Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

The B&B Team

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

Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

C is for Cost of Doing Business

September 27th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

HangersHangersJay Karen’s Video Blog and the following posts on the PAII Forum got my brain a racin’. Like Jay we at The B&B Team visit many Inns and are also a witness to the good, the great and the not so terrific.  On the subject of hangers let me first reveal a story from my innkeeping days. We had a ‘Housekeeping Checklist’ that included two check points, one to check to see if all six wooden hangers were present and two, to bring all wire/plastic hangers left by the guests down to the laundry room.  When I would do the daily guest room checks I would sometimes find an ‘evil’ wire hanger and recall a scene in the biographical film about Joan Crawford, ‘Mommy Dearest’. The scene reveals Joan, a compulsively clean housekeeper, finding a wire hanger in her daughter’s closet, she then commences to beat the daughter with the hanger while screaming, “NO WIRE HANGERS!” Now understand, I did not beat my housekeepers but would on occasion perform my best Joan Crawford imitation for my housekeepers, just for comic relief.

Now we know that those wooden hangers do disappear on occasion but replacing them falls under the category of the cost of doing business, CODB. This term is generic for ‘expenses that covers all monetary expenditures necessary to operate your business on a day to day basis’. The fixed costs are your mortgage, utilities, insurance, wages, payroll taxes, etc.  Any incidental materials you provide for your guests in the process of doing business in which you really can’t charge extra for have to be absorbed and covered by your profit margins.

We all want to control our costs and price comparing online has become the best way to help keep costs down. I googled ‘wood hangers’ and the best price I found was from A case of 50 nicely finished wooden hangers cost $39. The cost per hanger comes to $.78. I am sure you could find a better price with a little more digging.

 We must always remind ourselves, it is all about the guest. The simple offering of a set of wooden hangers neatly placed in your closets shows you desire to provide for your guests a thoughtful guest room experience.

Now as for the subject of laundry bags, I believe this offering is also very thoughtful. They are standard in hotels, why not B&B’s?  A few innkeepers on the PAII Forum explained they did not want to use plastic bags because of the environmental impact.  I found biodegradable plastic laundry bags on usfi greenworks. A drawback is the minimum purchase is 500 at $.49 per bag. This may present the opportunity to contact your neighbor B&B and share the cost.

Sometimes the simple little offerings innkeepers provide turn out to be very big in the eyes of an appreciative guest. It is all about them.

Janet Wolf

Mystery of Mattresses Uncovered

June 28th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

As an innkeeper and homemaker I have always been baffled by the mattress industry. Did you ever have a mattress salesperson give you a straight answer? The more you shopped, the more confused you got.

Recently Rick and I ventured out to buy a new mattress. Just by chance we stopped in at America’s Mattress in Scarborough, Maine which just happened to be next door to a golf shop, (guess where we shopped first)? We were greeted by a salesman who turned out to be the answer to my mattress shopping dreams. He was smart and boy did he know his business. He had great questions which helped us narrow down our choices to three mattresses and we were able to make a choice and purchase within 30 minutes. Hallelujah!

Because I was so impressed with our salesman, Ed Walters, I decided to give him a call and interview him for this blog posting. I thought if he could be helpful to individuals choosing a mattress than he would most likely have some good advice for innkeepers when purchasing mattresses for the wide variety of body types that seek that ‘heavenly, blissful and perfect sleep’ in your inns.

Question: “What is the main ingredient innkeepers should look for in purchasing a mattress?”

“Support is # 1 and comfort level is # 2. The mattress should be a combination of the two. Innkeepers need to satisfy a host of different people and personal preferences. A very firm or a very soft, cushier feel may not be the way to go. A medium firm spring (support) and a medium compression topper (comfort level) is a good way to go.”

Question: “The longevity of mattresses seems to vary widely. How long should a mattress last?”

“A good quality mattress should last from 8 to 10 years, an entry level mattress will only last 4 to 8. All mattress manufacturers give you a warranty. For example a good ‘rule of thumb’ is a mattress that offers a 20 Year Warranty will last at least 10 years.”

Question: “So what you are saying is pretty basic, the more expensive, or higher level mattress the longer it will last?”

“Not more expensive necessarily, but yes, a good quality mattress built with quality materials.”

Question: “This leads into my next question. Innkeepers are generally shopping with a budget in mind while looking for good value but not skimping on quality. What do you recommend for innkeepers?”

“I have good long time relationships with my hospitality customers. When we have sales or when we need to clear out our floor samples, I will call these customers and work with them and their budgets.”

“This sounds like a win, win situation. You clear out your floor samples and the innkeepers get good deals. Just like innkeepers need to build personal relationships with their guests, you are building relationships with your loyal customers with your personalized service.”

“Sounds good to me!”

Question: “In the May 2010 Consumer Report magazine, a ‘sleep specialist’ says you might want to avoid memory-foam mattresses if you sleep ‘hot’, that is tend to be warm in bed. What is your opinion on that statement?”

“That is a broad statement. Memory Foam is a ‘closed cell foam design’ which restricts air flow and can be very warm. Latex is an ‘open cell design’ which can be temperature regulating and can offer better ventilation. A firm coil spring mattress with a natural foam latex topper is a good combination. Also, nothing lives in latex (like germs, bacteria, etc.) and latex doesn’t pack down as quickly as fabric.”

I had many more questions for Ed, but decided to keep this blog posting short and not too complicated (like mattress shopping!). What I got from his statements is that the main ingredients to consider when purchasing a mattress is support, comfort and durability, all three of equal importance. Also, looking for a good quality medium firm and medium compression topper is a smart choice for the many body types that seek a comfortable sleep in your inn’s beds. And don’t skimp on the quality, you don’t want to have to replace your mattresses every 4 years! But a very important ingredient in our viewpoint at The B&B Team is finding a person like Ed who gives great customer service and a company you can trust and feel comfortable working with. This is something we at The B&B Team also strive for. Time is a most precious commodity with innkeepers and having the service that Ed provides for his hospitality customers is priceless and timeless.

Thanks Ed!

Do you all know what fairytale the picture depicts?


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!

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