How to build sustainable and successful short-stay accommodation business – with Dino Tartaglia of Success Engineers

The Boost Hospitality Podcast is back for another season! We are now in Season 7, and we are currently on the tenth episode! In this episode, I’ve invited Dino Tartaglia into the podcast to give us a breakdown of what makes a short-stay accommodation business successful.

Dino Tartaglia talks about what makes a successful business

Dino Tartaglia of Success EngineersDino is one of those guys that I’ve had in my world for a while now part of the different Facebook groups that we’re a part of, and he is one half of the Success Engineers. Now what he has done over the year is he has been able to work with some of the most successful business owners that around, and he’s broken down the tactics and the tools that they have done to get from A to B, but just released a podcast between him and Simon is his co-founder.

And in the podcast, what they do is that they look at successful businesses like Tinder, for example. We talked about it in the podcast, how it went from an idea to now being a hugely successful business and they break down the methods and the tactics etc. In this now, for this episode I want Dino to come in, and I wanted him to share some of the successful traits, and I also wanted him to share what he sees as seen some of the biggest mistakes that he understands business owners make this is one not to miss.

What makes a successful business sustainable, and what threatens that most commonly?

So there are a lot of attributes if you like and a lot of things that we’ve seen working with successful businesses that are as big as you know, a couple of billion euros in turnover right down to what I call kitchen table entrepreneurs, people literally running their business from the kitchen table doing 5060 grand a year there’s commonality. Still, what we tend to do and probably best to talk just for a couple of seconds about Simon and me who run Success Engineers Simon is a world-class coach and sports psychology consultant, and I’m an entrepreneur and business troubleshooter.

So between us, we’ve seen an awful lot of World Class performers. And Simon, in particular, is grown those in sports, which is where a lot of our thinking comes from. So we’ve seen what it takes to be world-class, which is a sustainable performance metric, if you will, you can’t be world-class in, you know, just in fits and starts. It’s over a long period.

It’s like being a Michelin star chef; for example, that doesn’t happen overnight. And also, if you get two Michelin stars, that there’s a consistency element to that. That makes sense. So when we talk about wildly successful and sustainable businesses, we’re talking about getting your business to a level where you can maintain that quality if you like, and that robustness for the long term, if that makes sense.

Now, one of the critical things might be that I think it’s worth mentioning to the guys listening is you can’t develop a world-class and successful business like this, a world-class ethos, if you’re like thinking anything other than you’re going for excellence. However, there is a continuum. There’s a spectrum that people sit on from good enough to world-class, and it’s in my view. I know Simon says it is perfectly acceptable to adopt some of the characteristics and the insights and the understanding and the practices of world-class people and apply that to be good enough or to be excellent, which is further down the line entirely. Okay.

So I don’t want to leave you guys thinking, Oh, I don’t need world-class. That’s not who I am. That’s not the point of this.

So with that said, as a backdrop to this, there are five characteristics that we found are common to the most wildly successful businesses and modern-day entrepreneurs on the planet. And these are fundamentals. These are things that don’t go away.

So the first one is aligning your passion with a big, valuable problem that you solve. And the reason that matters is that if you’re just in it for the money, and there’s nothing else driving you generally what we tend to find happen. I’ll get to this because this is one of the other characteristics is that when the significant challenges come up, you tend to get demotivated because there’s just nothing money. Ultimately, it’s just a way of keeping score of your success, if you will, but that’s all it is, in my view.

There needs to be something more profound about this, you need to be solving a problem that matters to you, for example, so what we found with studying and working with some highly successful businesses and entrepreneurs and certainly studying some of the most successful modern-day entrepreneurs like Sean rad at Tinder, for example, or the guys like Neil Blumenthal at Warby Parker, respectable company over in the States, these sort of companies find the problem that is hugely valuable if they solve it, or if they improve on it, or if they deliver an excellent service. Still, they have to be passionate about doing that, which means that they’re interested in the user experience and what the customer gets from it.

