If I could start over...

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gillumhouse

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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.
On this I do not agree. Perhaps it is the area but I found being on Council was not a no win. After I left Council (some people think I still AM on Council even all these years later) I became the official Tourist Information Center (unpaid), and serve on the Planning & Zoning, Shinnston Development Authority, and am in some of the organizations (rail-trails, garden club, woman's Club, Community Garden) in town as well as the Community Band. Quite often, when folks want to know about something, they call me. I only got grief from one cadre and mostly when SHE was on Council (the witch) - and she treats anyone who does not agree with her the same so I was not singled out. Being involved gets you and your business known. Once the world opens again, I will start keeping vigil at the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration again - and I am not even Catholic!
 

Biekervi

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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.
Makes complete sense.
 

Biekervi

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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.
Thank you for the random thoughts. It gets the brain, a thinking...
 

Biekervi

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On this I do not agree. Perhaps it is the area but I found being on Council was not a no win. After I left Council (some people think I still AM on Council even all these years later) I became the official Tourist Information Center (unpaid), and serve on the Planning & Zoning, Shinnston Development Authority, and am in some of the organizations (rail-trails, garden club, woman's Club, Community Garden) in town as well as the Community Band. Quite often, when folks want to know about something, they call me. I only got grief from one cadre and mostly when SHE was on Council (the witch) - and she treats anyone who does not agree with her the same so I was not singled out. Being involved gets you and your business known. Once the world opens again, I will start keeping vigil at the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration again - and I am not even Catholic!
Sounds like the level of engagement in the community depends quite a bit on your level of comfort and what you can actually bring to the role. While I know we’ll want to be informed and involved with the community, I expect we’ll take several years to really understand our business before looking to branch out.
We really do appreciate all of this insight.
 

Camge

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Hi! Thought I’d take a stab at your question. Location first. We actually bought in a high end beach town where we had had a summer house for 45+ years. Loved the area and were lucky enough to find a property that had been run as a rooming house for 100+ years. It was the only way local zoning would allow us to operate a boarding house(lol). Local government doesn’t recognize B and Bs. Check all local laws to find out what is permitted. That said we were dumbfounded that a location 2 1/2 hours fro NYC would be so rural, with such limited healthcare. As Srs. It is important. We discovered that not everyone would be friendly and welcoming. Our next door neighbors still don’t talk to us 7 years in. Be prepared to have the funds to renovate. I say we have A brand new 106 year old house. Join local organizations like The chamber of Commerce or in our case Discover the Hamptons. Know the going rates in your area and price yourself wisely. We are high end and when we priced ourself too low we got not very nice guests. We now are on par with other lodging. Join a local group, in our case it was The Amagansett Village Improvement Society. We plant trees, have holiday events and deal with visual and other areas of the town. It was a great way to meet people. Enjoy the ride, you won’t always like it but most of it is wonderful!❤
 

Biekervi

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Hi! Thought I’d take a stab at your question. Location first. We actually bought in a high end beach town where we had had a summer house for 45+ years. Loved the area and were lucky enough to find a property that had been run as a rooming house for 100+ years. It was the only way local zoning would allow us to operate a boarding house(lol). Local government doesn’t recognize B and Bs. Check all local laws to find out what is permitted. That said we were dumbfounded that a location 2 1/2 hours fro NYC would be so rural, with such limited healthcare. As Srs. It is important. We discovered that not everyone would be friendly and welcoming. Our next door neighbors still don’t talk to us 7 years in. Be prepared to have the funds to renovate. I say we have A brand new 106 year old house. Join local organizations like The chamber of Commerce or in our case Discover the Hamptons. Know the going rates in your area and price yourself wisely. We are high end and when we priced ourself too low we got not very nice guests. We now are on par with other lodging. Join a local group, in our case it was The Amagansett Village Improvement Society. We plant trees, have holiday events and deal with visual and other areas of the town. It was a great way to meet people. Enjoy the ride, you won’t always like it but most of it is wonderful!❤
Thank you for the amazing insight. We’ve been using the available lodging pricing information posted through the local tourism board to give us a baseline of what to consider for pricing, but in addition doing our own tracking and trending on rates to determine what a comparable location may be charging. (The lodging rates include ALL room rates.) We definitely want to start that off right to avoid the “not very nice” guests but not completely out of market.
We agree on the location piece and that has been the main focus up to this point. Though, we still have a long road to go before picking and exact location.
 

ramonalea

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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.
Been younger, was 59 and stairs are my enemy.
 

