Category Archives: Guest Blogs

Thinking of Selling your Hotel?

Thinking of Selling Your Hotel? Here’s How to Know it’s the Right Time

As an established hotel owner, you may perhaps have entertained the idea of selling your business. You may understand that timing plays a part in such decisions. But is now the best time? And how will you even know when that ‘best time’ actually comes around? It’s rarely an easy call to make, so here’s a few things you should consider.

Reasons for selling

Sometimes you may just have to accept the fact that you can’t really control your need to sell. Other aspects of life which cannot be put off may simply intervene. You, or your partner, may be suffering poor health, or you may have to face divorce or some other family crisis. Equally, you may be fast approaching retirement, or have been presented with some need to liquidate your assets which must take priority over your business responsibilities.

More often, as a hotelier, you may notice a relentless downward spiral in profitability. Whilst some owners catch the problem early and are able to take remedial measures, others may find things have gone far beyond any hope of retrieving the situation.

If your accommodation business is performing poorly with little hope of an upturn, then taking the decision to sell may be your best chance of selling at an acceptable price. In such unfortunate circumstances it may be best to salvage what you can rather than risk a further decline.

On the other hand, some hotel owners may recognise that their soundly performing business is presenting them with a golden opportunity to sell on their own terms. A business with a good track record will usually sell for a better price, and often sells far more quickly too. And this is especially so where the owner can show that profits are on a sustained upward trajectory.

Research the market

To determine your sale prospects, or even simply to optimise the outcome once you are nearly ready to commit, it will always pay to carefully research the market. Whilst that is likely to involve seeking professional opinions, it should also involve a thorough personal investigation. It’s only by immersing yourself in such detail that you can get a proper ‘feel’ for market conditions.

For instance: Are local sector trends a reflection of regional market conditions? Or are there local factors which are exerting a stronger influence? And considering the national picture: What do the long-term sale statistics say about the future prospects for the hotel industry? And what seems to be the optimum time of year for selling with a view to securing the best return on your investment?

The hotel industry is one that fluctuates and so you will need to keep a careful eye on what the future trends are. There are three main factors that will impact the value of your hotel: the profit that your business is making, what multiple of the profits the buyer is willing to pay and the condition of the business. Make sure that you are in a positive position with all three of these factors where possible if you want to make a good return on your investment.

Threats and opportunities

You may know some local owners are about to retire and close down, or be aware of plans for major leisure and tourist developments about to occur in your area. Indeed, such information may be just what you need to hear to give you an ideal chance to present your business as being rich in potential.

Or alternatively, you may have been advised that a national hotel chain has earmarked your town as a likely location for expansion, or perhaps you have lost some of your best staff who have proved well-nigh impossible to replace.

Whatever the scenario, if a hotel sale could be on the horizon, you must remain alert to how such developments could affect your prospects.

You should also identify whether there are areas where your business could expand in the future so that buyers can be promised the chance for expansion. Is there is the potential for more rooms to be added? Could a restaurant or spa be included as part of the business?

Assess what pre-sale preparation is required?

If you can afford to sell when you’re ready, you should also consider what pre-sale preparation will be necessary to get your business up to the mark in order to prepare for a listing. If you have a well-run hotel in good health with strong bookings, perhaps also supported by strong local patronage, you must also have the evidence to prove the worth of your business.

One extremely important element here is your business paperwork, which must be in excellent order. Any serious buyer will never take your word alone. They will wish to see historical evidence of your trading revenues, and much else besides.

Have clear documentation of the occupation rates and how this fluctuates during the year. You will also need to do an audit of the stock that will included at the time of handover of the hotel.

In addition to exemplary paperwork, your premises should be in good repair and decorated to a good standard throughout. But beyond maintenance, and just as important, you should ensure your hotel is equipped in a way which reflects the latest industry trends and emerging technologies.

This extends beyond micro-details such as contemporary coffee facilities in your rooms, and should certainly include an overhaul of your (hopefully) mobile-friendly hotel website as well as your booking systems and digital marketing strategy.

By Matthew Hernon is an Account Manager at Dynamis looking after Business Transfer Agents and Franchises across BusinessesForSale.com and FranchiseSales.com.

4 Tips for Appliance Safety in Your B&B

Beckie Hatton is a Product Manager at Home Appliance Care, so she understands exactly how important it is to have safe and efficient electrical appliances. Here, she offers her advice to B&B owners who want to follow the rules and keep guests safe.

All B&B owners have a legal responsibility to safeguard the public and their employees from harm (legislation.gov.uk). More specifically, you must make sure your electrical appliances are well-maintained and fit for purpose to prevent fires, gas leaks, electric shocks, and other disasters.

