&B Team® are pleased to announce the affiliation of Scott & Marilyn Bushnell of Bushnell & Bushnell Innkeeping Services as new Affiliates of The B&B Team®. Bushnell & Bushnell Services is based in Berlin, MD, complementing our offices in Kennebunk, Maine and Scottsville, Virginia.

The B&B Team®, founded in 1993, caters to the Innkeeping Industry with consulting and brokerage services nationwide. With the affiliation of Bushnell & Bushnell Services, Inc., the company continues to evolve its business model and add resources to better serve our clients. Founding partner and CEO Peter Scherman said, “Experience in and commitment to the Innkeeping industry are essential to success. High ethical standards are core to our company’s mission. Scott and Marilyn meet the expectations we have of our associates and our clients have of us.” Partner and COO Rick Wolf said that “bringing Scott and Marilyn onboard early in 2010 speaks volumes to how strongly we believe in the business and how much confidence we have in the Bushnell’s to join us and better serve our friends and colleagues in the Innkeeping industry.”

The Mid-Atlantic Innkeepers Conference and Trade Show at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia in January will be the regional kick-off of this new collaboration, followed shortly by the national launch at the Innkeeping Show hosted by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) and Select Registry®, in Austin, TX in March, 2010.

Peter and Peggy and Rick and Janet welcome Scott and Marilyn to The B&B Team® and look forward to advancing the Innkeeping industry and our clients’ interests in 2010 and beyond.