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Buying and Running a Guesthouse or Small Hotel: 2nd edition: How to Build a Valuable Business and Enjoy a Great Lifestyle Paperback – 27 Jul 2007
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Dan Marshall provides all the information needed to buy, set up and run a small guesthouse or hotel effectvely. It is suited to all those seeking a lifestyle change, whether experienced or not in the hotel and catering industry. (Hospitality)
This book provides all the information you need to buy, set up and run a small guesthouse or hotel effectively.See all Product description
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The opening advice to "take a position in a small hotel, ideally as general assistant to the owner ... gaining experience at your employer's expense" is absurd. Which owner/manager of any business is going to hire someone with no experience as his 'general assistant'? Chambermaid, yes. Anyone with any degree of responsibility and decision making - never.
"Taking a position" in any business these days is not something anybody can wake up in the morning and just do, as the author seems to imply, experienced or not. A friend of mine, with whom I am right now assessing the possibilities of a small hotel, recently applied for a senior management position at his level, in his field. There were 400 applicants.
Does anyone contemplating running a guesthouse need reminding that they need to "enjoy dealing with people"? Maybe the author thinks that some of his readers believe Basil Fawlty to be a real person.
Does anyone contemplating running a guesthouse need reminding that they need to keep the place clean? It's not "cleanliness skills" that are needed. It's a cleanliness attitude. If someone looks around their own home and can honestly admit that they are not already predisposed to keep the place clean and tidy - not to hospitality industry standards, maybe, but certainly better than average - no amount of "cleanliness skills" will help. Even if they delegate cleaning to staff, their own inadequate standards would result in those standards becoming the norm.
"Reservation/billing skills ... being organised". Who needs to be told that this is a requirement? You couldn't run an icecream van if you weren't organised.
Anyone who needs prompting to the least degree in any of these topics won't be reading this book or contemplating running a guest house - or any other business.
There is a presumption that the people for whom this book is intended are a couple. This is an important point because a great deal of the advice on many aspects of the business are based on this presumption. If, like me, you are not half a couple, there's much advice that does not apply.
One of the 'myths' that the author hopes to expose is that "You are dreaming if you think you will be your own boss." He then goes on to list banks, spouse/partner, suppliers "and even your customers" as bosses who "seem to develop."
This is wrong. It is true that all other people, companies and institutions will have a major influence on any business but a boss is someone who makes the fundamental decisions about the structure and goals of a business and deals with others in a way that results in the business developing along the lines that he has directed. Others are partners.
The owner of a business is the client of a bank and suppliers of goods and services. As such, they should be predisposed to satisfy the needs of their client, not direct his business. If they do not, he can take his custom elsewhere. It's not easy to sack a bank but in my experience of running small businesses, it is possible to reject a bank's proposals and add-on services such as insurances and either have them amended or provided by another 'supplier' entirely. I have sacked an accountant. To believe you are not the boss is asking for trouble.
As for customers being 'the boss', this is nonsense. It is true that the customers are kings & queens - but they have no executive power. The customer is royalty in that the aim of the business is that they will be pleased and satisfied with has been offered, be it a 50p widget or a £1000/night hotel suite. If the customer was boss, he would say to a guest house that states in its brochure that pets are not accepted, "You will allow me to keep my dog in my room." He would order a meat meal at a vegetarian guest house and expect to get it. I have sacked such customers from my boatyard.
A good example of this was Gordon Ramsey when he was running the restaurant 'Aubergine' in Park Walk, Chelsea. Martina Navratalova and her party arrived in the evening following another win in the Wimbledon Ladies' final. She had not booked but demanded a table. They were told that all tables were booked [I know from my own experience of trying to book a table there that the waiting list for lunch was a fortnight and dinner was booked forever] and that booked clients, many of them regulars, were not going to have their reservations cancelled for the Wimbledon champ or anybody.
An aspect I was hoping to find described in detail and at length was what it actually like to run a guest house. Does any grown-up need a numbered list on how to clean a bedroom? It's not useful for anyone past student age to be given a list of cleaning materials to do the job. No 1 instruction, "turn on the lights so you can see well" comes pretty close to insulting the reader's intelligence.
I wanted to hear about how to deal with rooms that have been trashed by stag-nighters, soiled by incontinent children, stripped by towel-thieves ... It's absurd to be advised to "follow the manufacturer's instruction" for carpet cleaning but not advised on the financial options if a woman spills a bottle of scarlet nail varnish on it. New carpet? Specialist cleaning? Most importantly - who pays?
There is very little of this anecdotal narrative which would give an insight into the aspects of running a guest house that cannot be found in trade journals, government departments, banks and other institutions. Running this sort of enterprise is, as the author states, a life-style as much as a business. What this book badly lacks is a thorough look at the way that the life-style aspect influences and is influenced by the purely commercial aspect.
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