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Question: When is Enough

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SummerSeed87

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Greetings,
I just recently found this website and am loving it. Here is my issue/question, Should I end my career as an innkeeper? Let me give you some background. We have only been doing this for the last 7 months and started out really loving it. New people, making breakfasts, a vacation, lots of great things. In the past 2 months, we have become utterly miserable and dissatisfied with our work. Constant anxiety, stress, and apathy plague us each day. I do believe we are good at this job, just that it may not be right for us. I am not used to never having a day off, always having the phone ring when I want to relax, or guests that deserve brutality. I wanted to give it a good 6 months to really see if it was right for us. I am constantly trying to be optimistic but each day something else breaks or happens to bring me back down. I want my boss(we are the innkeepers, he owns several properties) to have the best people here that are really going to sell rooms and make his business work. Is there hope for me to turn around and get used to this? Or is innkeeping not my thing... I dream of a normal job again with set days off and no phones to ring at 11pm, or 3 in the morning because someone needs to fax us garbage. In the end, I am searching for advice from all you sage innkeepers, any tips or words of encouragement. The busy season approaches rapidly and I worry more and more.
 

Morticia

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A) You need a day off. If you are not the owner, this is something you need to get clear with the owner immediately. OWNERS never have a day off, employees DO.
B) If it has been slower than usual where you are you may just be too worried to enjoy what you're doing. If it's been very busy you may just be tired.
C) What did you love and why do you hate it now? Will that get better with more time under your belt or worse? I have NEVER wished to go back to a 'regular' job no matter how bad things have gotten.
D) What sort of control do you have over who stays with you? Does the owner control everything or nothing or somewhere in between?
E) Why are you answering the phone at 3 AM for a fax? Turn the fax on and let it do its job. Conversely, let the answering machine get phone calls after a certain hour. Have an emergency only number you supply to guests who are in the house, not to drunks looking for a place to crash.
 

JBloggs

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Sounds like it is not your thing. The difference in what most of us do and yourself is we have a vested interest in these businesses as we own them, we eat, drink, and sleep them. Every penny we get goes right back into the business. The stress you mention sounds more like the stress we encounter as owners, a hired person should never had this stress to operate a bed and breakfast. Something is not right there. I mean most of us stress over the affordability of hiring any additional help at all. I hope you find what you are looking for.
 

EmptyNest

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Welcome! To me it sounds like this really isn't the occupation for you. If you are this stressed and not loving what you do after such a short period of time, sound like you need to reconsider this lifestyle. Especially if you are the employee and not the inn owner. You are doing way too much and I fear not being compensated nearly enough. I would be looking for other options. I know the job market is a tough one right now so you may have to hang on at the inn for a while, but you need to come up with some clear guidelines of what you will and won't do and make it clear to the owner that you cannot continue to work in this manner. Best of luck to you.
 

SweetiePie

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I wouldn't give up yet after only 7 months, especially since you started out loving it. What happened to change that? Don't try to be everything to everybody. It sounds like you just need to find your niche. What constitutes your skill set? Where can your talents best be used? Maybe you would do better in a managerial position over these other employees who then handle the day to day stuff.
What kind of guests do you enjoy? Gear your business towards them. It sound like you need some space. Perhaps fewer guests with more expensive packages is the way to go. Decide what your bottom line is financially and the best way to achieve that on a monthly basis. The best advice I ever got was not to gear your business to the lowest common denominator. Those are the people who are going to give you the most trouble.
Definitely set some boundaries. No innkeeper is going to enjoy their job when they feel overwhelmed and trapped. The nice thing about having your own business is that you get to make the rules. Decide what your business hours are. You don't need to be available 24/7. Remember you are running the business, not the guests. When you say they deserve brutality I'm not sure what you mean, but it sounds like perhaps you have allowed them to walk over you. Perhaps some house rules are in order as well.
 

YellowSocks

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Block off three days and get out of town ASAP.
Get online reservations ASAP.
Turn off the phone from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
I'm the owner, but I get days off. (Well, maybe not in July, but I sure take it easy in the off season!)
It's amazing what a break will do for your perspective!
Regroup, reconsider, set some boundaries, and go back at it!
=)
Kk.
 

