Advice on education and training to run a B & B

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This is my first post here as I am an Aspiring (Wannabee) Innkeeper.  Here is my situation.  I have been employed with the same company for over 30 years.  I am so ready for a change and have been for a long time.  My dream is to someday (after my son graduates from high school in 4 years) to own my own bed and breakfast or small hotel/resort.  I have plenty of experience in the food service industry as well as office administrative experience. I am very good at cooking/baking and also would enjoy a bed and breakfast that also handles small weddings.   

This is my first question --  I do not have a college degree so I was thinking of taking some Hospitality Management courses at a local community college and work toward an associates degree.  Or would it be more advantageous to take an Innkeeper training course and just visit as many B & B's as I can over the next few years to get as much knowledge as I can about the business?  

Secondly - There is the perfect B & B that is for sale (out of state but in the resort town that I want to live) and exactly what I want and includes a small chapel and outdoor wedding space as well.  I do not have the funds to purchase it and like I said I would need to wait about 4 years for when my son graduates from high school to be able to pursue this.  Any creative ideas on how I could try to pursue this without the financial backing? 

My thought was that I could approach the owner and ask if I could work there on the weekends, when they would need the help for the most part anyway. I could help with all aspects of the business - cooking, cleaning, reservations, wedding planning, etc.  I could learn the business from them with the intent to purchase it from them when I am able to relocate.  But how many owners would be willing to do that?

Thank you for your time and expertise!

Dreaming 4 a Darling Inn's picture
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Check out the B&B Team (https://bbteam.com/).  They do day seminars as well as weekend seminars all over the nation.  My husband and I went to the first weekend seminar to understand at a high level what running a B&B is all about.  Then about a year later, we did the second seminar which was to work an actual B&B over a 4 day weekend along with more training/seminar items plus a individual meeting with a consultant.  We learned so much and realized how much more we need to learn and think through before proceeding with our dreams.  It was also a good eye opener for me regarding how my husband feels about this dream (it's mine more than his) and what he is able and willing to do.  It's really good to know what each person in the partnership is able to do much less willing to do...instead of making assumptions.

If anyone else has other ideas, I am all ears as I am still learning myself! Smiling 

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Himself was on board, sort of. It took 3 years and a voice on the other end of the line asking,"Is this the bed & breakfast?" for him to FINALLY answer the phone- Gillum House. It was not what I wanted, but better than hello so i settled for it. He DID always do the dishes, vac, and serve if I had an early meeting or job. He always enjoyed talking to guests. EVERYONE being on board makes it better.

Tom
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B and B Wannabee wrote:

 I have been employed with the same company for over 30 years.  I am so ready for a change and have been for a long time.  My dream is ...

Indeed! 

B&B can be very rewarding personally, and modestly rewarding financially.  Do a business plan and include major contingencies for things really not working out the way you hope.

Innkeeping isn't hard -- it is complicated.  Cooking, baking, bookkeeping are not the main challenge, rather it is the whole flow of attracting and serving guests day-in, day-out.  Your state association, or the state to where you would like to move, can be very helpful.  Most associations offer very informative seminars and may be able to arrange more hands-on training.  Where ever you go for training, make sure it is a real practicing (or practiced) B&B innkeeper teaching.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Tom wrote:

B and B Wannabee wrote:

 I have been employed with the same company for over 30 years.  I am so ready for a change and have been for a long time.  My dream is ...

Indeed! 

B&B can be very rewarding personally, and modestly rewarding financially.  Do a business plan and include major contingencies for things really not working out the way you hope.

Innkeeping isn't hard -- it is complicated.  Cooking, baking, bookkeeping are not the main challenge, rather it is the whole flow of attracting and serving guests day-in, day-out.  Your state association, or the state to where you would like to move, can be very helpful.  Most associations offer very informative seminars and may be able to arrange more hands-on training.  Where ever you go for training, make sure it is a real practicing (or practiced) B&B innkeeper teaching.

The REALLY hard part of innkeeping is the balance. The balance between things YOU would like to see and do, the balance of family, and the balance to happy guests. And there is also the balance of the financials - hoping the inCOME is more than the OUTgo. For me, since my family is grown I just block off when my kids are coming to town, my balance is between business, city, band, and the other volunteer things I am involved in. 

