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Things we learn the hard way about running a B&B

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Piperman

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We have all learned the hard way about running a B&B, and I suppose like any business owner, if we feel we know it all then we are just fooling ourselves. I for one learn every day at least one thing new, and then decide if I should incorporate this into my business. I'd like to start a list of sorts of the things we have learned and incorporated into our B&B in the hope of stopping some of the issues that caused problems in the past and which make our lives and the enjoyment of our guest all that much better.
  1. Every "important" policy is posted on my website as well as in my confirmation letter
  2. Each of these policies(really only 5) is on my guest registration form that each guest signs at check-in
    1. This is important in the rare event of a damage claim or anything else that might crop up
  3. I never accept cash as a payment at check-in - I only allow guests to check-in with a credit card which I scan into my management system along with their drivers license (all to validate they are who they say they are
    1. They are more than welcome to pay cash at check out - I will then void the CC information after I know there was no damage to the room.
  4. We never supply our guests with in-room wine glasses (water or soda glasses yes). This is for insurance reasons. We have a full liquor license and are fully responsible for the safety of this guest. If they bring their own alcohol and they happen to get inebriated and hurt themself, under my states law and my liquor license I am responsible.
    1. If you do not have a liquor license then your B&B insurance policy better cover this expensive liability.
  5. We never offer discounts on our rates - this is not to say we are not flexible. We do offer $5-$10 dining discounts to our restaurant as well as other local restaurant. Local restuarants would be more than happy to offer you a stack of discount vouchers in order to obtain your guests business.
    1. In our experience in the past, the most troubled guest were always the one we gave a discount too. No idea as to why, but trust me it is true. We offer a tremendous experience as I am sure all owners do - There must be a perceived value in that experience.
  6. We inform guests that early or late check in is possible with advance notice at a rate of $10 per hour billed hourly.
    1. This cut down our early arrivals by 95% and we never have late check-outs. Of course we are flexible for certain guests on a per request basis.
  7. We always take advance deposits and verify the card - and our 7 day cancellation policy is strict.
I realize some of this sound too hotelish, but it is accpeted by our guest and is forgotten about once they are here and enjoying themself. We are a B&B in every meaning of the word, but we are still a business like any other customer oriented business. Not all, but many people out there make it their point to try and get everything for next to nothing, we want to make sure they understand up front that we don't want to play those games.
 

EmptyNest

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SOUNDS WONDERFUL TO ME...except the cash thing....I always will take cash:)
 

Morticia

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I have a question about how secure your management system is if you are taking the guest's cc AND their driver's license. That's a lot of data to lose.
The wine glass thing sounds silly (but may be spelled out for you by the licensing dept). I mean, what's the difference between getting drunk using a wine glass or a water glass? Are you saying your license is safe if you can prove you only provided them with toothbrushing glasses?
The early/late check-in sounds lovely. If I could get $30 extra from every guest who showed up at noon, I could retire next year.
Is it a perception or fact that discounted guests cause the most trouble? Do we think that because we feel we went out of our way for them and this is how they repaid that kindness? Or is it that if you pay full price it's ok to be a jerk?
 

Morticia

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SOUNDS WONDERFUL TO ME...except the cash thing....I always will take cash:).
Me too - but only at check out - Need to card for my own protection - Who does not love cash!! :)
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Piperman said:
Me too - but only at check out - Need to card for my own protection - Who does not love cash!! :)
I think we've been over this an almost 0 credit card issuers will allow you to collect damages without the guest's signature on the receipt. ie- If you discover damages after the guest has departed you cannot charge their card retroactively. No matter what forms the guest signed saying they would pay. If they don't sign the receipt stating they accept the charges, you lose that one if they fight it.
 

Piperman

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SOUNDS WONDERFUL TO ME...except the cash thing....I always will take cash:).
Me too - but only at check out - Need to card for my own protection - Who does not love cash!! :)
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Piperman said:
Me too - but only at check out - Need to card for my own protection - Who does not love cash!! :)
I think we've been over this an almost 0 credit card issuers will allow you to collect damages without the guest's signature on the receipt. ie- If you discover damages after the guest has departed you cannot charge their card retroactively. No matter what forms the guest signed saying they would pay. If they don't sign the receipt stating they accept the charges, you lose that one if they fight it.
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I agree, but if they do not fight it of course you can collect. I have had only two this past five years and luckily have never been questioned by the guest of cc company.
 

