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Biekervi

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My wife and I are in the early stages of planning a B&B in the next 3-5 years. I’ve greatly enjoyed the input and opinions from everyone on this site. I’m spending my time researching as much as possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on completing this statement.
“If I could go back and change something when I started my business I would...”

Looking forward to your thought.
 

JimBoone

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on completing this statement.
“If I could go back and change something when I started my business I would...”
Biekervi, I or my answers may not fit the thoughts you desire, but I'll take a shot at an answer. Know that we are an eight room motel, bed without breakfast, working on year thirty at this point. I think we all second guess ourselves at some point in time. I'm in the same building, but change is constant. I can tell you that what I would have changed ten years in, is not the same as what I would have changed twenty years in, we continue to learn and grow.

I wanted a future, I thought I'd like this life, I wanted to relocate to our vacation area. For me anyway there is a difference between the dream and that which was financially possible, it has taken time to create the dream.

Choose a location/town you love. Choose this because you love the life and the guests (problems and all), I haven't found it to be a quick way to financial riches, but I find the life rewarding.
 
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FHI2426

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We have owned 5 room (soon to be 6) B&B in Annapolis MD and to finish your statement - we wouldn't change much of anything other than this damn virus! We ramped up the business, modernized the marketing, invested in delayed and needed infrastructure (roof, siding, hot water heater, kitchen) and integrated into the community... We don't aim to own for a long time, this was 2nd career, so if you have an interest in a vibrant community right on the water than let us know!
 

Arks

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I put gas fireplaces in 3 of my units, and real wood burning stoves in the other 2. If I had it to do over, I'd have gone with all gas fireplaces. They look pretty real and people love the look and the ease of starting a fire with the push of a button, and there's no wood/kindling/fire starter to restock, no glass door to clean, no ashes to carry out. Also, a couple times people who didn't really know how to build a fire managed to fill the room with smoke and set off the fire alarm!
 

Biekervi

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Biekervi, I or my answers may not fit the thoughts you desire, but I'll take a shot at an answer. Know that we are an eight room motel, bed without breakfast, working on year thirty at this point. I think we all second guess ourselves at some point in time. I'm in the same building, but change is constant. I can tell you that what I would have changed ten years in, is not the same as what I would have changed twenty years in, we continue to learn and grow.

I wanted a future, I thought I'd like this life, I wanted to relocate to our vacation area. For me anyway there is a difference between the dream and that which was financially possible, it has taken time to create the dream.

Choose a location/town you love. Choose this because you love the life and the guests (problems and all), I haven't found it to be a quick way to financial riches, but I find the life rewarding.
That is great advice. That reinforces our main first step which was to find a place where we really like the people and the activities that happen during peak tourist time. Thank you for your insight.
 

Biekervi

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We have owned 5 room (soon to be 6) B&B in Annapolis MD and to finish your statement - we wouldn't change much of anything other than this damn virus! We ramped up the business, modernized the marketing, invested in delayed and needed infrastructure (roof, siding, hot water heater, kitchen) and integrated into the community... We don't aim to own for a long time, this was 2nd career, so if you have an interest in a vibrant community right on the water than let us know!
This will be a 2nd career for both of us as well, which is a little scary and why we’re taking our time to research so much. We really like the area we’ve picked in Door County WI because it is by the water (lighthouses and all.) I also agree that the virus sucks.
 

Biekervi

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I put gas fireplaces in 3 of my units, and real wood burning stoves in the other 2. If I had it to do over, I'd have gone with all gas fireplaces. They look pretty real and people love the look and the ease of starting a fire with the push of a button, and there's no wood/kindling/fire starter to restock, no glass door to clean, no ashes to carry out. Also, a couple times people who didn't really know how to build a fire managed to fill the room with smoke and set off the fire alarm!
That is great advice. We have an older gas fireplace in our home. I did miss the smell of a wood fireplace so we put one outside. I can only imagine the mess those may have been to deal with.
 

MRA

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Have more than enough resources in the bank to get you through most of the whatevers. So you don't feel like you have to take a walk-in after midnight, or be able to close for a week just because, or hire someone out to do a certain project, or hire help with the cleaning instead of always doing it yourself to save money, etc.
 

