Liss McGowan isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. In fact, she will throw herself wholeheartedly at any challenge. In the last 12 months, Liss has taken a successful professional cleaning and backyard maintenance business and grown it into a truly holistic property management service. Managing over 60 holiday properties in the Mudgee region, Liss brings her business's success down to a few things; her hard-working and dedicated team, reputation and integrity, and maintaining a positive frame of mind.
Tell us a little bit about Bliss Stays.
Bliss Stays offers Mudgee’s largest and most diverse range of accommodation. We manage more than 60-holiday properties across the region, including rural farm stays, quaint cottages, luxe houses with pools and million-dollar views, tiny houses & more. Bliss Stays ethos is offering a “home away from home” and property for every traveller. We accommodate families, large groups, couples, and people looking for an off-grid, rural experience, anyone who just wants to get away. Our business is proudly local and hands-on, with my team managing everything for our guests, from check-in and local hot spot recommendations to cleaning and check-out. We’re a full-service accommodation manager.
How did the idea for Bliss Stays come about?
I already had a successful professional cleaning and backyard maintenance business in Mudgee, and we specialised in cleaning and caring for short-term rental properties. I had worked closely with Your Innkeeper, a local business offering short-term property management, as we cleaned many of their properties. When the owner decided to sell the business and move interstate, I jumped at the opportunity to take it over. Bliss Stays was born from there - we re-branded and re-launched the business at the end of 2022 and can now offer a truly holistic property management service. Given Mudgee’s status as Australia’s Top Tourist town for the last two years, it has become an increasingly popular place to visit. I knew it was a fairly solid investment.
What have you enjoyed most about starting and running your own business?
I’ve always thrived on being busy and trying new things, so starting my own business allowed me to chase my dreams and have the flexibility to raise my boys. I love being my own boss, throwing myself into my work, and watching the business grow and the freedom it gives you.
I enjoy the day-to-day challenges and pace of moving multiple arms of the business. In establishing Bliss Stays I have had to teach myself new skills, including running a new booking platform and tourism marketing. I’ve thrown myself into it wholeheartedly and love the feeling of nailing a new skill - it’s never too late to learn new things!
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your business journey?
Establishing ourselves in-market was the biggest challenge. We had to build our reputation and client base from scratch, which took hard work and dedication.
I’m also a perfectionist, always striving to deliver and exceed expectations, which can be challenging. On top of that, trying to build a business with small children was tricky.
How has the business shifted over time?
It’s grown beyond my wildest dreams! I started Bliss Professional Cleaning with a Facebook post and some cleaning chemicals in our home garage in 2020. We soon saw the demand for lawn mowing, so my husband started Bliss Backyards Mudgee. We now have a team of 25 people (and growing!) and a head office and warehouse space in Mudgee’s industrial area.
While we still have some loyal domestic cleaning clients, we’re now moving away from being a commercial, residential cleaning/ lawn mowing company to specialising in short-term rental cleaning and property management
I started as an ABN holder, cleaning nine to three and doing administration work at night. The business grew rapidly, which ultimately led to ‘The Bliss Group’ being found. Since then, I’ve moved into a director role which allows me to do a lot more work on the business than in it, which I thoroughly enjoy.
How do you build a thriving customer base?
Reputation and integrity. From the start, we’ve established ourselves as efficient and professional, with a meticulous eye for detail. People have always commented on our high-quality service and the professionalism of our team. Through this positive word-of-mouth, our customer base grew. We’ve always been open to adopting and trying new things - we’ve digitised operations to streamline bookings for customers and staff, met the tourism demand by moving into AirBnb cleaning and management, and invested in marketing to continue to build the business.
Women have long represented the archetype of the ‘juggler.’ How do you balance work & life/Mum responsibilities?
It’s a challenge! I struggle to turn my brain off as I always have new ideas, but I try to carve out solid time exclusively for my family. I’m also passionate about fitness and consciously make the time to exercise and have that time for myself.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
Success is all in the mindset. Someone once told me that business is like a game of snakes and ladders - sometimes, you’ll get a ladder and climb up, and other times, you’ll have to step back. But if you have the right mindset, you can’t fail. When faced with challenges, I try to keep a positive attitude. When faced with negative issues, I see it as a lesson learnt and an opportunity to improve and grow. Always have a positive outlook and focus on continually manifesting your dreams and goals.
Do you have a woman leader as a mentor, or are there specific women who inspired you and why?
I am inspired every day by the incredible women on my team. Of our Bliss crew of 26, 24 team members are women, and 20 are working mums. As a fellow working mum, I get the juggle, so I’ve always offered our staff school working hours, so they can do pick-up and drop-off and manage after-school activities. All these women are amazing - they are hard-working, dedicated, and efficient at Bliss, and then they go into instant “mum mode” and are just amazing parents. Seeing them successfully juggle work, kids, and life inspires me to chase my goals.
What’s on the horizon for The Bliss Group in 2023?
2023 is going to be another big year for Bliss! I’m excited about developing the Bliss Stays business this year. We’re continuing to add new properties to our stable, and we’ve just launched a digital guest guide, which is exciting. I’m looking to enhance our in-house offerings this year with private wine tastings, breakfast boxes, and catering as part of an overall Bliss Stay and to collaborate with local businesses to build a holistic travel experience for our guests visiting the Mudgee region. Watch this space!
Location: MUDGEE | NSW
Facebook: Bliss Stays Mudgee