Would you do it again?

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01/19/2012

Hi all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this forum.  As an aspiring innkeeper, the information I've learned by reading this forum is so valuable to me.  For those current/former inn owners...I'm wondering...if you had it all to do over (buying an inn, that is) would you do it? What what the biggest surprise in your journey?

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01/12/2012

What a great question! To do it allover again...

As a business, its definitely a yes from me provided you are able to make a living or a decent profit. You are your own boss. Work at home (save gas + time). Every extra hour that you work goes back to your pocket. You manage your own time (my partner takes a nap every afternoon). You get to meet some wonderful people from all over the world. It's definitely better than a regular pay 9 - 5 job. Not to mention tax write-offs.

But the problem is that it wears you out eventually just like any other jobs. Sometimes i found myself so tired that i would try not to go into common space so that i can avoid guests' questions (lets hope our guests are not reading this). So you will need to hire help. And the ultimate question is: do i want to let someone else make the money sitting at the front desk or should i work more? So for the customer service part, i am not sure if i would be able to do it all over again.

birdwatcher's picture
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02/22/2009

Welcome- this forum is a lifesaver!

No regrets here-we went from owning (loosing it because of the economy and other personal reasons) to being employed by an Inn. If I had to do it over again I would most definantely do more reasearch ON THE AREA that the B & B is and HOW LONG it will take to actually make $$ (which BTW is not much most of the time) in the long run of the business. There are pluses in owning one but there are minuses as well-Owning one you gotta worry about making the bills, being employed by one you just gotta make sure that you please your guests and keep the place running, the finance part and the $$ going into it is up to the owner. We are now at our second assignment and its a nice area and a smaller B & B- do I wanna go home? YES, would I go home if I could find a job that would sustain us? YES. I pray daily that someday the job market will open and we can pack up and go back home to half the B&B that we didnt loose. We could still return it to a B & B with only three to four rooms-but by then we may be burned out.

We get to live in a beautiful house have a wonderful boss and do the job that we were meant to do-take care of guests and still enjoy it-once we feel that we could not stand to look at anyone coming through that door and that we dont even want to serve anything and are unhappy doing this-thats the time TO LEAVE and go elsewere or do something else.

As Samster said-make sure your partner has the same passion and that he/she is willing to go the long haul, cause Innkeeping is not for Wimps-trust me on this one-you are 24/7 ON CALL-even if you have no guests you gotta think of what needs done, cleaned, fixed, ironed, painted, etc-its not all ROSES trust me on that-and if you plan to have children in the future-like everyone said its easier to get INTO innkeeping then get OUT of it...

Good luck!

 

birdwatcher's picture
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02/22/2009

 double entry-sorry 

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04/21/2010

We need a Marie. Eye-wink Well the deal was, I would write checks. I have done this and a bit more thanks to you guys.

He was going to get it open and run it. The idea was he was to be the innkeeper and hire help on cleaning and breakfast. That has expanded to now we have a people who do all the cleaning and breakfast. He shows up at the end of breakfast sometimes. He says that he meets less then half of our guests. I am trying to stay positive so we will see at our meeting this week as to how we are doing.

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04/21/2010

I have to agree with the getting out statement. Just to refresh, I am a silent partner in a B&B. Probably not as silent as my partner would like hahahah. But one thing I did not get right away is that, you either have a passion for this or you don't. My partner is burned out. Luckily he knows how to do this but he lacks a little of the fire. So far this has only effected our bottom line. But soon we will need to exit versus want to exit, then the true cost will show. Even with a big dsicount will we be able to find a buyer? Will the market ever recover?

So now we have money tied up that is not making money. How long do you do this as an investment? Do we change the partnership to get a different working partner?

These are very common problems in any partnership. A B&B does magnify them as they are very hard to sell.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

So, in your face to face find out why your partner is burned out. Hiring everything out so he doesn't have to have any interface with guests is counterproductive (which you know). But there's a reason this happened. Get to the bottom of that and you may find a way to help him regain the passion.