And I think in your industry, in particular, that’s important. So if that makes some sense, if you look at, for example, because of it also kind of helps your thinking in terms of your problem-solving. And I think that’s one of the issues that we see doesn’t matter whether you’re in the short-stay business or you’re in the manufacturing business or some other services doesn’t matter. Again, these are fundamentals if you Sean rods story with Tinder, Sean Sean was tremendously shy and had a problem speaking to girls but not getting a conversation going sitting one day thinking, what is this? This whole dating thing?

How can I, you know, how do you get from your first blush if you like, you know, the first contact through to, you know, having babies getting divorced, or wherever that whole deal finishes. Yeah. And it came to that the problem that he was facing was knowing whether a girl liked him rejection was his problem at the outset. But if you got a picture if you found that he was, he was, he could get a conversation going and be listened to. And then the girl said, Well, you know what, I liked you, but there’s no chemistry or whatever, whatever the rejection was, he was okay with that.

But just not getting off the first base, if you like was a big issue. And that was it turned out one of the massive, massive issues shared by an awful lot of the world because the guys in the world and that’s what Tinder came from the idea for it. So he found that it was a vast, valuable problem. And he was passionate about applying his skills and expertise, some of which he didn’t have at that stage to solving that problem.

So we find that sustainable and successful businesses come from that there’s a passion that people don’t follow their passion. They don’t just solve a problem they bring the two together

But here’s the critical thing. It understands that everyone, a lot of other people have got that edge and they’re in it’s uncomfortable or painful, and they’ll pay to have it taken away.

For all, I talk a lot about Tinder is one of the examples that we use never been on it. I know that’s a good or a bad thing.

So the next thing is, is embracing the challenge. You guys listening may have heard the term, and as I know, you have fallen in love with the process. I’m not a great fan of that language. Sounds a bit trite and pseudo motivational. But the reality is, you’ve got to build a process that you do love.

And the message here and probably one of the big takeaways is about the shift from being a destination all to becoming directional. And I kind of think of that more like, you build a, you’re making a satellite for your business strategically that says, right, this is where I want to get to, but as with a satellite, once you programmed it in, and the Sat Nav is building the roots, which is your process to get there, you don’t start thinking about let’s say you’re going from, you’re going from Newcastle, which is where I’m a minute up in the north of England, down to London.

Yep. I’m not going to punch London and my destination and into the setting of and then start thinking as I’m driving about driving around London to get to my destination. I’m going to be following the process following the route and embracing the challenge and being directional is all about that.

What people tend to do is they focus on the outcome, they focus on the destination, they worry about all that sort of stuff, instead of being in the moment and concentrate on the process and then next step, and the next level quite often is a challenge.

And if they are in a hurry to get to the destination, and that’s where the focus is, they’re not focusing on what the challenges present and how they’re going to deal with the problem that comes up in the process, if that makes sense.

So what we find with again, with wildly successful businesses and entrepreneurs, is as they step into this world, they start developing processes that naturally create and bring up challenges and the embrace the challenge, they don’t see it as a pain in the rear that they’ve got a dispatch. It’s a problem to solve, and it’s something they embrace.

What’s the most common mistake that you see leaders and business owners that you work with are making ?

There are five what we call fatal mistakes if they’re not trapped.

The first one is obsession. And that is, nobody likes to be told that their baby’s ugly. Yeah. So if you’ve got it, you’ve got an idea that and again, this could be the itch that you’ve decided to scratch because you think you’ve got a great idea and it worked for you, and it made a difference. So you do business out of it. And the market isn’t interested or isn’t interested in the way you present it. And you get obsessed with actually pushing this because you think you’ve got a great idea and you don’t test it. That’s that way lies, madness and failure.

So being open to feedback and proper, constructive feedback. Like that says, You know what you want to look at this maybe differently or have a different perspective of different inputs. That’s the first of the five that tend to be fatal if you don’t deal with them on time.

So obsession is key not being open-minded and open to constructive feedback, shall we say about your idea?

The second is being in a hurry. We call it the need for speed. There’s this kind of modern phenomenon that I call the microwave mindset. You want to press a bloody button and how things happen. And some sometimes that there’s a cycle sale cycle, you know, customer cycle, whatever it is, doesn’t matter. Yeah. Yeah, there’s an expression you can’t be half pregnant, and you certainly can’t be Yeah, Pregnancy has a term. You know, it takes time.

