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

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Generic

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Set limits. We installed keypads that we can program from anywhere in the house. We use the last 4 digits of their phone number as the code. Same for their room. We have honed the written instructions to the point of where we don't worry about it... but we do, a bit. And for that reason, we have a doorbell cam and a front entry hall cam, so we can see that they got in.

Using the last four digits of their phone number means that we can leave a note on the door in plain sigh, referring to the email we sent them and that it is the last four digits of the phone number that starts with 555-____. And we ask a question in the email to ensure that they reply... breakfast questions.

Post-COVID - All arrivals are self check-in. The email and note on the door specify that the code is activated at 3PM, not before. Another innkeeper makes them text them after arrival... I use cams to not be intrusive. If they aren't in on time, we may text them, to reassure them that they can let themselves in.

Do NOT redecorate until you have learnt how to clean. You are going to quickly start to see things that collect dust and things that are easy to clean versus hard to clean. For example, I prefer glass surfaces, because I can see if they are clean by their reflections. People don't care about your wood and will leave wet glasses and towels on them. You may discover that having less in a room is better.

We tried the plastic bottles of water, for example. Did not work for us. It just created a lot more work. People left them everywhere and they filled the recycling bins. We instead went to glass bottles with water in each room that we refill. It cut down on the work and we stopped littering the planet with it.
 

Morticia

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I’ll second or third the point about making big changes right away. You want to see who your repeat guests are and what they like. If you don’t like those guests and want a different target market then changing the things the repeats like will move them along to somewhere else.

I wanted to immediately rip out the wallpaper. I didn’t have time and a lot of guests thanked me for not changing everything right away. All the wallpaper is gone now but the guests still come back because we listened to them and cared about their wants. (Just don’t go crazy trying to do what the guests want!)

Also, you need to know your limits. I followed a lot of blogs and joined a bunch of groups like this one and I will say I was a bit hypnotized by the sages. After trying to follow some of their dictates I realized we’re not ‘that place.’ We’re not gourmet for breakfast, we’re not high end amenities in the guest rooms, we don’t spend thousands decorating for each season.

On the flip side, our occupancy could be higher if we did those things. So figure out what’s particularly you.

Generic has a really good point about cleaning. Keep it simple. Make sure the vacuum fits everywhere. You don’t want that line of dust on the carpet because you have to move a large piece of furniture to get at it. Remember that any intricate detailing needs close dusting. Your bedding should be 100% washable. You don’t have time or money for dry cleaning.
 

Mrs. G

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Set limits. We installed keypads that we can program from anywhere in the house. We use the last 4 digits of their phone number as the code. Same for their room. We have honed the written instructions to the point of where we don't worry about it... but we do, a bit. And for that reason, we have a doorbell cam and a front entry hall cam, so we can see that they got in.

Using the last four digits of their phone number means that we can leave a note on the door in plain sigh, referring to the email we sent them and that it is the last four digits of the phone number that starts with 555-____. And we ask a question in the email to ensure that they reply... breakfast questions.

Post-COVID - All arrivals are self check-in. The email and note on the door specify that the code is activated at 3PM, not before. Another innkeeper makes them text them after arrival... I use cams to not be intrusive. If they aren't in on time, we may text them, to reassure them that they can let themselves in.

Do NOT redecorate until you have learnt how to clean. You are going to quickly start to see things that collect dust and things that are easy to clean versus hard to clean. For example, I prefer glass surfaces, because I can see if they are clean by their reflections. People don't care about your wood and will leave wet glasses and towels on them. You may discover that having less in a room is better.

We tried the plastic bottles of water, for example. Did not work for us. It just created a lot more work. People left them everywhere and they filled the recycling bins. We instead went to glass bottles with water in each room that we refill. It cut down on the work and we stopped littering the planet with it.
I am liking the sound of this self check in option. That sounds like it could really cut back on feeling 'on' and interacting so much during the day to free up time and energy for other things. I’m sure many of the guests appreciate the ease and simplicity of this system too.

Does anyone do buffet breakfasts set out instead of serving, bringing out breakfast to the guests? This inn I am eyeing has a large dining room table where guests all eat together and are served. I was wondering if it might be easier to set up smaller individual tables and just let guests help themselves to the buffet. Maybe just let them grab a seat at the dining table with a few smaller tables on the perimeter for whoever wants to stay more to themselves.

I see in the reviews that some guests don’t like having to get up and interact, talk with the other guests in the morning. In tourist towns, I can see how guests may have had a late night on the town and just want to take it easy, sleep in, eat quietly in peace.

