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 ‘inn consultants’

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.

The 3 Keys to Real Estate

October 29th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Location Location Location#1 Location. #2 Location. #3 Location.  Somethings never change, and this old adage is just as true today as it was years ago. The phrase that has become a real estate mantra may have first been coined in 1926 in an ad in the Chicago Tribune expounding the virtues of properties located in Rogers Park. Another version attributes the turn of phrase to British real estate tycoon Lord Harold Samuel. Whenever or whoever used these words first is solely of historical interest. The real importance of the trinity lies in the fact that value is central to a property’s location and has been for years.

In the case of  the Lincolnville Beach (Maine) Oceanfront Inn and Restaurant, its location is superb, but the fact that this offering is comprised of 3 (another trinity!) separate parcels of land make this offering even more enticing and attractive to a buyer, investor or…?

This offering represents the Best of Coastal Maine! There aren’t many commercial offerings today with 400 feet of true water frontage. Positioned between the ocean and Coastal Route 1, this is a one of a kind property featuring 1.2+/- acres of prime oceanfront land. The 3 separate parcels of land, 4 buildings, 250 feet of high visibility US Route 1 frontage and ocean breezes is available today for the discerning Investor, Developer, Restaurateur or Innkeeper.

This is a true Oceanfront commercial property with the location x 3 in the charming mid coast Maine village of Lincolnville Beach on Penobscot Bay. The mid coast of Maine is known as the ‘Jewel of the Maine Coast’ and Lincolnville as the ‘Heart of the Maine Coast’, a great description for a grand location and exceptional opportunity. Think of another oceanfront property once upon a time…of a fellow named Peter Minuit who once looked upon the ‘island of Manhattes’…and may have thought…’location, location, location’.

Maybe this opportunity is your opportunity to enjoy the great real estate trinity of location x 3 and parcels x 3!

Rick Wolf

Guest Room Staging, The Innkeeper’s Art

July 27th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

by Janet Wolf of The B&B Team

We were very fortunate in our innkeeping career to have had wonderful housekeepers who always went above and beyond their job description. One in particular stands out. She once told me that she would stand at the doorway of a room after she was finished cleaning and ‘critique’ her work. If anything was off kilter, a dust ruffle, an area rug, a curtain, she would see it as she scanned the room with her eyes. As an innkeeper, you can also use this same technique to know when it is time to refresh a ‘tired’ room.

Refreshing is a process you can go through when you may not have the time or the funds to completely redecorate a guest or common room. Whether you are preparing an inn for sale or you are a new innkeeper ready to tackle your rooms for the first time, we suggest some helpful tips.

1. The Four Corners and In Between

In your mind’s eye remove all of the furniture from the room and look at the room with a fresh eye. Look at the ceiling, crown molding, fireplace mantel, built-ins, baseboards and floor. Let your eye focus on these architectural details. You may not be able to strip off years of paint but you can repair chipped paint and cracks. These flaws can be easily touched up without repainting an entire room. Paint colors are very easy to match these days. Old wood floors and baseboards take a lot of beating. Giving your wood surfaces a good polish and buffing can often make these surfaces look like they have been refinished. Clean up scuff marks from your painted surfaces with some baking soda or a mild abrasive cleanser. Finally, look at your wallpaper. Gently washing your papered surfaces will remove any dust and grime and brighten up the surfaces, but test a small area first. You will also want to repair any torn or pealing corners and seams.

2. Upholstered Furniture

This is the most difficult and usually most costly to refresh. Cleaning a piece that is dirty but is otherwise in good condition is an obvious solution. But what about those pieces that are simply tired, worn out, or out of date? Reupholstering is expensive and is only recommended for well made hardwood, jointed, and nailed pieces. Slip covers are another way to go, but it can be just as expensive to get good, custom made slipcovers as it is to reupholster the piece. Ready made slip covers are often ill-fitting and look messy after each sitting. Often your best alternative is to replace the piece. You can find inexpensive upholstered furniture that is both comfortable and durable. These pieces may not last a lifetime, but they will fit the bill. Whether you replace, reupholster, or slip cover, we recommend choosing solid and/or textured fabrics in a neutral palette for the larger pieces. Tip: “neutral” doesn’t necessarily mean beige! Your larger upholstered pieces are background pieces. Complicated patterns and bold colors can be utilized more effectively for smaller pieces, accent pillows, coverlets, drapes, and area rugs.

3. Non-upholstered Furniture

These pieces are the working surfaces of a room; end tables, sideboards, coffee tables. The placement of these pieces is important because they are both decorative and functional. Seating should never be more than arm’s length from any of these pieces. Because these items are functional they get a lot of abuse. Vacuum cleaners leave marks on the legs; lack of coaster use leaves rings, and moving furniture for cleaning loosens legs and tops. Simple handyman work can tighten screws, re-nail or re-glue arms and legs. Antique dealers will tell you not to refinish fine pieces because it diminishes their value, but there is a wonderful product that restores wood furniture without messy stripping. It is Restor-a-Finish and is recommended for antiques. This product will eliminate or minimize white rings, water marks, and scratches without removing the existing finish. Check out their website for more information, www.howardproducts.com.

