Is it endless hard work? Feel like a constant burden to keep up with?

INNspiring.com | Innkeeper Forum & Innkeeping Resources

Help Support INNspiring.com | Innkeeper Forum & Innkeeping Resources:

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Hello All, My husband and I are toying around with the idea of buying a 9 room inn that has owners' quarters. I am absolutely in love with the property and idea of running this inn. I have all kinds of creative ideas to create holiday and special events, social media interest, and expand the business with small group/event offerings. I know I can improve the decor a bit and make it a bit more updated. This turn key successful inn is located in a tourist town and ideally located for high revenue since it is in walking distance to all the action.

We are late forties empty nesters and really tired of our jobs which we have been doing for forever. We can put down a sizable down payment on this property and so the mortgage would be pretty low. The inn generates a nice net income for the current owners. Husband would plan to work a few more years to keep the cash flow coming in. My question is if I am seeing the buying of this inn with very rosy colored glasses? I picture waking up in the mornings and making the buffet breakfast, cleaning up, and then the rest of the day would be spent attending to the reservations, incoming guests, logistical tasks, and general property upkeep. I was hoping it would generally on a day to day basis be pleasant and reasonably relaxed once we get our systems in place. We would definitely hire some cleaners to do the turnover cleaning each day. I think that would be too grueling day in, day out to clean the rooms. Husband loves to cook, fix things around house, and enjoys landscaping. I am good with people and generally friendly and patient.

The high season would be March- early November for this inn and then the other months would be slower so it seems we could take a breather in the off months. I guess I am worried that I am underestimating the amount of hard work this would be. Maybe we would always feel 'on' with no break from the inn, no downtime. Maybe we would become very tired, jaded of dealing with demanding people over time. Maybe we would feel oppressed by constantly having to cater to people to get good reviews. Maybe the reservations and guests could be fraught with endless complications and issues and it would be hard to relax anticipating the next crisis. I guess I am just worried that we could be signing up for a life of never-ending, grueling, non stop work, work, work, work with no relaxation or downtime. At least with our current jobs, we are home in the evenings and have weekends to ourselves. The running of an inn might mean goodbye to that and always feeling 'on' ultimately oppressed and burdened by it.

I wonder if the dream could turn nightmare and we would regret ever doing it in the first place. I guess my question is mainly if the dream of a generally pleasant, overall satisfying career and life of running an inn is realistic and feasible? Has this been your experience with your inn? Or were the negative things I listed more in line with reality based on your own experiences? Or maybe something in the middle of that like many jobs end up being?

We are both reasonably competent people who can manage jobs, careers, life fine so we should have the skills to carry on the current innkeepers' success with some training and a little adjustment time. I just wonder about realistic quality of life, satisfaction, enjoyment factors with being innkeepers. Sorry for rambling on and on a bit. Just trying to get these swirling thoughts in my head out which are all over the place at the moment. Thanks in advance for any feedback!
 
Last edited:

gillumhouse

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
15,652
Reaction score
294
It is NOT Bob Newhart! I have 3-rooms and can handle it alone POSSIBLY because I am not in a tourist mecca. 9 rooms REQUIRES housekeeping staff at the very least. One thing many have "groaned" about is finding decent (or ANY) housekeeping staff. The real work starts after the guests leave - laundry, flipping rooms, doing the dishes.... AND in the middle of all this will be the "dead air" and robo calls.

I am not trying to dissuade you. just trying to be realistic.

Remember , I have 3 rooms. I am also City Clerk in my City (it is not a full-time job here). Yesterday was an oddball Council night mandated by State Code. I had 1 room arriving, asked them to arrive before 6 which they did. HOWEVER, I got a call for another room during the morning. OK, he arrived early in the day which worked for me. BUT I also had a meeting at City Hall and setting up the meeting room and guests told me where they were going today so I created an itinerary for them making me later than planned for going to bed. One room wanted a 7 AM breakfast and the other 9 AM so I was up at 5:30. By 11 AM breakfasts were done and dishes started. Got upstairs to flip the room and turn off heat. Rain kept the laundry from getting done - I hang sheets out. Days will go from being a piece of cake to hell in a basket in 5 minutes. Staff will no-show or quit to add to your workload.. I am behind on social media and entering expenses. I forgot a kid was coming to cut what I call a hayfield - my side yard that I cut last week - and was at a meeting when he came. With luck, he will get back tomorrow or Friday - IF it does not rain again.

