Ideal number of rooms

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What would you say is the ideal number of rooms for a B&B? We will have about $30K per year from my military retirement, but the B&B needs to pay for itself; mortgage, utilities, guest food, etc. We aren't looking to get rich from owning a B&B but we don't' want to go broke either. 

I realize it will depend on the cost of the business and we are shooting for well below $1M. We are also hoping to find someplace with a little bit of land so we can offer it as a wedding/party venue to supplement income if needed.

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Hi everyone, I just joined the Innspiring forum and am a broker/owner of a vacation rental/retreat and event property in Connecticut.  I am just listing for sale "The Auberge at Feather Hill" which was formerly a 7 bedroom/6.5 bath B&B and can be changed back to this use plus there is a one bedroom owner's cottage plus land to build 1-2 houses + barn, priced to sell at $825,000.  I am moving so I have to sell.  See the website for all the details: https://ctproperty.yolasite.com/

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When we bought our 6 room BnB, we had one housekeeper and she was great. We cleaned rooms occasionally, but she did most of the cleaning.

We now have an 8 room BnB, two cottages, and clean for another 6 unit property. We have 2 full time housekeepers and they are wonderful.

My philosophy is that I can earn money elsewhere to pay someone to do a better job than I can. I am not the best cleaner, I don't like to clean, I'm not good at it, and my standard of clean is nowhere good enough for our business. Shelley's is and she's wonderful, but we just don't want to do it. We would rather work doing something that we like to do and pay other people to do it.

Plus we are supporting our community. There is another aspect to having employees and it is giving some back to the community. We are giving jobs to people. I fully believe that is an important function of a business. We are glad that we're able to do that. It's a win-win for us. We could easily save money by doing some stuff ourselves, but we don't want to work ourselves to death doing things that we don't really care to do.

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flyingace71 wrote:

YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I...and we have 3 sets of everything.

Impossible without the burnout mentioned above (I predict burnout in 2 weeks if it's busy season), unless you...

  • Do a half-way job of cleaning or
  • Hire help or
  • Lose business by having to block off a LOT of rooms on the schedule so you have time to do same-day flips on the ones that are booked for that afternoon.
  • Have access to a time machine that can generate more hours between 11 a.m. check out and 4 p.m. check in.

Good luck!

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I have to agree here. Although you might can be great with this out of the gate, your stamina in the long run will eventually wane pretty hard. There will come a time when you are sitting in your recliner thinking, "I just don't want to get up and clean rooms today." Instead of thinking of ways to expand and grow your business, you're thinking of ways to cut back, like closing part of the week.

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Not true for all. It can be done Smiling

My husband and I own a 22 room winter/summer lodge, w/ a cocktail bar, and we do it ALL. We've owned for almost 5 years and we used to hire one part timer, around 12-15 hrs a week to help us with housekeeping. We didn't re-hire after our last one quit because it's very hard to find good quality help in our area (and frankly, I gave up on trying to find someone who would just show up for an interview). It does take some dedication, but after a while you find a routine, you find patterns in your renters and schedule, and learn how to be efficient as a team. We also have 2 young children factored in. I would kill to have only 11 rooms Eye-wink

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I run 5 or 6 rooms and all year round I have a person who comes in to do a weekly deep clean and in the high season, I have someone who comes in for 3 to 4 hours a day. We even limit our hours and do self check-in. But at 7 days a week for months on end, with no help... I'd be burnt. Even this way, we find it tough around 3/4 of the season through. And we take LONG vacations.

When I was younger, I did all the rooms,and had no high season help... but I can't do it all anymore. Even with the help, I make breakfast each day, I do the accounting, answer calls, do all the laundry, buy supplies, etc. But I ALWAYS had that person who comes in once a week who does the deep clean. And on the day the deep clean person comes in, I still make breakfast, do the beds and do all the laundry, including all their rags. They are here 7 or 8 hours making sure that everything is tip top... no dust on the artwork, no dust bunnies under the beds, mopping floors, etc. So even with help, there is plenty to do. And you don't want to be "worn out" when you answer the door for guests. 

But we warn guests we only do check-in from 3PM to 5:59PM, before that, you pay, after that you check-in yourself. Best foot forward at arrival time... and those who arrive early... learn quickly, there is a price for showing up at 2:30PM and thinking it will be okay.... 

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I hear ya. We also have unique circumstances like the occasional self check in and specific check in hours, etc.. actually I've learned alot from this forum in regards to policy and operation. (Thanks all!) We do outsource what we need to, which helps.

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I will completely disagree with being able to care for 22 guest rooms with 2 people only when those 2 people are also parents and the owners. You can be as efficient as you want, but something is suffering somewhere.

