The five year plan

It’s good to have a goal! The hard part is how to go about achieving it.

When a new owner takes over the operation of a motel, the goal in terms of tenure is generally always, “a five year plan”. The next step is then onwards and upwards, to sell and move on to a bigger/better motel opportunity.

The statistics tell us that the average length of tenure for the operation a motel is approximately three years. Therefore it would seem that the majority of goals in this situation are not being achieved. The question is why? There can be many reasons for this however one stand out reason for mine is how the motel owner/operator apportions their time.

If one is trying to achieve a goal, obviously a plan has to be in place on how to achieve this. The role of the operator needs to be considered, on the basis of how one will apportion not only their working life but everything else. This all revolves around avoiding falling into the old trap of not only working in the business but on the business as well. One needs to consider that trying fulfil the roles of everything and everyone within the business will not result in achieving the goal.

Another goal most business operators have is trying to conserve costs and run a business as efficiently as possible. This unfortunately comes up against other goals such as a five year plan. It is a tough call because the line between doing a job yourself and delegating to an employee is a hard one. The fact is that motels are a seven-day-a-week operation and an operator cannot work all day every day. Something in the end will have to give, and often this is a rash decision to sell before the original goal is reached.

Burn out is often the main reason the five year plan ends up being reduced to an average time frame of three years before selling and moving on. When a motel owner/manager is attempting to do all roles within the business inevitably they get burnt out and look to sell the motel. In many cases this ends up in selling the motel at a lower value than could have been achieved had they been able to see their original plan through to fruition. A typical example is when a new owner takes over, spends a large sum on capital improvements or refurbishments and sells out short of their planned time frame, prior to realising the full benefits of their investment.

Effectively delegating some roles within a motel is important, whether it be management, reception, accounts, cleaning, meal preparation, etc. If an operator can free up some of their time by allowing employees to handle certain roles, this will assist in freeing up time for the operator to work on improving the business or taking time out to recharge the batteries. Some of the happiest and most successful motel owners/operators I have seen over the years are those who take one or two days out each week to get away from the motel (or place of business).

One example is a couple who have owned and operated the same motel for the last 14 years. They raised their kids at the motel and have a lot of great memories throughout the years. They realised many years ago that they could not be held ransom by the business and time out each week was the way to achieve this. In order to achieve this they needed to employ a person to manage the motel for them two days a week which, they say, has been a large part of them never being under pressure to sell the motel or having the desire to move on.

Delegating jobs or just taking some time off each week or month, may cost a little more in wages, but in the long run it may be a cost that will be recouped at the end of the five year plan.

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