Don Draper

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FIrst of all, give yourself a pat on the back for being as busy as you are...you're obviously doing something right as an innkeeper!
Secondly, know you have found a great source of support here on this forum, it was very helpful for me to realize that the BS happens to everyone, it's not only you, and it's nice to see how others deal with the same types of problems. And this is a very varied group, so you get to see lots of reactions/strategies.
You definitely need some time off. I can't imagine working this hard for someone other than myself. So you need to think about what would make working this hard for someone else worthwhile to YOU...more $$, more flexibility, more time off, only you will know the answer.
We do not answer the phone or the bell at the front desk while we are eating dinner. No exceptions. We do not answer the phone after 9 pm, we don't have a phone in our bedroom so we will not be disturbed at night. We've tried to set up our house/rooms such that guests can be pretty self-sufficient, we have emergency numbers posted prominently, and a binder of info in each room that contains all the answers they might need. Bottom line, if the house is on fire or you're having a heart attack, call 911. Otherwise, we'll be available at 6 am and we'll see you then.
Try to remember that your guests' issues are not your own. Just because someone is cranky and criticizing doesn't mean the problem is with you, they could just be having a bad day or going thru something difficult, or they might just be a jerk. Either way, do your best and don't take on the problems of others. I KNOW this i much easier said than done, we are three years in and I still struggle with this on a daily basis.
 

gillumhouse

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Set aside a time for YOU. Until my friend had a foot problem, we used to walk on the rail-trail weekday mornings at 6AM because that was the only time we both had - and it was rare when we let ANYTHING get in the way. I still miss it (not the 5AM alarm though).
BREE is right - as an employee you fall under different employment rules than an owner. Employees are not permitted to be slaves - only owners are. Even if it is mid-week (I can understand no weekends), you need to have a set day off. A day to plan or not plan as you so desire as your day.
As owners we have the satisfaction of our work growing the business to make perhaps? a profit. Employees work for a salary usually with little or no incentive other than continued employment.
I get lathargic in my off-season because there is nothing to drive me to do anything. I need a carrot. Maybe you also need a carrot - a day off or a reward to work toward......
I could not imagine working for someone else again. Even when I work temp jobs, I know their rules only apply to me today and only up to a point. I am too independent - especially now after 13 years of doing MY rules.
However, do not put yourself down if this is not you. Some people NEED to have the "put in my 8 and go home". We are all different. Some people work best on an assembly line - I go to sleep even while cutting my fingers to ribbons doing it (I know from the one assembly line job I did for a couple months). Part of the joy of this for me is that each day is different - it is only boring in the off-season.
 

seashanty

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what is that phrase?
they come, they pay, they go away ..... can become a mantra when the beasties come to stay.
 

Morticia

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what is that phrase?
they come, they pay, they go away ..... can become a mantra when the beasties come to stay..
seashanty said:
what is that phrase?
they come, they pay, they go away ..... can become a mantra when the beasties come to stay.
they pay, they stay, they go away.
 

swirt

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what is that phrase?
they come, they pay, they go away ..... can become a mantra when the beasties come to stay..
seashanty said:
what is that phrase?
they come, they pay, they go away ..... can become a mantra when the beasties come to stay.
they pay, they stay, they go away.
.
I like seashanty's version better...it cuts out the middle annoying part...the stay LOL
 

gillumhouse

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this forum could be a lifesaver for you ... just having a place to rant and commiserate with other people is so helpful.
I can attest to that! It kept DH alive and breathing many a day! Saved my sanity and kept me a free woman - I do require more than 8 x 8 of space and do not look good in stripes. The innmates will tell you when you need to get a grip and when you have a valid gripe. They will even give siggestions of how to diffuse a situation with the guest or for YOU.
Just remember, whatever you decide, you are not alone.
 

seashanty

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ok swirt ... haha!
my short term memory is not what it used to be
my short term memory is not what it used to be
or this one ... (if you're having a really bad week)
in just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday
 

The Tipsy Butler

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The word that jumped out at me is APATHY. I know that when I get apathatic I am burned out and have to have a day off. Yesterday was the perfect day to work on the laundry list of stuff that needs to get done. Everytime I tried to start something I got completely overwhelmed and shut down - so I went to bed, at 2:30 in the afternoon, with a book, some wine and the cats. Today I'm superwoman - happy and productive.
I give you great credit. I couldn't do this job as an employee. Every single piece of advice you've been given is great advice. Take time now ..... I find that "the season" can be easier than out of season because you get totally immersed in what you're doing. Once the season is over, you'll probably find it much easier to grab time off and enjoy every second of it because you'll come to a new awareness of how precious and beautiful it is and how much you need it.
 

