hmmmm..... Do I want to become a B&B owner?

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11/18/2011

Considering a B&B.  This is the very beginning of the process.

 What questions should I ask and who should I ask them to?  What are the pros and cons of owning a B&B?  Why did you choose this profession?  Are you happy with your choice?  What did you not see coming?  What surprised you the most?  Best tips?   How to chose a location?  What education/experience would prepare me the best?  Start-up costs?  Average expected income?

 

Thank you so much!

 

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Joined:
11/18/2011

Wow!  You guys are awesome!  What fast and detailed responses.  I am currently in need of a career change.  However, I am gainfully employeed and do have plenty of time to make a switch.  I need to be prepared in no more than 10 years. (I can retire then but if I could make a change sooner, I'd LOVE that.) Plenty of time to go back to school or work  in this field to gain real knowledge and accumulate cash. There are 2 B&B in my town I was thinking of asking of doing an internship. Joey- I am thinking of owning  and operating, so I geuss Innkeeper.  What is the difference between income and revenue?  (can we really live on this)  Madeline, you asked why I'm drawn to this profession.  I have been searching what I want to do instead of my current career, which if very depressing.  I deal with the 'sludge of society'.  I think (hope) people who travel are very different than the people I currently deal with.  -however if they are not, I'll deal with them on a shorter term basis. It also combines all of my loves, decorating, gardening, cooking, entertaining, cleaning (granted bottom of the list, but I can do it). I'd love to do weddings.  (I have some experience.... loved it!) There is also some potential health problems for my husband, and I want to be able to be close to him.  He is a very talented artist and would be able to provide the social media, web design, photography, art and book-keeping. I would do all the physical labor.

Like I say, I've got time to plan and I'm just beginning this thought process, but I'm really excited about it and I keep thinking of all these ideas.  Thanks for helping me sort out these thoughts.

 

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05/30/2008

Red Flag Alert - You said, "There is also some potential health problems for my husband, and I want to be able to be close to him."  With a B&B you are on basically 24/7, you need to consider how you will deal with these health issues if you have guests in the house or guests coming in.  Also, if you are providing all the physical labor, who will fill in for you? 
Ask anyone on this forum, owning & running a B&B is hard work.  Just things for you to think about....

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Samster wrote:

Red Flag Alert - You said, "There is also some potential health problems for my husband, and I want to be able to be close to him."  With a B&B you are on basically 24/7, you need to consider how you will deal with these health issues if you have guests in the house or guests coming in.  Also, if you are providing all the physical labor, who will fill in for you? 
Ask anyone on this forum, owning & running a B&B is hard work.  Just things for you to think about....

You have that right! In 2007 I went through a 7 week time slot w/DH having a 6-way bypass and then rehab. It was timed perfectly for me to have a revolving door of guests, an Aspiring Innkeeper Workshop gig, and a Conference out-of-town that I had agreed to staff a table. I kept ALL of my commitments and only missed visiting him 2 days BUT I did not notice the grass was up to midcalf. The lady who worked at the plumbers and walked past every day going to the bank DID notice and came over with her granddaughter to cut my grass. I was totally exhausted. It was in the middle of a heat wave and I went into meltdown when I was told I had 2 days to get a ramp built because he was coming home. I would not wish that on anyone. My nearest kid is 600 miles away and I just kept moving and did not realize how close I was to meltdown. His first day home was a snarl match as he transitioned from nurses at this elbow and I came down from high alert. Then guests slacked off and we got back to normal.

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08/12/2009

Doing innkeeping went on my possibilities list soon after I started staying in them, in early 1980's Britain.  The home based aspect of the business appealed. And as a tourist, what a great way to get a local person's viewpoint on actually living in the area that a visitor will only experience for a day or two.

Flash forward 20 years later to working for a company that just ditched their defined benefit retirement plan.  As a 40 something, it was time to alter the long range plan.  Married now, we knew we wanted to 'retire' to a rural area.  If you can locate in a destination area, you will be a leg up.  We did not.  We did know that given our budget, that a reasonable goal would be to make the future B&B pay its own way.  Our goal is to have the business pay the operation costs: water, sewer, electric....,also the taxes and the insurance costs for the home and business.  We've been in it for four years now, and are nearly there.

We spent several years of enjoyable road trips looking for a property we could afford, that could be re-habbed for B&B.  Once we found it, the road trips ended and the work began.  In 1999, we found a distressed property on the water, with a dock, in a historic district, with off street parking, in an area with no zoning restrictions.  The house (and another next door) was subject to flooding and little had been done to it since it was constructed in the 1890s.  We had construction and remodel experience from earlier domiciles, so were able to assess that yes, we could rehab this.  But my husband has experience with heavy construction, plumbing, wiring, understands building construction methods and terminology, and has become a pretty good finish carpenter.  We also live in an area blessed with a building inspection deparment that is helpful. 

The house could not be financed with a conventional loan.  But we had built a relationship with a loan officer at a small commercial bank who could make some loans by his own authority. 

Timing was on our side.  During our years of do it yourself rehab, property prices were also rising.  As we made improvements, we could borrow against the value we had built up.  We paid as we went as much as possible.  When we were finished, we were left with $100,000.00 in debt. We have since paid that off.

We have a two room B&B, with another room that magically appears when needed.  This past year we added a vacation rental apartment next door (no waiting up.  no making breakfast).  It's all very small scale.  But it works.  I have to stress that we have another business and that I still work part time (now at a place that I love)

So that's what it can be like on the lower end of the scale.  We've not yet had a problem guest. I spent enough early years in public contact service employment that I can honestly say I enjoy the service aspect of this business.  Yes you do all the skivvy work.  But you do it at home.  You get to actually live in the place where others visit. 

