Asheville is a bedrock Bed and Breakfast community. One can find the Queen Anne, the Arts and Crafts and the Victorian style is well represented as well. One thing they all have in common is the need for competent workers.
Jobs in a bed and breakfast run the gamut from housekeeping to cook to concierge/Asst. Innkeeper and all call for a different skill set. While there are variables regarding duties, there are basic tenets that remain the same.
Competition is in full play in Asheville. There are many properties vying for each guest. Excellence is required.
Also, most B&B’s are small businesses, not Fortune 500 companies and require that each person employed is capable of performing a variety of functions and wearing many hats. Inability to do that or lack of flexibility in this regard will result in loss of hours.
In the ten years we have owned this business we have noted some behaviors that would serve a person well in this industry:
1. Ability to listen. Sounds easy but really requires not only hearing what is said in the training but the ability to hear it, remember it and put it into play in daily duties.
2. Observation skills. Again, sounds trite. Observation is a verb and it really is. One not only needs to see how things are done, transactions of both monetary and personal encounters but one needs to be able to understand the need to repeat them effectively. For example, guests come in all types. Some guests really wish to be housed only, directing their own schedule and enjoying time with each other and some would enjoy further interaction with owners or personnel at the inn. It requires observation to see which of these each guest is and deliver that need in spades. In training there is much to be gleaned by the intelligent employee in observing what your employer does, how they handle certain situations. The ability to evaluate each situation independently keeping at the forefront the observations of what has gone before makes learning a compounded event. In so doing you are able to begin building a knowledge base for the handling of future events.
3. If any subject is a recurrent theme in training it would be a safe assumption that this is important. This is sacrosanct. For example if the words discussing such things as fire and water are repeated often in your training- it is because both of these occurrences can have extremely serious, very expensive, even potentially fatal consequences if they are not handled carefully. There is absolutely nothing, not even guest interaction, which can supersede that import. Our guests are the most important element of this business so it follows that anything that could put them in personal jeopardy (fire), or completely wreck their stay (water) is impactful .
Handle those things accordingly. Failure to turn off an oven because you were in a hurry to leave or leaving the burner on under the coffee pot or a door open is not only poor employee performance it is jeopardizing visitors to the inn.
Further, a lack of attention by employees to these matters creates in an employer a lack of trust in their judgment skills. Fatal for further advancement.
4. Attention to detail. One cannot make positive impact on anything they are incapable of noticing. Think about what the environment is saying to the guest. Make it a positive message. Think model home circumstances and environment as a good example. Clearly the intention of anyone, innkeeper or otherwise, in hiring a position is to be able to have some off time. If the knowledge that when they leave the job in employee hands their operation will be seriously compromised becomes ingrained, it does not create leisure time but worry time. It totally eradicates the purpose of the hire. Become indispensable; it creates job security and a desire to retain you as a valuable team member.
5. Discretion. Guests demand it and hence innkeepers must as well. Asheville is a small city. No guests would enjoy being at a lovely lunch only to hear from two tables away that they left their room in a mess with clothing all over the floor as the housekeeper at the inn tells her friends of her day. One would do well in knowing that anything that happens at the inn, training, finances, guest information is proprietary and is not to be discussed outside the inn. Make believe it’s Vegas!
6. Loyalty. “There are no secrets to success. Don’t waste your time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.”
It’s a job that requires a service mentality. It requires skill, caring, excellence and a desire to do a good job. It requires thoughtful contemplation, an ability to survey the environment both physical and psychological and adapt to what is there today. It requires you bring your head, your well thought out plan, your carefulness and best efforts to work every day or it is better to stay home.
Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls