What is our next step?

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09/14/2012

My husband and I have talked and dreamed about owning a B&B for many years.  There is one for sale within an hour from our current home. We went and stayed a night,  and really liked the property.  What is our next step?  Contact the owner?  We are looking at a B&B Team weekend for aspiring innkeepers.  We are reading as much as possible.  Would love any advice we could get.  What did you do?  Thanks for your advice and wisdom!

 

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10/07/2008

Without getting more information, many can give advice on running an inn with or without kids. Layout has a big influence on that, type of kids you have, age of kids you have, type of parents you are... Are you marketing toward families? 

The reason many are showing concern is that it can be a ball and chain, your family can be restricted from doing what a "normal" family can do. Does this outweigh the benefits of owning a B&B? That all depends on you and your family, of course. No one can answer that for you.

Will Johnny or Suzie go through a defiant or difficult stage and you have guests in the house, and need to put on that smile day after day and then go to bed in tears? Sure, probably, it happens to everyone. We can't "leave it at the office" as this is the office! (so to speak).

There are plenty who own B&B's and have children, they get to have their parent or parent(s) around much more than a traveling business parent. Set boundaries for the kids, set boundaries for the guests (this is harder to do) as some can be needy. They do not think about being the one night guest in a line of 100 one-nighters back to back all season in their room, they think of themselves as the only guest.

I know homeschoolers, and they are dedicated hard working families, they are go getters, and if that is the way you are, which is sounds like so far from what I have read, you will all benefit quite a bit from this venture and all grow from it!

But my last words of advice, when you are tired of it, you can't just get out of it, you can't give it a way. Therein lies the problem. Unlike another job you can quit, you can't quit this one. It's not that simple...

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seashanty's picture
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welcome!  (i miss the welcome smiley!)

all innspiring innkeepers have stars in their eyes.  they HAVE TO ... because there is so much work involved when you get down to it.

i will try not to repeat all the good advice already given.  i took an innkeeping seminar and threw together a website and started taking reservations before we even had our license and permits.

new owners meant we had to get a brand new fire alarm system throughout.  new signage meant new inspections and permits for that.  everything that could be permitted (or not) was inspected and examined and fought over and finally permitted. 

will the b&b be sold furnished?  will the website come along with the business as well as the domain?  accounting software or will you get your own?  how do they handle their reservations?  are they willing to turn over EVERYTHING to the new owners?

i started up a b&b with bare bones furniture and lots of what was included was broken, badly damaged and just plain worn out.  we had to buy major appliances and little ones (dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, shower heads, some new toilets, clock radios, hair dryers, lamps)  we had no dishes, no glasses, no mugs, no silverware, no pots and pans, no coffee urns, no nothing. 

buying all those things cost a small fortune and i blew through our startup funds in short time.  furnishing one guest room can be outrageously expensive.  believe me when i tell you, I shopped discount, damaged, and used.  i bought furniture and headboards and end tables from yard sales and distressed places.  you CANNOT skimp on mattresses, bed linens, mattress protectors, pillows and pillow protectors and towels.  are they selling those as well?

i used my own things and expanded on those.

if you get to that point ... take pictures of everything that is included and do not go slowly to inventory.  you will discover that some folks here have bought turnkey places, everything included, only to discover that items went missing or were replaced with other things.

innkeeping was hard, hard work and so very rewarding. 

i recommend deep pockets for repairs and upkeep ... the wear and tear on the property is unreal. 

best of luck to you.

 

 

 

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05/30/2008

Welcome to the forum! 

Some other things to consider when you look at this lifestyle.  This will drastically change the time that you have available for your children and your husband no matter what you're used to tackling presently.  It's a 24/7 job.  It's not just about breakfast and cleaning rooms.  There's marketing and all the other many business details.  Will your husband be able to help you with any of this while maintaining a full-time job outside the biz?  What happens if the kids are sick or if you're sick?

You mention a 3 acre property.  Who will do all of the maintenance of that?  Will you have a significant cash fund for the unexpected?  Can you afford the property if the occupancy isn't what you think it can be or if it takes a tumble in bad times? 

Starting with a class is a great idea.  Be honest when thinking about if this is really the lifestyle that you want to take on.  Good luck! 