Yesterday for instance, guests breakfast, wait for them to return from bike ride in case they have questions about where they planned to go for the day. They get back, i get bikes put away, they leave and we go get some k-cups on sale (25.99 for 80 and several varieties 3.99 fpr 12) and pick up a gallon of paint for porch trim (son coming in 2 weeks - cheap labor). Get home and make cookies for candidate doeum and when I take cookies over discover I am timekeeper to get the pols to shut up after 2 minutes. By the time I got done it was roo late to go to the store for bacon & strawberries so guests had neither this morning. This is the kind of thing innkeepers balance daily with family.

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Tom wrote:

B and B Wannabee wrote:

 I have been employed with the same company for over 30 years.  I am so ready for a change and have been for a long time.  My dream is ...

Indeed! 

B&B can be very rewarding personally, and modestly rewarding financially.  Do a business plan and include major contingencies for things really not working out the way you hope.

Innkeeping isn't hard -- it is complicated.  Cooking, baking, bookkeeping are not the main challenge, rather it is the whole flow of attracting and serving guests day-in, day-out.  Your state association, or the state to where you would like to move, can be very helpful.  Most associations offer very informative seminars and may be able to arrange more hands-on training.  Where ever you go for training, make sure it is a real practicing (or practiced) B&B innkeeper teaching.

Innkeeping can be very hard.

Depends on the definition and what it means to you.

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happykeeper's picture
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This is a common twiddle that can easily get lost in semantics. The only time inn-keeping has been very hard was when we forgot how complicated it can be. 

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happykeeper's picture
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I talked about this briefly in a recent post. You should HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN that has a set of goals attached to it. At the least, you should have a clear set of goals in mind that is concrete enough and realistic enough to achieve in a time that is somewhere in the ballpark of when you want to begin.

You are wise to begin this now- four years before you may actually do it. The more you can check off your list before you begin, the more realistic your dream will become. 

 

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Your education begins here.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Your education begins here.

This is so spot on.  An innkeeping seminar or on site training will get you much further than formal hospitality courses.

Also, where is this resort town you speak of?  There is a B&B for sale here that has a chapel & grounds and I'm just curious if you are looking in this area.

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Any recommendations for the best Innkeeping seminar to take?  I know the closest training to me would be in Colorado.  But would like any advice on the best one's around the country.

 

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the location that I am interested in.

Thanks for your advice!

Joey Camb's picture
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also I find many courses and books on BB management are very light on the marketing side something you can do for free is

(1) look at web sites - features you like, ones you don't

(2) do google searches for inn's that seem busy what are they doing? where are they listed?

If I had a pound for every person who says things like "oh well we will only take bookings over the phone as we want to know what sort of people are coming" and so on.

Also if you are doing weddings make sure the contract is tied up as tight as a duck's bum! when they can arrive, who is responsible for clean up - when they have to leave by and what charge if they don't. There is a good thread on here about contracts for weddings or it might be elopements you should read up on.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

Do you currently own your own home?  If so, the money is in the equity.  If not, start saving. 

4 years x 12 months = 48 months.   You will need 20% or more down.   If the inn costs 500,000, you will need 100,000.   But you also will need a cushion for the move, set up, fees, business costs like a phone and web site, and hidden costs like when you realize all the toilet seats are 10 years old.  

You will need to save $3000 a month for 48 months.  That will give you $144,000.  

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OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

I know there often are good reasons for waiting until kids are through school (we are doing so, in a way), but what are your reasons for waiting? Why do you have to wait until your son is through school before embarking on this particular adventure?

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

As to the My Thought: Probably very few.

The taking Hospitality courses is a good idea. Visiting B & Bs is a good idea. Funding - as a radio getting out of debt guru says, live on beans & rice and rice and beans to sock away every cent possible as you will need it. Financing although not impossible, IS difficult. IF you can start out debt-free it is a plus. Warning - if there is anyone else other than you who will be involved. EVERYONE involved MUST be on the same page and gung-ho.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Take classes in owning an inn rather than business classes if you already have experience.

Take classes for newbies that also focus on how to finance your dream. Your state b&b association can direct you to classes.

You say the place for sale is out of state. How do you plan on getting there and where will you stay?

Perhaps pursue a similar situation closer to home and save your money towards your down payment in 4 years.

Down payment is essentially 25%+ to buy a business. The bank will only finance on the appraisal amount so if the 'goodwill' part of the sale is $100k you also have to come up with that on top of the 25%.

Food for thought.

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