The vacation rental industry is in for a real treat. Entrepreneur Tamara Knight keeps her vacation rental homeowners and vacationing clients happy through an innovative small business.
Knight, a client of 1-800Accountant, is the proud owner of White Linen Rental, LLC (WLR for short). Based in Marina del Rey, California, the company was formally registered in November 2013 and, after a year of preparing the blueprint, the company will be ready to launch for business in January 2015.
Knight’s company specializes in providing sheets and towels for rent to vacation rental homes and corporate housing. WLR will also service bed-and-breakfasts, luxury yachts, celebrity tour buses, and private jets, just to name a few. More specifically, she can have sheets and towels shipped directly to clients nationwide. In addition, she supplies a convenient “Welcome Starter Kit” for guests to enjoy, which includes samples of everything from paper towels to toilet paper to bath products and even light snacks.
She explains how her former career managing vacation rental properties full-time gave her the idea of starting a linen service focused on the furnished housing community.
“My company doesn’t service hotels, beauty salons, nail salons, or other types of locations like those,” she says. “That’s already been done.
“I’ve managed vacation rental homes for the past 10 years. The biggest problem was having to replace the sheets and towels. I reached out to some of the big linen companies that provide linen services to huge hotel chains. I told them I manage properties in Florida, New York, and Los Angeles. I got turned down left and right because the big linen companies didn’t want to ship their linen to so many different locations. Or even worse, some companies told me that my account was too small.”
It was this experience that ultimately led her to opening up her own linen provider.
“I told myself that I wanted to start this company because I know that there are people like me who do not live in the same city of their vacation rental home, and there is no way to handle quality control. You have to rely on your housekeepers to spot-check. What separates this business from the rest is that I am able to ship the linen at a decent rate due to the fact that I have shipping stations on each side of the country. This way, I can reach clients from coast to coast. The favorite guest standard in the country is still white sheets and towels.”
She explains what she believes will make this small business a success over time.
“I know this is a great concept because of the fact that vacation rental homeowners – especially homeowners who own vacation rental property but live elsewhere – will have the peace of mind knowing that their guests will receive fresh, crisp, ironed linens,” she says. “I also provide a service for the savvy traveler who would rather stay in a vacation rental home as opposed to a hotel. Some vacation rental homes do not provide linen. The traveler will be able to rent linen from WLR, and we will ship our linen to their destination. They don’t have to pack linens in their luggage. Plus, it will give housekeepers more time to clean and less time to worry about waiting for towels to dry.”
Handling Small Business Competition
Small business competition is never fun. But, according to Knight, she feels like she has paved a unique path in her line of work that competition is not a huge bugaboo for her.
“Most big linen companies with large warehouses serving hotels basically service a specific area of the country. They use big trucks for delivery and pickup. With my company, I’m basically servicing more of the individual or the small vacation agency. Plus, I can have linens shipped anywhere at a reasonable rate.”
Advertising a Small Business
To spread the word about White Linen Rental, LLC, Knight has a website at www.whitelinenrental.com. She has also delved into social media with pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube. In addition, she is looking to get articles published on the company in relevant publications, and she has a salesperson who will assist with marketing efforts on the ground.
Overcoming the Challenges of Owning a Business
Getting past struggles is often a big challenge for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike, especially if they’ve never owned a company before. Knight points to two big challenges – funding and working out the logistics. She had to personally fund the small business, and she had to come up with the best shipping methods that are both financially sound and make sense for everyone involved.
She offers some advice to entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting a business.
“It’s definitely hard work, so be careful what you wish for. Create a plan for yourself and stick with it, which is the hardest thing to do. You can think of every great idea under the sun. But if you don’t start it and stick with it, it will never happen.
“Also, don’t stop when you hit stumbling blocks. I’ve thought things weren’t going to work. You have to just get over those hurdles and know there are solutions to everything.”
While Knight admits that starting a business and running it over time comes with pros and cons, she firmly believes that the advantages always outweigh the disadvantages.
“The advantage is the flexibility of working from home. The disadvantage is that you really have no regular paycheck coming in like you would as an employee. I don’t get to have much of a social life, either. It’s really a 24-hour commitment.”
Knight says she has been quite satisfied with the small business accounting support she has received as a 1-800Accountant client.
“My advisors all know exactly what they’re talking about, and they’ve been very attentive and helpful,” she says.
She adds that she’d definitely recommend the national accounting firm to all entrepreneurs and individuals seeking tax guidance for a small business.
Image credit: The logo included in this blog post was provided by White Linen Rental, LLC and is used with permission.