NW BB

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These are all great suggestions. If you give us a little more information, we might be able to help even more. You are the employee, right? Are you being paid a salary/and or commission? Is your boss doing the marketing of the property or are you? What are your responsibilites?
You can see from above that the common thread to the suggestions given is that you need to put some guidlines and restrictions on your time. We can help you focus in on that if we know exactly what your responsibilities are. There should be a huge difference in the stress level of an employee rather than an owner. Take a deep breath, it's too soon to make a decision yet without implimenting some guidlines first to see if you can restructure your days.
Remember, we're here to help. Believe me, after some time getting to know you and your situation, we'll be honest with you about our opinions and hopefully help you decide if you're headed in the right path.
 

ginocat

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In my opinion if you're not happy now then get out of this business!! It will not get better for you. Generally at the beginning people love the business and only grow weary of it after a few years. You will not have happy guests if you are not a happy host. Clearly you resent what you're doing and the people imposition that is part of this life.
 

happykeeper

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Okay- you have heard all the good stuff- so the one word that came up the most- boundaries!
If you can't set boundaries, you will need to go back to the grind where they set them for you.
 

Copperhead

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Hi SummerSeed, welcome to the group. Glad you decided to post and open up about your problem. You have found a place that can help you. This group has already provided you with a good start with the information you have provided. I know in the past we have had a couple of other hired innkeepers on the forum hopefully they are still around and will chime in.
After reading the posts, sit down with a blank sheet and right a list of what you like (or liked) about this job in one column and what you dislike in the other, then go back and highlight under the dislike items that YOU can control whether it be on your own or by having a heart to heart with your boss. Change what you can on your own and see where that gets you. Then get with your boss on other issues including the big one - time off! It is only after determining where the problems are can you then work toward the solution.
Others mentioned wanting more info so we can assist you more - My questions are about the B&B's history - Has this been a B&B prior to you being the innkeeper? How long did the previous innkeeper stay? If your guests are mainly problem guests - maybe there is a need to raise rates, when was the last time rates were raised? You mentioned 'things braking' - (read other threads and you will know that this is common) but was the place well maintained?
As you work through all this, you have us to sound off to. Let us help you!
 

