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B&B Consulting Job Reviews: Benchmarking and Market Niche

February 15, 2009

by Kit Cassingham

Being a consultant to the lodging industry exposes me to a wide variety of experiences. Clients benefit from that exposure. When greening your hotel, start with benchmarking your utility costs. When opening a new bed and breakfast first determine your market niche.

Consulting jobs always teach me something. And I love that. I guess that's part of the reason I still consult; each job builds on the last and each subsequent client benefits from the previous ones. My last several consulting jobs have followed the same pattern, but with the economy as it is the situations have been more poignant than usual.

A small-ish mom-and-pop hotel contacted me to help them green their operations. The first step they needed to take was benchmarking their present utility costs. If you don't know how much you are using you don't know where to set your goal, and you don't know when you've reached your goal. Further benchmarking helps you find "leaks" you may not have known about. You find those leaks when after taking resource-conserving steps the usage is still higher than you expected.

The biggest problems is that the down economy is keeping them from buying green cleaning products because they cost more than the bulk supplies they can get from Costco, products that aren't known for being environmentally friendly. After sharing some more cost effective laundry supply ideas, like baking soda and white vinegar in the wash and rinse cycles, respectively, I introduced them to the benefits of cleaning with water and microfiber.

Water and microfiber are great for basic cleaning. For heavier duty cleaning and sanitizing an environmentally friendly cleaner adds boost. The reason microfiber is such a good cleaning tool is because technology has created a fiber that picks up dirt, grime, dust, grease and particles. Though I'm big into using natural fiber fabrics I'm totally behind microfiber because it almost eliminates the need for cleaning "chemicals", it reduces the quantity of cleaning products because of its efficiency in removing dirt from surfaces. In my mind, this is a great use for petroleum-based fibers.

Though a good microfiber product costs a bit more than other products you can buy, and of course more expensive than using towels and sheets that can't be used in guestrooms because they are tired, frayed, or stained, they are long lasting and reduce the ongoing cost of cleaning "chemicals" so they pay for themselves pretty quickly.

These hotel owners are starting with replacing their expensive laundry supplies with the inexpensive alternatives of baking soda and white vinegar. They are benchmarking their utility usage. And the money they start saving in the laundry room they'll use to buy microfiber supplies. They'll get tax write-offs from donating their tired sheets and towels to charity. And that purchase will let them save even more. That's a win:win.

If you want to see the environmentally friendly cleaning supplies I recommend visit my Green Cleaning page.


A young couple sought my input on how to best organize their busy day in their new bed and breakfast. They had retired from the corporate world so they could spend more time together and be closer to their families. Starting with two guestrooms and a tea shop seemed like a step they could manage on their own, but they found that "small" was draining them and they hoped I could help them streamline their operations and establish better procedures to get everything done they wanted.

I first urged them to establish areas of responsibility. The idea is that each person was in charge of specific tasks that the other couldn't interfere with. When input was wanted help could be asked for, but the "ownership" line had to be respected and not overstepped. No back seat driving is allowed.

After talking awhile it became clear that though they loved the guestrooms the tea shop was their true love. Their true market niche is a tea shop more than bed and breakfast. What a great awareness for them to reach! Now they can proceed building the business they enjoy most and put their focus there. Income from the rooms can augment the tea shop and the guests can provide the travelers' exchanges they cherish, and energy can be saved for their best money maker and satisfaction source.

The focus they gained from that awareness has let them let go of the "shoulds" they have picked up along the way and given them energy to build the tea shop into a community center and source of joy for many. They are making more money and not wasting time doing things they don't want to do.




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