 

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08/19/2012

About the kids helping with the inn - remember that child labor laws apply to your own kids even if they're working in a family business.     Legally speaking, having your kids work in your business (which is what they're doing if they are turning rooms)  is not the same as doing their chores around your house.

Check into what your local laws are because you don't want to have those kind of issues on your hands.

The other thing you might want to do is consider taking some classes at your local community college in food safety, hospitality management, business law, accounting, etc.   It's a big investment of your time but it will give you a better business knowledge base than just a weekend seminar.

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09/14/2012

Thanks so much on the heads up about child labor laws.  I did find out that both our state and federal (FLSA) laws do NOT apply to children employed by their parents.  Not sure where you got your info, but both state statute and info put on the U.S. Dept. of Labor web sites state the above.  If we go ahead with this, I will  make some calls just to confirm what I have read.  But it looks like it would be fine to have the children help at a family owned inn.

Another bit of back ground info is my in-laws have a small retail business that our children have worked at during busy times of the year.  My husband also grew up down at their store, so we have some wonderful small business examples and mentors (they just celebrated 50th anniversary of the store, and both are still working at 88yrs old!).

Great idea about the classses.  We have a couple of really good cc in our area.  Thanks so much for your input and advice.  

 

 

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05/22/2008

I personally am concerned about your children..not about child labor laws, but how will they deal with sharing space with total strangers. Will you have entirely separate living quarters? I hope so because if I was a teen, I wouldn't like having my bedroom next to some honeymoon couple...if you get my drift.  We were fortunate in that we had a totally separate living area from guests that we could and did close and lock the doors. We didn't have any children, but the privacy was so important to me. We only made it 6 years and then the privacy issue became even greater. I wanted my house back Smiling

So do talk with your children about what this will exactly mean for their lives and their friends. No slumber parties with guests in the house Sad

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Thank you for your concern.  We are already talking about many of these issues.  The owners quarters are in the basement with a second entrance out the back of the house.  This is a very large home and there would be a floor (kitchen, dining and living rooms) between our living space and the guest rooms.  I have already thought about guest room areas being off limits to my children while guest were there.  

Our best friends run a resort in Branson so my children have seen some of what we are looking at doing.  It has overall been a positive for their family.  Again thank you for your comments.  This has been very informative and just what I was hoping it would be!

gillumhouse's picture
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If you have been reading the threads here, you will also know that one here has twins who were 4 when she opened, help with the B & B, and are home-schooled. We believe in scaring the bejeezus up front rather than when it is too late because there are too many out there who think this is Newhart. It is a demanding profession but is full of rewards that will probably not be monetary although it can support a family or do what is expected (in my case - support the expenses of the house and a bit more).

Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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You might also get yourself a copy of Mary White's book, Innkeeping for Dummies. There are several other books out there on innkeeping, but this one is the most recent (relevant to today's issues). 

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We have it!

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Welcome...

I will add in here. Make sure husband keeps his job especially if benefits are part of it.  What is the size of the B & B? What kind of location? Why do people stay there? Why are they selling? Do you have a large downpayment? If not, don't count on bank financing and even then lending for a B & B is not a residential loan..it is commercial. You will have to prove the income will cover the mortgage and even then you may not get one. I have no clue who the fellow is mentioned in another post, but I would caution...be leary...every step of the way. 

Can the B & B remain a b & b if it is sold?  Critical question to ask. Not always the case. Check all zoning and health regulations.  In other words...do your homeworkSmiling  Which it sounds like you are.

Good luck!

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The inn has 5 guest rooms.  Not sure about guest and reason for selling.  We are looking at the finances and using some of our retirement funds (we are willing to do this only because my husband will get an inheritance from his parents someday).

The property has only been a B&B since the home was moved onto the 3 acre lot 20 years ago.  So I do not think that will be a problem, but will add this to the list of things to check.

Aussie Innkeeper's picture
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Welcome to you! yes

In addition to what's already been discussed, I would add a couple of things. There's a guy who does inn financing, Rick Newman, I'd contact him, too. Unless you're independently wealthy, you're going to need some $$ and banks are really reluctant (read: refuse) to loan money for B&B's. Rick knows who's got the $$ and is willing to lend at good rates. 

Also, and this was something that we didn't really have the advantage of when we purchased 5 years ago, read all the on-line reviews about the place. One of the aspects of what you're purchasing is 'good will'. These reviews go a long way to give you insight to what you're getting. Yes, you can have most of them removed if you want ( I believe TA will do that when ownership changes), BUT you're still buying the reputation of the business and it will follow you for a while till you can make it your own.

