Opinion: A little bit crazy - but we’re here for the duration!

Nicky Knight
Nicky Knight

When you take that leap of faith into running and owning your own business so many people pat you on the back, applaud you for your foresight and admire your determination.

No-one actually says out right, what the hell are you letting yourself in for?

150317    Snowdrops outside the Mallyan Spout Hotel in Goathland.

150317 Snowdrops outside the Mallyan Spout Hotel in Goathland.

Then soon enough come the sleepless nights, the bags under the eyes and even the grey hairs, it’s as if you have aged ten years in just one.

Running any business is stressful but running a Hotel can at times be a living nightmare. Fourteen years ago we dragged our young family, kicking and screaming into the hospitality trade, not the life we had mapped out, more just a crazy whim. So with rose tinted glasses off we set.

First hassle and still ongoing is staffing, oh boy, this never gets any easier. To offer a high standard you have to have all staff in all areas.

That is staff who are clean, polite, trustworthy, hard working, team players, don’t depend on drink or drugs to get them through a normal eight hour day and that can actually communicate.

They assume we are all fish and chips, wear flat caps and have the wife locked up in the barn

Nicky Knight

Easy you would think, oh no. You would think if you had an interview you would at least brush your hair or even turn up, that would be a start.

Why, with everyone having a mobile phone, can some not even let you know they are not coming?

Then every now and then that one wonderful person walks through the door and genuinely restores your faith in humanity.

You thank your lucky stars, hire them there and then and threaten them with bodily harm should they ever think about leaving.

Different departments in hotels bring many different staffing problems, to work up front you have to be approachable, presentable and be everyone’s friend and at times their councellor also, which means you cannot have any problems of your own.

To work in housekeeping you have to have utmost discretion, with many shenanigans going on, what happens in housekeeping stays in housekeeping.

Then there is the kitchen, why oh why do people put themselves through that as a profession I will never know.

Your stress levels go from zero to pyscho in the matter of minutes, the customer of course is always right, but you try telling that to a chef.

But once your team of staff are in place, calmness is restored and then the true beauty of a small business comes to the forefront.

As a working boss, hands on, you lead from the front, not expecting anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself (apart from sort the cellar of course). It really is a privilege to head a hotel team that have each other’s backs.

So your staff are in place then come the customers, and what a diverse group of guests a hotel can attract, especially in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors with a steam railway running through its surroundings.

We have the walkers, the train spotters, the lovers, the adulterers, the alcoholics, the groups, the weddings, the funeral ashes scatterers and then we have the people who just don’t get North Yorkshire. They assume we are all fish and chips, wear flat caps (nothing at all wrong with flat caps) and have the wife locked up in the barn!

We take great delight in proving them wrong and even offer them a knife and fork at dinner should they so wish.

We look at it as a challenge that by the time they leave our gorgeous hotel they will be converted and that Yorkshire will be in their soul.

You literally see the stress lines disappear, the shoulders drop and the smile come through, we call it the Mallyan Magic or the Black Sheep Beer, not sure quite which has more of an effect.

This of course is without touching on the financial side of running a business where you have to have a fantastic relationship with your bank or “Personal Business Manager” because when the monies are tight as I promise you they are at times, you will need a helping hand especially when the ceiling falls in due to a leak or the old faithful boiler blows up or even when the roof needs redoing.

These are the times when you question your sanity, when you think why not convert it into a Care Home or even a kennels, or even just give it away.

But then with a level head a plan is hatched and you begin to see that it really isn’t all that bad.

That’s when me as an irrational, over emotional person who takes every thing very personal takes a back seat and my business minded husband steps in.

Why do we do it?

Because we are a little bit crazy I guess, would we do it all over again?

Of course we would, will we continue – as long as the smile stays in place, the wine stays cold and the guests keep walking through the door, the Mallyan is here for the duration.