Monthly Archives: November 2019

Build the Right Niche and You Can Be Rich

Book Cover "If You Want To Get Rich, Build A Power Niche" next to picture of fish sculpture in lake

 

Build the right niche. Create a much smaller pond where you are the only fish. This will allow you to achieve market dominance and pricing power. Guests are willing to pay the extra price if you are the only accommodations that offers fill-in-the-blank (and enough guests desire what you offer).

 

Focus On Your Guests

Focus on what your guests want, not on what you want to sell. The more you learn about needs and wants of your target guest, the easier it will be to attract them. You will know exactly what they want. According to author, and real estate lawyer, Bruce M. Stachenfeld, a “power niche” is “a small-sized niche within a bigger industry that no one else dominates or owns.” The niche you pick should not be too big (you will not be the obvious choice) or too small (there is not enough demand in the marketplace). Learn every single thing about this smaller niche to have a dominant presence. Since the pond is smaller, you look like a big fish!

Matter To Your Market

Stachenfeld states you do not have to appeal to everyone, you only need a tiny bit of the market to want you in the worst way. How will you stand out from other hospitality providers? How will you be different? Who are you trying to attract as guests? Think from your guests point of view. Be sure to regularly read your online reviews and any comments written in your guest books. Since every guest is different, you cannot assume what worked with one customer will work with the next one.

Niches Earn Riches

Reach out to potential guests through your blog and on social media. Be enthusiastic when you speak to guests (or potential guests) over the phone and in person. Think from the guests’ point of view and create the experience your ideal guests would love. If you want to have more success than other inns, you need to do things differently. When you are the only accommodations in your area to offer specific amenities, services, and packages or cater to a specific niche, that gives you pricing power.

Choose A Power Niche

Stachenfeld advises your niche should be an area you already familiar with. Ownership of the niche is necessary to having what the author terms “a power niche.” By offering things that other places do not, you do not have to compete on price. Your niche should be small enough that you are a dominant force in your local area. Your niche should not be too big (you will not be able to dominate it) and it also must be useful (appeal to enough guests).

Spread The Word

Start telling everyone about this focus. By letting the world know how your inn is unique, you invite others to see your bed and breakfast in that light. See your accommodations from the point of view of the guest. The author says to ask “why should they hire us?” As an innkeeper, you can ask, “Why should guests want to stay with us?” By being part of a B&B association, you can make referrals to other member inns (and they refer their guests to your inn).

Welcome Friendly Competition

The author argues that sometimes the best people to make friends with is your competition. This makes sense when you think about how well bed and breakfast associations do by referring each other when there are no vacancies, or when a nearby inn offers something you do not (such as being pet-friendly or hosting weddings).

Earn Referrals

Do not be afraid to ask for referrals–you just might get them. Your marketing must stand out as different and memorable (for the right reasons) from other accommodations. You do not need every guest–just the guests that want you the most.

Achieve Guest Satisfaction

Go out of your way to make sure guests enjoy every interaction. Expand your relationship with guests so that you nurture the relationship to encourage repeat visits. Get inside the mind of your guest. There is no “one size fits all” answer. Be likeable by showing you genuinely care for your guests. Be qualified by demonstrating your expertise. Your products and services should have value to your ideal guests.

Meet Their Needs

Think about what your ideal guests really want. You can learn this by asking questions of potential guests. Learning what is important to them allows you to meet their needs. Hospitality businesses do much better with guests who are inspired by your message and your reason for being in business. Let your guests know what your bed and breakfast is best at. It is critical that you offer something that people want.

Convey Your Message

Guests can be inspired by your message and why you are in business. People like someone who gets to the point quickly and in an easily understandable way. Make sure they understand what you are saying. How can you stand out and be memorable? Build the right niche!

