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innovermyhead

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OK, I'm not in over my head yet. Having an inn has been a long time interest. Only recently has my husband gotten on board - I was excited by this and though I thought internally that I was looking at the next four years to research and plan for this I started poking around on-line. Naturally, found something intriguing that appears to be a great deal. The inn is 14 rooms in a well known beach town. For a list of reasons it has not been operational since the summer of 2008. It appears to be in great shape (from photos & description) and the reviews I can find from when it was open are delightful. But, there have been no four years of research and planning and if we were to do it it would mean upending my soon to be freshman in HS son.
The bank currently owns this property & the price is currently more than 200,000 below a current MAI appraisal. How did you know when to take this plunge and would you do it again if you were to start over? Should I hold to my four year plan and just keep walking or is this the kind of thing pops up because it's supposed to? I realize that part of my excitement stems from feeling a bit bored with my current situation and I'm trying to keep that in mind. Need some sage advice...
 

Joey Camb

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Hello and welcome! I am probably not the best person to speak to as I always leap before I look but you will be surprised how much you can learn in a short time. Plus I find that you learn the most by doing. Every one on this forum is super helpful especially Joe, Mort and Innkeeper to go. How do you think your husband and son will take to it? Because Innkeeping is not a job but a lifestyle everyone has to be onboard. As well in the early days you could hire someone to help you get on your feet. Inn Keeper to go turns round failing inns and would be an excellent person to have on board. I love getting my hands dirty but its a bit far from the UK. My sage advice is talk to the PAII and get all the stats and info you can about tourism and local business as well as local occupancy rates as well as a good idea of the competition. Can you take a holiday there and scout it out? book to view etc? go to a local tea shop and speak to old ladies about it they seem to know everything and ask do you think there is a market for it? Also whatever you think you will spend on remodeling etc add on at least 1/3rd on top.
 

Breakfast Diva

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I'm one that typically plans and gets all my ducks in order. When I decided that I wanted to have a b&b, I took an aspiring innkeeper intensive course (invaluable!) and after that was on a 1+ year plan. Well, a WEEK after the start of my looking/research, I found our place which had everything on our wish list. I had a house to sell which was not ready to put on the market, and mentally was fighting myself with my 1+year plan. We knew that this b&b was special and so we decided to go for it. We figured if it was ment to happen, then it would. Within a week my house was on the market for sale, we were in escrow with the inn and our wedding plans were made. Everything worked out...it was ment to be. More important, I listened to my gut and not just my sane planning instincts. From the time I finished the aspiring innkeeper course to the day we pulled up to the b&b as owners was only 3 months! And we'd gotten married during that time! The important thing is that during the time you do have, you do as much research as possible to know if this lifestyle is for you.
My transition happened almost 10 years ago...it's a different climate now. Now there are great deals to be had, but financing is much tougher. Do your homework. Do you have the capital to make it work? If you do, and you know deep in your soul that this is the right thing for your family, then be open to a change now. I do have a concern that you said your husband has only recently accepted the idea of innkeeping. If he's ambivolent about it, it will come out in a few years as resentment. Be very cautious of this. It's tough enough to be an innkeeper, but if you don't have a supportive spouse/partner/family, it can be brutal.
By the way, we have no regrets about our life change. It was perfect for us at the time. Now I'm starting to look forward to whatever/whenever the next phase of my life will be. I guess I'll be looking deep into that gut again
 

