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Our future B & B - should we lease it out or have it managed ...

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Paisley

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We are really zeroing in on a home that is currently being run as a B & B. We love the setup and location and feel that it is being offered for a fair price. We anticipate real estate values to continue climbing in this relatively newer destination. The unfortunate part of the equation is, that although we would like to take advantage of this opportunity and are able to do it financially, we likely won't be moving to the area for another 2 to 5 years. We live about 16 hours drive from it and so, other than a few trips a year to take care of whatever, we are unable to be hands-on in any way.
We are looking at two possible scenarios.
1. We look for a manager/couple who have B & B experience (which we don't anyway!) and get them in there (not sure what the pay arrangement might be for something like this - stay for free or also a salary. Our concerns about this are that, because it would be like starting up a new B & B, it feels a little challenging to get it started with someone else in place ie. how this might affect our future business, etc.
2. We offer the building up for lease. It covers our costs and the "tenants" may or may not run a B & B in it. Either way, it wouldn't be "our" business and wouldn't reflect the future of ours there. Also, we could retain the two businesses we currently own and build up some more cash stores.
Are either of these options realistic? Are there others we haven't considered? Is the idea of setting up a brand new b & b business with absent owners even make sense?
I tend to ramble but have tried to keep it short. Any insight or experience you've had that you'd like to share would be welcomed.
Thanks --- Paisley
 

JBloggs

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My 2 cents are this - a B&B is not a money maker. The main benefit of a B&B is being able to deduct living expenses. So to buy it and have someone else manage or operate the B&B on a salary is almost defeatest.
Not sure how a leasee deducts payments on their taxes? There are a lot of liability issues and guest issues involved as well. Maybe a leasee will chime in here.
 

EmptyNest

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Welcome!
Sounds like you have given this thought. But ........
Edited: Ooops just read that it is currently a B & B...sorry, so I am changing my response.
But still..... Lots of things can change in a 2-5 year time frame. That is what concerns me....LOTS ..is this really the time to do this given the fact that you cannot start the B & B at this time?
We purchased our place about a year from my retirement. It was an 8 hour drive from where we lived. We leased it back to the owners for 6 months and then my husband went and stayed there the last 6 months and did the "updates" and then ran it 3 months until I could move down. It was a very trying time for both of us.
I wouldn't trust someone I didn't even know to "run MY B & B" for me! Even though it is currently being run as one. It just seems so unrealisitic and cries out for lots of potential problems down the line.
It should be your business...not someone elses. You should be the ones to determine how you want it to be run. THe logisitics of this seem to be a nightmare to me.
How large a place is this? A small B & B does not make money. What does the income / occupancy look like right now?
Hiring innkeepers will not be cheap. I don't know of anyone who would do this just for a place to live. They want a salary. Would this place make enough to provide a good salary?
They would need to be supervised to make sure they are running the place to YOUR satisfaction. Afterall, they could ruin what business there is, give you a bad reputation and then you would be left to deal with it all in 2-5 years:-(
Sorry, no real answers for you...just more questions..but things you really need to think about before jumping in on this one.
 

muirford

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I just want to echo the 'check your local zoning' sentiment. In our specific case, if our B&B stopped being a B&B for two years, the special use permit allotted to it by our planning board would cease to exist. We are in a residentially-zoned neighborhood. So if you choose option 2, be sure you won't lose any special conditions that allow you to have a B&B in that place now.
My take on this is that it would be very challenging to have someone else run your place, and your ability to pay for innkeepers depends quite a bit on the revenue of the inn you are looking at. Do you need one person or two to manage it? If only one, are there job opportunities for one spouse to bring an income in while the B&B provides housing? Some properties do bring in enough revenue that a live-in innkeeper could be paid for but it is a different business model than most of us operate under. Finding a good innkeeper will be another challenge.
 

seashanty

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and then there is me ...
i started up a b&b from nothing. it was a lot of hard work and i miss it.
why am i no longer there? because i went into it i guess still in shock from the death of my husband. i thought i was thinking clearly but i was not. because we had no legal, written agreement, just a verbal one. so when the owner decided she needed to put the property on the market, i was not told and found out 'through the grapevine' and had to hunt her down to find out the truth. she says she did not tell me because my father was dying (he did not die for another year). i think she was afraid that if i knew she was selling, i would up and leave. i didn't. i would not have done that. i still stayed for another year ... but i felt betrayed. if only she had called me and told me 'this is my situation ... i have to put the b&b up for sale', i would have been an ally.
as i search for my next big adventure, i am discovering that there are a number of b&b/inns with owners and innkeepers who are not the same person(s). a lot more than i realized. and it is exactly right that in a lot of places if you let that b&b license lapse, you might not be able to get the community/town/state support. you won't be transferring a license ... you have to go through the permit process all over again and may not succeed. don't let that happen.
i think the biggest challenge would be to find innkeeper(s) who match your temperment and vision because that innkeeper will still put their imprint on your place ... present yourself as a team to all guests, neighbors and vendors, keep the lines of communication open and you should be fine. but you will have to offer a salary in addition to room and board. the amount of work involved is enormous. run the place yourself for a while and you will see that just saying 'you can stay here for free in exchange for running the place' is not a fair arrangement.
understand that a full-time innkeeper will have difficult times and guests as well as great ones, and will need to vent - hopefully not about you. (this place is great for that)
 