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I can see how you would be skeptical. Definitely not saying it's easy or for everyone. And I probably should have added that we outsource what we need to and have a few other unique circumstances to our place. We keep up just fine though and look forward to our breaks. We get some decent downtime in the early spring (now) and late fall due to our geographic location. We know our high and low times and plan accordingly. I realize some of you have year round, fully occupied Inns & Bnb's, and in that case, your right, we would be dead on our feet at 22 rooms. I would love to have something around 10 rooms.

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Morticia wrote:

I will completely disagree with being able to care for 22 guest rooms with 2 people only when those 2 people are also parents and the owners. You can be as efficient as you want, but something is suffering somewhere.

Sounds familiar, a few years in the business at age 50 and one youngster at home I would have loved to have had 22 rooms and thought we could manage that number, today at age 76 and our daughter helping, some days are a struggle with our 8 rooms. We have changed, time takes it toll, we are older and tire faster. The guests and business have changed, looking back to our beginning we might have been one of the better "cheap" places in town, business was often the overflow when town was full. Today I feel we compete with the "nice" places in town, we have our following of really nice guests and put a lot of effort into details to ensure their return and most depart as friends.

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I agree with you. Time does take its toll. Not for everyone and things definitely change. I was simply trying to say it IS possible for someone with the right drive and a clear plan.

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BRLodge wrote:
I was simply trying to say it IS possible for someone with the right drive and a clear plan.

Morning BRLodge, I took a minute and looked at your website, envy for the days when we were the young couple, wish we could have started this business at your point in life, it is a time when many things are possible. I look forward to seeing you and your ideas here on the forum.

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YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I Smiling We think we can do it since it's cottages not in our house and we have 3 sets of everything. Here's hoping!

We are zoned C-1 commercial too.

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flyingace71 wrote:

YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I Smiling We think we can do it since it's cottages not in our house and we have 3 sets of everything. Here's hoping!

I have to echo what others have said, but much will depend on you, the inn/location, volume and timing of guests. We have 8 rooms, no food service, in my 40's I thought we needed more rooms, in my 70's, well at times it seems at times we never get done, but it will depend on the flow of your business. We tend to be busy weekends, holidays, and a few certain peak times, not so busy mid-week, works well for our needs, but if you need to be busy all 7 days, well I don't envy the work that will be needed.

Cottages strike me as a mixed blessing, nice not to have everyone in your home, but having looked at some similar arrangements and the idea of carrying laundry and supplies looked like a lot of work to me, still wish you every success.

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JimBoone wrote:
cottages .... the idea of carrying laundry and supplies looked like a lot of work to me

We have a golf cart to cart everything around. Some of our cleaners will use their own car (especially if they have their own equipment, i.e. contractors).

We have big plastic tote bins for each cottage, labelled on the outside with a permanent marker with an inventory of what's needed for each cottage. We pack these ahead of time with all the sheets, towels, paper goods, etc... that will be needed for that cottage, so when the cleaning crew come in they can just grab the bin for their assigned cottage and go.

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OnTheShore wrote:

We have a golf cart to cart everything around. Some of our cleaners will use their own car (especially if they have their own equipment, i.e. contractors).

Golf cart sounds like a good plan (cleaners sounds even better), but was thinking flyingace71 was speaking of being mom & pop like us. We once looked a beautiful B&B facing the river (smaller) thinking it a way to wind down and enjoy life more, but after looking and considering the stairs and the laundry being under a separate cottage up the hill, decided we were better off with what we knew. Would have needed an oxygen tank to make it up the hill.

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flyingace71 wrote:

YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I Smiling We think we can do it since it's cottages not in our house and we have 3 sets of everything. Here's hoping!

We are zoned C-1 commercial too.

I worked as a housekeeper many years ago.  We would not have been assigned more than 5 or 6 rooms a day.   I suggest you will need help.

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flyingace71 wrote:

YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I Smiling We think we can do it since it's cottages not in our house and we have 3 sets of everything. Here's hoping!

We are zoned C-1 commercial too.

 

Three sets of everything is a must.  We have done six rooms alone for the past 13 years, we are now both 65.  Couldn't handle any more alone... 11 is impossible.

 

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flyingace71 wrote:

YIPE, we just bought an 11 room Inn and it's just my wife and I Smiling We think we can do it since it's cottages not in our house and we have 3 sets of everything. Here's hoping!

We are zoned C-1 commercial too.

We could easily flip 7 rooms everyday when we first bought this place. Did we want to do that? No. Could we do it now, 15 years later? Not a chance.

I strongly recommend you find help before your busy season starts. Are you doing weekly rentals or nightly? That makes a huge difference.

You do not want to spend every waking moment working. You want to enjoy the place you live in.