Innkeeper To Go

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I'm one that typically plans and gets all my ducks in order. When I decided that I wanted to have a b&b, I took an aspiring innkeeper intensive course (invaluable!) and after that was on a 1+ year plan. Well, a WEEK after the start of my looking/research, I found our place which had everything on our wish list. I had a house to sell which was not ready to put on the market, and mentally was fighting myself with my 1+year plan. We knew that this b&b was special and so we decided to go for it. We figured if it was ment to happen, then it would. Within a week my house was on the market for sale, we were in escrow with the inn and our wedding plans were made. Everything worked out...it was ment to be. More important, I listened to my gut and not just my sane planning instincts. From the time I finished the aspiring innkeeper course to the day we pulled up to the b&b as owners was only 3 months! And we'd gotten married during that time! The important thing is that during the time you do have, you do as much research as possible to know if this lifestyle is for you.
My transition happened almost 10 years ago...it's a different climate now. Now there are great deals to be had, but financing is much tougher. Do your homework. Do you have the capital to make it work? If you do, and you know deep in your soul that this is the right thing for your family, then be open to a change now. I do have a concern that you said your husband has only recently accepted the idea of innkeeping. If he's ambivolent about it, it will come out in a few years as resentment. Be very cautious of this. It's tough enough to be an innkeeper, but if you don't have a supportive spouse/partner/family, it can be brutal.
By the way, we have no regrets about our life change. It was perfect for us at the time. Now I'm starting to look forward to whatever/whenever the next phase of my life will be. I guess I'll be looking deep into that gut again
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Breakfast Diva said:
Now there are great deals to be had, but financing is much tougher. Do your homework. Do you have the capital to make it work? If you do, and you know deep in your soul that this is the right thing for your family, then be open to a change now. I do have a concern that you said your husband has only recently accepted the idea of innkeeping. If he's ambivolent about it, it will come out in a few years as resentment. Be very cautious of this. It's tough enough to be an innkeeper, but if you don't have a supportive spouse/partner/family, it can be brutal.
Very good advice.
In terms of bargains, there's never been a better time to buy an inn for folks with cash. If you can afford it and it truly is your dream, go for it. But it really needs to be the dream of everyone in the family or it will quickly turn into a nightmare.
Make sure your DH is really really ready to do this. Do your homework about how much money you'll really need and actually have. And yes, trust your gut. You know the place of your dreams better than anyone else.
 

Morticia

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I am not envying you this decision. You will be going into this cold with no help from the prior owners, no staff in place and at peak season. Then you may be uprooting your teenage son at a very delicate time. My parents moved me the day after I got out of 8th grade but we had been summering where they moved to so it was not a total change. However, it was not easy to take a city kid and plunk her down in farm country.
This may be the perfect itme. It may not. Can you bring in income immediately or are extensive upgrades needed? EVERYTHING willl need to be washed, aired out, cleaned up before you can accept guests (including the kitchen). You may need a COO if it's been shut down. New regs may kick in because it has not been operating continually. Can you open with a few rooms (up to 10) until you get your bearings? Can you put 3-night minimums (or more) in place to allow you to not be flipping every room every day?
What you should do before getting all excited is look at the place. Look at it like you are your best friend, not yourself. You know the friend...the one who finds fault with everything. You want the naysayer coming out if you really will be 'inn over your head'!
The family has to be on board. I'm not one to ask permission from my kids but he at least has to understand this is not something you are doing TO him. You will probably work your butts off to get this property going only to have a couple of weeks' business during your peak season. If this place closes in Sept-Nov for the entire winter, how will you live?
Now, even if you do decide this is it, we're doing it, you have time to get a class or two in innkeeping done before your closing. There is so much that has lapsed with this place...your web presence, any orgs they belonged to, etc. All of that needs to be brought up to speed before the closing but you won't own any of it! Oh, did they lose the domain name? If it hasn't been paid for, someone else may own it now. There goes your history with guests who had the website & phone number on speed dial.
And, BIG question...why did they fail? What happened in the area, to them in particular, whatever, to cause them to close down what sounds like a good business and have it get taken by the bank? That generally means not enough cash reserves. Do you have cash reserves in the amount of the ENTIRE year's expenses?
How much do you know about running a biz? Can you step in and know what needs to be done because you have experience?
Like I said, don't envy you this decision at all. We decided because we were up against the wall and had to do something and this is what won.
 

egoodell

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I go to the area and check it out to make sure it's not a "popular beach area" that is on its way out for one reason or another. Why did it fail - if it has not been operational since 2008 I would doublt it's in great shape....and why is it listed so low!!! I hope this is not in Florida with the oil on it's way to their beaches. And if it is in Florida, check and see if/how much hurricane insurance will cost. That's a nightmare down there from what I understand.
Riki
 

JBloggs

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Fortunately and unfortunately innkeepers are heart before head type personalities, some of us leap before we look, and to be honest that is 95% of the adventure. You find rarely find an innkeeper living in their hometown or even home state. Some might call us a bit crazy, but it's all part of how we do what we do.
So for that, you definitely need to go and check it out. Take your digital camera and photograph every nook and cranny in the place to review when you get home. While there you can check out the neighborhood as well. Keep us posted! I am excited for you!!!
 