IF you go in with open eyes that it is NOT just greeting guests and doing the office stuff and cooking, you will NOT have weekends off - that is when guests come - holidays will not exist, not will family graduations, weddings, and even funerals because you will have reservations on the books when they happen. With notice, you can block reservations - but funerals do not give you prior notice. December 2016 my brother died and I ended up being designated to settle the estate and while I was doing that MY husband decided it was time to die in March of 2017. We cope and move on - I had guests 4 days later - it was income!

IF this does not turn you away, WELCOME to the hardest job you will ever love. BTW: I celebrate 25 years in July.
 

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Thanks gillumhouse for your honest feedback. I need to hear all of this. We definitely do not want to sign up at our ages for a life of endless hard work day in, day out with no respite. We would definitely have housekeeping staff. The current owners do. We would maybe even get some other help just so we can get some off time each week. I guess I am pretty freaked out about possibly feeling like I am working every day of my life with no breaks in between.
 

Generic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
7,543
Reaction score
55
I have 6 rooms and I do it all myself, off-season, with one exception, the BIG clean. For the BIG clean once a week, I have someone who comes in. And that's the person who checks everything, ensures I never have a dust bunny, dusts the top of the artwork, etc.

But in the summer, high season... I hire help and it's over $20 an hour for 3 hours a day, and I still do the laundry, breakfast, guest greeting, etc. And I inspect their work.

But my neighbour who was also an innkeeper, couldn't believe that I did it all. He was completely in shock that I managed to do it all, especially knowing my specs. But that means having systems in place and not everyone has systems in place. And what do I mean by systems? I can tell you right now, exactly where the remote to each and every TV is, where the lamps are, etc.
 

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I have 6 rooms and I do it all myself, off-season, with one exception, the BIG clean. For the BIG clean once a week, I have someone who comes in. And that's the person who checks everything, ensures I never have a dust bunny, dusts the top of the artwork, etc.

But in the summer, high season... I hire help and it's over $20 an hour for 3 hours a day, and I still do the laundry, breakfast, guest greeting, etc. And I inspect their work.

But my neighbour who was also an innkeeper, couldn't believe that I did it all. He was completely in shock that I managed to do it all, especially knowing my specs. But that means having systems in place and not everyone has systems in place. And what do I mean by systems? I can tell you right now, exactly where the remote to each and every TV is, where the lamps are, etc.
Well, my husband is the king of systems. I know he would do well with creating the framework for the website, reservations, stocking the kitchen, maintenance schedules, etc and coming up with ways to make things more streamlined and efficient. I'm more the creative, visionary, idea part of our duo. I am certainly ready to work but just don't want it to be to an oppressive burdensome never-ending job.

Thanks for your perspective and feedback. Question. Do you feel your off season is a time to rest and rejuvenate a bit? Do you have a decent amount of down time during that time to recharge for high season?
 
Last edited:

Morticia

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
17,473
Reaction score
350
We started off in a similar situation—empty nest, no other jobs, not afraid of work. The first five years we were open everyday. That’s too much. You have to plan time off in the slow season.

We generally worked 150+ days in a row. Then it slowed down and we had some time off. If you see the time off coming it makes it easier to put your head down and get the work done. But, you have to plan it and you can’t back down when you get a phone call asking for those days you just blocked off. (I now plan several days off in peak season because I get cranky mid-season and I need a couple of days with no one in the house. You can hire people to cover for you or just close for a couple of days.

After the first few years we started taking a month off. We’re now 16 years into it and we take three months off.

