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Thoughts on being asked ‘how do you run your biz your way?’

Thank you Judith for inviting me to be part of your blogfest, to mark the exciting launch of your first book ‘Your Biz Your Way’.  Book number 1 of hopefully many more to come!

The book is a series of 52 questions (and answers!) all about running your own business.

You can find out more at Judith’s website.

Judith’s idea was to link to blogs posted by various people running their own business and I’m delighted to post my blog here … about running my biz, my way 🙂

I was SO keen to be part of the small team of proof-readers for the book that I had to promise that NO! I wasn’t just being nice in offering help and that YES! I really did have / would make enough time to do the task justice!  (For once, I thought, perhaps my near OCD for typos may actually be an asset).

To join in with the celebratory blogfest, I’m to answer the question about how I run my biz my way.  I’m also a bit nervous if the truth be told about writing down my thoughts, as right at this very moment, I don’t necessarily really know how I run my biz my way!  I just do it!  And perhaps that’s exactly it – it’s currently out of my conscious awareness.  So time spent writing this post will hopefully help shed some light on the matter.

Paul and myself run our B&B together, so in that sense, I’m in a partnership with ‘my biz’.  However, we are two very different people, with hugely different skill sets and preferences.  For the most part we have naturally gravitated to our own roles and responsibilities, and together we make our business work.  When it’s working well, the two of us, us being 1 + 1, definitely equals way more than the value of just 2.  Surely this must be the best result possible for any team working together, when the constituent parts can create more than the individuals could do separately.

So … how do I run my business my way … in a nutshell it seems to come down to:-

  • having clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as my friend Barbara would say. And
  • clear, clean and frequent communications, as Judith would add. And I would also include
  • the need for tasks to be easily understandable, rewarding, pleasant and even fun!

Working as a husband and wife team, these principles apply to us working together as well as when we are working with any supplier or when dealing with our guests.

After almost 5 years, we are now much better at knowing the roles we need to play to support the business.  I need clarity and am in charge of certain practicalities: check-lists for anything and everything, procedures, online presence, online booking, accounts and customer-facing elements.  Oh, and making sure that the towels stay nice and white and fluffy and general quality control.

We also work with various great people who support us in our business, from people who help with website and online booking processes, to the accountant and laundry man and many others in between.  Each and every person is valuable in their own right and I view them as part of our team, working in some way to support and deliver our product to our guests.  I not only need their professional assistance – but it’s important for me personally to work with them happily as part of an extended team.  Working in harmony with others is of high value to me personally and professionally.  Judith has also been an invaluable part of my own team, helping me sort ‘fact from fiction’, offering encouragement, making suggestions and generally offering support and a wise sounding-board.

With our guests, we need to be open about what we can (and can’t!) offer.  We need to ensure they understand the basic information: availability, room costs, what’s included, how payment works, check-in arrangements etc.  We contact everyone after they book and although it takes a while to send everyone a personal email, and perhaps answer any follow-up questions, we believe it is worth it.  Hopefully it literally sends a positive message and can help to avoid any misunderstandings or difficulties further down the line.  However, difficulties can and do very occasionally still happen.  And that’s when the ‘fun’ element is rather more difficult and challenging to maintain from my ‘nutshell’ list!

So, as I mentioned above about being a bit nervous about writing this article, I can be nervous in a different way if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved with guests.  This is generally ‘my’ job – but fortunately I don’t have many occasions to practice handling difficult issues with guests.  However if I do, I aim to trust my instincts, focus on finding a solution and not be overtaken by uncomfortable feelings.

We are fortunate that the vast majority of our guests do leave with a smile, which is what our job is really all about.  This is all excellent news for us – as with happy guests, we can continue our business, we can continue to support our lives here and also provide work to our extended team … so it’s win win all round.  We chose to come and run a B&B and both left ‘good’ jobs in the UK, moved to a different country and we are living our dream.  It’s been incredibly hard work but it’s great having our own biz, that we run our own way – and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Online Booking with ‘Freetobook’!

freetobook booking systemOnline booking has just become easier thanks to ‘Freetobook’!  Guests now have the opportunity of checking availability and booking online directly with us, via our website.

It’s obviously a big decision to entrust this imporant process to another company and – we’ve been delighted 🙂

The big added advantage for guests, is that we can now offer PROMO codes for returning guests to use – and receive special discounts!

It’s also easy for guests to see the calendar view for an overview of availability.  Alternatively, you can select a date and number of nights required and the availability and room costs are shown.

‘Freetobook’ also approached us to be a case study for their newsletter, where they asked us to share the experience of working with them.  Many of us have big ‘to do’ lists and once you get a job completed, you tick it off and it’s on to the next million and one other things waiting for your time and attention.  It was therefore also a great opportunity for us to stop and pause and appreciate how much value the new booking system can bring to our business.   As an added bonus, the process of being interviewed for the case study gave us the chance to thank them for their invaluable help and assistance (and patience!)

