Giving advice

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06/15/2008

If you were going to give advice what would the top things you would tell aspiring innkeepers are a must. Maybe the top 5.

This will be interesting.

We are in our 8th year and are getting more people asking us advice.

 

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sandynn

 

YellowSocks's picture
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05/22/2008

I love Swirt's list!

House

  • Lots and lots of storage
  • Big laundry room, with biggest washer and dryer you can afford
  • Private area for innkeepers
  • Professional, high quality sign out front
  • Keypad entry

Guest Rooms

  • Private bathrooms
  • The biggest bed possible
  • One room with two beds
  • Sitting area and desk in as many rooms as possible
  • Uncluttered

Marketing

  • Online ASAP
  • Good website
  • Good pictures
  • Good seo
  • Spend the money!

 Policies

  • Research
  • Set them in advance
  • Publish on your website
  • Know why you do what you do

Location

  • Live somewhere you love to live
  • Pick a house you love to live in
  • Spend time being friendly to your neighbors
  • Have a reason people come to your town
  • Be as close as possible to the draw (even two blocks makes a difference)

Personal

  • Be prepared to work hard
  • Be willing to work weekends
  • Be able to share your house with strangers
  • Be willing to cook and clean for strangers
  • Enjoy meeting new people over and over
  • Have a solid relationship with your partner, with good communication
  • Be willing to stay up late and get up early
  • Be able to multi-task
  • Be able to put on many different hats
  • Be willing to clean up puke and other bodily fluids
  • Be willing to deal with people at 2 a.m.
  • Be willing to plan for big events four months in advance, but trips to the zoo happen at the last minute
  • Be willing to lose money to attend weddings
  • Have a strong back (and thick skin)

=)
Kk.

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Everyone else said it already, and very well. It's not a list that can be accommodated in just 5 bullet points! I'm not sure if anyone mentioned it yet, but a 'working vacation' as an innkeeper is always a good one.

Not everyone who takes an innkeeping class goes on to open a B&B and that's a good thing.

In light of the press release JBJ posted the other day, many more may think this is an easy way to make a buck. I'd bet 90% who go that way are NOT going to make a good B&B experience in their spare room. 10% may really take to it and it could be the start of a whole new career.

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JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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I like #5 Samster!  That is so true, we all need to be able to rework something and think outside the box.  Not be afraid to hear criticism, as sometimes that is what prompts us to change something. 

Change = work, time, money.  So none of us WANT to change stuff.  But in this business we need to be willing to!  GOOD POINT!

The times they are a changin...

TV's, WI Fi, other amenties that guests expect these days.  If it is doable, then do it!

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05/30/2008

It's so interesting to me that one of our rooms that was the most often to book when we first opened is not as popular now.  It has a gas fireplace, steam shower, 2 person tub, fridge & coffee maker in the room and canopy over the bed.  It's not our most expensive room either.  I'm leaving the price alone for now but I'm thinking of dropping the price on it.  hmmmm......

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JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Samster wrote:

It's so interesting to me that one of our rooms that was the most often to book when we first opened is not as popular now.  It has a gas fireplace, steam shower, 2 person tub, fridge & coffee maker in the room and canopy over the bed.  It's not our most expensive room either.  I'm leaving the price alone for now but I'm thinking of dropping the price on it.  hmmmm......

There are definitely fads and fashions that come and go.  I AM ONE OF THE WORST with the breakfast thing.  I have been meaning to add pics and descriptions for over 4 years!  I have of late had people ASK me what we serve, then say "Oh good, I just didn't want a continental"  so I need to address that asap and stop putting it off.

Morticia's picture
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Be careful with the breakfast pix. (I KNOW your pix will be spot on, that's not what I mean.) Guests seeing my website pix are A) disappointed we ONLY serve waffles; B) upset when they don't GET waffles; C) concerned we don't serve meat with breakfast.

The pix I put up are the ones that came out best. I have a ton more of different meals but you can't tell what's in the pictures very well, so I avoided those.