JimBoone

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We’ve been using the available lodging pricing information posted through the local tourism board to give us a baseline of what to consider for pricing, but in addition doing our own tracking and trending on rates to determine what a comparable location may be charging. We definitely want to start that off right to avoid the “not very nice” guests but not completely out of market.
To comment on Camge's thoughts.

Didn't give much thought to health care as we began in our 40's, today in our 70's it is noticed. Usually fortunate with health care, although a few doctors require a trip to another town. After you have that first health event, how long it takes EMS to arrive, becomes a location consideration.

To me the sweet spot in pricing is between the price that draws the rough and ready crowd and the price that draws the elite crowd expecting a level of service beyond my ability. Honest, I jumped into this without much thought and learned as we progressed. Some will depend on the quality or the place you purchase and your economic ability. I watched pricing (sign board, pre internet days), wasn't smart enough to know it was higher on weekends when we didn't go to town. Took time to learn I didn't want every guest. Went through cycles as we improved and raised prices, takes some time to become established and develop a following in each new price range. I still try not to be TOO high, seems folks that feel they got a good deal are more likely to write favorable reviews.

We've always been mom & pop, if you are the labor for your business, look at all systems with the idea of making the routine efficient to reduce your labor, it becomes more important with age. I'm afraid I am at the age where walk-in guests and one night turnovers become more of an issue, that's my current challenge.
 

Biekervi

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To comment on Camge's thoughts.

Didn't give much thought to health care as we began in our 40's, today in our 70's it is noticed. Usually fortunate with health care, although a few doctors require a trip to another town. After you have that first health event, how long it takes EMS to arrive, becomes a location consideration.

To me the sweet spot in pricing is between the price that draws the rough and ready crowd and the price that draws the elite crowd expecting a level of service beyond my ability. Honest, I jumped into this without much thought and learned as we progressed. Some will depend on the quality or the place you purchase and your economic ability. I watched pricing (sign board, pre internet days), wasn't smart enough to know it was higher on weekends when we didn't go to town. Took time to learn I didn't want every guest. Went through cycles as we improved and raised prices, takes some time to become established and develop a following in each new price range. I still try not to be TOO high, seems folks that feel they got a good deal are more likely to write favorable reviews.

We've always been mom & pop, if you are the labor for your business, look at all systems with the idea of making the routine efficient to reduce your labor, it becomes more important with age. I'm afraid I am at the age where walk-in guests and one night turnovers become more of an issue, that's my current challenge.
That is some great insight. I hadn’t thought about looking at the nearest location of EMS. The area that we are looking at is somewhat rural, so I’ve added that to our site review list.
With regards to pricing, did you mainly learn by experimenting or was there something you used as a guide? I am working on a supply/demand mode that can help me try to predict availability. At this point, I haven’t figure out all the variables yet. So anything that you think would impact it would be very helpful.
 

KenW

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I would say spend some time finding out about your neighbors.If they are also in the same business then spend some some nights at their place and see what they are all about. Mine have turned out to be the business neighbors from hell. Turns out mine don't have any interest in doing anything that doesn't benefit them. It's been a battle getting them to do the right things for our small community. I have had to get on the good side of our residents to force them to make changes in the way they conduct business. Im very much a outsider so its been a long road
 

Morticia

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An interesting thing about pricing: it’s all over the place! In my small tourist town there are essentially five b&b’s. (When we moved here almost 17 years ago, they were more than ten, two just closed due to retirement this year.) There are about ten hotels. And a crap ton of Airbnb rooms in the past three years.

If I check the pricing of the b&b’s, we are pretty much ‘middle of the pack.’ I know, like Jim said, that I cannot provide the high end accommodations and service that the higher-priced places can. However, if I check the prices on the hotels, they are charging double what I charge and have no problem getting it. So, a hotel that offers basic hotel amenities, nothing special, can demand $350/night, getting up to $700/night for once in a lifetime events, whereas a b&b offering personalized service in the same market struggles to get $200/night.