Small hospitality businesses that fail in their legal obligations can face serious consequences, from penalties and lawsuits to property damage and fatalities. So, it’s important to stay on top of maintaining the electrical appliances in your kitchen, guest rooms, and communal areas to keep your guests safe.

Below, I’ll be sharing some of my tips for making sure the appliances in your B&B are safe to use.

Which appliances to check

Any utensils and appliances that are battery operated or can be plugged into the mains must be well maintained and regularly reviewed. You should check them for signs or wear or damage at least once every month as part of your fire risk assessment (gov.uk), and they will have to be serviced or PAT tested every 6-12 months to be declared fit for use (pat.org.uk).

When you first think about which appliances in your B&B could be considered high-risk, most people rightly think of ovens, toasters and straighteners that are designed to heat up. But washing machines and tumble dryers account for more than a third of domestic fires, significantly more than cookers (11%), so it’s crucial that you keep on top of the maintenance of these appliances in particular (Which?).

Should I call an engineer?

You should contact an electrical engineer if you have any concerns about the internal wiring of your appliances rather than attempt to fix them yourself. Tampering with electrical systems can cause injuries or fatalities, and if you don’t have the right tools or knowledge you could put yourself and everyone else on the premises at risk.

Plus, tampering with your appliances usually voids their warranty and your insurance policy, so you’ll have to cover the cost of repairing and replacing any damaged machines. It’s safer and cheaper overall to let the professionals deal with it instead.

Common faults to watch out for

External issues like loose plugs, switches and outlets can often be amended by a quick screw retightening, and you can also replace any broken casings yourself using just basic tools and knowledge — but you must switch off and unplug everything first so there’s no electrical current.

If you notice your plugs, outlets and switches are getting warm, it could be a wiring issue that can cause a fire if not immediately fixed. In this case, these will need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible and you should not attempt to use the appliance while you wait for the electrician.

Flickering lights or displays on your appliances, as well as your bulbs burning out too quickly, can be indicators that there is a loose connection somewhere inside the machine. If you notice any of these problems, you should stop using the appliance and call a professional immediately.

How to look after your appliances

Never skip your monthly fire risk assessments, annual services, or scheduled PAT tests. Fires and other electrical dangers don’t just happen as the result of faulty products — appliances that aren’t properly maintained pose a risk too. Failing to clean them properly, check them over regularly, and take care of small problems can lead to huge disasters, so you must have adequate maintenance strategies in place to tackle all these issues.

Encourage your kitchen staff to clean appliances at the beginning and end of each day to prevent build ups of food crumbs, grease and other debris — just be sure that they follow the manufacturer’s instructions for doing this safely. Cleaning in a way the manual suggests will also protect your appliances from corrosive damage which can lead to electrical issues, such as loose wiring. So, hang onto your user manuals and double check all their cleaning practices are compliant with the manufacturer’s suggestions.

These are just some of the ways you can make sure the appliances in your B&B are as safe as possible. By giving them a quick look over as often as you can and promptly reporting any issues to an electrician, your appliances can be safe for use and you can get on with managing your guesthouse.

How hoteliers can increase room rates by improving customer facilities

Here, Mike Hardman from hospitality equipment suppliers Alliance Online shares his advice for hoteliers looking to improve their customers’ experience — and, therefore, increase revenue.

Your revenue per available room (RevPAR) is a good way to measure the average rate you sell your rooms at, allowing you to keep track of your success and compare your hotel with competitors. If you haven’t already, you can determine your RevPAR by multiplying your average daily rate by your occupancy rate. Your occupancy rate is the number of occupied rooms you have divided by your total number of available rooms, multiplied by 100.

If your RevPAR isn’t as high as you’d like, you can raise it by focussing on customer experience. Improving your facilities won’t just allow you to charge guests more for their stay — your customers will also be more inclined to share their positive opinion of your hotel online and bring you more custom.

Below are just some of the ways you can improve customer facilities and increase your average room rate in return.

Offer something extra for your guests

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During the booking process, tempt potential guests with packages and promotions. Give them the option of add-ons such as breakfast, shuttle services, or extra treats for their room to bump up their average spend.

When setting up rooms, it’s a good idea to provide your guests with low cost but high-quality items that have the potential to feel like little gifts. A bowl of fresh fruit, a vase of flowers, boxes of chocolates and, of course, toiletries can all be stocked in the room to make your guests’ stay more luxurious.