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Bree wrote:

Be careful with the breakfast pix. (I KNOW your pix will be spot on, that's not what I mean.) Guests seeing my website pix are A) disappointed we ONLY serve waffles; B) upset when they don't GET waffles; C) concerned we don't serve meat with breakfast.

The pix I put up are the ones that came out best. I have a ton more of different meals but you can't tell what's in the pictures very well, so I avoided those.

I just added a line What is for Breakfast in bold and gave a sampler list.  I will do that for a while. To be honest, I DID have breakfast pics on there year one, but they were simple stock photos.  I tried to use ones that were not too RITZY with white tablecloths, lace and crystal, but I took them off. To avoid any confusion.

Morticia's picture
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My first attempt was a sampler menu for all 4 seasons. It went over really well and had guests calling!

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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If you were going to give advice what would the top things you would tell aspiring innkeepers are a must. Maybe the top 5.

GREAT TOPIC BTW!

From the get-go without discussing zoning, licensing and all of that - that would be 10 items rigth there that aspirings need to know before even considering opening a NEW B&B.

1) Owners Quarters. Do not think one room near the guest rooms is sufficient. You have an entire BUSINESS to run, so you need room for that, PLUS storage, PLUS personal space.

2) Do not be afraid to mark off days, or let the machine take calls - if you set everything up right, website, directories, you can let the machine take the calls and direct to your website for online bookings.  You cannot be "on" 24 hrs a day, you will BURN OUT QUICKLY.  

So that was really like 5 in one there - WEBSITE, DIRECTORIES (pay now or pay later with lack of bookings - bite the bullet, this is very important to be on these), ONLINE RESERVATIONS, so people can book from any place at any time.  100% IMPORTANT! You cannot weed out the bad guests by talking to them.  This is a fallacy!  Ted Bundy was a nice guy.  Also a serial killer.

3) Website. If you don't have a website you do not exist.  I found a very nice B&B the other day was using BBONLINE as their main website.  and on BedandBreakfast.com where you can now have VERY LARGE HIGH REZ photos, they had small blurry shots.  What a waste of all the effort they put into the actual house itself.  I would not book there.  This person is HIGH UP in another state association.  WHAT THE!

4) Website.  Photos. More and more and more as many as you can put on there.

5) Website.  Marketing and SEO need to be in place so people FIND your website.

6) Usable kitchen - one that is pleasant to work in or you will go nuts every day.  Declutter the kitchen, do not add extra frustrations to yourself.  The kitchen is an innkeeper workplace, make is usable, good flow, a happy place. If you go in and dread making breakfasts which you will do day in and day out with one hand tied behind your back, then you will be miserable.

7) Able to wear all hats, or one of you if it is a pair opening a B&B.  You cannot hire out everything, you will go broke!  This means maintenance, renovations, accounting, business mgmt, cooking, cleaning, everything!  If you hire stuff out, it may just be one major component, ie housekeeping.  Do not count on HELP.  You have to be able to do it all yourself.

Eight) Everybody needs to be on board. If your spouse does not like people, then forget it.  They will be in his/her life every day and he/she will have little privacy.  Guests are IN your business, asking personal details about your life ALL THE TIME.  If you cannot handle this, then don't become an innkeeper.

9) Family/Private time - make your family a priority.  Or the business will suck the life blood out of your family/marriage.  As an aspiring, like a newlywed you think you can "live on love" - nope, not possible.  A strong marriage going in can easily be zapped. 

10) FINANCES.  If you can't lay down a boatload of money to start out, forget it.  This is not "working for someone" where you make a salary.  Every cent you make you put back into the business.  This is what aspiring do not get.  It is a continuous financial drain.  So for that most innkeepers have one person working outside the B&B to pay the bills and health insurance.  You cannot go into this blind and think the money will pour in once you open your doors.  You need $$ in reserve to make it through the lean seasons and years.