You still have kids at home, will you still home-school? If not, what are the public schools like in the area where you want to purchase? Also, what is it in the area that will bring tourists? Even if the B&B has a good current 'repeat' business, some of those folks will no longer come because of a change in ownership. Others will anyway.

Best of luck to you! Please feel free to e-mail me any time if you have questions or need a bit of a pep-talk! I can talk you into it, or out of it, depending on the day. surprise

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Thank you so much for the info about Rick Newman.  I have read that getting financing can be a challenge.

I have already done quite a bit of snooping online to get as much info as possible.  I have not seen anything but very good reviews about the inn and the innkeepers.

I am planning on continue to home-school and have already thought about the  schedule for our day.  Kids up early with me, they eat and start their studies while I prep and serve breakfast.  They can help flip rooms for a couple of hours, and then if needed finish school work in afternoon.  All of our children have gotten jobs as soon as they could find them. What better place to work than the family business.  We consider this to be part of their education.  They all are gainfully employed as adults, and have never had a problem getting jobs.

The property is four blocks from one private university, and 15 minuted from one of our state universities (this has one of the top sports teams in the country and the inn list sporting event weekend as peak times for them on their website).  There are some local attractions, but also very close to major city, and   We are also putting our own business plan together that would include couples enrichment weekends to market to area churches for small groups.  Weddings are also on our radar as the property has a lovely outdoor venue for weddings.  We have alot of experiece doing weddings for our own children and friends over the years.  I have worn every hat possible when it comes to weddings.  Here is a link to one of our girls weddings  http://blog.pitmanphotography.com/weddings/adam-and-abby  I actually know the good, bad, and ugly of working with brides, but also the income potential is HUGE.  

I think that answered most your questions.  Again thank you for your advice and info.  I will keep your offer in mind as the days go by and we continue to look into this adventure.

 

gillumhouse's picture
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What a lovely wedding!!! It looked as if EVERYONE had FUN!!! So often the bride & groom are just dazed by all that is going on and expected (sometimes of their own making).

If everyone in the household is in a go for it mode - go for it (after all due diligence of course).

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05/22/2008

Beautiful wedding shots!  I am sure there are many stories to share about the wedding. There has to be some significance to her wedding dress and I bet every old button on it. Lovely.

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09/14/2012

I sketched out the dress, and my oldest daughter made it. The buttons came from her beloved great grandmother.  She passed the year before the kids got married.  One of the biggest stories behind this wedding is it took place 7 weeks after her older sister got married!  We did most of it in those 7 weeks as I could only do one at a time.  Both of them had fairly short engagements...less then 8 months.  The other wedding was very different, but equally lovely.

Joey Camb's picture
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also I would be prepared to sign confidentiality agreements - we have discussed this from the innkeepers side before now so from your point of view to the seller to suggest it shows you are serious and understand that they are showing you private financial info and will protect it accordingly.

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10/07/2008

Did the owners know you were there to get the feel of the property? I like it. I like that you were there as a guest first. I wish everyone did this. As an innkeeper it would make me nervous later on, but we have had those who show up without even staying and demand total time right in the middle of a busy time.

If you are truly interested, if it were me, I would send the inn a small thank you card from your stay and let them know you may want to get more information about the for-sale side of the business. I think that would please them, and they would be happy to answer your questions and provide data from there... 

All the best! It is fun to look and dream, and more fun to think it may become a reality!

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They did not know why we were there.  We were the only guest so we got to get a good look at the property.  The innkeepers live off site.  There are owners quarters that they leave available to guest to get games from a cabinet and watch tv if you want.

Sending a card is a great idea.  We will have to consider exactly what to say.

And yes, I am having great fun thinking about all this.

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10/18/2008

Taking the course is a good start, start talking to banks. How is your credit? Remember you probably will have to get a commercial loan, and may need a large down pay. Most sellers will want o know you are prequal before discussing their numbers with you.

Buy some books about to start reading, 

And i have to ask.. How many of the eight are still at home? I don't know many innkeepers that would even think of running an inn with half that number....

