Going in alone

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Foxfire

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Heya all, I'm a newbie here but I've been doing a lot of research all around and I'm looking to start a new Bed and Breakfast. I've been looking to move out of the large city I live in and start a new chapter in an area about a hour and a half away that I visit in year round and absolutely adore. I've been looking at houses in the area and I've found one I enjoy and in a town who's 2019 Town Council plans wanted to add a new Bed and Breakfast to help develop the city area. I've priced out what nearby hotels are and even going lower I should be able to do decently and honestly the financials are less a concern.

So... if I go ahead with this plan, I would be going into it alone. My friends from the city have no interest in doing more than visiting every once in a while, so I would be taking care of everything by myself. Now I know I could do everything, and even do everything regularly, but I can hardly imagine having to be on and taking care of everything every single day without a day off unless you shut down the inn. I understand many people who start a Bed and Breakfast go in as a couple but I was wondering if there are people who have started a BnB alone and what your experiences were and are.

I don't want to go into this and have to give up because I have to take so many days off that there's no way to keep above water. But I'm honestly not sure if that's a reasonable fear.

Thanks for your time!
 

gillumhouse

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How many rooms would you be doing? Will you live on-site? You say finanacials are not a huge concern.

I started my 3-room in 1996 - I knew it was what I was going to do when we bought the house. My husband was alive hen but was NOT able to do a lot due to polio which returned as post-polio syndrome a few years later. He was able for a while to do small repairs, vac the downstairs, and fo the dishes. The rest was mine - cooking, laundry, cleaning, reservations, and marketing. I am NOT in a tourist mecca - I am in West Virginia abut 7 miles from the Interstate. I MADE my place a tourist destination using everything there is within 60- miles (and sometimes a bit farther) as part of my marketing. Although he died 4 years ago, I was more or loss solo for the last 10 years. The one thing about the last 4 years - yes I DO miss my dishwasher - I no longer have to work around his doctor appointments etc.

Take days off. do not try for more than 75% occupancy if even that. DO NOT C?HARGE LESS THAN HOTELS in the area if you are offering a quality stay which I am certain you will be (things like pools, exercise rooms would justify the hotel to be more). i was more for my king room than some of the hotels - have not checked recently. Feel free to ask questions. i am not anon - too old to remember a persona. You can message through here.
 

Anon Inn

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Gilum has a very important point. Please do not undercut other lodgings. Everyone on this board will tell you - you do not want the bottom feeders.
you are selling quality uniqueness and service. Get those things right and you will be as Gilum says: “ as busy as you want to be“
I run solo, two rooms and two standalone apartments. I worked up to that over several years. Best wishes.
 

Morticia

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If you are creating a b&b out of thin air from a house you have a huge project ahead of you. But, you also have the ability to create something really special.

If you’re checking local pricing at hotels, check what they offer as well. Honestly, where we were there was absolutely no way we could charge what the hotels charged. Even this summer, when prices are obscene, no one in my town is charging anything close to what the hotels are getting.

If you want the higher rates you have to offer twice the amenities the hotels offer.

But, yes, you can do this yourself. Now, ‘by yourself’ I mean you do most of the work, but you must hire out the stuff you hate! For me that was the cleaning. We also hired out the mowing and snow plowing. Laundry is another drudge task you will hate during the busy season. Plan days off. Maybe once/month. We were open year round until we realized it was crazy to try to do that and started planning real time off.

I know I could not have handled running the inn by myself. So, you really need to understand your own personality.

Good luck! You might want to look at working at a b&b to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes.
 

JimBoone

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I'm the odd duck, 8 room motel, bed without breakfast, there have always been two of us, however until I reached my early 70's I worked a weekday job and the wife was the horse that did nearly everything at the motel. For us, business came in cycles, there were days and times of day we knew wouldn't be busy, we could also block certain times if we needed off.

Age catches up with us quickly and my "horse" isn't able any longer, at a certain point and you have to adapt. In recent years our daughter and husband do most of the work with a little help from me and we send the laundry out to be done by others. Our online system (ReservationKey) can be set to block a day (or more) between reservations, we use this feature to pace ourselves.

We attempt to find a balance with pricing, prefer not to have the rough crowd that follow cheap prices, we are ordinary folks so top tier isn't really my area either. I feel prices in general are too high, I could likely go higher, yet there is a balance, if I treat nice people reasonable, they may well remember me and return in the future.
 