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You won't be able to do it alone. Not unless you really want to burn out. You are going to have to give up doing some parts of it.

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We have 9 cottages ranging from a studio to a six bedroom lodge (every bed fully occupied we can sleep 56). All have full kitchens, some have multiple bathrooms (e.g. the lodge). We hire a crew of cleaners to handle the changeovers (Sat to Sat weeks during peak season), we send the laundry out, and we have a part-time person to help with maintenance and groundskeeping as well.

Good Luck!

Tom
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In most US jurisdictions, 5 rooms or fewer is "residential B&B" and 6 and above is typically "commercial". Federal ADA law, Uniform Building Code apply to 6 and above.

We're 5 for that reason.  Operates like a 2 in the slow season, a 5 in the high season.  Make it's style match your own, don't make it fancier than you can sustain over the long haul.

 

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The ADA applies to places of lodging. Only properties with 5 or fewer rooms that are owner occupied are exempt. If the property is not owner occupied it is not exempt. See www.ADA.gov and www.ADAexpertise.com. 

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Thanks Tom...that was very very helpful information!  By chance, do you know what site(s) I should look at to help me understand the Federal regulations for 6+ rooms...as well as state/county sites?

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And not to make it even more confusing, but regs for different agencies in the same State can be different. In WV, Health Dept. Codes are 6 rooms or less and 7 or more. Fire Codes say 3 rooms is just  residence and 4 to 6 have regs and 7 or more have other regs.

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Wouldn't it be nice if our different government bodies could all get on the same page

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Dreaming 4 a Darling Inn wrote:

By chance, do you know what site(s) I should look at to help me understand the Federal regulations for 6+ rooms...as well as state/county sites?

You might start with ADA.gov, yet to me the hitch is the comment "help me understand", as laws always seem to be written for large corporations with legal departments rather than mom & pop.  I also think you're in good company right on this forum, at least to get a "heads up" about things we need to consider.

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Please feel free to call me. I’d be glad to answer your questions.305-896-3000

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It was eight rooms for me and the amount of rooms occupied brought in more money but also cost me more in all areas especially staff ... the breakfasts, the laundry, the cleaning, the time! I could not clean (flip) more than three rooms a day every day, plus all the common areas, on my own in addition to doing the grocery shopping and all the other tasks involved with running an inn. For higher occupancy, I required staff, and that cost has to be factored in. Even doing all the inside work, I needed help with the yardwork and the trash disposal (no town pickups). Then there is office work and bookkeeping and marketing, etc. Sometimes I spent all day and night working when running at full capacity, even with staff ... it was grab a shower, grab some sleep, grab a meal. There are unexpected things that happen. All the time. If there are two of you, that's a big help if you both can manage the workings of the place. 

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The previous owner rented 8 rooms.  We didn't think we could do that - plus, we wanted a bigger apartment.  So we annexed two of her rental rooms and we rent 6 rooms.

When we have only 4 rented, it's like a day off!  

From looking around this town, I think 6 - 8 is pretty average.   3 is a part time job.  

Work with your area and the house you find.   And your annual budget requirements.

 

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Sorry, but 3-rooms is not a part-time job. For one thing, it depends on the area demand. Those of us who are NOT in a tourist mecca may be quite busy with just 3-rooms. Even though I am not booked every night, my B & B IS my full-time job. 

It also depends on your life-style and what you expect of the B & B as to how many rooms are needed.  I mostly live on the income of the B & B, if I was in a tourist area, I could easily live on the income of my 3-rooms.

It is hurtful when another innkeeper denigrates a smaller inn as if it is insignificant in the scheme of things. Just because we may choose to have fewer rooms does not mean it is less than what anyone else has as a business.

It is a good thing I chose to have just 3-rooms - more would have bankrupted me in my chosen area. I would be a slave to the OTAs now just to pay the taxes, insurance, and utilities a larger B & B would incur. Since I opened, to say over 2500 hotel rooms have been built in my area is an understatement. The interstate corridor that was in place has had several hotels opened at each exit - they were building one more exit when we moved here and in the last 5 years, 4 hotels have been built just at that exit. The next exit down has torn down one and built a multi-story hotel to replace the one-story motel with  about 20 rooms and added another large multi-story hotel just down the same access road.

I congratulate those with large inns who have help and admire those that do it themselves. I chose to do what I can manage alone as Himself was not physically able to help with  this enterprise. Yes, my ox was gored and it hurt.

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I hope you know me better than to think I would hurt you or anyone here on purpose.   I apologize for my poorly chosen words.

Understand I am speaking from my experience and specifically my experience in my town.   I know a couple innkeepers who manage 3 rooms.   It is not their full time job.   In either case.