Biekervi

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Have more than enough resources in the bank to get you through most of the whatevers. So you don't feel like you have to take a walk-in after midnight, or be able to close for a week just because, or hire someone out to do a certain project, or hire help with the cleaning instead of always doing it yourself to save money, etc.
I appreciate the thought MRA. Is there a certain equation you’d recommend to be “enough resources?” Would that be a year, 6 months, 2 years... of operating expenses? Or enough to cover the taxes for a couple of years???
 

gillumhouse

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JimBoone mentioned what I consider first and foremost - will you want to live there year round. Too often people visit an area during "the season" and fall in love with it but fail to realize it is 365 Days a year. Also can you and the people of the area co-exist (this is important). I am an alien since I did not grow up in this city (pop 2300) but DID grow up in West Virginia which greased wheels a bit for me.

As to how much in reserve, financial people advise 3 to 6 months of operating expenses (business AND personal) in reserve. When figuring the cost of any project, I would suggest doubling it to be safe from surprises. My regret came after my husband died and I upgraded the electricals, added lighting, and insulation to the enclosed half of the front porch (Mrs. Gillum's sunroom that WAS his workshop) to become my office. I regretted not dong that when we first moved in for him!

I regretted taking so long to add a bathroom - private ensuite is the way to go IF POSSIBLE and a nice kitchen (mine was originally the back porch until the Gillum's moved their room downstairs in 1952.). A nice common room for guests AND more space for yourselves than just a bedroom & bathroom. Make things as easy to clean as possible (if there is a way to just hose it down, do it is what I mean).
 

Biekervi

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JimBoone mentioned what I consider first and foremost - will you want to live there year round. Too often people visit an area during "the season" and fall in love with it but fail to realize it is 365 Days a year. Also can you and the people of the area co-exist (this is important). I am an alien since I did not grow up in this city (pop 2300) but DID grow up in West Virginia which greased wheels a bit for me.

As to how much in reserve, financial people advise 3 to 6 months of operating expenses (business AND personal) in reserve. When figuring the cost of any project, I would suggest doubling it to be safe from surprises. My regret came after my husband died and I upgraded the electricals, added lighting, and insulation to the enclosed half of the front porch (Mrs. Gillum's sunroom that WAS his workshop) to become my office. I regretted not dong that when we first moved in for him!

I regretted taking so long to add a bathroom - private ensuite is the way to go IF POSSIBLE and a nice kitchen (mine was originally the back porch until the Gillum's moved their room downstairs in 1952.). A nice common room for guests AND more space for yourselves than just a bedroom & bathroom. Make things as easy to clean as possible (if there is a way to just hose it down, do it is what I mean).
Very sorry to hear about your husband.
I appreciate the idea of having your own “space” to live outside of just a room. That’s something we have found is consistent with owners we’ve talked with and has proven difficult to find when looking for a property we can use. We also agree en-suite bathrooms are a must.
We have found that the community is pretty open to those that aren’t local as many of the businesses in this area have been sold to new owners from out of the area. We do go there almost year around and have friends in the area. That said, we’re working to try to acclimate to the area by watching/reading articles and information from local sources. Is there anything else you’d recommend to get “used to” living there before we start?
The plan for us will be to have the property open for about 8 months a year. We don’t see enough traffic in the other 4 months that make sense to stay open. We plan on having a service look after the property while we go south.
If I can invent the “hose down” room, I will let you know. That is a great point and something we will consider especially if we make changes to a property.
 

Hillbilly

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I put gas fireplaces in 3 of my units, and real wood burning stoves in the other 2. If I had it to do over, I'd have gone with all gas fireplaces. They look pretty real and people love the look and the ease of starting a fire with the push of a button, and there's no wood/kindling/fire starter to restock, no glass door to clean, no ashes to carry out. Also, a couple times people who didn't really know how to build a fire managed to fill the room with smoke and set off the fire alarm!
We had gas fireplaces. We started having people add real wood to them and causing all kinds of damage and messes. Plus in the summer they would have the fireplace on and the air conditioner blower full blast. We just recently switched them all over to LED. It has been a life saver and people are really enjoying them.
 

Biekervi

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We had gas fireplaces. We started having people add real wood to them and causing all kinds of damage and messes. Plus in the summer they would have the fireplace on and the air conditioner blower full blast. We just recently switched them all over to LED. It has been a life saver and people are really enjoying them.
Oh my. That’s crazy that people would add real wood. Do you find that they miss the heat or is that worth it to avoid the A/C battle?
 