You can’t just press a button and have the baby pop out. Yeah. So a successful business isn’t like things take some things to take time. Now, that doesn’t excuse you from not having a sense of urgency, but there’s a difference between having a sense of urgency and being in a hurry.

The Need for Speed generally creates an awful lot of problems because people try and force an outcome. And there’s a Newtonian law of physics that says, force creates counterforce. If you push something will push back. Yep, the smart thing to do in terms of dealing with the need for speed, and this is probably something for the guys to take note of or write down is to remove the limitations. Find out what’s limiting your speed and your growth and go after that and look at how you can remove that the block or the obstacle instead of just pushing harder.

Yeah, you wouldn’t do that in life, you probably know it has to be something physical that was pushing back. You would see it you would feel it, you would try and remove the resistance. But that’s not how people operate in business. They push harder. Yeah.

And by and by doing that, sometimes you stand back from the problem, you can actually get a better perspective and you can understand how to eliminate some of the issues so you’ll teach us a lot of Boostly in terms of attracting bookings and making salespeople will Miss things because they’re pushing harder to do something that, frankly, isn’t working, because they’re in a hurry. Yeah.

But if you’ve got a sense of urgency, but also perspective, sometimes you can get there faster by standing back and looking at the issue, cracking the issue, removing the limitation or the problem. And then that unblocks and then later you can apply some effort. And you’re going to get a lot, a lot more kind of bang for your buck.

So the third, the third thing is what Alan Greenspan, who was the chairman of the FED, called in the 90s, irrational exuberance, we call it the thrill of the chase. And that’s where something’s working well. And you go chasing it, and we saw that we are you see what sort of traders that’s what was happening in the 90s before the bubble and everything burst, because they were one dimensional, and they were chasing one thing in their business. That was they thought was going to solve everything. So for example, if the guys listening, you’re chasing sales, but they haven’t got the costs nailed down. More sales might Take them out of business, because it’s going to create a profit is your profit vacuum, if you like, or perhaps even the cash flow vacuum, which we’re going to talk about.

So it’s mindful, if you like, of the broader perspective that your business sets in and not just chasing one thing and amplifying that. That’s what the thrill of the chase is all about.

And then there are two other things to pick up. I’ll pick the last one first because we’ve just I’ve just alluded to it. And that is, we call it no spare toilet roll. It’s a situation no one wants to be in. And it just literally means running out of cash to cash flow calm.

You know, that expression that that turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity, and cash, cash is king. It’s a massive thing to take into business particularly small. You know, like the short in the short sale industry. So it’s all small businesses, where these things are the lifeblood of a successful business, frankly. So just making sure the cash continues to flow is the key,.

The final thing we call with it with a judicial nod to Wallace and Gromit we draw the wrong trousers. And that is showing up as the wrong personality or, or job type for your business, your business needs. I don’t know if any of the guys have read Michael Gerber’s email or email revisited. Yeah, curriculum.

I was very privileged to see Mike deliver that in Sydney when he launched emeth. Way, way, way back in the 90s. Great, great book. But one of the things that Michael talked about was leadership.

There are four key personalities, your successful business needs a leader, it needs an entrepreneur, she’s key, and he’s a manager take care of the day to day, and it needs and needs a technician. Guess what most people turn up as in the business. They turn up as the technician because that’s what they do and that’s what they’re comfortable with. But you know, running a team, you need leadership, and you need to be the manager.

Coming up with creative ideas and solving problems, you need to be the entrepreneur, or you need to bring that in. And most people avoid that kind of stuff like the plague, a bit like, you know, having programmed thinking trying to feel like solve problems in the business. So the wrong trousers are all about showing up as the technician doing the thing. And that’s actually in your, in the short-stay business. I saw this with a small business up in Glasgow in Scotland A while back.

And it was a couple of girls who got themselves into the habit of cleaning the property themselves when that time was more valuable than that because it allowed them to make it made them feel like they were useful. Still, they avoided things like doing the books, for example. Yeah, and you must see this a lot. That’s it. That’s a very, very small illustration, but it’s very, very common. That’s the wrong trousers. So the five kinds of key things that we see going wrong in businesses of all sizes, to be fair, that if not trapped, can take somebody out of business, or create a What I might call the lingering death, the business doesn’t die. But the owner does it just a little bit every day because the business just isn’t making enough.

