From a purely business perspective, there are some things we believe we've done very well. There are other things that we have never tried to do.
While we have built a successful business with a great national reputation, we have never pursued effective ways to maximize the revenue it generates. Instead, we have balanced our personal preferences with generating "enough" income.
To understand how and why we have historically operated at less-than-optimal revenue, it may be helpful to understand a bit about the history of the B&B.
A Brief History of "The Beach House: A Bed & Breakfast by the Sea"
We became B&B owners largely by accident. When we were building the High Dunes House in 1994, we had the misfortune to engage a dishonest builder. Our original plan was to build a second home to enjoy with family and friends. Because of the actions of the builder, costs were substantially more than the price for which we had contracted. It became necessary that the house help pay for itself. Because of our involvement in getting the house finished, and because of the care we took in finishing and furnishing the house, we were unwilling to use the house as a rental property. It was important to us that we be "on site" to ensure that the house and furnishings were treated properly. We became B&B owners simply because it was the only way we could envision the house could generate significant revenue while remaining under our close supervision.
At the time, I was professor (at Georgia Tech in Atlanta) and Carol was director of an EAP program (at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, GA). Carol had built that program into a such a success that she was no longer able to focus on the "people part" of the job she enjoyed. Instead, she found herself doing administrative work and sitting in meetings with vice presidents. One day, she woke up with a new clarity: her goal was to create a situation in which "I never have to wear panty hose again".
This combination of circumstances led us to abruptly start the new B&B business. We started it from scratch and with little preparation. Neither Carol nor I had any useful background in business. In retrospect, our lack of experience was probably for the best. Why? Because it permitted us to start a new business without realizing that we were breaking every "rule of thumb" in the book. Had we known the things we "should" have known, we would have been too scared to do it. As it was, our ignorance allowed us to construct a dream and then make it real.
Our goal was not chiefly about making a profit. Rather, the primary goal was to have the property largely pay for itself. It soon did this, with revenues quickly reaching into six figures. For the first several years, I continued my work at Georgia Tech and commuted to the beach every weekend, and Carol ran the business by herself, with only occasional cleaning help. We not only closed for much of the winter, we also periodically closed down from time to time to enjoy the beach at our leisure. In the late 1990's, we purchased the other two parcels and began designing the house we would build on one of them. I left Georgia Tech and took a position closer to the coast so that I could live at the beach full-time. We built the Breezeway House in 2001-2002. With greater private living space for ourselves and two guest suites, income grew to the $140,000-$150,000 range. The mode of operation continued as before. We were not profit-oriented. Instead, we sought to provide our guests with an exceptional beach experience while keeping operations at a scale that permitted a simple family-based operation.
I decided to take a break from my career, and gave up my salary in late-2004. For 2004 and 2005, we made some very minor changes in our practices in order to increase revenue. These minor tweaks were successful, and revenues increased to the $170,000-$180,000 range, just as we expected. In 2006 we sought for the first time to increase revenue significantly. We did this by changing how we implemented one of our long-standing policies. We had always had a stated policy of a "three night minimum stay". We knew this policy inhibited income in two ways: it caused us to lose business from many (most?) couples who only have only enough time for a two-night stay, and it also caused a pattern of occupancy in which each room was booked for only 6 nights (two 3-night stays) during a 7-night week. For 2006, we maintained the "3 night minuimum stay" policy (especially for peak-season weekends) but we were more flexible about making last-minute exceptions. This single change instantly produced more improvement than we had anticipated. We had expected income to rise to the $230,000 range. In reality, income instantly rose to nearly $270,000.
While this one adjustment in our standard practices produced a tremendous increase in revenue, we still have other long-standing practices which inhibit income remain unchanged. We summarize what else we do that limits the B&B's income on the page, Information for Investors and Prospective B&B Owners
If you want to stop by and view the property, you are welcome to visit...
Please understand that we cannot accommodate unplanned drop-in visits.
Introduction to The Beach Compound