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Northern Dreamer

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When my hubby and I started 5 years ago, we went to an "Aspiring Innkeeper Seminar that our local state B&B org offered. It was so helpful! First off, we learned that unless you are a larger facility and running at high occupancy most of the time, you will not earn a salary that would replace a full-time job. But we are retired and don't need it to be our sole income.

We also learned fast that our price-point can help keep out the riff-raff. Don't undercut yourself! We value our breakfast out at roughly $30+ - if you priced everything ala cart. Take that off your room rate, add on labor for cooking and cleaning (plus any other little extras that we all include in our rooms) and you'll see that you do need to charge an appropriate rate!
This summer, a local econ-o lodge was charging seasonal rates at $350 a room, and another dump (quoting a guest) was charging $250. (Personally I think that is just gouging people.) We are clean, in a rural area, can only have up to 10 guests, and serve up a fresh, hot, 3+ course gourmet breakfast! They get a great deal here, but I am not going the cheap route!!! We also keep our rates the same year round as we will offer the same great service everyday, not just summer tourist season.

As for days off or trying to do it all - just make sure you plan in YOUR DAY(s) OFF too!! We've pick 1-3 days each week (less around holidays) in our busy season where we block off days and don't give them up. We are as busy as we want to be and a rested innkeeper is a happy innkeeper!

Some seasons we hire yard workout or bring in extra help for cleaning and laundry. Learn/Know your limits and take care of yourself!

Good Luck!
 

JimBoone

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Aspiring Innkeeper Seminar - First off, we learned that unless you are a larger facility and running at high occupancy most of the time, you will not earn a salary that would replace a full-time job.

This summer, a local econ-o lodge was charging seasonal rates at $350 a room, and another dump (quoting a guest) was charging $250. (Personally I think that is just gouging people.)
Agree on both points, I felt I needed the outside job for income and insurance benefits that would not have been otherwise available to me, but also many blessings in this work for a happy life. I see the same sort of high prices in our area and agree to it being unreasonable. On the plus side it encourages new guests to try the little place out of town and many return or leave good reviews, the negative side is the prices being charged by the places whose guests I don't want to encourage.
 

Jay Curci

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When we entered the business we read a book "So you want to be an Innkeeper" it was good and went over most of the information that we needed to proceed. When looking for software and policies, I contacted very successful Inns and spoke to Owners. Got some great tips - especially on cancellation policy. Over 30 days cancelation is a 25 booking Fee - under 30 days (if not re-booked - pay for stay!). This has helped immeasurably as we avoid Guests that like to book 2-3 places and decide later.... We simply explain - We are a family owed and operated business and can't afford the financial burden of last minute cancellations!! Everyone understands - gets easier as you realize the Policy makes sense and you get comfortable explaining and letting potential Guests go elsewhere if they would like. Prices will be going up next year! We are considering keeping w/e rates all week as well. For now, just happy business is back.
 

scottcrumpton

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I don't want to go into this and have to give up because I have to take so many days off that there's no way to keep above water. But I'm honestly not sure if that's a reasonable fear.

Fear exists for a reason -- it keeps you from making mistakes. As you've pointed out, fear can sometimes be unreasonable but going into business in an industry you have no experience in IS something you should be very cautious about.

Having been in the industry for 27 years, it's rare when I see an inn fail for lack of revenue. That said, I see tons of inns suffer from lower revenue than they should and I also see plenty of overwhelmed innkeepers including many who are burned out from trying to do it all themselves.

Before you jump with both feet into the deep end, I highly recommend you attend an innkeeper seminar taught by one of the following professionals.
Best of luck to you!
 

Jay Curci

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"Nothing to Fear but Fear itself" That is a true statement. I suggest doing your numbers - if they work out for you - Jump in!

Try and understand that Innkeeping is a lifestyle and not a job!! It took me years to finally truly understand this fact and accept the reality that I'm on the clock 24/7. If you enjoy people and helping others this might be right for you. Also, this is not a career Lazy people will enjoy - but the reward is worth it if you like to work and have a good positive attitude toward serving others.
 

Tom

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Don't know if Foxfire is still following,
I will second all the advice above and add that it's critical to establish a local network of support for housekeeping and repairs and find somebody who can back you up when you need to leave town or want to take some time off or have a last-minute crisis of some kind.
B&B is: financials, people, and lots and lots of hours. As a solo operator you can handle financials and people, but you need to count on getting help with the hours or you will go nuts.
 
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