Please really give your day-to-day list of tasks a much closer look. We have a housekeeper who works 20 hours. You’ll need two, at least. If your husband is going to work for a few years who will be there at 8am to fix the broken shower while you’re making breakfast? When you’re still cleaning the kitchen at 10:30am who will be doing the check out? Who’s doing the laundry? Baking the desserts and muffins? Keeping up the landscaping? Answering the doorbell for guests who want to check in 5 hours early? Answering the phone? Planning those events you want to host?

Understand your tolerance for a constant state of ‘on.’ I’m not good at this so we do not do events. However, events are huge money-makers.

It’s totally doable. We’re in year 17. Just seriously take a look at a real day. If you can, ask at the state innkeeping association if anyone would be willing to let you shadow for a few days. Good luck! It’s a job you can love for a good long time.
 

GoodScout

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
1,120
Reaction score
265
We have a 9-room inn and have staff that helps us. We've been able to put lots of our dreams and visions into action, and there's no better feeling.

Just be realistic going in, but don't be afraid. It's a great lifestyle if you're right for it.
 

JimBoone

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
83
We have an 8 room motel, a plus that there is no cooking, but there are two beds per room. We started late 40's with me expecting to work an outside job. My wife did the cleaning and laundry, I was the extra help and handyman, maybe we were blessed to not be too busy at all times, we soon learned when we should expect guests and when you could expect a bit of free time. It helps that the wife is a bit of a homebody. Thirty years in now, still love the life. About five years ago our daughter and husband moved next door, husband works and assists at motel, daughter has taken over many of mom's duties and helps keep me in line.
 

TheBeachHouse

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 24, 2013
Messages
4,175
Reaction score
96
Have private space where guests are not allowed. Plan time off. Other than that, it’s a job. Like other jobs, there are parts you like doing and parts you have to do.

I worked my corporate job for four years while he ran the Inn. He is very happy having me here now that I’ve retired. Much easier with two. He golfs once a week and I go to the beach once a week. We were open year round for a few years, but not anymore. We need the time for our own vacation.

Our apartment includes the only kitchen and space for a library/TV room. We also have a hot tub that the guests do not know about. Boundaries. Private space. Time off.
 

Generic

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
7,543
Reaction score
55
Well, my husband is the king of systems. I know he would do well with creating the framework for the website, reservations, stocking the kitchen, maintenance schedules, etc and coming up with ways to make things more streamlined and efficient. I'm more the creative, visionary, idea part of our duo. I am certainly ready to work but just don't want it to be to an oppressive burdensome never-ending job.

Thanks for your perspective and feedback. Question. Do you feel your off season is a time to rest and rejuvenate a bit? Do you have a decent amount of down time during that time to recharge for high season?
It is 7 days a week and unless you put your foot down and set boundaries, all encompassing. It's not a 5 day 40 hour job, at all.

No... I go away on vacation to rest and rejuvenate. But vacation time is a lot more sacred here. We generally got a month off. Our lowest months were January and February, but we often still had guests.
 

theinnonthird

Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Location
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Here is our story: 20 room historic inn in a very touristy town in Florida. Bought and moved onsite in 2005, so we are approaching our 16th anniversary. Out of these 16 years we spent 9 years living at the inn. We spent 9 years working every day from 6:30 am to 10:00 pm, with 2 young children in tow (I was pregnant with child #1 when we bought the inn). We took 1 evening a week off, from 6 pm to 10 pm, where we could both leave at the same time, other than that one of us had to be there. In 2014 we finally made the decision to move off site and hire an assistant, live-in, innkeeper to work the evenings and be on call overnight. Boy, how did we not realize how on edge and exhausted we were until we sat on our couch, in our house 3 miles up the road during these first several nights. No more "phantom bells" at night (when you wake up thinking you heard the bell ring, but actually it was just in your head), much more quality family time, etc.. What I am trying to say is, set yourself up for success, not just financially but mentally/physically as well! Hire the right people, so you can have time off, and realize that living on site means you are viewed as available 24/7.
We love what we do and hope to continue for many years to come. Just make sure you take care of yourself right off the bat. Don't wait 9 years like we did...

Forgot to add, yes we do have a housekeeper, but I assist when needed. We do our own laundry, our own maintenance. It's pretty much a 4 person operation.
 