We did look at a number of other providers in our search for a booking system.  However for us there were a number of reasons we choose Freetobook.  I’d already signed up a couple of years prior for their newsletters and felt we’d already built up some ‘history’ with them.  They had a product people liked, which they were developing and enhancing over time, often taking feedback from existing customers.  We felt confident with their product.  The online video tutorials are great and it means you can learn at your own pace and in your own time.  We were fortunate also that before / during / after the process of signing up officially, we were quickly and efficiently supported by email (and occasionally on the telephone).  It’s so important to have this reassurance – as there are always one or two things that crop up that you’re not sure how best to handle.

So thank you Freetobook! – and we’re delighted to be included as one of your case studies.

Please click here to link to case study on Landhaus Lilly!

 

Balcony flowers

IMG_3948 Finally the weather has warmed up and the snow has stopped falling on the local mountains … and we have planted our balcony flowers – the first at Landhaus Lilly …

I’m not sure how large they will all grow (and hopefully I’ll remember to feed and water them) – but for now I’m delighted and look forward to them blooming all summer long (with a bit of luck!)

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BBC’s Escape To The Continent, Salzburg, with Anita Rani – now on Netflix!

Landhaus LillyBeing featured on the new BBC series ‘Escape to the Continent’ was not something we had envisaged – just a couple of months after opening Landhaus Lilly!

We moved in Austria in the summer of 2013 … and by the October we were (apparently!) the ‘local experts’ for Rob and Annette, a couple who were looking to move Austria.  It was quite an experience having the camera crew here, together with Anita Rani the lovely presenter.  We had fun during the filming – and have since welcomed guests here, who saw us on the tv 🙂

Netflix now has the ‘Escape to the Continent’ series available … we’re featured on the Salzburg programme – Happy Viewing!

Anita introduced us to Rob and Annette, who were hoping to move to the area and perhaps set up a B&B or a holiday apartment.  It was exciting to meet them, as they were potentially at the beginning of something new and challenging in their lives and their journey was similar to ours a few years ago…  Like them, we spent many hours (well, actually months and years!) … planning and dreaming and wondering whether we could realise our dream of moving to Austria and running a B&B.

We had our trials along the way – we missed out on a house in Austria we had hoped to buy, then after 5 months our house sale in the UK fell through at the last minute and we feared losing the rental property we had lined up to move to (before the ‘big’ move to Austria).  Then Paul had to have a heart operation … Then, the month before we moved to Austria, thousands of pounds worth of damage was done to the house following the flooding in Europe.  So, to be fair – it hasn’t been ‘plain sailing’ – but I’m sure most people who take up the challenge of moving abroad would perhaps have a similar story to tell.  We were also project managing from afar as we were still working in the UK whilst renovation works took place in Austria.  Paul was very busy with long shifts during the summer due to the Olympics and we were visiting Austria to meet with our project manager and the team of local builders every few weeks … it was a hectic time!

The original old smallholding did have a few B&B rooms, but you would have to use the showers and toilets at the end of the corridor.  We were fortunate that the rooms are a very good size – so we completely renovated and updated them so they now have modern en suite facilities. We wanted to keep some of the original Austrian charm and feel of the house keeping, for example, the carved wooden ceiling in the breakfast room, some carved wooden furniture and wrought iron work.

We wish Rob and Annette every success with their exploring so they too can find a place in Austria that they can call home.  Perhaps like us – they may also have people from all over the world come and visit and marvel at this ‘little piece of heaven’ as some of our guests have described the area!

200+ guests from over 30 countries in less than 3 months!

photo (15)It’s amazing … and we can hardly believe it ourselves –

In the space of about 2 1/2 months since opening the doors to Landhaus Lilly, we’ve had over 200 guests from over 30 countries visit us at our new B&B.

We’re fortunate to have lots of lovely comments and encouragement.  We even had a comment in the book from a lovely daughter and her mother from Thailand – and they didn’t even stay here!  They were booked in for one night and we were going to pick them up from the train station.  At the appropriate time, Paul went to collect them … and waited … but there was no sign of them.  I emailed the daughter to make sure they were ok.  Fortunately, they were safe and sound – but still in Salzburg!  She then realised she’d booked the wrong night with us.  Due to us being fully booked on the following evening – we could not accommodate them a day later.  So I managed to find them alternative accommodation – but they still wanted to meet us … and they ended up coming round for tea the following evening … they were delightful!

 

 

Website is about to be launched!!

The newly painted house! Alt Text

Thank you to the lovely Marion Ryan of Online Business Gym who has been patiently at the helm and has created our Landhaus Lilly website!   Like all such websites – there’s room for more photos and information, which we will add over the coming weeks and months – but for now, we probably need to launch ourselves to the world!

(Do let me know if I’ve done any typos 🙂 or if anything isn’t as clear as it could be!)

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