Breakfast Diva

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I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
For me, the question is more do you want to have a lot of input and oversite of this B&B once you own it and have to hire/lease someone until you are there? If you hired staff to run it, there is a huge opportunity for theft of revenues, overspending, etc. I have a friend who lived in another state from her B&B and hired a full time innkeeper to run it, but my friend kept daily tabs on the reservations, and all other aspects of the business.
If you hired a full time innkeeper, you would need to provide free room and a salary. Does the B&B as it's currently run make enough to do this?
As Muirford stated, you must check all conditional use permits and zoning. Sometimes permits are not transferable. A couple years ago we were going to buy a house that had been run as a B&B for almost 20 years, but the owner had died 1 1/2 year previous and no family kept business going...turned out that the county/state considered the business "abandoned" after 1 year and all grandfathering and conditional use permits went away and the property reverted by to the rezoning from 10 year prior. It ment that there would never be a B&B on that property ever again. I learned this info out on the day we were going to put our bid in. Whew! Close call!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything.
 

EmptyNest

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I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
For me, the question is more do you want to have a lot of input and oversite of this B&B once you own it and have to hire/lease someone until you are there? If you hired staff to run it, there is a huge opportunity for theft of revenues, overspending, etc. I have a friend who lived in another state from her B&B and hired a full time innkeeper to run it, but my friend kept daily tabs on the reservations, and all other aspects of the business.
If you hired a full time innkeeper, you would need to provide free room and a salary. Does the B&B as it's currently run make enough to do this?
As Muirford stated, you must check all conditional use permits and zoning. Sometimes permits are not transferable. A couple years ago we were going to buy a house that had been run as a B&B for almost 20 years, but the owner had died 1 1/2 year previous and no family kept business going...turned out that the county/state considered the business "abandoned" after 1 year and all grandfathering and conditional use permits went away and the property reverted by to the rezoning from 10 year prior. It ment that there would never be a B&B on that property ever again. I learned this info out on the day we were going to put our bid in. Whew! Close call!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything..
I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
Sorry you took that the wrong way. I was meaning that if a small place, it may not make enough to pay for all expenses and an innkeeper/ whatever. And, the LOCATION is key. If this place is not in a good location, why would someone go there. I know...blanket statement again..and our "Podunk" friend will chime in here :) Just thoughts that first jump out from my head...sorry. There is just so much we don't know...so for me...I assume...which my hubby tells me I should never do...BAD ME

 

wendydk

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I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
For me, the question is more do you want to have a lot of input and oversite of this B&B once you own it and have to hire/lease someone until you are there? If you hired staff to run it, there is a huge opportunity for theft of revenues, overspending, etc. I have a friend who lived in another state from her B&B and hired a full time innkeeper to run it, but my friend kept daily tabs on the reservations, and all other aspects of the business.
If you hired a full time innkeeper, you would need to provide free room and a salary. Does the B&B as it's currently run make enough to do this?
As Muirford stated, you must check all conditional use permits and zoning. Sometimes permits are not transferable. A couple years ago we were going to buy a house that had been run as a B&B for almost 20 years, but the owner had died 1 1/2 year previous and no family kept business going...turned out that the county/state considered the business "abandoned" after 1 year and all grandfathering and conditional use permits went away and the property reverted by to the rezoning from 10 year prior. It ment that there would never be a B&B on that property ever again. I learned this info out on the day we were going to put our bid in. Whew! Close call!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything..
Diva is right...we only have three rooms, and our Inn pays for itself, including mortgage, taxes, insurance, all utilities, our vacations, big-time capital improvements, and more with a little bank account left over. We don't live high on the hog, but I couldn't be happier with what we accomplish for our size...especially considering one of our rooms is a shared bath! If I had gotten into this business wanting to get rich, or wanted to pay someone to run it for me, I would be disappointed, but I didn't, so am happy! :)
Is the B&B that you are considering doing well? Does it have a good reputation? Are you thinking of continuing it in it's current incarnation? Would the current owners consider staying on for a couple years at a salary until you were ready to make the move?
 