bobwhitesong

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Hi SummerSeed, welcome to the group. Glad you decided to post and open up about your problem. You have found a place that can help you. This group has already provided you with a good start with the information you have provided. I know in the past we have had a couple of other hired innkeepers on the forum hopefully they are still around and will chime in.
After reading the posts, sit down with a blank sheet and right a list of what you like (or liked) about this job in one column and what you dislike in the other, then go back and highlight under the dislike items that YOU can control whether it be on your own or by having a heart to heart with your boss. Change what you can on your own and see where that gets you. Then get with your boss on other issues including the big one - time off! It is only after determining where the problems are can you then work toward the solution.
Others mentioned wanting more info so we can assist you more - My questions are about the B&B's history - Has this been a B&B prior to you being the innkeeper? How long did the previous innkeeper stay? If your guests are mainly problem guests - maybe there is a need to raise rates, when was the last time rates were raised? You mentioned 'things braking' - (read other threads and you will know that this is common) but was the place well maintained?
As you work through all this, you have us to sound off to. Let us help you!.
SummerSeed is actually my husband, so I think it appropriate (since we're Co-Inn Managers) to elaborate further and help answer questions. Forgive me if this is a bit rambling, there's so much on our minds and making it perfectly eloquent is too much work! (Maybe a list is most efficient?)
Firstly, we relocated almost 4 hours away from all our friends and family to take this job. We were interested in relocating because the area we liked was young, progressive, open-minded, environmentally-concious, and had a milder climate. In essence, it was the exact opposite of the apathetic, ultra-conservative, snow belt town we were leaving. We made the naive assumption that the area the job was in would be just like the area we loved even though they're about an hour apart. In reality, our new "home" has an average age of 55 (we're early 20's), and is well known for it's "lush culture" [think classical orchestra and ballet] and "luxury living". Getting a job was a time sensitive issue, and when we were offered this one we didn't think to make sure it was a place we wanted to be [much less a place we wanted to "sell" to our guests]. Needless to say, we pretty much hate it here and are convinced we'll never feel at home.
We wanted to try to assimilate, but in an area where a thrifty dinner out runs about $50, we just can't find a way to socialize without blowing our paycheck. And the people here just aren't our "type".
Additionally, the longer we are employed (we don't own the Inn, just manage it) the more and more we find piled on our plates. My welcome tour has literally expanded from 5 minutes to 15 in the last 6 months because new policies and procedures and offerings and sales techniques get added on. Some guests are more curious/questioning than others, so it's really quite common for a tour to take 30 minutes. We have 17 rooms, and sometimes have 10 or more check-ins in a day, so this is just plain exhausting.
I'm realizing more and more that the real reason my days are so exhausting is because we have a very high-end clientel. Like, the kind of people that give you a 2-star review because the pillows weren't feather [they could have asked]. These are the kind of people that want *me* to pick where they eat dinner every night, make the reservations, order and hold their theater tickets until they arrive, confirm the quality of the seating, print off door-to-door directions, and answer every question they can think of while they scowl at me. Honestly, I don't believe in "luxury". Opulent living offends me. Yet I'm in a position where I coddle and spoon-feed spoiled rich people for a living. AHH!
On top of that, even on the days when we have no one in house (which during the slow season would sometimes be 4 or 5 days a week) We still work for 10 or 12 hours. Research needs to be done, emails replied to, workers and maintenance people are constantly show up unannounced, the phone rings and rings and rings, packages are dropped off, it never ends! Worst of all, people will show up completely unannounced all the time [even on Mother's Day, no kidding] wanting a tour of the Inn for a possible wedding or future stay. I can't wear comfortable, non-stuffy clothes on MY DAY "OFF" because we have NO privacy and are at the beck and call of everyone.
We have almost no control over our own privacy or personal time management. For example, we get 3 weeks paid vacation every year, but we have to take it between december and mid april to fit with our owner's demands. When we finally did plan our big vacation and told our boss the dates (which fit the period he had told us to plan within two weeks before) he made us cancel and rebook our flight and rental car to accomodate ONE DAY he wanted free so he could pack for his vacation. We didn't even get to choose when we could go on our own vacation!!! And every time we've been able to leave the Inn (for our big vacation, the mandatory Christmas vacation, and our anniversary) we've come back and literally been back at work before our coats were off or luggage taken out of the car. And by back to work I dont mean answering a phone, I mean having an unannounced business conference or doing a check-in.
The best way I can describe how I feel is this: Imagine if this Inn were underwater; when we started I had a big ol' air tank and complete set of scuba gear. If soemthing went wrong or broke or came up, I could take a deep breath and carry on. Now I've got a snorkle. If there's a bump in the road I'm gasping for air, panicking, and desperately trying to reach the surface. Trying to GET OUT.
When we told our boss last week that we wanted to leave we gave him 6 weeks notice and offered to train our replacement for free. He demanded almost 7 months. I honestly don't think I can tough this out. For the sake of my sanity, I really don't think I can....help!
 