Improve your housekeeping and room services

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High cleanliness standards are perhaps the most crucial way to show your quality and maintain positive reviews from guests. Don’t be frugal with deep cleaning tools, products, and practices, or you could end up paying the price. You can also offer extra services for guests, such as laundry and dry cleaning, ironing and pressing, and even shoe polishing to increase value.

Make sure you’re advertising the fact you offer room service; if you find that guests aren’t always taking advantage of it, it might not be as obvious as you think. Present their chosen refreshments with style by finding modern, instagrammable crockery, and ask staff to remove the lids from serving dishes in front of guests in their room. Staff can also bring a bucket of ice and pour drinks out of the bottle for an extra flourish. This level of service feels fancy, but it also gives staff the opportunity to ask guests whether to leave the bottle and add it to the bill.

Customer service

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Effective planning and smooth communication between staff and guests allow problems to be solved before they become disasters. Keep on top of maintenance to prevent any issues arising during your customers’ stay, such as faulty air cons or cosmetic damage. Be prepared to manage your guests’ needs as quickly as possible by having plenty of extra pillows, towels, chairs, highchairs, and cots to hand. If this is something you might struggle with, consider whether your inventory management system needs updating.

As much as you can, go for the personal approach. Instead of working the whole building, give staff sections to take care of so they can better keep track of their guests’ names and preferences. If possible, it’s also good to invest in staff that can communicate in many different languages to cater for foreign guests.

Staff should be fully-trained and aware of the contents of all service dossiers and menus. That way, they can be a complete source of information and don’t have to leave guests waiting as they try and find someone who knows the answers to their questions. These little organisational details improve the overall guest experience, making them more likely to spend money in the future or convince others to do the same.

With these tips, you can begin to improve your customer facilities and consequently raise your average room rates.

What Support is Available for Business Buyers?

While entrepreneurs can often find lots of generic information about buying a business, it’s less easy to find details on more specific kinds of regional support. So, we are looking at the various kinds of help available to those looking to purchase a business in the Principality of Wales.

What businesses are popular in Wales?

There are a large number of business opportunities in a country with such rich diversity.

Traditional tourism is very strong in Wales, but the coastal regions and wild interior landscapes are now being exploited for more adventure-type of experiences than ever before. And with its own rich and unique cultural history, Wales is also the natural home for many different types of creative and craft-based industries.

The energy industry also has deep roots in Wales, though the rise of renewable energies and modern concerns about the environment have also played a prominent role in the formation of some new sustainable, eco-friendly Welsh businesses.

A welcoming, outgoing and tourist-heavy population also provides countless locations and opportunities for food and drink businesses.

Wales attracts global players in areas such as Life Sciences and all kinds of Tech and ICT industries. And furthermore, the country is renowned for its workforce expertise and strong track record in developing strong links between industry and the higher education sector.

Why buy rather than start a business?

Starting a business has its own merits and may seem like the obvious option for an aspiring entrepreneur full of fresh, innovative ideas. However, there are some important advantages in choosing to buy an existing business instead.

Not only are there less risks attached to buying a ‘going concern’ rather than attempting a new start-up, you will also be able to reap the financial rewards much sooner.

In Wales especially, buying an established business will provide you with a fast-track opportunity to grow and find success in a rapidly growing market. There are now a record 238,200 active firms in Wales, and a huge 99.3% of that number are independent SMEs.

An ideal business-purchase opportunity for example, could be purchasing an off-license in a prime location. Not only would such a business have its own local customers, in many areas there would also be opportunities to contact and supply other establishments – especially those business owners catering for tourists.

What kind of support do you need?

Buying a business comes with its own special difficulties, so getting the right help at the right time can make this process far easier.

Broadly speaking, support services will involve: Financial, advisory and overall mediation services.

Finance

It’s very important to have all your finances in place before attempting to buy any business. Sellers will be keen to know not only that you wish to purchase the business, they will also need firm reassurance that you have the necessary means in place to go ahead and complete the transaction.

The Development Bank of Wales is a specialist lender to businesses in Wales and can offer loan support in a number of different formats.

The Bank can support both B2B and B2C enterprises and, although it does lend to others, its particular focus is on micro to medium-size business needs.

Brokers

A broker’s expertise can be very helpful, especially if you feel intimidated by the entire purchase process.

They can guide and support you from start to finish. Your relationship with your broker will be vital to your success, so you should also spend time to ensure your broker understands precisely what you are looking for.

And it goes without saying that your broker should be someone you can get on with and trust completely to manage your investment on your behalf.

Advisory

In our modern age, finding an advisor can be done from the comfort of your own home. And thanks to the abundance of resources available, you will be able to find advice on trends and all kinds of sound investment for yourself. For example, Business Wales can offer business advice to prospective entrepreneurs.