JBloggs

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Life Happens...
All the advice here is sound advice. If we thought about it deeply we should tell you TURN BACK NOW! We should... :)
 

gillumhouse

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The two things that stood out as red flags and caution lights to me were husband just recently got on board and it means up-rooting about to be freshman son.
FIRST - have a VERY serious talk with hubs to find out if he is ABOARD or going along to please you. You will need his support and cooperation in ways you cannot even imagine. (I thought mine was on board totally but discovered he really did not understand and although generally supportive dtagged feet when I needed to fly - his signature was necessary to get a loan and he did not see the why. 5 years later and after the construction prices tripled, he finally agreed). It also means HIM moving. Does he like the new area? Are there things there that will interest him? (My move was a reward for bringing up the 2-legged animals BUT my home State had all the things he liked to do so it was OK.)
Second: IF hubs checks out to being totally on board - ask the kid how he feels about moving. I am not one who lets a kid rule the household, but in this case, a kid can make life miserable for all and do enough damage in 4 years to wreck the business before it gets started - and without doing anything overt or even consciously. Teen years are horrible - I remember both my own (yes my memory does go that far back and not selectively) AND my kids going through theirs with me a parent - UGH! And they were good kids - mostly.
Only you and DH know if the financials are there. Will he continue to work outside the inn? will he be able to FIND work put of the inn if needed? Will you like living at the beach? It is one thing to visit nd another to live there. What do you know about the town? What issues is the town facing? If they have a newspaper that is online, go read the archives for the last 6 months. Is it a thriving town or on the decline? What is the major employer of the area? You may think these have nothing to do with you buying the inn, but they DO. Is the town pretty? the streets kept up? potholes filled? are the financials of the town OK or deep in debt? Remember the town will be providing water, sewer, police, fire, garbage services.
A small city we were looking REAL HARD to find a house in because we felt it would bring guests with a college, rail-trail, proximity to major highway. THANK GOD we found nothing suitable. The City we are in had none of those at the time, but my City is up and coming and we keep hearing - I wish we could clone this City. The other city has been plagued with bad finances, embezzlement, a college vs town attitude we did not know existed, floods, bad water system........ Other than a festival in October, that city has nothing to bring people to it.
It is more than can you make this inn viable again. The location and the finances of the city are just as important to whether it will succeed. Is it a place that has what the 3 of you need to feed your souls as well as your revenues.
Not trying to discourage, just trying to bring up some factors others have not.
Forgot to add something I sincerely feel - good luck and may everything work out the way it is supposed to. (Yes, I do believe things are meant to be!)
 

innovermyhead

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!
 

EmptyNest

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!.
Go have a look at it. Nothing ventured..nothing gained...and you will learn something no matter what :) Class depends on where you are. Check with the state B & B association first to see if they have something offered. If not, Then plan to attend a PAII one at their upcoming conference this year
 

Breakfast Diva

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!.
What area of the country are you in? General region?
 

Morticia

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!.
Take an innkeeping class in the state you're moving to, preferrably the area as well. You have to visit the area, you will be living there! Look at it like this- would you up and leave where you live now to buy a home in a place you've never lived and hope you'll like it? I know lots of people just go where the job takes them, but you can choose!
Don't reveal detailed details here, you never know who is on here. Even if there is no NDA signed, most of the time realtors/brokers/sellers wouldn't want the details online.
 