 

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05/22/2008

It's tough when the innkeeper is suffering from burnout. I know the feeling. It was 5 years ago when it started for me. Thankfully we did not depend on it for our income/living and we have no mortgage so we just closed and stayed in the house we love. We are fortunate for that we planned if this would happen before we even bought the place. We would love to sell and get a smaller home, but it is not in the cards right now. We will not give this place away. We can stay here indefinitely if we want, but as we age, there will be less and less we can do. The yardwork being the main concern. We are updating and painting, refreshing everything we can this winter in the hopes that the market will turn around sometime in the near future and then we can sell.

Try to be as supportive as you can to your partner. It is tough all the way round. Maybe taking a break might help him. Can you pitch in any? or does he want you to? Not much is selling these days unless you have a very profitable place in a great location, or you just want to sell as a house and not a business, and that depends on where you are as well. 

As they say, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and I think this is true right now. We all just have to hang in and hope for the best. Good luck.

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04/21/2010

Well, so far it has not been discussed. I have noticed that we are hirering everything out. He is attempting to limit his contact with the customer. I recognise the signs. Our most recent hiring issue was to find someone to do checkins on Fri Sat and sun from 4-7. Well I think we can all agree that this is the core of the innkeeper job. The song and dance at checkin and breakfast are a big part of the "show" of a B&B. So far we getting good people and continue to get good reviews but I think over time it will hurt us.

So far we are throwing money at the issue. Not a good long term solution. So I am setting up a face to face. It might help if we have listing date and start to dicsuss when are we actually selling etc. Nail down a reasonable price and start to collect data for prospecitive buyers. Maybe realising we are entering the endgame will help.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Perhaps if selling is not an option, hiring innkeepers would be a way to protect your investment. You could perhaps have it set up with "option to buy" if they were hoping to own. If you are hiring everything out at this point, it may be less expensive in the long run to hire innkeepers. Then if things pick up, selling may be more of an option.

As for the economy, even being closed for almost 6 weeks (including Memorial Day weekend), 2011 revenue was up. I had NO business in January 2011 but January 2012 has been quite nice. It bodes well for the year. (I hope)

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10/18/2008

Todd, I feel for you, and from someone that had to keep putting every cent that I made back into the business, including the income from my 2nd job, I wish at this point that I had "seen the light more clearly" and had got out earlier. It's tough. You keep thinking it will get better. You don't want to stop investing because you need to keep your property up and you need to keep up with supplies and food and like you but being on my own, I had to pay for a lot of things that I could not do on my own. At this point for people that are in this situation may want to at least try to get what they owe even if you walk away with nothing - better than bankruptcy, foreclosure or even deed in Lieu. I had perfect credit and am now starting again, hopefully getting away with a deed in lieu but even that affects my credit which is already messed up anway.

Sadly this economy is NOT getting any better in 2012 so do what you think is best.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

agoodman wrote:

Sadly this economy is NOT getting any better in 2012...

What are you basing that on?

  • Unemployment is the lowest it has been in years and continues a downward trend it started in 2009.
  • Bloomberg news says, "The index of U.S. leading indicators climbed more than forecast in November, a sign that the world’s largest economy will keep growing in early 2012."
  • Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2011

Granted, the economy is not taking off like a house on fire, but the economy IS getting better, has been for months, and leading trends show it will continue. I think it's a good time to get on board, while interest rates are still at all-time lows and the indicators are pointing at upward growth.

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All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep hotel. ~ Mark Twain

 

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10/18/2008

Oh my are you really believing those unemployment numbers? Don't forget

1. All those people that have surpassed their benefits are no longer being counted

2. December saw a decrease in numbers because of temporary Christmas hiring, this has been stated over and over again.

3. The prior year 2010 unemployment numbers were played with by using the thousands and thousands of census workers who were hired for a fixed # of weeks contracted (that reduced the numbers) then they let them go at end of contract (which was NOT counted because they were temps) then those same people were rehired for another fixed term period and "counted" again .. I know. Several friends of mine were hired 3... 4 .... 5 .... 6 times.