But, that’s my little town. Other little towns charge in the off season what I can get in peak season, so it really depends on your location. One tourist town we looked at buying in eighteen years ago has raised its prices about $25/night. We’ve been able to go up almost $100. You want that ability available to you either thru market demand for your location or your services.
 

Hillbilly

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We have had a bed and breakfast for almost 26 years now. I have a ton of suggestions but they can be from starting out as newlyweds, having kids, kids going off to college and even having elderly parents live with us. Each stepping stone has created different issues and suggestions on what type of property you would want. What stage in your life are you at? What stage you are at in life can depend on what type of property I would suggest.
 

MRA

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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.
To add on to what Morticia said, if you also plan to close 4 months of the year, you need to have 4 month's worth saved up and that is separate from emergency funds. My last thing is that doing things yourself saves a lot of money, but sometimes life happens. My husband is the fixer upperer, while I do the actual B&B stuff. If one of you can't or stops, for whatever reason, you need to budget for (expensive) outside vendors to do the work. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!
 

Tom

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3-way switches. If remodeling, renovating electric, add 3-way switches that let you turn off a downstairs hall light or outside lighting from in your own living space. ... and, what all the others said, just responding to the "wish done differently"
 

Biekervi

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I would say spend some time finding out about your neighbors.If they are also in the same business then spend some some nights at their place and see what they are all about. Mine have turned out to be the business neighbors from hell. Turns out mine don't have any interest in doing anything that doesn't benefit them. It's been a battle getting them to do the right things for our small community. I have had to get on the good side of our residents to force them to make changes in the way they conduct business. Im very much a outsider so its been a long road
Sounds like before we decide on the location we should spend some time talking to the locals. Good heads up.
 

Biekervi

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An interesting thing about pricing: it’s all over the place! In my small tourist town there are essentially five b&b’s. (When we moved here almost 17 years ago, they were more than ten, two just closed due to retirement this year.) There are about ten hotels. And a crap ton of Airbnb rooms in the past three years.

If I check the pricing of the b&b’s, we are pretty much ‘middle of the pack.’ I know, like Jim said, that I cannot provide the high end accommodations and service that the higher-priced places can. However, if I check the prices on the hotels, they are charging double what I charge and have no problem getting it. So, a hotel that offers basic hotel amenities, nothing special, can demand $350/night, getting up to $700/night for once in a lifetime events, whereas a b&b offering personalized service in the same market struggles to get $200/night.

But, that’s my little town. Other little towns charge in the off season what I can get in peak season, so it really depends on your location. One tourist town we looked at buying in eighteen years ago has raised its prices about $25/night. We’ve been able to go up almost $100. You want that ability available to you either thru market demand for your location or your services.
Do you charge different rates based on local events that drive demand? If so, how do you project the pricing?
 

Biekervi

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3-way switches. If remodeling, renovating electric, add 3-way switches that let you turn off a downstairs hall light or outside lighting from in your own living space. ... and, what all the others said, just responding to the "wish done differently"
That’s a great point. We expect that we’ll be buying a property that will need renovations and we’ll keep in mind the access to the switches when we put the plan together. Thank you.
 

gillumhouse

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Something we DID do, when anything was done to the plumbing, we had a shutoff valve installed - at tub, toilets, showers - every place water flows in the house has a shutoff valve. And to reinforce what MRA said - you never know when you will be left doing everything. Mine was not even "sick" (had gone through many things that should have been the end) when he popped off. So keep a list (and on the good side of) electricians, plumbers, lawn care, snow shovelers............
 

Biekervi

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Something we DID do, when anything was done to the plumbing, we had a shutoff valve installed - at tub, toilets, showers - every place water flows in the house has a shutoff valve. And to reinforce what MRA said - you never know when you will be left doing everything. Mine was not even "sick" (had gone through many things that should have been the end) when he popped off. So keep a list (and on the good side of) electricians, plumbers, lawn care, snow shovelers............
You are getting ahead of me. The “what did you do question will be asked a little later 😁
Our plan is to basically document everything we do so anyone can just pick up a piece of paper to complete the task. (We’ll see if that actually happens.)
The shut off value idea, brilliant.
 
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