Best wishes to you.

 

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Congratulations! It is wonderful you are doing well - but you planned it that way. And worked at it!

We were also fortunate to find a house we could live in while the necessary things were upgraded. AND were able to get it at a good price - timing is everything, October a year after the coldest winter in ages with pipes bursting has a great affect on sale price). My reason for doing B & B is similar - staying in one. My feeling is that you have to live somewhere so you can have your own business without an extra storefront, utilities, etc. And if the B & B pays the expenses of the house I am happy.

I started out with no mortgage - by the time we opened the B & B, the house we had refininced for the cash for this house had sold. My only regret is that I did not fight harder sooner with DH to finance a second bathroom upstairs. By the time he finally agreed, it was AFTER Katrina and costs had exploded. THAT loan put me in straights. Getting old enough for SS AND the added business because we have a private bath  has helped a lot. I market up the wazoo because I am not in a "destination", I have made us a destination of sorts, but still trying to make it better.

Things that do not help are things you have no control over - such as a broken rail-trail for 2 seasons and now they are getting ready to replace our bridge across the river and that will shut down my end of the trail for up to a couple years. That is going to make things interesting.

Because I want my B & B to stay a B & B for as long as possible (My city NEEDS a B & B), when I sell, it will be for the price of the house and the turnkey is thrown in. I want them to thrive and not be buried with debt.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

 What is the difference between income and revenue?  (can we really live on this) 

Income is your money that you get to keep and spend. Revenue is what comes in from the guests to pay the utilites, food costs, taxes, expenses of the business, marketing, web site, linens, etc AND IF there is anything left, (smirk-smirk) a salary forthe innkeeper. Not in my 15 years though.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

gillumhouse wrote:

 What is the difference between income and revenue?  (can we really live on this) 

Income is your money that you get to keep and spend. Revenue is what comes in from the guests to pay the utilites, food costs, taxes, expenses of the business, marketing, web site, linens, etc AND IF there is anything left, (smirk-smirk) a salary forthe innkeeper. Not in my 15 years though.

Some things you do, not for the income it generates now, but for the resale value you're building for the future, as the business (your home) slowly helps pay for itself. Of course, even in a good economy, selling a B&B is often not quick or easy. Many have been on the market for years without even an offer to buy. Many are sold at a loss if they sell at all.

On the other hand, some sell more quickly and for a profit. Like so many things, it depends on the luck to find the right buyer, in the right mood, at the right time. Are you feeling lucky?

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

You do need to do all of the things you mentioned and you seem to have seen the worst society has to offer, so this might just work out for you!  However, nicely-dressed, well-spoken people can be just as bad as the worst you've seen. They get drunk, they slap the spouse around, they break furniture and they curse you when you tell them to pack up and get out. And they're in your home when they do it. Kind of a double whammy. It taints not only your workspace but your home.

Bringing up weddings...have you considered being a wedding planner? NOT an innkeeper, just a wedding planner?

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Joined:
05/30/2008

Great questions as you're starting to explore this profession.

I'll answer the question "What did you not see coming?"  I did not see having to do the vast majority of work on my own, having to deal with every detail of the business pretty much on my own for too many hours a day, and therefore, not being able to deal with more and more occupancy and the associated demands of the business by myself day in and day out.  And I am in a 36 year marriage with pretty good communication!  I closed my business after 2 years to save my marriage and my health. 

Make sure that if you have a partner in this journey that all responsibilities for each person are clearly spelled out, understood, and that each partner is up to the task of a demanding business and will continue to pull their weight in it.  This is your business and its success depends on you.  And, that each partner will discuss what might need to change as the business evolves.   If you are going to be on your own, make sure that you know all the work and personal investment that's involved.

Don't be discouraged if this might be your passion, just know what you're in for.  Oh, and have plenty of money.....
 

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Joined:
10/07/2008

Welcome to the forum

#1 $$

#2 there is no income. there is revenue.

PS Your subject line is "Do I want to become a B&B Owner?" Do you mean innkeeper? or own an inn, there are plenty who own them and do not operate them.

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Why are you consdiering a B&B? What is drawing you to think you want to do this? Where do you want to live?

If you're in the States there are a lot of classes you can go to to help you sort out whether this is right for you or not. It could be something you put on a back burner until later, could be you're ready right now.

Where to look for a B&B depends on where you want to live. Given there are B&B's almost everywhere, you might as well live where you want.

We spend a lot of time here griping because when things are going well no one needs help. It's when things are not going well that we need a lot of ideas for how to make things better.

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

1- read anything and everything you can get  your hands on.

2- don't count on a "destination B&B" being successful they can be and I'm  not knocking them but a B&B with a built in tourist trade is a heck of a lot easier

3- have as much money as you can put by I don't care even if it looks like a turnkey which needs nothing doing - there will be and it will be when you least expect it.

4-learn everything you can about social media marketing and web sites even if you hire someone to do your internet stuff you need to know enough to know if you are being ripped off.

5- do an internship if you can to see if you really want to do it.

5- read http://guestssuck.com/ but remember these are very rare occurances but could you cope with them?

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11/18/2011

This Guestssuck.com is hilarious.  I love the writing.  They deal with it with grace, humor and internal sarcasim.  I love it!!

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