Many banks have now corrected those "errors" that they were making on home foreclosures. While they fixed them, those houses were not foreclosed on and in 2012 many of those will now be foreclosed.

Don't for a moment think the mess in Europe is not going to affect the U.S.

As for GDP take into account inflation and govt distortions, we really are not "increasing" at all .... http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/gross-domestic-product-charts

How many people that you know of are planning on spending the same (at least) or more on luxuries such as vacations? And yes, they are a luxury or a "treat" for many and NOT a necessity.

The issue is this - I don't know that many B&B's are expecting their business to be better. Everyone is HOPING it will be but truth be told it will probably not be. So I and some others were answering the question - would you do it again - and as I stated - at THIS TIME with the economy the way it is, and with the predictions the way they are, I personally would NOT do it again.

 

Breakfast Diva's picture
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05/26/2009

I know that you're hurting right now with the loss of your b&b, but for a lot of us and I would say most of us, things are better. Of course it depends on where your location is and the time/money spent into marketing. Personally, our business was up 20% last year after being down 10% the year before. I'm hearing from innkeepers all over my state that things are doing better for them.

I think it's a great time to buy if you have some money to invest, because there are so many inns on the market at great prices. Still, it's a bit of a challenge to get funding, but it's better. If you can find a great place in a great area, at a great price and you do your due dilagence, go for it.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

I don't think anyone was trying to suggest you couldn't have an opinion, but tossing out blanket statements on how bad it's going to be does warrant some reflection. We have seen (and many others) the economy beginning to improve. We have seen people spending more on extras, upgrading, staying longer, and feeling better. Is it still a challenging time? Certainly. Just the same, there is an air of improving times and the sense that people are adjusting to the changes to our economy. To say we are all just hoping things improve is a bit glum given that we are reporting tangible improvement.

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Also, I believe in the POWER of positive thinking. By that I mean self-fulfilling results as in if you go out expecting to have a miserable time - you will. I belive things will get better as people start BELIEVING things are getting better. We make things better ourselves when we believe in it

One thing FDR had right was this - The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.

People stopped travelling, not  because they had no job, but because they FEARED they would have no job due to what they were hearing in the news. The years my business went down were the 2 years the rail-trail was broken. It got fixed and business was back to being flat. The news is now saying we are in recovery and people are back to believing. Just MNVHO

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

We had our best year ever in 2011 in re $$$. Lower occupancy, more money. Looking forward to a better year this year.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

A favorite thing- work less make more. We have friends that went in the opposite direction- heads in beds - and I think if we had gone down that road- we would be burned out long ago.

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05/22/2008

 Most of my friend innkeepers have had good to great business in 2011

Our local tourism is up by about 10% the last I heard a report and most business people I talk zto in our town have really been pleased with their business.

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

My neighbour had this problem mind you feel he was asking for trouble from when he started out.

(1) mistake number 1 was buy a 12 bed B&B between 2 couples in equal part but with one couple living in. Couple number 2 lived elsewhere and were supposed to chip in and help. Chipping in and helping was never legaly defined and dropped off dramatically as things went along. It should have been defined in writing what was expected from the start ie 2 days a week to give others a day off or whatever.

(2) couple number 1 ie full timers eventually after much legal wrangling bought out couple number 2. not a mistake but should have set down an exit strategy for this scenario which they didn't and made it very expensive.

(3) did very little renovation and reputation locally was as a dump.

(4) not a mistake but not what I would have done - property was made up of 2 halves so sold off one half to my friend Alex who made it into a stand alone B&B very high quality and gutted it from top to bottom and managed to get 8 big bedrooms out of it but no owners accom as they live off site so if you wanted to live in you would loose rooms.

(5) then basically gave up the ghost would send an email round on a saturday morning saying he had rooms you would ring up to say you had a walk in looking for a room and he would be in london well why bother saying you have avaliability plus you can't be too keen to get bookings!

finally got it sold to a lady called Marie who wanted a full on project and she has done an amazing job with it you would never know it was the same building!