This B&B I am in has been a B&B for 17 years and we are still building the business. I think prev owners did not do a good job, and it is really up and running now, finally.  Not EVERYONE has a head for running a business, or marketing.  Sure they can cook a killer breakfast, but that is WHEN YOU HAVE THEM IN THE DOOR booked in, you have to get them in the door booked in.

From the heart- my top ten! Oops you said 5.  Okay, there needed to be ten. 

 

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06/15/2008

Wow this a great topic. Who care if you put more that 5. I just made up that number. Yours are great. Also everyone eles has great ideas.  Keep them coming.

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05/30/2008
  1. Market to your strengths, but also market to your area.  You can't go with the "build it, they will come" strategy.
  2. If you aren't particularly good at something, find someone who is good at that & hire them on if you can afford it and you want to provide that service (i.e., wedding planning).
  3. Save $$ for the slow season if you have one. 
  4. Put money aside for unforeseen major repairs.
  5. If something isn't working, don't be afraid to re-work it.  (Example:  An inn-mate had a plague room and she redecorated it with an entirely different theme and it is one of her highest booking rooms now.

These are in addition to all the others which I totally agree with!!

 

Morticia's picture
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I did that with my plague room (not sure you meant me or someone else, we all have a plague room it seems!) The room holds it own now with the other rooms. I can't change the basic issue of bathroom across the hall, but I addressed the double bed by replacing it and redecorated with new bedding and wall decor and moved out a large piece of furniture that overwhelmed the space.

Being open to guests' suggestions for change is a good thing.

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05/30/2008

Nope, I didn't mean you.  This was a major overhaul on a room.  Taking a Queen canopy bed and changing it to a King sized bed.  Taking out the clawfoot tub with shower which was in a corner of the room (very nicely done btw) & replacing it with a corner jetted tub.  Then, changing the whole thing from a Victorian decor to TX bordello style.  The room is booking like hot cakes now even with the jetted tub in the room and a small W/C under the stairs with sink & toilet. This B&B is a getaway location.   

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

1. Check Zoning, Building Codes, Fire Codes, Tax structure (what taxes will you get hit with)

2. Professionally done web site and photos

3. Purchase the best linens you can afford as they will last longer (unless the wash cloths are make-up removers, hand towles show buffers, and bath towels car or pet dryers or self-tan wipes)

4. Have an outlet for frustrations - and I mean from guests AND your SO/DH/DW - whether it is fishing, playing a musical instrument, banging your head against a wall - oops that is only what it feels like...

5. OQ as nice as the B & B side - and more than just your bedroom.

6. At least a 2-butt kitchen because your other half is going to wnat to be in the kitchen any time you need to be doing something - it is as certain as cigarette smoke following the only non-smoker no matter where they stand

7. Storage space!!!  There is never enough.

 

swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

Oooh good one! 

  1. Lots of personal space for the innkeepers.
  2. Lots of what will seem at the time like extra extra extra storage space.
  3. An exit strategy / back-up plan....don't paint yourself into a corner financially.
  4. A sIgnificant other that is 100% onboard with the idea and willing to carry a larger portion of the load than they envision they will have to carry.
  5. A great website

*6th would be a large wine cellar to keep the wine and bury the PITAs (2 birds, one stone) 

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06/15/2008

I love the wine cellar. 

I did not put my 5.

1. Zoning

2. A name that people can remember and spell.

3. Web Page!!!! If you don't have a web page (a great one) with great pictures you will not get the buisness you want. People tell me they choose us because our web page grabbed them from the first few seconds. Thanks El.

4. Please do not use granny's sheets and the mattresses your kids had. Also no refering to grandma's place. This is just my own feelings. I don't want to go to grandma's.

5. Always think as a guest. When doing anything think like you would be the guest not the innkeeper. Sometimes innkeepers think with their heart and not as the guest, who are not going to have the same feelings you do.

I  very much agree with Swirt's list too.

 

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