Samster

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Run the numbers carefully based on the current occupancy AND what can happen when the place is sold (loss of return guests, expected loss of guests because of a change of ownership, etc.) Then, decide if you can manage to pay someone plus give them a place to live. I think it's unrealistic to expect to hire someone without even paying them something, even in these economic times.
Some small places DO make money but it depends on the fixed expenses and occupancy. If the current owners have no mortgage or a small mortgage, they may be making money. We do not "make money" here and haven't come close to the break even point with the overhead we have. You also need to determine if you need to upgrade the current furniture & fixtures? That can cost you some money right out of the gate, almost like a start-up.
Definitely check into the B&B licensing issue, even with a purchase.
Good luck!
 

Breakfast Diva

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Also, when analyzing the business side of a b&b before you buy it, look and see where the weakness is. Do they have online reservations? Are they listed in a lot of directories? Are the owners tech savvy? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then bingo! You know you can increase the business from where it is now. If you buy a business that has no place to go or expand, then you don't have as many options.
 

YellowSocks

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We visited a B&B on an island and the owners lived off island. The innkeeper had her own home and kids but came over and did breakfast, cleaning, etc.
Other than that, I dunno... not something I can help much with.
=)
Kk.
 

Paisley

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Welcome!
Sounds like you have given this thought. But ........
Edited: Ooops just read that it is currently a B & B...sorry, so I am changing my response.
But still..... Lots of things can change in a 2-5 year time frame. That is what concerns me....LOTS ..is this really the time to do this given the fact that you cannot start the B & B at this time?
We purchased our place about a year from my retirement. It was an 8 hour drive from where we lived. We leased it back to the owners for 6 months and then my husband went and stayed there the last 6 months and did the "updates" and then ran it 3 months until I could move down. It was a very trying time for both of us.
I wouldn't trust someone I didn't even know to "run MY B & B" for me! Even though it is currently being run as one. It just seems so unrealisitic and cries out for lots of potential problems down the line.
It should be your business...not someone elses. You should be the ones to determine how you want it to be run. THe logisitics of this seem to be a nightmare to me.
How large a place is this? A small B & B does not make money. What does the income / occupancy look like right now?
Hiring innkeepers will not be cheap. I don't know of anyone who would do this just for a place to live. They want a salary. Would this place make enough to provide a good salary?
They would need to be supervised to make sure they are running the place to YOUR satisfaction. Afterall, they could ruin what business there is, give you a bad reputation and then you would be left to deal with it all in 2-5 years:-(
Sorry, no real answers for you...just more questions..but things you really need to think about before jumping in on this one..
But still..... Lots of things can change in a 2-5 year time frame. That is what concerns me....LOTS ..is this really the time to do this given the fact that you cannot start the B & B at this time? To be honest, we were not ready to make this change quite yet BUT it really feels like we should buy in NOW. Of course, if it was just a regular ol' house, we could just rent it out and be done with it but ... the siza and cost make it challenging for that reason.
We purchased our place about a year from my retirement. It was an 8 hour drive from where we lived. We leased it back to the owners for 6 months and then my husband went and stayed there the last 6 months and did the "updates" and then ran it 3 months until I could move down. It was a very trying time for both of us. We have touched on this type of idea. It certainly does sound difficult - thanks for sharing your personal experience there.
I wouldn't trust someone I didn't even know to "run MY B & B" for me! Even though it is currently being run as one. It just seems so unrealisitic and cries out for lots of potential problems down the line. Hallelujah sister!
It should be your business...not someone elses. You should be the ones to determine how you want it to be run. THe logisitics of this seem to be a nightmare to me. Double hallalujah!
How large a place is this? A small B & B does not make money. What does the income / occupancy look like right now? This is not going to be a hugely profitable operation - we are walking in with our eyes wide open.
Hiring innkeepers will not be cheap. I don't know of anyone who would do this just for a place to live. They want a salary. Would this place make enough to provide a good salary? No.
They would need to be supervised to make sure they are running the place to YOUR satisfaction. Afterall, they could ruin what business there is, give you a bad reputation and then you would be left to deal with it all in 2-5 years:-(
Sorry, no real answers for you...just more questions..but things you really need to think about before jumping in on this one.
Thanks so much. These are all great things to think about it. I'm leaning towards either jumping on the b & b bandwagon sooner that we planned and then having our current established businesses managed.
 