 

How To Be Better Than Your Competition

wine cellar featuring table with wine bottle and cheese plate

Being better than your competition is the goal of most business owners. This post is for hospitality providers like bed and breakfast innkeepers. You must think of yourself as an entrepreneur because you are! Your goal is to stand out from all other lodging options. The best way to do that is to discover what is called your “unique selling proposition.” Basically, what do you offer than no one else does? By providing exceptional food, friendly hospitality, concierge services, and luxurious amenities, you will build a list of returning guests. There are a number of ways to do that, and it depends upon your preferences, priorities and personality.

Amazing Amenities

Do you offer spa treatments (either in your room or an actual spa)? Do you have a restaurant that also serves lunch and dinner to guests (and may be open to the public)? What kinds of amenities come in each of your guest rooms (mini-fridge, hot tub, free internet access, entertainment, etc.)? How do your linens feel? Do you add extra touches like mints on their pillows? When your guests feel special, they will want to return to feel that way again.

Concierge Services

Depending upon the type of guests you attract, concierge services can be on the high end. For example, before staying, if a guest contacted you and said they wanted to surprise who they are bring because it is their birthday or anniversary, do you have a plan in place? Are you connected to other local businesses? It is of great benefit to get to know the owners of local restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues, etc. so you can network with them.

Custom Packages

Custom packages should be tailored around why people visit you and your local area. For example, if you are in wine country or near a popular winery, consider adding a wine tasting package that includes chauffeur service to a few local wineries. You know the area and your guests will appreciate not having to drive.

Another example, often destinations for romantic getaways offer packages that include couples’ massages, flowers, chocolates, restaurant gift certificates, event tickets, and so on. Think about what couples love to do in your local area.

Food Options

If you have relationships with local farmers, regularly shop from your local farmer’s markets, raise farm animals, and/or have your own garden, be sure to tell your guests about that. People love to hear stories about that.

Alternatively, if you accommodate the dietary needs of your guests, be sure to mention that. “With advance notice, we can provide alternative food options.” Perhaps you pride yourselves on being vegetarian, vegan, diabetic-friendly, heart-healthy, or even providing your guests with “comfort foods.”

Some bed and breakfasts offer a free wine tasting time in the afternoon. This can be a social time and opportunity to interact with other guests. You may offer premium nuts, select cheeses, and other delicious appetizers as well.

Most inns offer complimentary homemade goodies for guests to grab at their leisure. Some offer extras like dessert and wine delivered in the evenings. This can also be part of a package.

Hosting Retreats

When you host retreats, you have the option to lead the retreats entirely on your own, have guest speakers, or have other people host their own retreats using your food and accommodations. The options for types of retreats are endless. Think about why people visit your area. Various retreats include business retreats, relationship retreats, project retreats, and many more. Take the time to assess your interests and plug into your local area. This is yet another way to stand out and be better than your competition.

Offering Classes

Do you ever get told that you should teach a class about something you are talented at doing? If you are good at cooking, dancing, painting, photography, writing, yoga, or something entirely different, you can use your talent. Do you have a famous local talent that would be willing to teach classes at your inn? Even if you don’t teach the class, you can bring an expert who does.

Private Events

This depends upon your area and your interests. For example, if you live in a college town, then perhaps you can host graduation parties. If you have a background in coordinating weddings, and your accommodations is large enough, you can host weddings. Even smaller lodging places host elopements or intimate weddings. Hosting private events is another way to be better than your competition.

Strategic Marketing

Do you have a plan in place to grow your bed and breakfast business to the next level? Consider working with someone who is experienced at helping inns improve their bottom line.

Do they listen to your vision of what you would like to do with your accommodations? Are they providing helpful advice to get you there? Do they seek out opportunities for you to receive press? Are you open to their suggestions?

The relationship you have with a hospitality marketing company, like Bed and Breakfast Blogging, can mean all the difference in the world. We partner with innkeepers to attract their ideal audiences (including pet lovers, history buffs, and adventure seekers).

A good marketing strategy means carving out your own niche and uniquely marketing to them in a variety of ways including: blogging, email marketing, social media, local partnerships, publicity, and much more.

