International Women’s Day 2019 – Part 1

On the 8th March 2019, across the globe individuals and companies are celebrating International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognise and celebrate women’s contributions to business and society, and presents an opportunity to discuss gender equality around the world.

At freetobook we’re immensely proud of all of our staff and customers, and we would like to celebrate International Women’s Day by introducing you to a few of the brilliant women we work with on a daily basis.

Part 1 – Women Bossing the B&B Business

 

Jane Herman, retired B&B owner 

Beechgrove Bed and Breakfast

Leaving school at 16 for a career in retailing, Jane has had a long career in developing service excellence. After a break to have her family, Jane worked as Training and Branch Manager for several brands (such as Country Casuals and Jaeger), and training became her favourite part of the job, whether that was introducing new management to the high company standards or empowering her own staff.

Believing strongly in life-long-learning, Jane qualified to teach further and adult education and gained a post-grad Diploma of Business Studies in her forties, later also qualifying in keyboard and computer skills.

Her years of training others to provide high quality service paid off in spades when she opened Beechgrove B&B in 2007. After 11 years of brilliant guest reviews, beautiful breakfasts and a cracking business facebook page, Jane has recently decided to close Beechgrove and enjoy her well-earned retirement.  We caught up to hear about the challenges and highlights of running her own business.

What were some of the challenges of running your own business?

In my late 50s learning book keeping, tax laws and social media skills! Big challenges. But the biggest challenge for me was bringing in guests. With my daughters help I built my own website and did a lot of successful marketing locally.

Your B&B business owning highlights:

Meeting interesting and delightful people from around the world, and sharing my home and experience with them to give them great memories! Expanding my skill base successfully, I love learning and particularly learning to value domestic skills, an unfashionable subject, and showcasing them successfully. Being valued personally has been lovely – freetobook and TripAdvisor reviews have been a great source of pride!

Do you have any advice for women aspiring to be B&B owners?

Set the standards you would want for yourself in accommodation. Steal ideas wherever you go to ensure best practice. Have a particular eye for detail – is the plug in the right place to be used properly, is the lighting good, do you put guests’ needs first?

On International Women’s Day, what message would you like to send to young women thinking about their careers?

Whether you’re a potato picker or a company director, be the best you can be and value yourself and your work. Aim to continuously improve standards and aim high to stretch yourself – whether you believe you will fail or succeed, you will be right!

 

Amanda Dunn, B&B owner 

Manor Farm-MK

Amanda spent much of her childhood on a farm, where she developed a passion for the countryside, ultimately graduating from agricultural college. After a period working and travelling in Europe, she settled in Bedfordshire to develop a grain storage and processing operation, where she “achieved more in those few years than I ever thought possible”.

 

After 4 years, she left to farm with her husband – taking on 600 acres! It was a memorable time for Amanda, but sadly they had to leave farming with heavy hearts in 2000. For the next 3 years Amanda concentrated on a freelance career writing for an agricultural journal and bringing up their young family.

In 2003, they purchased an old pit pony home with outbuildings and 40+ acres. They converted the buildings and have been there ever since, currently running four small businesses from the site including their B&B, Manor Farm-MK. When setting up the B&B Amanda did her research – she realised that there was a strong market in Milton Keynes for business guests, and so designed the B&B and business model around catering to executive guests. It’s been a huge success, with fabulous reviews on TripAdvisor and high guest-return rate.

Have you always wanted to have your own business?

I love running my own business, with a farmer as a father, being “your own boss” was all I ever really knew growing up! I couldn’t wait to get started.

What are some of the challenges of running your own B&B?

It’s offered plenty of different challenges – adapting to the market, adjusting and tweaking the business to ensure it not only works efficiently as a standalone operation but also effectively around the other enterprises on site, staying ahead of the game so there is always a “USP” that draws the business guest into the property – and then keeps them there!  Identifying ways that one can add value to the guest, yet maintain a close eye on costs incurred by the business.

Your B&B business owning highlights:

Highlights have been seeing a business grow, ideas develop and success achieved.  When I read a review from, or speak with, a visiting executive who comments on how our service makes a difference to his/her working life I feel that I have achieved something.

Do you have any advice for women aspiring to be B&B owners?

Be true to yourself, know where your strengths are and work those to the max, but be conscious of your weaknesses and adapt your business where you can to accommodate those.  Apply the highest attention to detail that you can affordably do.  Maintain a close eye on every penny spent – even the cost of bin liners should not be overlooked.  Go that extra mile as much as you possibly can and try not to take negative reviews personally, treat them as a positive.

 

Read Part 2 – Inspiring Women Behind the Scenes at freetobook