Paisley

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My 2 cents are this - a B&B is not a money maker. The main benefit of a B&B is being able to deduct living expenses. So to buy it and have someone else manage or operate the B&B on a salary is almost defeatest.
Not sure how a leasee deducts payments on their taxes? There are a lot of liability issues and guest issues involved as well. Maybe a leasee will chime in here..
Jo Bloggs said:
Not sure how a leasee deducts payments on their taxes? There are a lot of liability issues and guest issues involved as well. Maybe a leasee will chime in here.
I guess when I through out the lease idea, I didn't really know if there were other solutions either.
 

Paisley

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I just want to echo the 'check your local zoning' sentiment. In our specific case, if our B&B stopped being a B&B for two years, the special use permit allotted to it by our planning board would cease to exist. We are in a residentially-zoned neighborhood. So if you choose option 2, be sure you won't lose any special conditions that allow you to have a B&B in that place now.
My take on this is that it would be very challenging to have someone else run your place, and your ability to pay for innkeepers depends quite a bit on the revenue of the inn you are looking at. Do you need one person or two to manage it? If only one, are there job opportunities for one spouse to bring an income in while the B&B provides housing? Some properties do bring in enough revenue that a live-in innkeeper could be paid for but it is a different business model than most of us operate under. Finding a good innkeeper will be another challenge..
muirford said:
I just want to echo the 'check your local zoning' sentiment. In our specific case, if our B&B stopped being a B&B for two years, the special use permit allotted to it by our planning board would cease to exist. We are in a residentially-zoned neighborhood. So if you choose option 2, be sure you won't lose any special conditions that allow you to have a B&B in that place now. THis is good info to have - I've sent an email off to the economic manager
 

Paisley

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and then there is me ...
i started up a b&b from nothing. it was a lot of hard work and i miss it.
why am i no longer there? because i went into it i guess still in shock from the death of my husband. i thought i was thinking clearly but i was not. because we had no legal, written agreement, just a verbal one. so when the owner decided she needed to put the property on the market, i was not told and found out 'through the grapevine' and had to hunt her down to find out the truth. she says she did not tell me because my father was dying (he did not die for another year). i think she was afraid that if i knew she was selling, i would up and leave. i didn't. i would not have done that. i still stayed for another year ... but i felt betrayed. if only she had called me and told me 'this is my situation ... i have to put the b&b up for sale', i would have been an ally.
as i search for my next big adventure, i am discovering that there are a number of b&b/inns with owners and innkeepers who are not the same person(s). a lot more than i realized. and it is exactly right that in a lot of places if you let that b&b license lapse, you might not be able to get the community/town/state support. you won't be transferring a license ... you have to go through the permit process all over again and may not succeed. don't let that happen.
i think the biggest challenge would be to find innkeeper(s) who match your temperment and vision because that innkeeper will still put their imprint on your place ... present yourself as a team to all guests, neighbors and vendors, keep the lines of communication open and you should be fine. but you will have to offer a salary in addition to room and board. the amount of work involved is enormous. run the place yourself for a while and you will see that just saying 'you can stay here for free in exchange for running the place' is not a fair arrangement.
understand that a full-time innkeeper will have difficult times and guests as well as great ones, and will need to vent - hopefully not about you. (this place is great for that).
seashanty said:
I sense your sadness and frustration in your experience.It sounds like, when you heal from all of this, you'll be unstoppable!
it is exactly right that in a lot of places if you let that b&b license lapse, you might not be able to get the community/town/state support. you won't be transferring a license ... you have to go through the permit process all over again and may not succeed. don't let that happen. Good to know for sure!
i think the biggest challenge would be to find innkeeper(s) who match your temperment and vision because that innkeeper will still put their imprint on your place ... present yourself as a team to all guests, neighbors and vendors, keep the lines of communication open and you should be fine. but you will have to offer a salary in addition to room and board. the amount of work involved is enormous. run the place yourself for a while and you will see that just saying 'you can stay here for free in exchange for running the place' is not a fair arrangement. Duly noted ...
 

Paisley

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I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
For me, the question is more do you want to have a lot of input and oversite of this B&B once you own it and have to hire/lease someone until you are there? If you hired staff to run it, there is a huge opportunity for theft of revenues, overspending, etc. I have a friend who lived in another state from her B&B and hired a full time innkeeper to run it, but my friend kept daily tabs on the reservations, and all other aspects of the business.
If you hired a full time innkeeper, you would need to provide free room and a salary. Does the B&B as it's currently run make enough to do this?
As Muirford stated, you must check all conditional use permits and zoning. Sometimes permits are not transferable. A couple years ago we were going to buy a house that had been run as a B&B for almost 20 years, but the owner had died 1 1/2 year previous and no family kept business going...turned out that the county/state considered the business "abandoned" after 1 year and all grandfathering and conditional use permits went away and the property reverted by to the rezoning from 10 year prior. It ment that there would never be a B&B on that property ever again. I learned this info out on the day we were going to put our bid in. Whew! Close call!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything..
Breakfast Diva said:
I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Good to hear!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything. I am taking serious note of all of your suggestions and questions - thank you.
 

