Going Out

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AjMed's picture
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My wife and I are looking at buying an established B&B - we know nothing about the business but are working day and night to learn as much as we can whilst looking at finances and all the legalities....

I wanted to come onto the forum, say hi and ask 2 questions (for now).

So my first (probably very silly) question is, what happens when we go out and there's no staff on call.... ? my wife worries about flooding or a fire... should we leave our contact details for guests?

In terms of expenses - should we separate our expenses or is that too difficult and unnecessary?

Thanks

AjMed

 

 

TheBeachHouse's picture
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As long as everyone has checked in and appear to have what they need, we figure the night is ours.   We'll see them at 8 for breakfast.

 

(We put my husband's cell number on the welcome packet along with police and fire as "emergency numbers."

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I've no horse in the race but I understand the Claiborne is on the market.  It's beautiful, well kept and has a wonderful reputation.  I want her but my energies...and money are going into a B&B themed PG-13 movie.   But if I can't have her then someone deserving should bag this beauty.  Best wishes!

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TinaC's picture
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For what it's worth...As a B&B fan having lodged at many inns, I don't recall the hosts ever announcing their evening or after hour plans.  And only when we became repeat lodgers did a few of our hosts feel comfortable to let us know that they were going out or that the owner was out of town for the time.  Didn't matter and we behaved as though they were on premises at all times.

 

As for some innkeepers monitoring or eyeing their guests' every move, that is creepy.  devil  But I can understand why some would feel a need to do so.

egoodell's picture
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When we step out for dinner, errands, or a business meeting we just mention to the guests at breakfast when we'll be out and tell them that we will forward the phone to our cell should they need us they can call.

Riki

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Joey Camb's picture
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the reason I am wary of this is because you are basically telling them you are going to be out, my neighbour has a bit of an odd system of operating which spun out of them not having hardly any owners  accommodation - they bought a house in the next street, despite this there is always one of them at the B&B at night however sometimes not till 11pm. Trouble is she will say things like im off to make tea for the kids Ill be back  later - I don't think they actually believe her and it leads to people who are not guests being brought back, noise and so on.

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egoodell's picture
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..if you are concerned then I guess you'll have to find a baby sitter for when you go out. But if you're going to worry about what the guests are going to do, maybe a B&B is not for you? Just make sure there is nothing in the common areas that you will be heartbroken about getting broken, and make sure your private area can be locked.

Riki

Joey Camb's picture
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I would also look at this one http://www.bedandbreakfastacademy.co.uk/

 

AjMed's picture
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Thank you CamerleyHotel - I've just got in touch with all the contacts you suggested - really helpeful

As far as seasons and bookings - my wife and I have found that the B&B's are quite busy all year round. about 42% in December/January but by March its picked up. In fact when we did our viewings last week, the B&B we're interested in was full and that was midweek.

 

Joey Camb's picture
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Also I would get in touch with the TIC there, they can tell you average occupancy figures for the town so you can see if that is standard or an anomaly - looks good to the bank if you can provide them with good local occupancy figures as well, shows you have done your homework.

AjMed's picture
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Can you explain what TIC is?

gillumhouse's picture
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AjMed wrote:

Can you explain what TIC is?

This is not meant as a snarky statement - IF you are going into a Tourism business, and lodgings is a big part of tourism, then that term needs to be  known to you. OTA and a few other terms will be important.  At a guess I would think Tourism Information Center. We have CVB - Convention and Visitors Bureau. A very important part of the industry is learning the terminology. Think like a tourist, where would you go for information about an area.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

AjMed wrote:

Can you explain what TIC is?

This is not meant as a snarky statement - IF you are going into a Tourism business, and lodgings is a big part of tourism, then that term needs to be  known to you. OTA and a few other terms will be important.  At a guess I would think Tourism Information Center. We have CVB - Convention and Visitors Bureau. A very important part of the industry is learning the terminology. Think like a tourist, where would you go for information about an area.

 

I didn't know what it meant either.  I've been in the service business since I was a kid.   Restaurants, hotels, etc.   I wouldn't have gotten CVB either.   Acronyms are not always as obvious as those using them think they are.   In my area, we use a COC - Chamber of Commerce.

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I apologize. then. I just thought about what would she be referring to - I had not heard the TIC term before - and it seemed logical to be Tourist or Tourism Information Center.

AjMed's picture
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gillumhouse wrote:

I apologize. then. I just thought about what would she be referring to - I had not heard the TIC term before - and it seemed logical to be Tourist or Tourism Information Center.

Thanks for the response - just thought it best to ask  - that's why I'm here posting - to learn from you all

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Sounds like you need some studying and Camberly is probably the only one here who can address your needs satisfactorily since she is in the UK. You can read all you want , but unless you attend a course and possibly do some work in one especially a small hotel, you need some experience. Otherwise, you will be wasting your money.

AjMed's picture
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EmptyNest wrote:

Sounds like you need some studying and Camberly is probably the only one here who can address your needs satisfactorily since she is in the UK. You can read all you want , but unless you attend a course and possibly do some work in one especially a small hotel, you need some experience. Otherwise, you will be wasting your money.

Yes, I can see after all the replies that we do need to do a course and get some professional advice.

Camberly has been especially helpful and we've spent the whole day/evening going through everything - thank you so much. I'm quite overwhelmed at how helpful everyone here is.

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I think because we all had the same dream many years ago. We want you to be successful but we also want you to know exactly what you are getting into.Smiling

Joey Camb's picture
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sorry - Tourist Information Centre most towns and cities have one - they give out information to tourists etc but on the back end they deal with lots of info and statistics

AjMed's picture
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Thank you to everyone that's replied.

My wife and I live in London, England and are looking to move to the coast. We don't have seminars in the UK and instead we'll have to learn from the internet, books etc

The property we're looking at is a boutique hotel rather than a home stay so even though we'll be living in the basement, I don't think guests will feel especially dependent on us although this is something to look into.

Madeleine's picture
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AjMed wrote:

Thank you to everyone that's replied.

My wife and I live in London, England and are looking to move to the coast. We don't have seminars in the UK and instead we'll have to learn from the internet, books etc

The property we're looking at is a boutique hotel rather than a home stay so even though we'll be living in the basement, I don't think guests will feel especially dependent on us although this is something to look into.

Good heavens you're not buying Fawlty Towers in Torquay are you???

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Joey Camb's picture
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Weve got it on at the moment! - Also I would strongly recommend reading How to open a financially successful Bed and Breakfast or small hotel by Arduser & Brown as feel its the best on the market at the moment in regards financials.

 

Joey Camb's picture
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yes there are - this is on example -http://www.bedandbreakfastcourses.co.uk/index.html

there are several places that run them just do a google search.

Also you might want to speak to Stephanie Thomas from Creating bookings who is a UK bed and breakfast coach.

I would be very wary of seaside places in the UK as they are very seasonal ie 6 months like a crazy person and then sat on your own for 6 months, this makes it very hard to keep staff as who wants work for only 6 months.

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camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:
seaside places in the UK as they are very seasonal ie 6 months like a crazy person and then sat on your own for 6 months, this makes it very hard to keep staff as who wants work for only 6 months.

Not so different for some seaside places in the US!

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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AjMed wrote:

Thank you to everyone that's replied.

My wife and I live in London, England and are looking to move to the coast. We don't have seminars in the UK and instead we'll have to learn from the internet, books etc

The property we're looking at is a boutique hotel rather than a home stay so even though we'll be living in the basement, I don't think guests will feel especially dependent on us although this is something to look into.

Ahhhh...that makes a big difference. Typically, b&bs in the UK are not quite as catering and your guests are a bit more independent. I'm sure Camberly (here on the forum who is in the UK) will chime in and give you some great advice!

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It all depends on you, your setup, your location and your guests. If you open a B&B you are automatically in my book a risk taker.

Who is staying with you? You don't know. So for that, the trust issue continues...if your rates are really low you will get undesirable guests. Anything can happen anywhere, and it will...but safeguarding yourself is important. Our guests appreciate not being babysat all the time. There are some B&B's who watch their every move.