Joey Camb

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You say you have the information about why the inn hasn't been operating (I appreciate that you have to keep this confidental) but are you happy with the reasons? For example are they due to work that needs doing and ie costs money? Are you completely happy that you could overcome whatever that problem was? Also how long would it take to overcome? ie do you have a big enough money cushion if you have to stay closed for a bit after completion while waiting for permits etc? In the UK 50% of small businesses go bust in the first year simply through a completel lack of financial planning. I used to work for the Inland Revenue (part of the UK Tax system) working with small businesses and most had only the vauguet clue about their financials so no wonder they were going bust. To many people when asked why they thought they would get a tax break etc said Oh a man down the pub said I would. And this is what you based your business plan on I said? and the answer was basically yes. Please make sure your financials add up far too many people don't.
 

gillumhouse

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You say you have the information about why the inn hasn't been operating (I appreciate that you have to keep this confidental) but are you happy with the reasons? For example are they due to work that needs doing and ie costs money? Are you completely happy that you could overcome whatever that problem was? Also how long would it take to overcome? ie do you have a big enough money cushion if you have to stay closed for a bit after completion while waiting for permits etc? In the UK 50% of small businesses go bust in the first year simply through a completel lack of financial planning. I used to work for the Inland Revenue (part of the UK Tax system) working with small businesses and most had only the vauguet clue about their financials so no wonder they were going bust. To many people when asked why they thought they would get a tax break etc said Oh a man down the pub said I would. And this is what you based your business plan on I said? and the answer was basically yes. Please make sure your financials add up far too many people don't..
In the UK 50% of small businesses go bust in the first year simply through a completel lack of financial planning.
It is not just a UK thing. Happens here too.
 

Samster

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!.
All great advice from The Wise Ones who have already posted. My biggest two pieces of advice are (1) Make sure that your significant other is totally and completely on board and realizes that this will be a joint business. If he is going to continue working in another job, make sure that YOU can handle the biz on your own. It's a lot to ask of a spouse to work 2 full-time jobs! Or, make sure that you have both the ability and resources to hire the outside help that you'll need to run that large of an operation. (2) Make sure that you've got plenty of capital. There's nothing worse than sinking everything into a property and coming up short on cash. Plenty of heart over head decisions end up in foreclosure. Sad but true....
Excited for you but cautious....it's tough out there right now in the lodging biz.
 

innovermyhead

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Continued thanks for the info. I've become more skeptical that "this" opportunity is the right one. But, I am curious enough to maybe travel to the location and take a look. At the end of the day I don't think I can do this in a rush. So, I'll be avidly reading all the advice being so generously thrown around on this site!
 

Marianne

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Continued thanks for the info. I've become more skeptical that "this" opportunity is the right one. But, I am curious enough to maybe travel to the location and take a look. At the end of the day I don't think I can do this in a rush. So, I'll be avidly reading all the advice being so generously thrown around on this site!.
Before you make a decision on any inn
try finding a b&b the same size and shadow the owners, do some of the work, and see what it is like for a few days, this will tell you quickly if you want to do it.
If you find a B &B that is similar and size
and not in the immediate area, someone will let you tag along, you can see how much work it is to do a room, and it will help you decide how much help you will need, would give your husband a better idea of what he is signing on for.
 

domsmom

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Thank you all so much for the input - it's all appreciated. Many, many things to think about. What class or seminar would be at the top of your list? I have some books on order and I do think we need some more serious family discussions. The realtor detailed why the inn has been in flux for the past two years - I wasn't sure if I was allowed to reveal all details or not - no NDA requested or signed but I just wasn't sure.
I don't know a lot about this city. Maybe the simplest answer is to go take a look and find out if it's even still interesting. I'll keep reading like crazy and again I really appreciate your insight!.
In my city there was a business beginnings class offered through an organization called Neighborhood Self Employment Initiative. The local SBA may run a similar course. In addition to an innkeepers class, I found this information invaluable. It covered marketing, networking, taxes, insurance, business plans and a couple other topics that small business owners need regardless of the type of business. Really got the creative juices flowing. If you decide to jump right in, best of luck ---persevere!
 
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