Paisley

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I have to disagree that small B&Bs don't make money. I have a 4 room B&B and I do make money. A nice bit of it I might add! Again, it depends on location, style, marketing, etc., etc. Am I the norm? Probably not, but I hate those blanket statements that say you can't. Just be realistic.
For me, the question is more do you want to have a lot of input and oversite of this B&B once you own it and have to hire/lease someone until you are there? If you hired staff to run it, there is a huge opportunity for theft of revenues, overspending, etc. I have a friend who lived in another state from her B&B and hired a full time innkeeper to run it, but my friend kept daily tabs on the reservations, and all other aspects of the business.
If you hired a full time innkeeper, you would need to provide free room and a salary. Does the B&B as it's currently run make enough to do this?
As Muirford stated, you must check all conditional use permits and zoning. Sometimes permits are not transferable. A couple years ago we were going to buy a house that had been run as a B&B for almost 20 years, but the owner had died 1 1/2 year previous and no family kept business going...turned out that the county/state considered the business "abandoned" after 1 year and all grandfathering and conditional use permits went away and the property reverted by to the rezoning from 10 year prior. It ment that there would never be a B&B on that property ever again. I learned this info out on the day we were going to put our bid in. Whew! Close call!
A lease situation might work for you, but you would be at the mercy of the people leasing it and whether they were good innkeepers or not. Your reputation is everything..
Diva is right...we only have three rooms, and our Inn pays for itself, including mortgage, taxes, insurance, all utilities, our vacations, big-time capital improvements, and more with a little bank account left over. We don't live high on the hog, but I couldn't be happier with what we accomplish for our size...especially considering one of our rooms is a shared bath! If I had gotten into this business wanting to get rich, or wanted to pay someone to run it for me, I would be disappointed, but I didn't, so am happy! :)
Is the B&B that you are considering doing well? Does it have a good reputation? Are you thinking of continuing it in it's current incarnation? Would the current owners consider staying on for a couple years at a salary until you were ready to make the move?
.
Little Blue said:
Is the B&B that you are considering doing well? I don't think that the current owners are marketing it or working at it particularly well. Does it have a good reputation? I don't think it has a BAD reputation per se but it doesn't have ANY reputation. Are you thinking of continuing it in it's current incarnation? We would like to start totally anew. Would the current owners consider staying on for a couple years at a salary until you were ready to make the move? I don't think this is an option in this case.
 

Paisley

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Run the numbers carefully based on the current occupancy AND what can happen when the place is sold (loss of return guests, expected loss of guests because of a change of ownership, etc.) Then, decide if you can manage to pay someone plus give them a place to live. I think it's unrealistic to expect to hire someone without even paying them something, even in these economic times.
Some small places DO make money but it depends on the fixed expenses and occupancy. If the current owners have no mortgage or a small mortgage, they may be making money. We do not "make money" here and haven't come close to the break even point with the overhead we have. You also need to determine if you need to upgrade the current furniture & fixtures? That can cost you some money right out of the gate, almost like a start-up.
Definitely check into the B&B licensing issue, even with a purchase.
Good luck!.
Samster said:
I think it's unrealistic to expect to hire someone without even paying them something, even in these economic times. I agree.
Definitely check into the B&B licensing issue, even with a purchase. Thanks.
Good luck!
 

Paisley

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Also, when analyzing the business side of a b&b before you buy it, look and see where the weakness is. Do they have online reservations? Are they listed in a lot of directories? Are the owners tech savvy? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then bingo! You know you can increase the business from where it is now. If you buy a business that has no place to go or expand, then you don't have as many options..
Breakfast Diva said:
Also, when analyzing the business side of a b&b before you buy it, look and see where the weakness is. Do they have online reservations? Yes.
Are they listed in a lot of directories? No.
Are the owners tech savvy? I don't particularly think so.
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then bingo! You know you can increase the business from where it is now. If you buy a business that has no place to go or expand, then you don't have as many options. Good point.
 

seashanty

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i did not mean to rant or whine about my situation. i won't edit it right now because it swiss cheeses the thread as swirt says ....
just, if you end up hiring innkeeper(s), put everything in writing so that there is not misunderstanding
i do wish you all the best, really!
 
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