Anyways, thanks for all the great feedback here. It doesn't seem so scary, risky, impossible anymore after reading all of your posts. You've helped me to understand that this can be doable, realistic, and actually a nice way to make a living. I love reading about all of the insider tips, ways to make things more efficient, streamlined, easier, all your tricks of the trade.

What a great forum this is with all of you wonderful seasoned innkeepers willing to share and discuss with newbies and potential newbies! Thanks again!
 
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Morticia

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I would recommend a buffet or menu. Most guests don’t like ‘cook’s choice’ and prefer to eat what they want rather than being surprised by your creations. (This is not meant to mean don’t be creative! Just have options and more guests will be happier.) Also a good idea to have some 2-top tables rather than having everyone eat at the same table. I’m not a fan of eating with other people. On vacation I’m ‘off’ and don’t want to talk in the morning.
 

gillumhouse

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I agree that IF your dining room will support it, have smaller tables available also. I have had guests who changed their breakfast time to the time the other guests had chosen - they said part of the fun was meeting other people. BUT it IS nice to be able to accommodate the "DO NOT TALK TO ME UNTIL MY 3RD CUP OF COFFEE" people also. The large table would be nice for if you have a group.

having 3 rooms makes my operation VERY different from most. I have my guests choose the meat for their breakfast and the country their coffee is from - IF they select prior to arrival - the Confirmation letter contains the choices. (Coffee beans need time to "breathe" and the meat has to come out of the freezer.) the entrée is cook's choice but I DO ask about food likes/dislikes. For instance, I had planned to make a spinach/swiss cheese egg entrée for these guests but I discovered she did not like spinach - so did not make it. Serving family-style gives me less waste and the guests can have as much or as little as they choose as they do with a buffet.

WHAT your menu consists of will also be something you decide is doable in a morning. I have OJ & a non-citric juice, a fruit dish, entrée, meat, scones or muffins, coffee/tea, and a pitcher of water.. This morning is my baked oatmeal so there is also a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt to put on it (and maple syrup for him who said he did not care for yogurt and the meat is WV bacon. I would not be able to handle many more choices as a buffet would require. I am not that good!
 

TheBeachHouse

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We love our buffet. Because of covid, we can’t do a buffet this year, but, as soon as we are permitted, we will go back to it.
Buffet is: variety of juices, muffins or coffee cake, toast with choice of toppings, cups of yogurt with choice of toppings, fresh fruit, choice of cereals with milk always including a gluten free cereal, a hot entree, meat, a hot side like potatoes, pancakes or oatmeal. Sometimes, breakfast cookies, smoothies, overnight oats.
 

Camge

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I don’t think anyone has mentioned this forgive me if they did! But there is the dirty L word: Laundry. With nine rooms it will eat you alive and take up lots and lots of time. We have 4 rooms do it all by ourselves and our washer and dryer never stop. If you can find a place to send out that would be great. Even though our room rates are upward of 300$ per night we found out it was just way too pricey for us. We do not iron but have good sheets that are pretty wrinkle fre3. We do chefs choice, but do make accommodations for dietary restrictions. We serve a 3 course meal starting with fruit or fruit and yogurt. There will be a muffin! Coffee cake ,crepe, popover or quick bread with it. Out hot main dish changes from savory to sweet each day. Served with sides of potatoes and breakfast meat. Hope this helps. Wishing you an easy and fun filled house!
 

Anon Inn

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Does anyone do buffet breakfasts set out instead of serving, bringing out breakfast to the guests? ......I was wondering if it might be easier to set up smaller individual tables......
I don't do a buffet with just two indoor rooms. All plated for less time, less waste. I always ask before arrival if there are any food allergies, restrictions or preferences. For me it has worked well. Individual tables too. I have a couple of 4-tops and two deuces. Sometimes guests wish to bring their friends staying nearby. My license allows for that. DH took us to a B&B with a large communal table for our first honeymoon night. We decided that morning on individual tables for our someday inn. :)
 

KenW

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I think we are all unique and have our own challenges. In the beginning it is very hard work .Every year my wife and I find ways to make it easier but expect unknown problems and try to plan ahead with back up plans. Such as maintenance issues. We installed a second hot water heater when we only needed one. It's already paid for itself in keeping guests happy and my life with less stress. About the kitchen and breakfast, I like keeping it simple. We have separate tables for seating which is especially good with the Covid. We do a basic serve your self breakfast buffet with plenty to choose from. Keep talking to your guests to find ways to improve , request reviews and feedback. Make changes to make operations easier.
 