Morticia

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
17,473
Reaction score
350
Have private space where guests are not allowed. Plan time off. Other than that, it’s a job. Like other jobs, there are parts you like doing and parts you have to do.

I worked my corporate job for four years while he ran the Inn. He is very happy having me here now that I’ve retired. Much easier with two. He golfs once a week and I go to the beach once a week. We were open year round for a few years, but not anymore. We need the time for our own vacation.

Our apartment includes the only kitchen and space for a library/TV room. We also have a hot tub that the guests do not know about. Boundaries. Private space. Time off.

OMG, yes! You must have your own space!

When we were searching we ran across too many inns where the innkeepers had a bed in the unfinished basement and had no other private space. Other innkeepers bed-hopped by sleeping in a vacant room and moving everyday to another space. Sometimes they slept on the floor in the kitchen. Do not do this to your marriage or yourself.

If you want to keep at this for a long time, or even a short, happy time, you come first. Altho I can hear guests from my space I can close and lock the door and get away from being the cruise director.

We have a three bedroom apartment with kitchen, living room, dining room. I have huge windows so lots of light. There is a deck off the kitchen so I can be outside and guests don’t generally see me. I have also converted half of the attic into a craft space. You have to have your own space, especially with an inn of the size you’re looking at.
 

Eugee2

Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2017
Messages
12
Reaction score
2
All of the above, it helps to be really handy inside and out but for me the 10pm checkins (that were due at 6) wear me down (even 56) Sometimes breakfast, cleaning then weekly mowing barely gets done by 3pm checkins hoping the doorbell doesn’t ring while you’re in the shower.
Guests often ask the same questions every day which give me the ‘groundhog day’ vibe.. The good side is that it’s seasonal and you can always flip to ‘no vacancy’ if you need a breather.. it does take a certain personality to pull this all off while staying sane in the season!
 

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Thanks everyone for all these helpful replies. It really helps me get a better picture of all of this. I'm starting to picture a potential plan where maybe we don't go full capacity during the time my husband is still working. Maybe just stick to 4-5 rooms and also plan to block out some days each month where no one is staying in the house. We will have his income coming in so it won't be a necessity to rent all rooms and get max profit. I would definitely hire a housekeeper because cleaning even 4-5 rooms a day would be too much day in, day out for me. Once my husband joins me with the inn, we could go more to max capacity with the 8-9 rooms but still would realistically need to block out times for us to just be together and have down time. I'd need that down time in the low season to look forward to as well and keep it low key with less guests Nov- Feb. I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet on this inn but all of your comments are very helpful and informative. Thank you!!

It's encouraging to hear so many of you say that you love what you do. I've read such horror stories of people working in hospitality hating it after awhile mainly because they grow to seriously resent demanding and unreasonable guests. Hopefully, the inn/BNB crowd would be a bit easier to deal with than maybe some of these more economy chain hotels where it seems lots of these downtrodden hospitality souls work. So I was pretty spooked about that imagining really obnoxious demanding people banging on our door all night, all day yelling their demands at us! It sounds like it's best to set a bit higher price point to attract a certain kind of guest and not go to low with price to attract guests you don't want.
 

Morticia

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
17,473
Reaction score
350
It's encouraging to hear so many of you say that you love what you do. I've read such horror stories of people working in hospitality hating it after awhile mainly because they grow to seriously resent demanding and unreasonable guests. Hopefully, the inn/BNB crowd would be a bit easier to deal with than maybe some of these more economy chain hotels where it seems lots of these downtrodden hospitality souls work. So I was pretty spooked about that imagining really obnoxious demanding people banging on our door all night, all day yelling their demands at us! It sounds like it's best to set a bit higher price point to attract a certain kind of guest and not go to low with price to attract guests you don't want.
Horror stories create drama which leads to more clicks on stories. No one would read three pages of ‘oh my guests are wonderful, we never have a problem!’ 😉 It’s the same way no one reads the good reviews, they go straight to the one-stars. Quelle horreur!