How would you have put a proposition to the guests before they book and made it clear that they were getting?

I mean, certainly, my experience of there’s two bits of this. Yep. I think what I probably going to do is talk about a concept that will kind of open up the conversation a little bit at the back end of this, but a direct approach, which is looking at the processes and setting expectations, which is key because it was people aren’t sheep necessarily, they can be directed. And you can set expectations but also understand where the expectation needs to be set so that it kind of matches so I was staying in Dansk in the north of Poland, a while back, and I hired a I had a short stay for five days — cracking little play.

A little too little to bed just off the centre of the town. And it wasn’t the same, but there was a there was an issue with the boiler charging up the water and getting it hot for the shower. So in Polish and, and in English on the shower, and on the doors I came in and on the instructions, which I never read have to say, when I when I check in a short stay and was was a little notice saying, Listen, if you get in the shower, here’s what’s going to happen. Yeah.

And because I knew that I was fine with it. And yeah, maybe somebody else wouldn’t have been but in terms of my expectations. I was alright to follow that direction because I’ve been told how I stumbled across that. Yeah, I might be leaving a one-star review as well. Yeah.

So, what this leads nicely into is what we call the value equation. So for the mathematically minded amongst the listeners, what that is, is value equals benefits over cost. Yeah. And if you look at the the the mathematical relationship between benefit, divided by cost, the lower the cost is, the bigger the benefit is. And therefore, the bigger the value is, if somebody, any of us want to draw that out,

but cost us two components, and this is the bit really that I want to try and get across to the guys is, cost is not just price, but it’s also effort and effort quite often as a function of expectation. Yeah.

So there’s a, there’s a great book, actually, I mean, not probably necessary for the guys listening to go off and read because it’s a bit of a tongue, but it’s used a lot by call centres that for the old one that gets it, actually right. It works well, and it’s by the sea be chief executive board, and it’s called the effortless experience. And there’s a world-class standard for this. You can be measured out at a world-class level, just like a manufacturer occurs but in the service business.

And there’s a rating that you can get the put your world-class for the, for the experience, the effortless experience or the degree of effort that is not needed for a process for a customer. So if a customer calls into a call centre, and very few get this right, the degree of heavy lifting the customer has to do has to be reduced, so that their experience flows, and it’s frictionless.

And if that happens, then the effortless experience rating goes up, and you start to move towards world-class that makes some sense. So by setting my expectations at this place in Danskin, Poland, the guy that the host, the guy that on this place, hospitality owner, essentially moved my expectations more in line, and therefore my perception of value because the value is in the mind of the beholder, categorically. You don’t set the value, and I think this is something that we’ve seen. It’s not just hospitality. We see this in all businesses.

People talk about this a lot. People talk about delivering massive value. How the hell do you know, that’s for the customer to the side? Yeah. Now, if you’ve got an RC customer, we can, we can talk about the semantics of all that all day long. But at the end of the day, if they’re a guest, or a customer or client, they’re setting that. So it falls on us as business owners, particularly we want to become sustainably successful, and build processes and systems that deliver high standards continuously, which is key.

One of the things to do is applying the value equation is understanding what they expect — adjusting that so that you both end up with the same lens through which you see the value and the same ruler through what you measure value. So you bring them closer to you, you move closer to them if that’s necessary, and align it so that when they come to stay, they get the experience that you want for them which hopefully is brilliant, and they report accordingly on TripAdvisor.

I think I think one of the words to us is a gap. If a difference Korea is created, because of the lack of that on your part, or something that you’ve missed in terms of the customers expectations or how they have a value, they’ve got to bridge that gap to get the experience that they think they’ve paid for that they want.

And if you don’t provide if you don’t either bring that the expectations closer and the delivery closer so that there is no gap or it’s a very, very small gap. They’re going to put the effort in, and we’re back to the value equation again because if they put in more effort, their cost goes up, the benefit comes down, and the value reduces That’s what happens. It’s a cause and effect thing.

