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Tips from the Experts

Below you will find some great tips for making your B&B even more successful. Contributions from our own marketing team and from the independent consultant and bed and breakfast coach Yvonne Halling.

Introduction

The team behind the B&B Network and the Worldwide B&B Booking Service have roots going back to the early days of the Internet in 1994. We are dedicated to the B&B sector and the lessons learnt, mistakes made and experience gained are embodied into daily work.

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FAQ

Yvonne Halling - The Bed and Breakfast Coach

yvonne

Yvonne Halling is a successful B&B owner and now a well respected coach in the B&B sector. Below she reflects on the lessons learnt along the way and outlines the 5 biggest mistakes made by so many B&Bs.

B&B 5 BIG MISTAKES

As you read through these 5 BIG MISTAKES – and the solutions to the problems they create - you’ll immediately be in a position to make more money – more easily – more often.

In fact: It’s the lack of knowledge of these mistakes that costs B & B business owners, fortunes in lost sales, lost profits – and perhaps more importantly; lost personal cash.

In the next few minutes you’ll read below, an extract from my “New Horrifying Report”. What I reveal in this report is the unspoken truth about why the B & B business is so hard for so many owners... It’s probably one of the most controversial reports ever to hit the Bed and Breakfast sector. I’ll explain why:

  • Many B & B owners are putting their energy in the wrong place…
  • Placing costly adverts that are like pouring money down the drain…
  • Borrowing cash from the bank with overdrafts and the like instead of easily getting more customers
  • Have their rooms empty way more of the time than they are occupied…
  • Spend too much time worrying about how much their competition is charging…
  • And much more...
So to turn this around, as one great iconic business man once said, “We don’t just need to think outside of the box here, we need to believe there is no box”!

BIG MISTAKE No.1 - Thinking you are in the Bed & Breakfast Business!

I learned this to my own cost, just 3 years ago my room occupancy rates were completely in line with ‘Europe wide industry statistics’ at 21.58% (the Europe average is 21.5% according to Bed & Breakfast.com) and I started to build up an overdraft. Then I started borrowing elsewhere to keep the ship afloat and bit by bit I edged into more and more debt.

Now the whole reason for opening my home as a B & B was to earn extra money yet not only was it becoming a financial burden, I was getting more and more exhausted as well, my plan clearly was simply not working.

The turning point for me was to take off my burdening B & B hat and put on a new one with ‘Marketing Expert’ written right across it. This changed my world as I learned the power of being in the ‘Marketing Business’. I started to increase massively my room occupancy rates, in fact so much so that in a year they soared from 21.58% to 37.68% a MASSIVE 74% increase…

To be honest I spent many hours burning the midnight oil working this all out as I did not have someone to hold my hand through the process, or someone who had already done it to copy, but eventually I was able to take my foot off the accelerator. Yes what I learned, which is now almost totally automated, last year led my room occupancy rate to just shy of 50% at 49.01%, almost unheard of in the B & B industry. So all you have to do is literally ‘dive’ into the subject of marketing and with enough time and effort you will succeed in getting those rooms more full than empty and of course that will massively effect your bank balance, you simply cannot fail…


BIG MISTAKE No.2 - Not knowing your customers nor what they really want…

I know I used to do it, take a booking on the phonee or answer my front door and think, great - I’ve sold the room for the night, thank goodness for that, I will get paid in the morning after breakfast. And sure enough when they were on their way, I had x amount of cash in my hand (According to Bed & Breakfast.com the average room in a European B & B now sells for just €74) and I was left nervously waiting for the next phone call or knock on the door, so I could get money to pay my mortgage this month… I can remember it like yesterday, the day I said to myself, enough of all of this, there has to be a better way and I decided to see my customers through new eyes.

What I did was to value them much more, more than just a way for me to get money to pay my mortgage, yes I decided to really get to know them and find out what they really wanted from coming to my B & B. What I learned was a complete and utter shock! Sure they wanted a room for a night or two, but what they really wanted was to be treated in a way where they felt loved and cared for. And you know the most amazing thing I found out, is that that happens before they even get to my front door. Last year my average room rate sale was €92.5, that’s a whopping 25% above the market average for Europe. Now I know what you are thinking, it’s OK for you you’re in a great area – well here’s the truth, my home is completely unsighted from the road up an alleyway and you can just about get your car up, I don’t even have a vacancy sign in the road. Of the 7 B & B’s in my immediate area 5 charge just €60, that’s 20% below the market average and the other one charges about the same as me. Take a look at these pictures of my B & B! You will see that I have no ‘Vacancy Sign’ on the road and my house is 30 meters up an alleyway completely unsighted! Yet I built this former 2 star B & B into a 6 Figure Business by doing exactly what I am sharing with you in the Report…

