The Bed & Breakfast Inn Life Cycle-A Primary Care Consultant’s View

Vitamins and Medications for an Inn’s

Age-Related Conditions

An Inn, like any retail product or industry, goes through a Life Cycle from infancy to death. It starts as a glimmer in its parents’ eyes, a dream of a lifestyle healthy and productive. It grows with careful nurturing, education, and aspirations, matures into a productive adult, capable of self-sufficiency and satisfaction. Physical and financial ailments will emerge someday, some sooner than later, but eminently all will experience the pain and, without exception, a slow (or sometimes cancerous) downhill slide (or plummet) to demise.

Doctor: “Which do you want to hear first…

the good news or the bad news?”

How cold and ugly a picture…how uncaring to express such a prognosis without apparent feelings or emotions! But without a continued regimen of properly prescribed vitamins, medications, and regular health check-ups, an inn’s health WILL decline. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are fountain-of-youth-like medications that can extend an inn’s life expectancy well into the future…perhaps to immortality!

Let’s examine each stage of the Life Cycle to see where YOUR INN resides…

NEWBORN: A start-up inn, whether from the ground up or the conversion of an existing structure, is a difficult and risky time of life. This inn has NO sales yet and is starved for cash flow. It needs basic but regular feedings of vitamins and nutrients (and cash!) to stay alive and start growing.

Prescription for Good Health

  • A professional website, with Search Engine Optimization strength, is more than a well-baby checkup, it is life-giving.
  • The Inn industry internet directories are the friends, though distant, that will provide support and baby-shower gifts.
  • Building those personal relationships with local businesses and attractions which are the family and relatives close at hand providing needed nourishment. Invite a BUNCH of them over for a visit.
  • Send out Birth Announcements to the paper, your family and new-found friends.
  • A trusted consultant, like a good pediatrician, can help you with your marketing plan for growth.

YOUTH: A youthful inn is realizing growth, slow but surely at first, and is learning how to walk with its policies and procedures and talk with its guests and neighbors. Still immature…still inexperienced, but full of ideas and energy. Feed this youngster, model good habits, teach right from wrong, and give lots of love.

Prescription for Good Health

  • Don’t relax the Care and Feeding prescription of the Newborn.
  • Buy life insurance now. Extend the personal relationships to the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and those networking opportunities that broaden the exposure of your baby.
  • Youth doesn’t have to be wasted on the Young. It is wise to take advantage of public relations opportunities with inn birthdays, events and milestones.
  • Listen to the good advice of family and friends (i.e. guests). Keep this youngster clean behind the ears and well dressed for a good first impression.

ADOLESCENCE: Ahhh…those troublesome teenage years! This inn, perhaps not really yet a teenager, demonstrates strength in its financials. Occupancy is growing at a satisfying rate, perhaps even starting to earn a living and starting to pay some of the expenses around here. But this inn can eat you out of house and home. Watch your budgets for danger signs. It is easy for him to hang out with the wrong people (such as marketing efforts that don’t work) or spending wastefully on frivolous whims.

Prescription for Good Health

  • Put your tracking devices to work on your website and directories. Fire the slackers and find new friends.
  • Take a parenting class so that you can educate the Inn skillfully. Attend the conferences and conventions that will expand your horizons, try new techniques and question outdated ways of managing the Inn.
  • Compare the Inn’s budget with the PAII survey data to see where he’s been hanging out and on what he has been wasting money.
  • Consider elective courses to learn new marketing skills as pay-per-click, blogs, internet-issued newsletters, and email marketing.

YOUNG ADULT: This inn is ready to head out on its own. It is suddenly viable, not only employed and making enough to cover the expenses, but also making enough to even pay back Mom and Dad for their kind parenting. These are the glory years…satisfying and productive. With a little cash left over after the bills and mortgage are paid, it offers the opportunity to reinvest back into the health of the family, er, I mean inn.

Prescription for Good Health

  • Start investing in the Inn’s future. Upgrade those rooms and baths that may be starting to show some wear and tear, add a room feature or two and adjust the pricing to reflect the added value.
  • Keep the stethoscope on the marketing tracking devices. Look for failing practices and expenditures and cure them now…before they are nothing but expense drains. Expand those marketing efforts that are paying off.
  • Your past guest and repeat guest lists are growing. Treasure these trusted friends. Don’t be distant with those who mean the most to you even if you haven’t seen them for a while.
  • Keep active…keep exercising. Take time off (you’ve earned it). Keep exercising your minds with educational opportunities and activities
  • It’s timely to consider revamping the website to show off the changes you’ve made, keep up with newer technologies, and preventing a stale look.

MATURE ADULT: When sales start to level off from the previous years, productivity and growth remain viable and healthy, but there is no more need for new shoes for growing feet and pants that are too short. Reaching maturity can be satisfying and last for dozens of years with preventive medicine and caution. Now is the time to consider your future.

Prescription for Good Health

  • If you feel young, energetic, and still have the zest for the innkeeping lifestyle, go for it! Stick with the prescriptions that have been successful to date…they seem to be working fine!
  • Give back to your community. Expand your marketing exposure with volunteer and educational activities. Lead a PAII workshop!
  • It is timely to be planning the reinvention of the inn. What surgeries and facelifts are needed to extend healthy adulthood well into the future? Expansion? Adding a spa? Redefining the demands of the markets and changing polices (pets?) and procedures (social events?). Did you fail to revamp your website last year?
  • If you are feeling the financial and energy aches and pains, plan your retirement. Develop your exit strategy. Remember, it usually takes YEARS to prepare, so start now. Your primary care consultant can help with your strategy.
  • Continue to monitor your health records, financial and marketing. It is important to catch health issues early, before they are life-threatening.

SENIORITY: A senior inn is one that is feeling failing financial health. Sales have peaked and are now heading south (not to Florida!). The value of the inn, although still viable and paying the bills including debt, will continue to decline the longer the condition goes unremedied. It is time for action NOW.

Prescription for Failing Health

  • Commit to retirement (selling) or reinvention of the inn. Inaction toward either goal will allow untreated conditions to worsen.
  • Take care of yourself…treat the symptoms. Deferred maintenance on the inn is a sure sign of Alzheimer’s-like denial. The downward spiral will steepen if allowed.
  • Find a specialist, one strong in what ails you…a consultant who can guide you through the process. You are not alone in the struggle.
  • Keep up with the prescriptions of the past, healthy years. If you stop taking your marketing pill, ignore your blood pressure tracking devices, plop down on the couch and only pray for healing, the pain will get stronger.

THE GERIATRIC INN: The old timer of all inns is the one who has ignored the prescriptions of the inn-medical community and now sees sales BELOW the viability line. There is no commitment or money for improvements or maintenance, attitude is slipping into inhospitable senility, the retirement nest-egg is being drained, friends and neighbors don’t visit anymore, and the new inns on the block are throwing rocks through our market-share windows.

The Last Will and Testament Diagnosis

  • Make your own arrangements. Pass the inn on to the kids or family who, with less long term debt, may be able to rejuvenate the ailing reputation and reverse the deteriorating growth.
  • Contact an industry hospice consultant to ease the financial pain with short term, morphine-like, sedatives and help plan for a distressed sale. Don’t expect too much. The car is not worth much with that many miles on it.

Perhaps a bit too much analogy here, but the message is the same. Knowing where YOUR INN lies on the life cycle graph, and understanding what marketing, financial, and long-term planning actions need to be done, is as important as the day-to-day routines that monopolize our schedules. Reflect on the Life Cycle…and build its principles into your business plans.

Please let me know WHAT YOU ARE DOING to take good card of your Baby!

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