For some people buying a motel is a retirement plan. It can be an opportunity for couples to have a tree change and leave their white or blue collar worlds behind, but not for Lisa Dorman.
For Lisa, buying the Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn was not just a business venture, but a solo business adventure. Having run multiple businesses like earthmoving, cleaning and owning a motorcycle shop, Lisa’s eclectic professional experience and drive for success adds a special dynamic and energy to her motel. We said down with owner operator of the Esk Wivenhoe Motor Inn to chat about motel management and it was clear from the get go that Lisa Dorman means business.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?
I have identified two major markets for the motel. The first is the workforce (business people, labourers, engineers, traffic workers, building crews and similar) who are working in or around Esk for extended periods of time. We have attracted a lot of business from the recent work associated with the highway, local infrastructure development and dam upgrades and many of these companies and workers continue to use our motel when they are next in town for another job. The return business is a great compliment. Our second market has been generated by the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. We welcome many visitors who are cycling or walking the trail and need somewhere to rest for the night. If there’s a cycling or walking event along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, I am almost guaranteed a full house! It’s a great asset to the area.
HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR PRODUCT?
I have a website with online booking capabilities and have just started using Facebook. I have professionally printed flyers which are distributed at the Esk, Kilcoy and Fernvale Visitor Information Centres. I also rely on repeat business (especially from some of the building companies who repeatedly work in the area) and word of mouth. I have the support of a local real estate agency who will recommend my motel when they have prospective buyers travelling to town. I have also affiliated myself with a couple of travel agencies (mainly the Lido Group and FCM Travel Solutions) which increases my chances of attracting more business travellers.
WHERE DO YOU ADVERTISE AND PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?
There are a lot of paid advertising opportunities about there and my initial approach was to be involved in everything. However, as time progressed, I realised I needed to be more target specific about paid advertisements as you can rack up quite a bill! Currently, I am focussing more on my website and other marketing tools mentioned before, rather than on paid advertisement, but am open to consider any new opportunities that might come my way.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOUR PRODUCT FACES?
I don’t see this as a challenge, but more of an opportunity. I think there is a great opportunity for all tourism operators to better connect with each other and work together to increase visitation, stay and spend in Esk. I look forward to nurturing my relationships with the local pub, cafe and shop owners to see how we can support each other and build up business for everyone in town. We’ve all got something different and special to offer, so let’s just get more visitors here and make sure we’re providing them with quality service and products.
WHAT ARE YOU GOALS FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
This year my big goal is to stabilise my occupancy and promote myself as a professional accommodation facility. Running a motel is not a retirement opportunity for me, it’s a business opportunity. I want to focus on my business and offer high quality accommodation to visitors. I want to put my business out there and be the absolutely best I can be.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Wez Hone of Business Greenhouse, who specialises in teaching Christian business owners on how to build influential businesses. His philosophy on business has inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to business management and promotion, and in a way that is ethical and in keeping with my personal faith.
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN REGARDING YOUR PRODUCT?
Think outside the box. My mentor, Wez Hone uses an example about an electrician who was struggling with his business. He was getting the odd home job here and there, but wanted to break into the big ticket jobs, like government tenders and big building company jobs. However, he could never quite seem to get their attention or win the tenders, so one day he thought he’d try something different. He identified who he wanted business from and sent them a “surprise box”. In the surprise box, was a light switch and a nice little card that said “Make the switch” and on the back was his business details. He followed up with a phone call and started getting the big jobs. After he got their attention, he produced high quality work and prompt service and completely turned his business around. Just like the electrician, I am reminding and challenging myself to think outside the box when it comes to my business.
I’D LIKE YOU TO THINK BACK TO WHEN YOU WERE AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER AND YOUR PRODUCT WAS BRAND NEW… WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER, LESS EXPERIENCED SELF?
Go hard or go home. I’m a “boots and all” person. My kids joke that I should be the next Nike ambassador because I “just do it”! You need to do what you love and put your whole heart and soul into it.