Association Memberships

I want to acknowledge the benefits professional association membership can bring. In this way, innkeepers are supportive of each other. Natural to their personalities, many innkeepers go out of their way to be helpful to others (especially their guests).

Belonging to an association allows for more networking, greater awareness of the hospitality industry, and coming together to encourage more direct bookings. By having a network of referral partners, when guests ask you to recommend a bed and breakfast in another area or when your inn is full, this is a great time to introduce them to other inns (and for other innkeepers to refer their guests to you).

Better Than Your Competition

By incorporating any of the ideas mentioned in this blog post, you are on your way to making your bed and breakfast business even better than your competition. Also, to establishing beneficial partnerships and associations. You are welcome to contact Kristi Dement for a complimentary 15-minute phone conversation.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

What You Need To Know About She Sheds

Outside of Gray She Shed with bedroom and shower

She Sheds are a growing trend. The following is my interview with She Shed Living expert and author, Erika Kotite, in my quest to know more about how more innkeepers could have them available at their accommodations.

Q: My blog readers are mainly B&B innkeepers. Some have large properties with lodges, cabins, carriage houses, and/or cottages. Do you think their renaming their extra buildings (outdoor structures) as “She Sheds” could attract more guests?

A: The idea of having a she shed on the property of a bed and breakfast could be a good thing. If we can measure it to the response we get at home and garden shows, and in our own retail gallery where we have an 8 x 10 shed fixed up with a cozy couch and chair, then I’d say yes. It could simply be the “She Shed” or something like the “Sleeping Porch” or “Nap Shack.” The State Farm commercial has created an extraordinary awareness of the term she shed, though, and it does seem to appeal to women. If the outbuilding housed multiple guests then maybe it could be called the “We Shed.”

Q: Have you consulted with any innkeepers/hospitality providers about She Sheds and/or visited accommodations with She Sheds?

A: I haven’t personally visited B&Bs (nor have any come to me) with the intent to discuss adding or naming a she shed on their property. However, in my first book I included one she shed owner, who made her “Casita” by merging two old broken-down sheds into one very pretty space. This shed was outfitted with a small European style kitchen and bath. She uses this space for herself while her own home is rented out to airbnb guests. (She travels for business a lot–her work as a photographer/stylist is highly satisfying but provides an uncertain income. Having rental income gives her the freedom to continue doing what she loves.)

Q: Since some innkeepers are Green Leaders (by implementing environmentally-friendly practices), I think they would be open to using salvage and recycled finds. What are the best ways for them to find materials? Also, who (& what organizations) approve(s) the construction of She Sheds and where would they find local building codes? I understand they will need to consider factors such as building a certain distance from the property line and meeting guidelines to pass inspections if they want to host guests.

A: The best way to build green she sheds is to rehab something that already exists on the property. Many older sheds require new roofs, more windows, insulation, etc. to be habitable (not to mention electrical and plumbing). I write about sheds that aren’t completely set up for overnight guests, especially for reasons of permitting. Storage sheds under 120 square feet (in most cities) do not require a permit as long as they are not plumbed or wired. Most of our clients go this route. Obviously to make the space appropriate for guests this wouldn’t be an option so applying for the right permits must be part of the plan. Local codes are found in the city government website, as well as many other resources for building and safety. I recommend finding a contractor who specializes in tiny homes or small structures to help the innkeeper navigate the permitting process and help with the rehab or construction of the she shed.

Another way to build green (from scratch) is to work with reclaimed materials. Our shed siding is made from urban forested lumber that ordinarily would have been sent to the chipping machine. We also scrounge around at construction sites for throwaway doors, stained glass windows, even old carriage doors incorporated into the walls of their guest house. Some good resources would be craigslist, ReStore (Habitat for Humanity’s construction goods stores) and even local contractors who might be willing to call when there is salvage to be had.