swirt

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Hi SummerSeed, welcome to the group. Glad you decided to post and open up about your problem. You have found a place that can help you. This group has already provided you with a good start with the information you have provided. I know in the past we have had a couple of other hired innkeepers on the forum hopefully they are still around and will chime in.
After reading the posts, sit down with a blank sheet and right a list of what you like (or liked) about this job in one column and what you dislike in the other, then go back and highlight under the dislike items that YOU can control whether it be on your own or by having a heart to heart with your boss. Change what you can on your own and see where that gets you. Then get with your boss on other issues including the big one - time off! It is only after determining where the problems are can you then work toward the solution.
Others mentioned wanting more info so we can assist you more - My questions are about the B&B's history - Has this been a B&B prior to you being the innkeeper? How long did the previous innkeeper stay? If your guests are mainly problem guests - maybe there is a need to raise rates, when was the last time rates were raised? You mentioned 'things braking' - (read other threads and you will know that this is common) but was the place well maintained?
As you work through all this, you have us to sound off to. Let us help you!.
SummerSeed is actually my husband, so I think it appropriate (since we're Co-Inn Managers) to elaborate further and help answer questions. Forgive me if this is a bit rambling, there's so much on our minds and making it perfectly eloquent is too much work! (Maybe a list is most efficient?)
Firstly, we relocated almost 4 hours away from all our friends and family to take this job. We were interested in relocating because the area we liked was young, progressive, open-minded, environmentally-concious, and had a milder climate. In essence, it was the exact opposite of the apathetic, ultra-conservative, snow belt town we were leaving. We made the naive assumption that the area the job was in would be just like the area we loved even though they're about an hour apart. In reality, our new "home" has an average age of 55 (we're early 20's), and is well known for it's "lush culture" [think classical orchestra and ballet] and "luxury living". Getting a job was a time sensitive issue, and when we were offered this one we didn't think to make sure it was a place we wanted to be [much less a place we wanted to "sell" to our guests]. Needless to say, we pretty much hate it here and are convinced we'll never feel at home.
We wanted to try to assimilate, but in an area where a thrifty dinner out runs about $50, we just can't find a way to socialize without blowing our paycheck. And the people here just aren't our "type".
Additionally, the longer we are employed (we don't own the Inn, just manage it) the more and more we find piled on our plates. My welcome tour has literally expanded from 5 minutes to 15 in the last 6 months because new policies and procedures and offerings and sales techniques get added on. Some guests are more curious/questioning than others, so it's really quite common for a tour to take 30 minutes. We have 17 rooms, and sometimes have 10 or more check-ins in a day, so this is just plain exhausting.
I'm realizing more and more that the real reason my days are so exhausting is because we have a very high-end clientel. Like, the kind of people that give you a 2-star review because the pillows weren't feather [they could have asked]. These are the kind of people that want *me* to pick where they eat dinner every night, make the reservations, order and hold their theater tickets until they arrive, confirm the quality of the seating, print off door-to-door directions, and answer every question they can think of while they scowl at me. Honestly, I don't believe in "luxury". Opulent living offends me. Yet I'm in a position where I coddle and spoon-feed spoiled rich people for a living. AHH!
On top of that, even on the days when we have no one in house (which during the slow season would sometimes be 4 or 5 days a week) We still work for 10 or 12 hours. Research needs to be done, emails replied to, workers and maintenance people are constantly show up unannounced, the phone rings and rings and rings, packages are dropped off, it never ends! Worst of all, people will show up completely unannounced all the time [even on Mother's Day, no kidding] wanting a tour of the Inn for a possible wedding or future stay. I can't wear comfortable, non-stuffy clothes on MY DAY "OFF" because we have NO privacy and are at the beck and call of everyone.
We have almost no control over our own privacy or personal time management. For example, we get 3 weeks paid vacation every year, but we have to take it between december and mid april to fit with our owner's demands. When we finally did plan our big vacation and told our boss the dates (which fit the period he had told us to plan within two weeks before) he made us cancel and rebook our flight and rental car to accomodate ONE DAY he wanted free so he could pack for his vacation. We didn't even get to choose when we could go on our own vacation!!! And every time we've been able to leave the Inn (for our big vacation, the mandatory Christmas vacation, and our anniversary) we've come back and literally been back at work before our coats were off or luggage taken out of the car. And by back to work I dont mean answering a phone, I mean having an unannounced business conference or doing a check-in.
The best way I can describe how I feel is this: Imagine if this Inn were underwater; when we started I had a big ol' air tank and complete set of scuba gear. If soemthing went wrong or broke or came up, I could take a deep breath and carry on. Now I've got a snorkle. If there's a bump in the road I'm gasping for air, panicking, and desperately trying to reach the surface. Trying to GET OUT.
When we told our boss last week that we wanted to leave we gave him 6 weeks notice and offered to train our replacement for free. He demanded almost 7 months. I honestly don't think I can tough this out. For the sake of my sanity, I really don't think I can....help!
.
SummerSeed is actually my husband, so I think it appropriate (since we're Co-Inn Managers) to elaborate further and help answer questions.
Wow..this is a first. I think somehow we all made the assumption that if our significant other were on this forum with us, the world would end. (Seinfeld: World's Colliding) ;)
Sorry it is on such a somber note. The situtation you find yourself in does not sound good. I guess you have the choice of either slugging out your demands with the boss and hoping enough is changed to bring about some level of happiness, or get out while you can.
It doesn't sound like it is currently a good, or healthy fit.
 
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