The question is, what is an ideal number of rooms.   I tried to share my thoughts on the question.   I am sorry I hurt your feelings.   I certainly did not mean to be thoughtless or dismissive. 

Please forgive me.

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Of course. Just wanting to remind everyone that it is not the size of a B & B that makes it a full-time or part-time job, it is the attitude of the innkeeper as well as the location and affordability of the facility. It is not a job for me - it is my vocation. As a job, I would hate it. As my vocation, I love it.

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We have 3 rooms, we've often said how much easier it is to only have two rooms let.

Was speaking to a lady down the road who has 4 rooms, she said how much easier it is with 3.

Work wise seems most people want 1 less room than they have smiley

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Highlands John wrote:

We have 3 rooms, we've often said how much easier it is to only have two rooms let.

Was speaking to a lady down the road who has 4 rooms, she said how much easier it is with 3.

Work wise seems most people want 1 less room than they have smiley

OMG! That is so true! When we have 6 rooms it's like a mini vacation.

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Doesn't work that way. And it all depends on how your government taxes things and how you expense. And of course income is related to occupancy and price. 

For example, while on vacation, I had to pay for Internet access to answer emails for the business... normally this would have been out-of-pocket expense, because sending a friend an email is personal.... but in this case, it's essential for the business and therefore a business expense.

So things that might be personal for most people are business expense for us. 

Also, the rate for my rooms can go from $90 a night to $300 a night for the same room, so it depends on occupancy. I can easily get the $300 every time, but I have a lot of occupancy at the $90 rate. Why? Seasons, festivals, holidays and events can affect my rates dramatically. (My high season months can bring in multiples of what I earn in a low season month. In other words, one June is worth 6 to 10 times what a January might bring.) 

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Number of rooms required to meet expenses depends on your market. We're open about 9 months of the year. We easily meet expenses with 7 rooms.

We could do a whole lot better if we opted to host events. It's just not us to be that busy!

There are times we could sell another 3 rooms/night because of tourist need. And other times we've only booked 4 rooms on a given night.

A lot depends, too, on what the market will bear in re pricing. Tourism tax revenue has increased 6%/year for the past 2 years in my state, so there is room for a big bump in income.

Something else you want to focus on is whether or not you actually want to live in a particular place. If you don't like where you live, it won't matter how much money you're making.

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Morticia wrote:
Tourism tax revenue has increased 6%/year for the past 2 years in my state...

Hmm, wonder how much of that comes from the State now collecting lodging taxes directly from AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway etc... rather than relying on vacation rental property owners?

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I'm afraid in my view it will not be the number of rooms, but the number of rooms occupied with paying guests at a decent rate that will pay the bills so let's go at this a slightly different way.

Will you be mom & pop doing it all yourselves or host & hostess hiring folks to do the work, don't answer to me, but just think about those thoughts. We have 8 rooms, 16 beds, don't serve food, at age 50 wife ran the place and I was extra helper evenings and weekends when not working at day job, worked well for us, at age 75 it seems a lot larger than it once did, but next generation of innkeepers now lives next door, that helps. For me I prefer to do the stress free physical work as opposed to the stress of being manager and bookkeeper.

Next part of that, are your rooms going to be busy everyday, all seasons or busy enough certain times to carry the rest of the year, again, don't answer me, but consider you and the place you choose and the lifestyle you desire. We probably have good and excellent weekend business 8 months out of the year, many weekdays and the other 4 months not so exciting, but the flip side of that is that we are happy, bills got paid and we got to breathe and enjoy life, retiring from one career I assume you desire a little fun time too.

Two ways to look at purchasing, back when I would have said it doesn't matter how much it costs, it's about how much you have left after you make the payments, my wife had the view to choose small, cheap, pay off the loan, after all we got to live somewhere anyway, guess we followed her view, but it has worked well for us.

Hope some of that proves useful to you, I'm sure much will depend on the area of the country you choose and also consider the type of guest you desire as your guests will also contribute or take away from your happy life. My ideal or target guests are just nice everyday folks, middle of the road, I'm not comfortable with the rough and rowdy crowd and don't figure I'm a classy enough guy to be comfortable with the upper crust so consider a place that fits you and the guests that will contribute to a happy life.

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I second the opinion to choose a place that fits you.

I used to go to Assoc meetings at the B & Bs that were mansions, then come home to my four-Square and do the Bette Davis, "What a dump!" Then one day, sitting in one of those mansions, I was looking at the beautiful wood fretwork, the gorgeous chandeliers in the foyer, the dining room, and in the parlors (all visable from where I sat) and found myself thinking, "I am SO glad I do not have to clean this place." I went home with a new appreciation for my B & B. I also knew I would not feel comfortable living in a mansion. I am a four-square or farm house type person. Understand your own comfort zone first and foremost.

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