View of my B & B from the Road Yes its 30 meters up the narrow alleyway But here’s the point, knowing ‘my customers’ needs got me a 49.1% occupancy at a €92.50 per night was amazing. YES, it was nothing to do with my room rates, my position, how much the competition was selling for, no nothing at all like that! What I found out is that people that use B & B’s, just like yours, respond massively to ‘pre-visit’, ‘during visit’ and ‘post visit’ customer service – that’s it – it really is that simple, they really will pay premium price for customer service… Now, customer service is not just about being even nicer to people, I’m sure you are being nice already, it’s totally about ‘Marketing’ and what’s known in marketing terms as ‘perceived customer value’. So when someone books, they go into my automated system that mails them lots of interesting and useful information prior to their visit and keeps mailing them after they leave. I and my small team do the magic while they are here of course…

Now before you say, ‘what about STARS’! I say forget them completely! In the UK probably the most successfully marketed insurance company is ‘Direct Line’ and what’s one of the first things they tell you in their ads ‘You won’t find us on any price comparison websites’! In essence ‘Stars’ have people making images in their heads before they even get to you and many are put off you before they start because of the number of stars you have. If you don’t give off the right signals of ‘great perceived value’ you won’t get top dollar for what you offer. ‘Direct Line’ have used this tool massively to get the lion’s share of a very competitive market, could you do the same?

Here’s what I did. Of the seven B & B’s in my area four are rated 2 stars by ‘Gites de France’ and one is rated 4 stars. These same people rated me as 2 stars and bought me next to no business, so I took the bull by the horns and dumped them just like you would a bad date that promised so much yet delivered nothing. This was one of the best things I ever did, why, because it was what started my journey of doing what they say is impossible, selling the same 2 star rated rooms for €92.50 when my 2 star competition are selling


BIG MISTAKE No.3 Having NO CLUE about ‘The Lifetime Value of a Customer’

How many customers are you looking for? I know that might sound like an odd question but do you know that in marketing terms it’s massively easier to get someone to buy something from you that has bought from you before?

Now this is not me sharing this, I learned it in my long lonely nights learning about marketing and if you think about it, it is obvious. Here’s how it works, it’s called - Know – Like – Trust

Now it’s obvious that for someone to buy something from you they have to know you first. So how many people do you know? And have you got them on a list so you can communicate with them?

If You Don’t Have a List of Customers, You Might As Well Sit By An Open Fire and Throw Your Money on It!

In fact today I have several lists all working away for me with little input and what I do is to get people to ‘Know’ me first. I do this using my Facebook and Linked In accounts and have come to master this whole process which other than a little time, costs me nothing in terms of cash outlay. This is one big way I get people to KNOW me… Getting someone to LIKE you is different to getting them to simply know you, Getting them to LIKE you means you have to interact with them but again if you are smart this is simple and takes little time and is, to all intense and purpose FREE, yet it’s something B & B people are not doing on mass that works…

Here’s the BIGGY though, for someone to buy from you they have to ‘TRUST’ you at some level, after all they are giving you their hard earned cash. Now we have to take that trust very seriously and we do this by delivering ‘MORE’ than we promised, YES if you exceed someone’s expectation they will be coming back for more, time and time again.

And if that’s not enough, most importantly they become a part of your ‘Unpaid Sales Team’ as they tell their family, friends, colleges, even people they meet down the pub how great you are, and of course, just as sure as ‘Bob’s your uncle’ you get more people TRUSTING you…

Now once you have peoples trust, as long as you over deliver and never abuse them by sending them stuff they don’t want, all you have to do is stay in contact with them. If you don’t you simply become a distant memory and they forget all about you. In marketing terms you commit one of the cardinal sins of letting them go COLD! Now remember they won’t mind hearing from you if you bring back happy past memories of staying with you and that in marketing terms is what is called ‘keeping them WARM’. Once you get this started and keep on and on building it, in business terms there’s simply nothing quite like it, a huge list of warm trusting people, in fact it’s almost a licence to print money…

So to recap, this one is so easy, remember that, know, like and trust = an ever growing list of warm trusting people that share your message for you and come back again and again to spend time and cash at your B & B…


BIG MISTAKE No.4 - NOT realising your customers have money in their pocket that they are spending with others when they could be spending it with you..