Q: I love how you detail the carious types of She Sheds. Many of which could host classes and retreats based on the type of She Shed it is (artists, writers, gardeners, cooks, book clubs, floral arrangers, tea times, etc.). I also like that you share pictures of different decorating styles (modern, romantic/vintage, classic, rustic, French country, Spanish-stle, shabby chic, etc.). There are so many options. Is that part of the beauty of She Sheds the fact that it can fulfill almost any purpose and have so many different looks?

A: Yes indeed, she sheds directly reflect the passions and pursuits of their owners! Most of us share our main home with others and we need to adapt rooms and design so that it works for all. A she shed is an intensely personal space; simple and direct. My own she shed is quite small and provides me with a small cozy nook for my favorite hobby: reading. That’s about it. But the color, the artful windows, brick floor, rag rug, etc. are all my own personal touches. Guests of course will not be bringing their furniture and artwork into a she shed they’re renting but you can still theme it will the iconic elements: a pretty chandelier, flag bunting strings, chaise lounge, signage, etc.

Erika Kotite's personal yellow she shed with blue door

Erika Kotite’s own 6 x 6 she shed that lets her read her books in peace. The front windows are leaded glass and were an antique store find. She invested a few hundred dollars to have them completely restored. Worth every penny. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

ethereal she shed with dropdown bar

This ethereal shed from She Shed Living is 8 x 10 and is a gathering spot for the Salinas CA family who own it. They are a winemaking family so of course there is a dropdown bar in the back. (Photo: Rebecca Ittner)

 

She Shed wooden with teal door

Another one of her own (She Shed Living) custom designed sheds, made with reclaimed materials & vintage windows. This shed is used for entertaining friends, working on crafts, offering a private spot for the lady of the house. (Photo: Maggie Bond)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for the types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?

A: Signage is a really important and popular category! Simple lighting that is battery powered or easily connected to an extension cord is another. String lighting, fabric bunting, small shelf brackets, small-scale furniture, throws, nesting tables, small weather vanes are some other ideas.

Q: What would you tell someone who owns hospitality accommodations if they asked how they could go about building their own She Shed(s) that would be used to host guests? Do you recommend using She Shed Kits?

A: A kit shed could work for a lodging space but again, it would need to be modified significantly to become a guest house (insulated, wired, etc.) You could probably avoid plumbing if you have a bathroom nearby that could be used. However, that would limit the type of guest who wants something cute, but also wants all the modern conveniences right in the space. Look for kit designs that are intended for habitation, such as a home studio or even a pool cabana. They could save you some money as opposed to building from scratch. There are some great companies out there including Summerwood, Modern Shed and Studio Shed.

Q: There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully build and decorate She Sheds: architecture, carpentry, interior design & decor, landscaping and more. What is your best advice for doing things in the right order? Do you have a checklist?

A: At the risk of shameless self promotion, I believe that my second book She Sheds Style: Make Your Space Your Own, provides a solid checklist for all the considerations you would have when creating a she shed guest space. Chapters include architecture, landscaping, doors and windows, color selection, interior design and important details. A good architect and builder/contractor would also provide invaluable advice. Again, look to professionals for specialize in small structures.

Q: What are some things most people don’t know about She Sheds (common misconceptions)?

A: When people see a she shed in person, they instantly know a lot about it. I think it’s because they are reminded of their childhood, when they had a playhouse or a tree fort of their own. It’s a gut thing! Sometimes men feel a little left out but in our experience, they admire the craftsmanship or our sheds so much that they don’t complain. They often are just as excited as their wives/girlfriends! The one challenge to overcome is that a solid, comfortable and attractive she shed is not something you can pick up at a local home improvement store. Those structures are not meant for habitation–they are mass produced with sturdy but nowhere near home-quality materials. So you are going to need to budget more money than you may think. But trust me, it’s so worth it.

Thank you, Erika, for allowing me to interview you. I love the gorgeous She Sheds in Erika’s She Shed Living gallery. I recommend you read her books and visit her website!