Tom

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What a response! A topic we all know well. Me, : 5 rooms in Oregon for 12 years even though we planned to quit after 8. DW no longer active in day-to-day so I do check-ins and breakfast (under COVID, room service to individual bedrooms), but we are not too busy and I like it: Modest income, good tax breaks, and unusually good guests, very few problems, though, first bit of advice: make sure at least one of you is a good deals-with-it, no-problem person, attentive but firm. Crazy stuff happens, but it rarely bothers me; food waste, late arrivals, blood on sheets, cancellations, gluten-free vegans -- it's all part of the job. As one of us said, I'll probably go out with my boots on.
To summarize the others, your success financially and mentally will depend on good help: 1) housekeeping, 2) repairs (unclog sewer on Christmas morning, right Morticia?), and 3) inn sitters so you don't have to close property -- or worse, call to cancel bookings -- when you go on vacation or have unexpected absences (family, illness, etc.). Don't overlook inn sitters; they can be back-up. Look around locally, and early, keep a list, try people out before you are desperate. There are professionals, but my experience is that a local person is more flexible and can learn the skills and your style.
 

gaelstorm

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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!
All those negatives are true. Plus count on sleeping in your clothes (or sweats at least) if you check people in at any time in the night. Plan on having your sleep disrupted. Is there an available labor pool for housekeepers ? Tip: the higher you price your rooms the higher quality guests you will have, hopefully. You are worrying about the right things. I would look closely at the competition and the tourism trends in the area. Have an exit plan.
 

gaelstorm

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Remember that employee expenses are probably about 25% over the "minimum" wage, whatever that is. And the bookeeping burden is high.
 
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Mrs. G

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All those negatives are true. Plus count on sleeping in your clothes (or sweats at least) if you check people in at any time in the night. Plan on having your sleep disrupted. Is there an available labor pool for housekeepers ? Tip: the higher you price your rooms the higher quality guests you will have, hopefully. You are worrying about the right things. I would look closely at the competition and the tourism trends in the area. Have an exit plan.
Is your sleep interrupted nightly or several nights a week? Can you give them a code to get in so you don't have to get up after hours? Grrr, I don't want to be up at 3 am every night letting people in. Husband is a bear on too little sleep too.
 

gillumhouse

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I only have 3 rooms, but I am not rousted out of bed at all hours, go to bed at my normal time - I DO get up at weird hours if they want an early breakfast (usually about 2 hours prior so I do not feel rushed), and I definitely do not sleep in my clothes! I have never let the B & B run me, I run it. I already pointed out all the crap I am involved with in my City and State. and internationally. There is no reason to kill oneself with a business. IF you cannot get help, rent fewer rooms. I truly mean it when I say the hardest job I ever loved I have to CLEAN and do dishes! But my guests are worth it.
 

Morticia

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The only time having guests keeps me awake is when we’re having a huge wind and rain storm and we might lose power. We don’t wait up for guests. We did for a few years, but sleep became more important to us.

Everything depends on your needs and your clientele. We’ve rarely been woken up in the night by a guest emergency. The biggies were lost keys so we got code locks. Or, screwing up the tv remote. We disabled the part the guests messed up.
 

JimBoone

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Is your sleep interrupted nightly or several nights a week? Can you give them a code to get in so you don't have to get up after hours? Grrr, I don't want to be up at 3 am every night letting people in. Husband is a bear on too little sleep too.
It can be whatever YOU choose. In the beginning I thought I needed to be available, I answered the phone by my bed at all hours and in time learned that those were not the guests I wanted. In those days bedtime was 11PM, weekend skiers might arrive in the wee hours and I took it in stride. Time changes things, today bills are paid and I'm 30 years older, bedtime comes closer to 9PM. Of course being a business there are those just driving down the highway who expected you to just be sitting around in case they needed some directions at odd hours.
 

Jaylyn

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Best advice I ever received was get a GREAT housekeeper!!!! I also pay higher then everyone else. You won't be sorry if you get strong support in housekeeping, you can't do it all!
I have a 8 room B&B and I also rent out the entire Inn directly through my website or on Vrbo. I rent out the Inn for weddings, reunions and such and they get the entire place, I do not make breakfast since they have full use of the Kitchen. It's a 3 day minimum and I charge a $300 cleaning fee as well as the base price.

This gives me a break and the guests have use of the entire property (I put signs out that say "closed for private event"). Our owner quarters have a separate entrance so it works perfectly.
I do not charge additional fees to get married nor do I supply any chairs etc. just what we have on site.
I have no problem booking the summers through my website or Vrbo usually Thursdays- Saturday or through Sunday.

As for offering my B&B guest any extras...yes they receive a homemade breakfast and homemade cookies everyday.
My guests are happy and I'm doing what I love!
 
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