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Joey Camb's picture
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we have 2 lines in the B&B, there is a contact phone in reception which is linked to my mobile and all calls are diverted to my mobile when we are out. - I prefer this system as if guests have a simple question I can answer It from anywhere ie can you tell me the Wi-Fi code and they don't know that Im out.

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

we have 2 lines in the B&B, there is a contact phone in reception which is linked to my mobile and all calls are diverted to my mobile when we are out. - I prefer this system as if guests have a simple question I can answer It from anywhere ie can you tell me the Wi-Fi code and they don't know that Im out.

I also transfer my phone to my mobile when we go out. I do not want to miss a reservation! If I am in church or a meeting, I put the mobile on silent.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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Welcome AjMed!

If you buy an existing business that is fairly busy. you'll find that it's difficult to get away very often. The reality is that you spend a lot of your time waiting...waiting for guests to check in (they say we'll be there at 3 then don't show up until 8, etc), waiting for them to check out. Some innkeepers feel like they need to be there any time there are guests. It's tough to participate in family get togethers, celebrations, etc. because of the business.

You can create a self check-in procedure, but a lot of b&b guests really want the personal greeting. We do self check-in only when it's late at night. You would have to find out what feels comfortable to you and the type of guests you attract.

As others have said, the best thing to do is to take an aspiring innkeepers course. The best is to have some hands on experience, because as our member Joey Bloggs says "Innkeeping is not for whimps"!

As far as keeping your books, you really need to separate business from personal. We have separate cards we charge on which makes it much easier. We created a sub s corporation and have a business bank account and a separate personal account.

gillumhouse's picture
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When I opened, it is a big hassle to be an LLC so I am a sole proprietor (I do NOT recommend this today). I still keep my finances separate even though the taxes lump it all together with the income, the business expenses are deductible and go on a Schedule C. The business has a checkbook from one bank and the personal checkbook is from a different bank (we have 2 in town). I have one credit card I use only for B & B.

I definitely say take a couple aspiring seminars - each one will have a different "slant" - different info and the reiteration they will have will sink in a bit more on the second or third round. Light bulbs will go off or perhaps you call them AHA Moments.

We go out to dinner or local events with guests here, just not an overnight or an all day drive. The guests have keys to the house so can get in if we are out.  I do all I can as preventatives to fire, the house is above the flood plain, plumbing is going to do what it is going to do - I am not going to waste precious time worrying about it. The Fire hydrant is across the street (and so is the Fire Dept). Tell your wife to relax about those things. A bigger worry to an innkeeper is how to get guests IN the house! (in my opinion)

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The keys I give to my guests have my cell number on them so they can reach me if need be. 

I use the same debit card for business cards and personal expenses and just separate them out when itemizing in my accounting program.  To me, it's too much of a hassle to pay for things separately at the time of purchase.  I can do it at home when I don't have a clerk or other customer sighing their impatience at me getting out a different card!

Welcome to the forum.  This is a great place for questions, but I'm with Empty Nest.  An innkeeper's seminar is a great place to start, and spending time at some local B&Bs will give you tips. If you ask the innkeeper ahead of time (like maybe when you make your reservation) if they might have some time to talk to you about innkeeping, they may be happy to do so.  Have your questions written down, and understand they won't have all day to spend with you.  These are three things I did before taking the plunge ten years ago.

 

Where are you looking to buy?

Innkeep's picture
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Welcome to the forum.  Are you from the US? 

Even if you have a small operation, you should separate the expenses that are easy to separate.  Use 2 credit cards when you shop.  One for supplies for the B&B, the other for your own.  Have a checking account that is for the business, that's where the income from credit cards and other B&B income will go.  Use your personal checking account for your personal expenses.

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Before you go any further, take an aspiring innkeeper class. Then you will know the basics and be able to see if it really might be a fit for you. If you know NOTHING about B & B...you need to stay in some and see what you think. Take lots of notes so you can later use what you like and discard what you don't.

Madeleine's picture
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We leave a note with the cell number if we go out for dinner. We don't go to anything where it would be a massive interruption to get a call (movies, plays, concerts).

You will need to determine how your business will be set up to know how/when/if to separate the financials.

Good luck!

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