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03/11/2009

Yes, a great plan for my future . Like Riki Ive done my B&B /Cottages in stages. Now 9 yrs later Iam retired from my full time job & done with improvements. 3 B&B cottages, a hot tub sun room & 14X36 event barn for guest all on 3/4 acre lot in town .
Got a good restaurant 1/2 block away on Main St and in mid Shenansoah Valley w/wineries (3)within 1/2 mile to 18.

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Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Absolutely. It is a great lifestyle.

My heart goes out to those that have run into the challenges of a severe economic downturn.

In many ways, we were fortunate to hit the ground during a time of easy money. We were also fortunate that we heavily underestimated what we could do and built our business around those numbers. We also have built a safety net that could help us in case of a major emergency.

I have come to believe that we are not in the majority in our approach. We are enjoying a lifestyle, and that is more important than making money.

A thought.... build your life into your business plan and make sure your are paying for it through the business.

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05/30/2008

Welcome, Wannabe2!

We renovated a house and bought a second house and started from scratch with a 5 room B&B/inn.  We became the #1 B&B on TA for our city quickly, passing inns established for 10+ years, and doubled our business in one year.  I closed the business after 2 years to save my 35 year marriage and my health.  

Would I do it again?  Yes, but with a different partner in the business.    Be sure that you and any partner (life and/or business) share the same vision, drive, and passion for innkeeping.  Without that, your business and/or relationship will suffer. 

You will find good info and honest (yes! very honest and straightforward) answers here on the forum.  Be prepared to have any rose tint on any glasses of yours brought to a realistic hue. 

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People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

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10/18/2008

At this time, after investing 7 years, 150K over and above initial investment and morgage, after growing the business 80% in the first year, 20% for the next two - even with a 60% repeat rate - in this economy and after finally just letting my inn go back to the bank NO WAY

Not at this time. Maybe not in the future either. Maybe if I won the lottery and could afford a huge chunk to downpay and help .... but no, not now

I had forgotten what it was like to wake up on my own without an alarm, go to bed early, "forget" that there is a load in the washer cause I don't have to use it every day several times a day, not buy paper goods in bulk ..... it's been tough but there IS LIFE AFTER INNKEEPING and yes I did love it and my guests, but we forget what it is to have a "normal" life .... when 24/7 becomes your "normal" ...

Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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01/16/2010

Rikki is SO right!! You need to do your research and find a location that matches your needs.

The only 'surprise' that I've found so far (4 1/2 years) is that I would probably think a little harder about getting into this business, now realizing how difficult it is to get OUT of it. I mean, it's not like changing jobs in any other sector of the business world. You can't just decide that you want a change, interview, get an offer, give your two weeks' notice to your current employer and change jobs. There are innkeepers in this area (probably others, too) that have had their inns on the market for 3 years or more.

That said, you need to develop your 'exit' plan several years before you think you're going to need it. I know it's hard to think about getting out when you're not even in yet, but that's the reality.

Oh, and get two washers and two dryers if you have more than 3 rooms!

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Lynne
Queen of Everything!

 

egoodell's picture
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06/01/2008

 Absolutely we would do it again. We built. Have two rooms now and adding two more, down the road will have 5 total. Glad in this economy we picked a location that is a tourist destination so have survived the economic turndown.

RIki

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Riki Goodell
Arcady Vineyard Bed & Breakfast
Arcady Vineyard Wine Tours
www.arcadyvineyard.com
Come! Let us show you the beautiful Monticello Appellation!

 

Highlands John's picture
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04/16/2010

Definately. Biggest surprise (not wishing to sound big headed) is how much of a success we've made of it, coming into a completely new industry. I never dreamed we'd win travel awards or be written about in newspapers and magazines. Makes me very proud.

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If you wanted hotel facilities you should have booked a hotel and paid hotel prices!!!

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

In a heartbeat! My biggest surprise? How quickly my knees decided to age when the rest of me did not. The years of abuse caught up with me.

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