How to get personal time & manging upcoming baby

7 replies [Last post]
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Joined:
05/15/2017

Hi all!

We're a couple who has run a B&B for 2 years now - we currently have 4 rooms, but will get 5 rooms shortly.  In the off-season, we get maybe 40-60% full, while in the in-season, we tend to be 99% full - for example, this week we are fully booked apart from 1 room on one day.

My wife is the main person at the B&B - she does the daily tasks, while I support her as needed, and do the DIY/repairs/finance/bookings.  I also have a part-time job working 3 days a week. We have someone in every day to help us clean the B&B for 4 hours.  As my wife is heavily pregnant - nearly 7 months, we have asked the cleaners to help us with breakfast as well.  We do the washing, but we outsource the ironing.  We find the work quite overwhelming, starting at 8am, and finishing at 9pm, while I stay up until 10-11 doing the paperwork & waiting for late guests (Would love to be able to turn away guests who check in after our last check-in time, but customer service eh!).  We both rarely have time together and rarely go out.  We've now closed the B&B for one day in the week to try and reduce the workload a little.  However I'm worried with the upcoming baby, things will get hellish.  We've mooted ideas such as getting someone in 4pm to 10pm to do paperwork, welcome guests, ensure the cleaner has done their jobs etc, so we can get the occasional weekend away together.  We'd like to try and avoid this idea and am hoping you experienced people would have some wisdom to share to us.

So my questions are:

1) How do we ensure we get some personal time together?  We can't simply go out at nights because we have to welcome guests.
2) How can we manage both the B&B when the baby comes?  We have some help for breakfasts and cleaning, but nothing after 4pm, especially when I'm away at work.
3) My wife feels "trapped" here which is what I'm worried about.

Some advice would be greatly appreciated!

OnTheShore's picture
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08/28/2011

I'll join the chorus on raising your rates, and implementing a self check-in system for late arrivals or for those times when you just want to get away for the evening, and building in time for getting away.

Are all these one-night stays? That is a lot of work! Is your location one where you could require a two-night minimum (or longer) -- even if just for weekends, or during high season?  If you can get your guests to stay for longer periods, you can maintain your occupancy but have less work to do in turning over the rooms.

If you can get away with a minimum night requirement, you can combine the multi-night minimum with limited check-in days -- for example, if you could combine a required a two-night minimum on the weekend with no new reservations accepted for Saturday arrivals (i.e. the guests all arrive on Friday), then that gives you a break on Saturdays, but your rooms are still occupied and earning their keep.

Another thing to possibly consider in terms of trying to cut down your workload would be using an outside laundry service. There are linen services which will rent you everything you need, and there are laundry services that will launder your linens and towels. This works best if you can afford to invest in multiple sets (at least four sets per room is best) and have space to store everything (one on the bed/in the room, one out for washing, one on the shelf ready for the next turn over, and one in reserve just in case -- you might need even more if you're turning the rooms everyday and your laundry service is slower....).

 

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Morticia's picture
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Joined:
05/22/2008

If you're 99% occupied in peak season your rates are too low. Raise rates, maybe get slightly fewer rooms, still make more money.

Late guests - are you amenable to self check in? Set it up and don't look back.

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seashanty's picture
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Joined:
06/02/2008

Congratulations and Welcome!

1. Agree with Generic. Do the math, raise your rates a bit since it seems you can certainly do so and maintain your income. Charging a bit more and getting fewer bookings also means a lowering of expenses for each of those room cleanings, etc. You can always lower them (or, my preference, give discounts and specials the way the stores do)

2. I ran an eight room place - it was exhausting and I certainly felt trapped. You MUST... REPEAT MUST ... schedule time off, time away. A night out, a night away, even down the street. It makes all the difference in the world. With a new baby, you need someone to fill in so you can 'stand down' even if you are still on site. On advice of the experts here, I blocked out days when we were closed. Yes, CLOSED. I needed those days off desperately. With a baby on the way and then a new baby, you both need this. 

3. I promoted my best and brightest employee from chambermaid to assistant innkeeper - with a raise. I trained her for her new responsibilities and she rose up to meet and then exceed my expectations. I taught her to do what I needed help with - receiving guests, getting guest payments, answering the phone! answering questions! Learning the reservation system. Calling the upcoming guests or emailing them. And more. Each time she mastered something I asked her to do something else. She ended up going on to bigger and better things. But I had her for two years and she was a gem.  I promoted the best chambermaid after her to head housekeeper. She loved that. Again with a small raise. Anyone who cleaned shared in the (sssshhhhh tips)  

4. Can you get help after 4 pm? Why no help after 4? This is not workable for a very pg or new mom. Keep trying. 

Very best of luck to you!

Let us know how you are doing.

 

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EmptyNest's picture
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Joined:
05/22/2008

Welcome and God Blesz you both. You keep this up ... and it will only get worse with a baby.. you are going to be so burned out you will be closing for goodSad

you have got to set some priorities and fast!!  You cannot keep this up without some real problems. If you are that busy you need to block the off some days every month for you! Hire more help! Hope your rates are high enough and that you are not low balling just to fill rooms.

you don't have to greet all guests, late arrivals can be self check in. Use keypad locks on

all doors as was suggested.  Good luck

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

And by the way, HELLO!  Welcome and congratulations on the baby!!!

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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Joined:
06/24/2013

We go to bed at 9:30.   Sometimes we go out to dinner.   If you aren't here by 7, it's a self check in.

Note on the door with directions to your room.  

To greet 4 guests a day doesn't take that much time.   Without knowing where the time is spent, it's hard to help, but here are a few suggestions. 

Make your hours very clear on your confirmation email with a note saying, if you are going to be checking in after 6, please contact us so we can accommodate a late check in.

Are you doing all your own baking?   There are short cuts available.   Bread mixes, cookie mixes.   We buy cookies and coffee cake from a local bakery.  Freshly made, just not by us.

You can also buy good granola so you don't have to make your own if you don't have time.

The housekeepers can also do laundry.  Especially if they are there 4 hours for 4 rooms.  

Generic's picture
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Joined:
02/24/2011

If you are booked 99% of the time, you are doing it wrong. Put up your rates... 99% of the time isn't good, it means you are working harder than you have to. 

5 rooms for 30 days at $100 at .99% = $14850
5 rooms for 30 days at $110 at .90% = $14850

So which of the two involves less 9% less work?

We installed an electronic lock with codes we can program for the front door. All guests who arrive after 5:59PM have codes to let themselves in, so we can have a life after 6PM if we want to. They code is based on their telephone number, so we can post a sign on the door if we have to (or write in wet-erase ink on the glass.)

Having the self check-in helps. We have a camera that detects motion and comes up on our phones to tell us that someone walked by the door. But Z-wave door locks can also be programmed to email notifications, if you really want it to.

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