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We are pretty much down to the last two. They are both really excited about the idea.  I have been a home educator for the last 24 years so am very used to feeding the masses three times a day!  We have already been reading quite a bit.  We also have an excellent credit rating.  I have only worked part time as a Weight Watcher Leader, and am currently teaching classes at a local culinary center (we live near a fairly large city).  My husband would be able to keep his job as it is in driving range, and the income would most likely be needed.  Thank you all so much for the input.  This is such a specialized business, it is nice to be able to gather info from people who are living this life day to day.

 

 

 

 

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Welcome aboard and if the stars are in alignment, and you kiss the right pig, and Murphy breaks his leg - all will work out and you will be able to go from aspiring to innkeeper. We are certainly here as a cheering section - as we rip those rose colored glasses off your nose. Although as the Mother of 6 I know that the Mother of 8 can handle almost anything - we know that each one can twist our tail in a different way and can sort out a 5-way "he touched me" with a look.

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09/14/2012

Thanks for the the warm welcome.  You made me smile with your comments about being a mother.  It definately has given me many skills over the years.  I often tell my 4 year old granddaughter that there is nothing she can try to get away with that her Mimo has not already seen from her mother or aunts and uncles!  

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Maddie said it all.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Is the property listed with a broker or FSBO? If it's with a broker, call them. Be prepared to show you can afford to buy and maintain the property. Taking the B&B Team weekend class is an excellent idea because you will then get what goes on behind the scenes, not just the pretty side the guests see.

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09/14/2012

I believe it is FSBO as the contact email belongs to the husband.  

Madeleine's picture
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Mom2Eight wrote:

I believe it is FSBO as the contact email belongs to the husband.  

Then you need to go to the classes. You'll need to know what to look for and what to look out for. Doing this on your own, unless the property is inexpensive, can become very expensive very fast. It's not like buying a house. Just because the people who own the place now are running it the way they are does not mean you will be able to continue to do that once you are the owners.

Ask yourself how you are going to run the operation on your own. With 2 kids at home. It sounds like you are home schooling so where does the time come from to do everything? Just ask yourself.

Make a list of everything you need to accomplish in a day right now. Then make a list of everything you need to do for the inn (how many rooms?). Now see where these overlap (the kids at home can help you) and where they crash (who comes first- the paying guests or the kids?)

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09/14/2012

We are hopefully going to a weekend seminar next month.  There are so many aspects of this whole thing that we really need help organizing and knowing where to direct our energies.

The kids are teen and pre-teen, so not quite as demanding as little ones.  Coming from a big family, learning to be patient and not getting every thing you want when you want it is learned pretty fast.  We would definately have to work out our days and schedule.

I love the idea of starting a list of all the task that need to be done.  The inn has five guest rooms.  Thanks for all the input.  This is exactly why I started this thread.  I want to be realistic about this and not just think about the "fun" parts.

Madeleine's picture
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Because you have built in help this should be a little easier than trying to do 5 rooms on your own. Almost all the B&B owners I know have at least a 1/2 time job doing something else. So having your husband continue his job should be ok as well.

Things to consider (and you can then work these into your enrichment weekends):

  • Whose job comes first?
  • How will you schedule time for just the 2 of you?
  • Ditto scheduling family time when you may have bookings?
  • What happens when husband decides you are spending too much time on guests and not enough time on family?
  • What happens when husband gets the opportunity with his job to go away for 2 weeks and you can't go?
  • What happens when you are not making enough money to cover the expenses of the business?
  • Can you miss the 'events' in your kids' lives? The births, baptisms, school plays for the grandkids?
  • How much does husband want to contribute in time, money and effort to this project? (Will he do repairs after a long day at the office? Greet guests? Chat with guests? Is he going to want to never have a moment alone? Will YOU want that?)

Are you moving to this property? How will the family adjust to that? Does everyone know that mom and dad's 'house' is no longer a place they can just run into whenever they want?

 

Joey Camb's picture
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Also isn't there a weird thing in america where you can't have people stay in guest rooms for free or something? messes up your tax stuff?

Madeleine's picture
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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Also isn't there a weird thing in america where you can't have people stay in guest rooms for free or something? messes up your tax stuff?

Yes. If you are claiming to be a business you have to act like one. That means you can't use the 'inn spaces' for yourself. If you have one kitchen and one dining room, you can't write them off as business space because you are using them. So, no letting family stay for free in the guest rooms. No one said they have to pay the rack rate, tho.

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