Hillbilly

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Actually we have had guests that have stayed with us when we had propaine and now the LED. They all prefer the LED. It really surprised me. But they all say the same thing. It doesn’t get so hot in the room and we can still enjoy the look even in the summer months. There is a setting on it that they can have heat if they wish. But few ever use it. It’s actually nice having a backup in every room just in case their room heat goes out.
 

gillumhouse

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Very sorry to hear about your husband.
I appreciate the idea of having your own “space” to live outside of just a room. That’s something we have found is consistent with owners we’ve talked with and has proven difficult to find when looking for a property we can use. We also agree en-suite bathrooms are a must.
We have found that the community is pretty open to those that aren’t local as many of the businesses in this area have been sold to new owners from out of the area. We do go there almost year around and have friends in the area. That said, we’re working to try to acclimate to the area by watching/reading articles and information from local sources. Is there anything else you’d recommend to get “used to” living there before we start?
The plan for us will be to have the property open for about 8 months a year. We don’t see enough traffic in the other 4 months that make sense to stay open. We plan on having a service look after the property while we go south.
If I can invent the “hose down” room, I will let you know. That is a great point and something we will consider especially if we make changes to a property.
When we bought the house, the first thing I did was to get a subscription to the local paper - it was a weekly. I was able to get to know the city a bit more with that. It was because of that subscription and a Letter to the Editor that I discovered when City Council meetings took place. So the times I was in town before moving there permanently and after was to go to every Council meeting. 7 months after I made the final move (a few months after Himself did) one of my Ward Councilmen moved and because I was familiar with the issues, I was appointed as the replacement - and have been involved in the City ever since. Am now City Clerk.

I am familiar with Door County as I spent what I call a 24-year sentence in the burbs of Chicago and one of Himself's best friends had a place at Ellison Bay. I thought they had sort of turned it into 4 season with the snowmobiles unless the 4 months you are talking about are mud season with snow melt and rains. Beautiful area and yes, probably half of Door County is owned by Illinois people who have either escaped or have summer places there.
 

GoodScout

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Only thing I'd change is not to accept when asked to be on the town's Selectboard.
I joke that I was elected to the Selectboard because everyone in town liked me. After three years, I'd solved that problem.
 

Biekervi

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Actually we have had guests that have stayed with us when we had propaine and now the LED. They all prefer the LED. It really surprised me. But they all say the same thing. It doesn’t get so hot in the room and we can still enjoy the look even in the summer months. There is a setting on it that they can have heat if they wish. But few ever use it. It’s actually nice having a backup in every room just in case their room heat goes out.
That’s good to know. Thank you for the heads up.
Only thing I'd change is not to accept when asked to be on the town's Selectboard.
I joke that I was elected to the Selectboard because everyone in town liked me. After three years, I'd solved that problem.
Sounds like good advice. We tend to get involved when needed with local government. We do know some of the county members and we’ll call that good.
 

GoodScout

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I think in a small town volunteering for the library board or other good works groups is a great way to help the community and get to know it. If you end up on a town council, health department board, or even economic development board, you set yourself up to be accused of being self-serving, even when you're not. Better to avoid organizations that tend to attract controversies.
 

Morticia

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I appreciate the thought MRA. Is there a certain equation you’d recommend to be “enough resources?” Would that be a year, 6 months, 2 years... of operating expenses? Or enough to cover the taxes for a couple of years???
If you purchase an existing property, you want enough cushion in the bank to pay all the bills for one year in case all your repeat business decides to ‘wait and see’ if you survive the first year.

We heard that line, ‘we wanted to see if you knew what you were doing so we didn’t waste our money,’ enough times in our second year that it seemed like people really did that.

You will lose some of the repeats because they just don’t like change they don’t initiate themselves. So, they will go to a different b&b in your town, but they won’t stay with you. (It’s ok, you’ll pick up an equal number from other b&b’s!)

We had enough in the bank to pay all the bills going into our first year. It’s my goal every year to insure that same amount is always available.
 

JimBoone

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Random Comments:

Area, we were warm season visitors for many years, the area felt familiar, winter was different
People, college town and tourist town, wide mix of people, but guess I'm on the quiet side myself
Enough funds, that may depend on your lifestyle and luck. I always expected to have an outside job in addition to the business, didn't get to be the "business man" until recent years, long after retirement age passed. It has all been a fun ride, I'll die here with my boots on enjoying the life we lead.
Enough funds, part two, we were just working folks, no big bankroll or expectations. Bought the "dump" we could afford or make happen and went to work. Looking at some old video recently that was taken the first year, one might laugh today. The location, building is the same, but we have reinvented ourselves several times over the years to create the dream. It is possible to start with little and create nice.
 
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