RYNE HOFFART CASE STUDY
Why Should Renovation = Exasperation?
Corn sweat. What is it, and what does it have to do with hotel renovations?
While it’s not a common term for many people in North America, for people like Ryne Hoffart, it can add up to a big hot mess sometimes.
Ryne is the District Manager of the Comfort Inn of Sioux City, Iowa, and corn sweat – the high humidity conditions of an Iowa summer that can send the heat index to well over 100 degrees – is just one of headaches to think about as he undergoes a major renovation of his property.
Time to Renovate
The Comfort Inn of Sioux City is a 69-unit property that runs at 85-90+% capacity year-round. It was purchased in July 2019 in a state of considerable neglect.
“I didn’t enjoy renting to guests those first few months,” Ryne says openly. Some of the units didn’t even have functioning fridges and microwaves, so that was job one to get fixed. But that was the easy part.
Ryne knew immediately going in that the standards set by Choice Hotels (which operates the Comfort Hotels brand) would not allow for the status quo at this hotel, so he and his team quickly set in motion a renovation plan.
But with so much to do to bring the property up to the right standards, where should they start?
Luckily, Ryne remembered a meeting with a representative from Contract Partners of North America (CPNA) at a conference in Las Vegas a year earlier (also proving that it is possible to remember something from a weekend in Vegas). Ryne had been planning to re-do another property even before the Sioux City acquisition, so at the conference he had an eye out for service providers of all kinds. A procurement company like CPNA definitely got his attention.
CPNA, with their team of highly experienced project managers, is well-suited to handle situations exactly like the one Ryne was facing in Sioux City. Needing to renovate virtually every aspect of a hotel or motel property is a huge undertaking, and it’s often much better suited to a specialist company instead of a property owner or district manager – they’ve got their hands full already with the day-to-day running of their business. Juggling all the aspects of a renovation is not the best use of their time.
Because Ryne had enjoyed dealing with CPNA’s Elaine Gordon on their first renovation together, he called the company very soon after the acquisition of the Comfort Inn. Accessibility to expert advice from a trusted partner was crucial, with so many decisions to be made – from wallpaper to flooring to light fixtures and more.
“It has been difficult,” says Ryne of the current project – although with his energy and enthusiasm, he hides his difficulties very well from an outside observer.
Asked to list some of the main challenges during this renovation, Ryne had a few in mind right away.
“Employment – getting people like laborers to help out when we need them” as Ryne puts it, is a constant headache during many renovations. Delays in getting a carpet laid or having electrical work done can set back a project by weeks or months, and this impacts the bottom line for anyone. Rooms need to be up and running.
Speaking of rooms, there’s the issue of noise and mess. Ryne and his team need to go to great lengths to make sure the renovation work doesn’t impact guests currently staying at his property. He and his team have learned to become logistics experts, shutting down 8-15 rooms at a time in a strategic location in order to minimize the impact on visitors.
As any property owner can sympathize, there were also the unavoidable and unwelcome hidden surprises that added to the stress. Simple wallpaper replacement, for example, became a much bigger chore as much of the sheetrock came down with the old wall covering. This is where experience helps: “Her ability to keep me calm” at moments like this were a great plus for Ryne, as he spoke about his trusted CPNA contact.
Learning Every Day
For this project, Ryne is learning from Elaine and CPNA, with their ability to deal with virtually every headache whenever he picks up the phone. He’s also learning the hard way through sheer experience – how to plan better, when it comes to areas like parking and scheduling laborers.
“Every small item she’s taken off my shoulders feels like a boulder,” says Ryne. “If it was just up to CPNA, we’d be done already! They’ve made my life so much easier.”
Ryne is part of an ownership group with nine properties spanning several brands, and he has various renovation projects coming up over the next several years. When it comes to who he’ll work with on those plans, he adds: “As far as CPNA goes, there’s nobody else I’m going to go to.”
The overall takeaway?
With the right partner to help with any renovation project, not every detail or challenge needs to make a property owner sweat.