Like so many businesses in the hospitality industry, The Inn at Horn Point in Annapolis Maryland has been hard hit by COVID-19. Cory and Carol Bonney, owners and resident operators of the Inn at Horn Point, and their daughter Josalyn who works in the family business, are working quickly to adapt. Nav is proud to award them $2,000 — second place in Nav’s Quarterly Small Business Grant — to provide crucial funds as they pivot their business.
Their grant winnings will go toward their efforts to make their guests feel welcome and safe, and to help them as they shift services to bring in an additional source of revenue. “We’ve introduced a “Breakfast to Go” service early during COVID, and now we’ve extended to a Breakfast “INN” business to non-overnight guests,” explains Cory. “With the prize money from Nav we will purchase additional ‘2-top’ dining tables to serve our breakfast only and our in house guests. Those tables will replace the large communal dining table that guests have gathered around for the past 18 years the Inn has been in business.”
The Bonneys will also use the prize money to advertise all the COVID compliance measures they are taking to ensure the safety of guests and family. “We are going above and beyond the standard COVID measures,” they say.
Safety is something that has always been top of mind for this family business. In fact it was their daughter Josalyn’s health that was the impetus for launching their business. Cory had dreamed of starting a Bed & Breakfast closer to retirement age. But in 2000, Josalyn (then an infant) underwent successful open heart surgery. In February of that year, Cory’s management position at the hotel he was working at was eliminated. While he could have accepted another position within the company, the timing seemed right to make a change. They decided to start the B&B so one parent would always be available to provide the care Josalyn needed.
Facing Financial Challenges
Over the years, the Bonneys have used a variety of financing to maintain and grow their business. They started their business with a loan from a local bank and by tapping into retirement funds. They have also obtained a construction loan, commercial loan to finance the initial mortgage and a traditional mortgage to refinance the property. They give kudos to their local credit union which they say has been “awesome” in helping them to refinance their mortgage.
They also use credit cards in their business, and pay in full each month. It helps them separate their business and personal finances, and allows them to earn travel rewards.
The couple says they have found the Nav blog helpful in understanding COVID-19 relief loan programs. “We have enjoyed the articles and resources about PPP and EIDL and have referred back to them many times,” they say.
The Power of Community
These entrepreneurs learned about the Nav Small Business Grant from their SCORE mentor Bruce Sanders, a volunteer with the Southern Maryland chapter of SCORE. SCORE provides free mentoring for small business owners through chapters around the country, and at the national level offers a free online COVID-19 Resource Hub. As a sponsor of the SCORE Foundation, Nav is also helping entrepreneurs through its booth in SCORE’s Real Time Mentoring Hall.
Cory has also been selected for the Small Business Reopening Task Force for the City of Annapolis. He points to that as a positive result of this crisis, as he has been able to develop deeper relationships with his peers. “The small business community has a lot of talented, forward thinking individuals who lend their support to one another,” he notes.
They recommend other business owners take advantage of local resources:
“Tap into your available resources early at the City, County and State levels. Meet/join a small business group to network and share ideas within a peer group which you will be operating.”
The Bonneys say their top challenge is getting the word out to travelers about the safety measures they are taking so they’ll feel safe staying overnight at the Inn. They say they are hearing from neighbors with licensed short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) that they are booked through their summer, in large part because travelers consider STVRs safer than hotels. “We need to get the word out that we are going above and beyond COVID cleaning and social distancing, we are accountable, and we can still deliver the same exceptional hospitality service that we’ve delivered for 18 years,” they explain.
When asked what they love about running their business, the Bonneys responded:
“When our guests depart our Inn, they leave with an unparalleled experience and a stay filled with exceptional memories that we helped to create. This is extremely rewarding to us as small business owners.”
If you’re in the Annapolis area, be sure to stop by the Inn at Horn Point for a stay, or to grab breakfast. Josalyn recommends you try the Creme Brulee French Toast!
This article was originally written on June 30, 2020.