A few weeks ago I wrote about characteristics of the entrepreneur as far as the bed and breakfast world goes. By now you should know, understand, and work with your personality strengths and weaknesses. Support your weaknesses either through the systems you develop or the staff you hire -— or both. Capitalize on your strengths. Be aware of your guests’, employees’, and vendors’ personalities to help you manage your environment and strive to keep everything on even keel.
Understanding and working with your entrepreneurial characteristics is one way to ensure your success and enjoyment. Using your set of entrepreneurial traits, start defining your market niche. And that begins with “painting” your B&B dream or plan.
Your B&B plan should start with a vivid dream —- involve all of your senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch, and even your “sixth sense”. You should be able to close your eyes and “be there” to experience what your guests will experience. Creating that vivid dream will help you convert your dream into reality. This is the first part of that conversion.
As you learn more about your entrepreneurial characteristics you should also be getting a handle on your personality style. These insights help you see what your market niche is, and this is the time to start developing and fine-tuning that market niche. Your market niche will be your key to success so make it specific and narrow. Determine what your primary business purpose is (service, making money, R&R, special events, …) and keep that at the forefront of your mind and planning.
The Boulder (Colorado) Pearl Street Mall, is one of the most successful pedestrian malls in the country. Between 1976, when the mall opened, and 1989, when I heard these statistics, rents on the mall rose from $.25/square foot to $25/square foot. Occupancy was at 98% on the first level. Those numbers seem to be holding today too. Why is the mall so successful? Because the merchants determined before the mall was built that their primary concern and purpose was safety and comfort. They wanted people of all walks of life to be comfortable rubbing elbows and being together. Their secondary purpose was merchandising. If customers aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe they won’t shop with you. As Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall is successful because it determined its primary purpose —- and kept it in the forefront of their minds —- so you’ll be successful if you understand your primary purpose, which should compliment your market niche.
Prepare. Think of your B&B as a play. Your guests are the equivalent of your audience. They have come to see your “play” and enjoy the experience you have described on your website, in your brochure and over the phone. You, the innkeeper, and staff are the actors. You have written a script that has been rehearsed and perfected. The inn’s guestrooms and common areas are the stage. Prepare the scenery and props with care and attention to detail, to support the guest experience you want to offer. The kitchen, office, and laundry areas are the backstage. This is the space you use for “letting your hair down”, for discussing how the audience is responding to your play, or for taking a refreshing breath before plunging back into the play at hand. The better the rehearsal and planning the more effortless the play —- your work -— appears and the better the guest experience is.
When your guests comment on how easy innkeeping looks you know you’ve prepared and rehearsed well. Congratulations! Keep up the good work. Make sure your scenery and props are maintained so the magic and shine don’t come off and alter your audience’s -— guests’ -— experience.
Just as different plays have reputations that attract different kinds of people, so do bed and breakfasts. The more completely interwoven your niche, or brand, is through your B&B concept and execution, the more consistent the message is that will attract guests who will love what you have created.
Let me bring this analogy back to the bed and breakfast brand, or market niche, as it applies to your entrepreneur characteristics. You went through a process to learn your strengths and weaknesses. One way to apply that knowledge is to define your B&B market niche to reflect who you are and what experience you want to give your guests. Defining your niche and guest experience is another process, one you need to slog through for utmost business success.