I talked Bill into buying our first motel back in 2006 by telling him we would “sit behind a desk and collect money.” HAHAhaha ha ha! We took possession in November and for 2 solid weeks we didn’t speak to one another but instead just looked at each other once in awhile like deer staring into headlights. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t a chair in the office because we didn’t have time to sit down anyway. Every piece of furniture was rusty and broken, the roof leaked, the faucets leaked, the service hallway was full with everything, except anything serviceable, and to top it off, the furnace quit in the middle of a very cold night. When we finally did get the courage to talk to one another, we discovered we had both been thinking the same thing…let the bank have it and let’s run!
But we didn’t. We persevered. Living on our final pay-checks for the first three months because we had invested everything in the motel, we had to find a way to make the place pay for itself. We had two guests when we purchased, both long-term. By December 1, I gave notice to both of them to vacate. That was when Bill started talking (yelling) to me: “We have two guests and you’re throwing them out?!?” It was frightening for both of us. However, these two guests were deterring other guests from staying and once January rolled around, business started to improve.
We cleaned out every guest room (old furniture and all) , had plumbers repair the leaky faucets, repaired the leaky roof, and a few feet at a time, cleaned out the service hallway. In the evenings, we cleaned and renovated the manager’s apartment. Although the guest rooms were small, we managed to gain square feet by removing the 7 layers of wallpaper and raised the shower heads so that those of us over 3 feet tall could shower without kneeling down. When we were empty, the NO Vacancy sign wouldn’t turn off and when we were full, it wouldn’t turn on. Yes, this was our Motel Money Pit.
Every cent we made, we reinvested on new pillows, beds, bedding, curtains, and towels, and furniture. We serviced the sign, heaters and air conditioners. We scrubbed and renovated and painted inside and out. Eventually, we could afford a new roof and new phone system and a second laundry room and new WIFI and on and on!
Through all of this, we met some very wonderful people who were very good to us and through referrals our business doubled every year for the three years we owned it. After receiving several offers and because we were exhausted, we accepted an offer that would set us up for retirement…or would it? Stay tuned!