4. Accessories

Often times you see your décor as filled with treasured mementos. A potential buyer or guest might simply see clutter. Do you want a buyer (or your guest) to see fifteen coffee table books stacked on top of your beautiful antique side table? Or do you want them to see the polished and glowing surface of this wonderful piece of furniture with a few well placed accessories? We all know the answer. Realtors call this the ‘staging of a home’. When the home is your inn and your business, the staging is even more important because the staging items, the furniture and accessories, most often will stay with the property. These items need to be properly presented along with all the other aspects of your property. You really need to be brutally honest with yourself when you are critiquing your collections and mementos. You want to focus on a few well placed pieces that add sparkle and interest. Avoid a table full or shelf full of dust gatherers. A helpful process to go through is to strip the room of all accessories, including pillows, wall prints and paintings. Start from scratch. Replace these items in groupings with an empathsis on color and scale. Avoid a lot of small items that cannot be seen from the threshold of the room.

5. Lighting

The lighting in a room is most important in creating mood but it also needs to be functional. There are three lighting areas in a room: above, mid-range and floor. Any light from above is best for spotlighting accent objects and special paintings. Mid-range lighting comes from table and floor lamps. Sit on your chairs and lie on your beds to make sure the lamps are the right size and the right bulb wattage for reading. Floor lighting can add dramatic effect placed behind furniture or plants. Take a good look at your lamp shades. Have they seen better days? You can replace worn out shades fairly inexpensively. For a final touch, add a new top finial. Dimmer switches can be wonderful. Dimmed lighting can add romance to your whirlpool bathrooms and to selected areas in your common rooms.

In closing, with a thoughtful view of the room, elbow grease, and ‘do-it-yourself’ spirit (which all innkeepers have!) your ‘refreshing’ projects will add life and sparkle to your rooms. The end result is an atmosphere that demonstrates to a buyer and to guests that yours is a loved and well maintained inn.

NASA Turns 50

March 24th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

Many of us grew up as ‘space age boomers’ along with NASA.  From making our own space helmets out of tin foil to watching men walk on the moon from our black and white TVs, we have witnessed history! Then there are those that grew up to experience the celestial highs and emotional lows of the Space Shuttle program from a more up close, personal and professional point of view. Chuck and Martha Nighswonger, Innkeepers of the Night Swan Intracoastal Bed and Breakfast in New Smyrna Beach  worked at the Kennedy Space Center for many years prior to their careers as Innkeepers.

Chuck and Martha related to me that one of the high points was having the opportunity to have viewed every Space Shuttle launch since 1984. Also they are very proud of having been part of a team of very dedicated men and women that were and still are true believers in the NASA mission. Chuck states that the lowest point of his career was the loss of the Challenger on that very sad January morning in 1986.  He was part of the recovery team that went to sea for over three months.  Their goal to recover the rocket motor was successful and from that retrieval they were able to find the cause of the disaster. 

As Innkeepers, Chuck and Martha share these experiences with their guests especially when their stories are accompanied by the viewing of a launch from their two story dock on the Intracoastal Waterway.  The next launch is scheduled for Monday, April 5, 2010 at 6:27AM followed with a sunrise at 7:00.  So just imagine, the sky turns into daylight and birds awaken and start to sing as if it were morning, after two minutes dogs start to bark and the inn’s windows rattle, a contrail in the sky and the day turns to night again, soon to be followed by the sunrise.  Boy do Chuck and Martha know how to give their guests a spectacular bed and breakfast experience!

Getting back to ground level, the Night Swan’s hospitality, great breakfasts and comfortable and clean rooms help create another kind of ‘close encounter’ that any visitor to Florida’s east central coast would find unforgettable. Picture yourself, watching baby dolphins frolic in the waterway viewed from your guest room’s private balcony or the inn’s classic wrap around porch, taking a stroll through the historic town of New Smyrna Beach and stopping for a great meal at Mahony’s Oyster Bar with the best and freshest seafood stew available this side of the moon! 

The B&B Team had the pleasure of experiencing Chuck and Martha’s hospitality when we hosted one of our Seminars for Aspiring Innkeepers at the Night Swan this past January.  Chuck and Martha insist that our next trip should be planned during a launch but we must accelerate our visit because there are only five more Space Shuttle launches scheduled.  Maybe Martha can provide us with some cardboard and tin foil and we can all sit on the deck in our space helmets and watch the end of an era.  But, as one ‘space age boomers’, I am hopeful.  The NASA Mission Statement ends with the declaration that America’s adventures in space have…’empowered all of us with the sense that anything is possible and that as interconnected as the modern world is, there are still goals to strive for and new places to explore.’  Let’s hope so…and a Happy Birthday to all at NASA!

Janet

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