 

How to Transform Your Outdoor Structures

Book Cover: Shed Decor

 

Want to transform your outdoor structures? Bed and breakfast inns may also have additional dwellings such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and sheds. Sally Coulthard, author of Shed Decor: How To Decorate and Furnish Your Favorite Garden Room, was kind enough to answer my questions. According to Amazon, “Shed Decor reveals how the right combination of colors, fabrics, furniture, and accessories can transform an outdoor building.”

“Have you ever been asked to decorate sheds as a consultant or interior decorator?”

“I often give advice for free – it’s much more fun and relaxed than a paid project.  I could talk about sheds endlessly – it’s a bit of an obsession really.  I’ve designed garden buildings and shepherds huts professionally for people, which often a collaborative process – and it’s so nice when people are pleased with the end result.  I built my own shed – finally – a few years back and I absolutely love the freedom and peace it gives me.  It’s got a great view of the orchard on our farm, and I love sitting in there with the wood-turning stove roaring away and cup of tea. Heaven.”

“I love how sheds can be used for multiple purposes and be decorated in many different ways. What are your best tips on Shed Decor?”  

“To be honest, I think the best money is spent on making the shed as warm and dry as possible – damp sheds are a nightmare and you never end up using them or getting the most from your space.  So, plenty of insulation, power sockets, a source of heating and decent ventilation are the priorities.  Once those are sorted the world is your oyster!  Personally, I like simple, honest materials – lots of muted shades and natural light.  Simple furniture, lots of pictures and treasured items to make it cosy, and a splash of colour from a favourite rug or throw.”

“I have clients, who are former B&B owners, who now have a downtown shop that sells vintage signs, nostalgic items, and other memorabilia. Do you have any suggestions for types of items they could have for those who want to decorate their She Sheds?”

“Wow – such potential! I love a vintage shed – so packed full of character. Things like old metal signs – they’re so graphic and colourful. Vintage enamelware and wire storage racks/bins look great. Love the industrial look too – salvaged factory lighting, metal school lockers, office seating, robust tables – all these work really well in a shed office.”

“There are so many different talents that are needed to successfully decorate sheds. Is there a particular order things should be done in?”

“To be honest, no more than decorating a home.  So, you need plenty of enthusiasm, an eye for design and a practical side.  Get the building basics right first, electrics, heating and wifi sorted, then floor and wall coverings and then the finishing touches.  Don’t try and cram too much in your shed.  Less is definitely more.  Clever storage solutions and plenty of natural light will help make it a genuinely useable space.”

“What are some things that most people don’t know about decorating sheds?”

“Get the professionals in for any woodburning stoves and electrics – they can be deadly if badly fitted and, depending where you live, it’s the law. Use eco-paints and finishes – there are so many fantastic brands out there it’s easy to be environmentally friendly.  Insulate, insulate, insulate.  And think of ways to make your shed a bit quirky – could you fit a living roof, for example, or solar panels?”

“Please feel free to share any information that you think would help educate my innkeeping audience about decorating sheds and other spaces.”

“Basically, over the years I’ve learned that a shed is only useful if you put as much energy and resources into it as you would a room in your house.  Sheds that can only be used in summer tend to get neglected, so it’s worth making it a year-round space.  Also, try and imagine different uses for your shed to make it as multi-functional as possible – it might be a kids’ playroom now, for example, but it could come in useful as a spare room, art studio or office somewhere down the line.” 

As a general rule, guests seem to love a ‘sleeping shed’ – I think they like the playfulness of sleeping outside, in a small space, and the privacy it offers – they’re great for romantic retreats or writer’s dens.  Sheds can also make fantastic dining or entertaining spaces for guests – we’ve had some great parties over the years, in and around various garden buildings, watching the sun go down and enjoying the conviviality of it all.”

In Closing

I appreciate Author Sally Coulthard for answering these questions. There are so many ways to transform your outdoor structures. In response to my gratitude…

“You are super welcome! Might be worth mentioning I also have a book called How To Build a Shed if anyone fancies trying it themselves!”

My next blog post will feature “She Sheds” since they are growing in popularity.