Whatever route you choose, when it comes to helping you to develop business ideas and innovation, the enthusiastic help and support you will receive in Wales will always be second to none.

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

 

Hungry Jobs – Specialists in the Hospitality Sector

What can HungryJobs do for you?

HungryJobs is a UK based job board which specialises in the hospitality industry. With so many job boards and recruitment websites nowadays, it can be hard to know where to post jobs in order to fulfil your recruitment needs. HungryJobs stands out in a saturated market for the following reasons:

  1.  Low cost job adverts. With adverts costing just £20 they are extremely cost effective and also offer discounts when purchasing several adverts at once.
  2. Screening questions. You have the option to set several screening questions meaning you should only receive applications from candidates most suited to the role.
  1. CV builder. Candidates have the option to build their own CVs if they do not already have one. Employers will therefore receive a detailed overview of a candidate’s previous experience.
  1. Social media presence. HungryJobs is active on Facebook and Instagram and often share job adverts on these platforms meaning your advert reaches a larger audience.
  1. Translation of job adverts. HungryJobs is happy to arrange for the translation of job adverts where required and can be contacted directly about this via their website.

Finally, the design of the HungryJobs website stands out as a modern platform which will attract candidates to apply for your positions. Visit the website today at www.hungryjobs.com and see for yourself.

Recommended books for B&B owners

Guest Blog: Prepare Your B&B for a Quick Sale

Selling any business in a rush is never an optimum choice. But if you need to sell your B&B quickly, it could perhaps be that you, or someone close to you, has suffered an illness which makes it impossible to manage the regular commitment the hospitality business demands.

Or you might have experienced unexpected changes which will impact your business prospects.

It isn’t always possible to sell a business quickly, but this is what you should do to prepare for a quick sale and give yourself the best possible chance of securing the deal you want:

Initial preparation

If at all possible, you should continue to accept bookings as normal.

When an owner is in your position and looking to sell, there is a great temptation to scale back your trading – perhaps turning down one-night stays or opening just for the high-season summer months.

This is understandable, given your circumstances, but any evidence of a decline in your trading may make selling even more difficult.

Any prospective buyer looking for finance will find lenders reluctant to commit once they note the downturn in historical profits. Another reason for trying to commit to ‘business as usual’ is that continuing to gather positive online reviews is the best way to ensure you still get to sell for a good price.

Looking at your preparation in broader terms, there would normally be a three-year preparatory period to achieve comprehensive results. But if time is short, you must at least have your financial records in good order and presenting a true picture of your trading over the last three years (or more).

Would-be purchasers will take a close interest in your business records, as will any due diligence team. So, you should be ready to answer a whole raft of probing questions about:

  • Peak business periods
  • Off-season arrangements
  • The profile of typical guest categories
  • Repeat bookings
  • Your cancellation policy
  • Your main local rivals

and much more.

In particular, you will be asked to explain the pattern of trading peaks and troughs that your P&L will reveal.

So, be very sure you can give accurate and relevant explanations of all your trading data.

When responding to seller-side queries, your absolute honesty about all business matters will do much to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence. In fact, experts agree that the truthfulness of your approach is considerably more important than the quality of the information you disclose.

You can also show an interested buyer that you are really ready for a quick sale by preparing a comprehensive handover package detailing all the important information about running your business.

This will help your buyer to conceptualise the ownership tasks, and also reassures everyone that you don’t intend to just disappear into the night!

Valuation and advertising

Your valuation is best completed by professionals who understand the hospitality market.

This ensures your premises will be assessed and valued using the customary methods for your sector. And, your valuers will also be able to highlight all the desirable features of your business which truly support the valuation figure they propose.

Many business brokers will be able to advertise your business for a quick sale and will also be able to discuss how to maximise your selling price. This is especially important, given that you will need good advice on how much you should be prepared to compromise on your final selling price in order to generate genuine interest in a quick sale.

And if you feel sufficiently knowledgeable about your business, are thoroughly prepared, and are confident enough to handle matters for yourself, then you could also advertise your business on BusinessesForSale.com.

Due diligence

At this stage, your seller’s professional team will scrutinise your business in great detail to test whether the sale valuation reflects the true value of your business.

This is where your careful preparation will begin to pay off. You should also respond to any requests for further information as soon as possible, otherwise this can create delays and perhaps cause a buyer to lose interest.

Finding a buyer will reward all your intensive preparation. But do check that any prospective purchaser wanting to buy your business has the necessary finance in place, because this could otherwise cause a significant delay in closing the deal.

And once the contracts have been signed, you can get down to enjoying your future life beyond the B&B.

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.