Ms Schwitzer, you went into business in April 2014 intending to “reach for the stars and be awarded stars by demanding hotel critics”. How would you say you are doing so far?
Stephanie Schwitzer: We’re very happy. We have already been awarded four stars by the German hotel and restaurant association DEHOGA and we have our sights set on a Michelin star too. But what’s even more important to us is that our guests give us positive feedback, regarding both the restaurant and the hotel. My husband Cédric and his kitchen team have won over a lot of guests in a short space of time. And the recipe for this success has been quality, fresh produce, regional flair and creativity as well as fair prices.
Mr Rupp, what sets self-employed hoteliers apart?
Johannes Rupp: There’s a lot of responsibility involved in managing a family-run hotel – not only towards the guests, but also for the employees and suppliers. Trying to not only meet but also exceed their expectations is a highly varied challenge.
How important are creativity, passion and a desire to be independent in your line of work?
JR: Those are the three key criteria that you need in order to become self-employed. It also doesn’t hurt to know a bit about financial controlling, accounting and personnel management.
More than 70 per cent of the hoteliers we surveyed said that creating jobs was important to them. Would you agree?
JR: Yes, we have always wanted to be responsible for new employees and create jobs in the region. And now 80 per cent of our staff are locals.
Just under 80 per cent of the survey respondents said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find good staff. What has your experience been in this respect?
JR: It’s definitely not easy – especially for a new business. So we didn’t just present our ideas to the job candidates personally and in great detail – we also made it clear to them that we valued them as employees. For example, by drawing up the work rotas several weeks in advance. This allows the employees to arrange their private lives well in advance – something which is not always the case in the hotel industry.
Ms Schwitzer, you have said that founding a hotel is “not for the faint-hearted”. What motivates you when the going gets tough?
SS: Tough times are par for the course when you’re self-employed, and you have to bear that in mind. And at times like these, it’s the employees and guests who motivate me, because it’s their feedback that tells me whether I’m doing the right thing.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to a new business in the hotel and food service industry?
SS: What you need is a good idea, a great concept and your own philosophy. And if, on top of that, you have strong nerves and stamina, there’s not a lot standing in the way of self-employment.