So by closing that gap in terms of what you did with the Scott the Scarborough experience by eliminating the gap, and you align that, and you just said, I think I think very beautifully about, it’s not a five-star experience. That’s not what it’s a farm state. That’s what it is.

By doing that, you their expectation might be, you know, might be over on, you know, on the far right, you bring them closer to the centre, you then make damn sure than what you deliver, delivers precisely that. But you set the expectation, you eliminate the gap. There’s no effort on their part to experience what they’re expecting. And everything goes well. And that’s a big takeaway, I think.

Dino’s Podcast

Because of the experience that we’ve got with world-class performance and understanding how sustainably successful businesses and entrepreneurs, function, whatever, whatever walk of life they come from, and how people go, particularly working with Olympic athletes, how you go from being ordinary, as is the case with many of them to be extraordinary.

And we’re kind of keen to give those insights to people and not just let them sit there like more shelf development if you will.

This is about how do you take those insights and adopt them in your business? So your business gets better? And so that you get more life from the business rather than that taking it from you, which is what happens with a lot of people. Yeah. Because people get into business to get more life generally. That’s the idea. And it isn’t. It isn’t really what goes on.

So the podcast is called Back Bedroom to Big Business. And we look at companies like Dropbox and LinkedIn, and Tinder and Slack and Doe, just really interesting one and many, many more BrewDog would be a case in point, but it started in the literally back bedroom or small garage. And then they’ve grown into something enormous.

And the question generally for us, between Simon and like, is it’s just us chatting away, but the insights we’ve got is, what was it that created that? What are the key characteristics we can pull out from a personal development point of view, character development for the individual who grew from running a business that was a few thousand, a few thousand quitters, a year in the outset, to maybe a billion-dollar business, but he goes through that transformation?

Because the lesson there is, well, who do I need to become? What do I need to understand what I need to do to run a half-million-pound business? Or a million-pound business? As opposed to a 50,000 pound or 100,000 Canadian business?

Is there a shift and understanding that you’ve got to go through, but a lot of that isn’t just business acumen, it’s you as a person, how do you develop and become somebody who meets those challenges, and, and tackles those challenges and overcomes those challenges.

So we look at the individual growth, and we look at the business growth, and we take those insights, and we try and help people on the podcast to understand how to bring that home and adopt that for themselves. So they tailor it and create their own if you like their blueprint for success.

Reach out to Dino

I run a series of clarity calls, I restrict them in a week, so I’ll do anywhere between sort of half dozen a dozen. But I’m opening that up so that the function of that mark is for anybody that’s just literally got problems in their business. I’m a; I’m an engineer by profession. So I’m a troubleshooter and the coach and a mentor, and I try and blend that up.

So the idea on the call is anybody who’s got stuff that they can’t solve in the business, and they don’t understand necessarily what the problem is coming from. So there’s a root cause causing a surface tissue.

Yeah, it might just be, you’ll do this all the time, not enough inquiries coming in and your business, you will know that the person that presents up to you probably is looking in the wrong place where they were the solution for that is because they haven’t got to the root cause it’s the same.

So it could be an individual issue could be a team issue. They’ve got a couple of three people in a team. It could be financial; it could merely be a sales focus or a marketing issue. My job on the call is not to give the solution, but to identify the root cause of the problem, and what the steps are to solving it. So that a professional can then come in and do the thing in will be a marketing issue.

I don’t do marketing, but I understand it well enough to go that’s what your problem is. Yeah. So on the call that to make this succinct on the call, we get clarity. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you focused on that? What is it you’re trying to do? What are your aspirations? What are your biggest challenges? Okay, where’s the point? Where do you think the problem is coming from let’s Look at it, let’s get a bit of clarity. That’s what the call does.


Final Remarks from Dino

Thank you. And it’s been an absolute pleasure. I hope that it has, you know, mindful of what I said about the value equation, yeah, I’m kind of hopeful that the listeners get a lot of value from this. The podcast will go into this in a lot more depth and elicit these things. But if any of the guys have got any questions about this or how they take an insight and use it in their business, I’m very open to answering that as well where I can thoroughly enjoy talking to.

Listen to the full podcast on iTunes or Anchor or visit Boostly Hospitality Podcast for the full list of episodes!

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