This group used to have a PITA award given to the innkeeper with the worst (best?) guest stories. For years that award was mine. Then we got a Hilton in town and the horrible guests went there. My life has been drama-free for years. Sure, at least once/year we get a doozy, but I’m older and wiser and really don’t care as any drama is all about the guest and nothing to do with our business model or ourselves.
 

gillumhouse

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Supporting Member
Joined
May 22, 2008
Messages
15,652
Reaction score
294
I am going to suggest that you decide WHAT you expect from the B & B. All I expected of my 3-rooms was for it to cover the expenses of the house and perhaps a bit more. Over the last 25 years, it has done what I asked of it. It makes enough to pay the insurance and taxes, the fees and marketing, and house expenses. I still get excited about reservations. SOME people in town did not expect it to last 6 months. fooled them.
 

FHI2426

Active member
Joined
Nov 26, 2018
Messages
30
Reaction score
35
A lot of good comments in here. Key points from us.
1. Dont underestimate or underfund marketing (depends on location of course) and get professional help, they can set up analytics and give advice on the various games Google & Traip Advisor play.
2. Run all systems off the shelf/in the cloud (We use Think and love it)
3. Do schedule time off (we take 3 vacations a year and use innsitter for summer, we close in winter the other 2 weeks)
4. Get help and treat/pay them well
5. Get to know all the other small businesses, restaurants, attractions in town. they will take care of you and your guests...
6. Organizing and planning is critical - cant wing it

we are 2nd career professionals, never took an innkeeping course or worked in hospitality and we figured it out....
 

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
Horror stories create drama which leads to more clicks on stories. No one would read three pages of ‘oh my guests are wonderful, we never have a problem!’ 😉 It’s the same way no one reads the good reviews, they go straight to the one-stars. Quelle horreur!

This group used to have a PITA award given to the innkeeper with the worst (best?) guest stories. For years that award was mine. Then we got a Hilton in town and the horrible guests went there. My life has been drama-free for years. Sure, at least once/year we get a doozy, but I’m older and wiser and really don’t care as any drama is all about the guest and nothing to do with our business model or ourselves.
That is just what another poster swooped in and said on this other hospitality forum. He said these horror guests represented a small fraction when most guests were just fine, no issues.
 

Mrs. G

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
I am going to suggest that you decide WHAT you expect from the B & B. All I expected of my 3-rooms was for it to cover the expenses of the house and perhaps a bit more. Over the last 25 years, it has done what I asked of it. It makes enough to pay the insurance and taxes, the fees and marketing, and house expenses. I still get excited about reservations. SOME people in town did not expect it to last 6 months. fooled them.
Yes it just starting to really sink in, dawn on me that we can tailor this to how we need/want it to be. We don't HAVE to follow the current innkeepers' way of doing things. Don't get me wrong. They have done a great job and I admire that but we can still tweak it a bit here and there to suit our specific needs and desires with this inn. I am a quality of life person at this stage in my life. I'd like to enjoy life and have fun, feel some passion, excitement, inspiration and not snuff that out with allowing very oppressive dynamics to set in. Heck, if I were to get this beautiful inn and the guests were to pay the housing expenses and then some just as you are saying then I would be okay with that for a bit. Just get used to things and ease our way into it.

I'm glad to hear your place has worked out so well for you and you proved the naysayers wrong!
 
Last edited:

JimBoone

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Messages
1,060
Reaction score
83
People: I think we need a bit of a "servant personality" where we enjoy providing a pleasant experience for our guests. People we don't want to visit again, less than one a year, people you don't enjoy, a few but no big deal.

Price point: to me somewhere in the middle, too low seems to attract rough and rowdy, too high, picky and hard to please. Top notch and reasonable prices seem to generate good reviews.

Try before change: Wouldn't be too quick to change things, give yourself some time and change that which doesn't work for you, sometimes there are reasons for things that don't show at first look.

Vacations: We chose our vacation area for the business, simple tastes perhaps but mostly I'm where we want to be, we take off to go visit family. A few friends here on the forum I'd like to "go see" yet age slows us down.

Price (dollars) VS Life: Choose wisely, it can be a great way of life. How much business do you need to live well, more isn't always better.
 
Top