There is an old saying that a customer is a customer is a customer, to me this opened up the prospect of actually taking additional money from my B & B clients for non B & B goods and services. I literally jumped in the air when I got this one, as it had never really occurred to me before and it fitted so well with my new found ‘how can I give customer value at an even higher level’?

Now remember while I am doing this I have never ever called in the decorators or worst still picked up a paint brush myself, nor have I bought more new comfy beds, sofa’s or put new carpets on the floor. No I have done none of that, in fact the truth is if I applied for a star rating again, god forbid, I would at best get 2 stars! So my point is you don’t need to do any of that at all!

So let me share with you how I made a full on profit of 20k, YES TWENTY THOUSAND, not turnover, full on money in my pocket by using a marketing strategy called ‘Up-selling’. Now let me be honest here, this is something I normally only share with B & B owners that are on my ‘B & B Money Making Programme’ but I wanted to share it with you here as it truly is one of the, well I call it ‘Stupid Mistakes’ I was making and almost all B & B owners are making too…

Here’s what I did, with some research and time I started to find out what my customers really wanted, yes I know, I have said that in Big Mistake No. 3. But part of what I found out is that they love spending cash with me on the things they want, that in some cases, other than for me, they would never have found out about. All I did was tell stories about the area around me and guess what, they wanted to know more and more, so I started offering them things they could buy from me that were in the story. Now I hear you say, that’s easy for you, you are where you are! But trust me, it’s true of every B & B, you have local expert knowledge that they will love, all you have to do is join the dots and offer them what your research tells you they want – It really is a no brainer.

Now I like to be honest the reason why I don’t share this normally in my reports is that it can be a little tough to work out and as I say, it is a part of my BIG B & B Money Making Programme. Now many assume my big programme to be big bucks, which whilst it is quite an investment, you easily, as long as you implement what I share with you, will get your money back, certainly within a year but for many it will be a matter of months.

To run this strategy of up-selling, in marketing jargon you need to create a ‘Niche’ – which simply means identifying a speciality, preferably something you know about and/or like yourself. All you then do is share your knowledge. Now of course it has to be local to you, there’s no point being a specialist in sea fishing if you live 100 miles inland. Then with this specialist knowledge you simply start to build yourself a specialist B & B business around your chosen subject.

It really is a case of how much do you want or need that extra cash, after all what would you do with and extra 20k straight in your pocket this year? I got this in my second year after getting up-selling started. This year I have increased my B & B prices by 5% and am expecting even more visitors as I hone my marketing strategies. On top of that as I hone my ‘up-selling’ skills I am expecting even my 20k of extras to vastly increase, how cool if I could help you do exactly the same for your business…


BIG MISTAKE No.5 - Not taking action when you are bleeding…

If you cut yourself badly and you don’t take action fast, the consequences can be, well to be honest depending on the size of the wound – catastrophic. Inaction, procrastination and fear stop the average business becoming brilliantly successful; I know that was true for me. While I sat there night after night watching the telly and drinking more and more wine to dull my pain, I could have been TAKING ACTION.

So what action can you take?

Well you have read this report, you know now what I did to build a successful B & B to the point where it almost runs itself, I get to keep most of the cash it generates, and I only work 10 months a year through choice.

So I ask again - what action could you take? And maybe a better question even; imagine knowing all of this and doing nothing, where will your business be in say a years time, or worst still where will it be in five years time?

So I am here to offer to assist you, and if you feel drawn to go on a journey with me as your coach, ensuring you have all the information and tools you need, then fantastic, let me know…

But to be truthful once again, I like to find people to work with that are a great fit with me, that way I can all but guarantee your success. To do this, I do what I call a ‘B & B Marketing Evaluation Session’ to find out if indeed we are right for each other and diagnose what needs to happen to find the hidden treasure in your B & B business. Yes I charge for these sessions but only the nominal sum which gets us both really focused on getting a result.

In the session you will discover:-

  • About your business boundaries and if they are set to get you the best results possible...
  • If you financial reporting is giving you the specific detail you need to maximise profits...
  • If you are getting the maximum possible out of the 'man hours' invested in your business...
  • How well you are benefitting by utilising and leveraging the internet to get customers...
  • Your positioning in the local B & B market in your area and if you charging the right price...
  • If your 'Upsell Programme' is bringing you in the prospective cash it can...
  • If your customer communication system is delivering you the all the customers it can...
  • The effectiveness of your customer ‘Lead Generation System’...
  • How hard and well your website is working for you, is it a 'Mini' or a 'Jaguar'...
  • And much more...

More from Yvonne on bedandbreakfastcoach.com/online-diagnosis/