A Chamber member since 2012, Wayne and Vicki Hill, owners of McKinney Bed and Breakfast share their business insights.
What inspired you to start your business?
As our children were growing up, we began to think about what life would look like once the kids were out of the nest. Putting 6 kids through college, we were confident that we would not be able to “retire” in the traditional sense of the word, and we knew that if we were going to have to work in our later years, we wanted to work together. Through the years, we would often get away for a night or two and stay at bed and breakfasts. Little did we know then that those romantic getaways, (along with our mutual love for hospitality, travel, and great food) would lead us to open our own B&B one day!
What services or products do you offer?
We have three guest rooms (all within our home, but separate from our private living quarters) that offer couples, groups, singles, and business guests a quiet lovely place to get away, along with an included gourmet breakfast. Our guests come from all over the world and reserve a room directly from our website.
What is unique about your business?
Our B&B is different from most because we allow our guests the opportunity to dine alone and also choose what time they would like to eat breakfast. (Most B&Bs have a set time, and all guests eat at the same time.) We also wake up extra early and prepare a customized coffee/tea tray for each room, and set it outside each guest room door so that our guests can enjoy their coffee (and a pre-breakfast treat!) in their rooms if they so desire. We also prepare a breakfast meal that is 3-4 courses, very unique, and are happy to prepare food that is dietary-specific.
How does your business give back to the community?
Wayne has served in various volunteer positions and as chairman of the board for the Heritage Guild of Collin County (Chestnut Square) in downtown McKinney. He has also served in a variety of roles, including chairman of the board, for the McKinney Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. We volunteer at the MPAC. Together, we have both been very involved with the local neighborhood associations, and make regular charitable donations to the local public and private schools and churches.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where are today?
Before we opened, one of the hardest things about opening a true B&B (vs. an AirBnB, which is NOT a bed and breakfast) was getting through the stringent requirements that the McKinney city government asked of us. There were times that we almost gave up as the policies (many outdated) were lengthy and complicated. Once we were finally up and running (Spring 2012) some of the more difficult things included managing a very busy reservation calendar, learning our demographic, finding the sweet spot for our pricing, and figuring out how much we wanted to work, as we had no idea when we dreamed of having a B&B that we would be as busy (thankfully!) as we are. Finally, learning how to juggle the myriad of duties and tasks that any small business owner encounters has proven to be challenging and often frustrating.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
Social media marketing was the biggest asset as we started our business. Vicki’s knowledge of digital marketing (and the technology that is necessary in today’s world to quickly grow a new business), allowed her to build and maintain a strong compelling website. She utilizes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to quickly draw (and continue to draw) potential customers.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
We think it is being light-hearted, gracious, offering great food, maintaining immaculate and beautiful guest rooms, and giving our guests total privacy. Our guests tell us that they love coming to a place where they know exactly what to expect and that it is our attention to detail that keeps them coming back.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Having stayed in dozens of B&Bs over the years before we opened, the innkeepers (owner-innkeepers, specifically) taught us so much about what to do and what not to do. Today, it is our guests, their kindness and gratitude, and of course, their fabulous reviews which inspire us to keep on getting better!
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
Our favorite thing about having this business is the sweet warm customers! (We have served over 4,600 guests in 5.5 years!) The least favorite thing is the constant cleaning!
Where do you see your business going in the future?
We don’t plan to make too many big changes going forward. If we were able to purchase a bigger house and have more rooms, we fear that it would change the dynamic of what we have here and now.
To what do you attribute your success?
One huge thing that we attribute our success to is making the decision to open a B&B in a great destination city like McKinney. We also believe that by building a successful customer-centered business, our online reviews have become a strong positive force in bringing happy guests our way year after year. Those satisfied guests are constantly referring new customers to us.
How are you involved in the chamber and what is the effect on your business?
Being involved in the networking opportunities in our early months was such a great source of encouragement and education for us. The veteran business owners were so encouraging and helped us to get through some of those difficult hurdles in the early days.