Piperman

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I have a question about how secure your management system is if you are taking the guest's cc AND their driver's license. That's a lot of data to lose.
The wine glass thing sounds silly (but may be spelled out for you by the licensing dept). I mean, what's the difference between getting drunk using a wine glass or a water glass? Are you saying your license is safe if you can prove you only provided them with toothbrushing glasses?
The early/late check-in sounds lovely. If I could get $30 extra from every guest who showed up at noon, I could retire next year.
Is it a perception or fact that discounted guests cause the most trouble? Do we think that because we feel we went out of our way for them and this is how they repaid that kindness? Or is it that if you pay full price it's ok to be a jerk?.
It make no difference as you know to which glass they use. Under our liquor license and the state B&B laws a guest cannot bring alcohol onto the premise. NOW...before you go and jump all over me, WE DO NOT stop guests from bringing in teir own liquor, I just do not want to see it. NOW, if I offer them a wine glass, then I am admiting that I now know they are drinking alcohol in the room.
Just and FYI - it is the same in bars and restaurant, you cannot serve non-alcoholic beverages in the same glasses as alcoholic ones. Now, I would assume that this is a State thing.
 

Piperman

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You know, I stopped doing this forum stuff because of the mob mentality of some of them. I was clear in my post that I wanted to start a list with everyone's input. I never said that my policies are good for everyone. please be open minded or you (not use personally) will chase many of us new members from interacting.
 

Piperman

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Now you bring up a good point - I am in New Hampshire and the B&B regulations require you have 4 or more rentable rooms to run a B&B - I am sure the state does not follow the laws very closely, as I know of 2 or 3 that only rent 2 rooms. Regardless of this I have nine rooms, a restaurant and a full service bar.
 

Piperman

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I have a question about how secure your management system is if you are taking the guest's cc AND their driver's license. That's a lot of data to lose.
The wine glass thing sounds silly (but may be spelled out for you by the licensing dept). I mean, what's the difference between getting drunk using a wine glass or a water glass? Are you saying your license is safe if you can prove you only provided them with toothbrushing glasses?
The early/late check-in sounds lovely. If I could get $30 extra from every guest who showed up at noon, I could retire next year.
Is it a perception or fact that discounted guests cause the most trouble? Do we think that because we feel we went out of our way for them and this is how they repaid that kindness? Or is it that if you pay full price it's ok to be a jerk?.
I use Innquest Software called RooMaster - But, once a guest has check out all relevent data is purged. My point on the fee for early and late check out was to deter this from happening, not really from trying gouge the guest. It is not easy to have rooms and bathrooms and of course all the guest areas cleaned before 3pm.
This is truly becomming a BIG mistake on my part for joining this forum. I suppose I should have stayed with the toaster discussion - Sorry---need to vent a little as you all did on me
 

Morticia

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I have found that no matter what policy is put in place, there is a guest out there who will challenge it and make your life a living hell while they do so. And that is what I've learned the hard way...
To some guests, policies are rules to be broken. No smoking in the guest rooms? Try and catch me. No children left alone? Did you really see me leave the building without my child? Please clean up after your pet. That? My dog didn't do that. That was there.
 
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i am new to this forum and was enjoying reading the responses which JBJ now deleted. i do not understand why you find it offensive for them to ask you about the policies you posted on this forum? i wanted to know about the alcohol thing too but have not been ready to post much yet, i am too busy reading all this stuff. too bad you lost your temper. we could all have learned something here. i am new and not put off by others here. please continue answering.
 

Morticia

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I have a question about how secure your management system is if you are taking the guest's cc AND their driver's license. That's a lot of data to lose.
The wine glass thing sounds silly (but may be spelled out for you by the licensing dept). I mean, what's the difference between getting drunk using a wine glass or a water glass? Are you saying your license is safe if you can prove you only provided them with toothbrushing glasses?
The early/late check-in sounds lovely. If I could get $30 extra from every guest who showed up at noon, I could retire next year.
Is it a perception or fact that discounted guests cause the most trouble? Do we think that because we feel we went out of our way for them and this is how they repaid that kindness? Or is it that if you pay full price it's ok to be a jerk?.
I use Innquest Software called RooMaster - But, once a guest has check out all relevent data is purged. My point on the fee for early and late check out was to deter this from happening, not really from trying gouge the guest. It is not easy to have rooms and bathrooms and of course all the guest areas cleaned before 3pm.
This is truly becomming a BIG mistake on my part for joining this forum. I suppose I should have stayed with the toaster discussion - Sorry---need to vent a little as you all did on me
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Hey, it's obvious you didn't mean to open this can of worms but you did. And you should have realized from all the other threads that we like info. We like toknow the how and the why of someone else's operation.
Don't go away. We're no worse than a guest who challenges your policies. They're out there, you've met them, some of them are actually nice people.
 

seashanty

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if guests arrive at the door early, and you can accommodate them, do you say 'yes, you can check in early at a rate of $10 per hour''? (or only if they've arranged it with you ahead of time?) do they get mad or say 'fine i'll pay it'' .... i get a number of folks showing up early who really want in.
a lot of the time i tell them, check is in at 3 and we are not quite ready for you. sometimes the place is ready, but not me
if you have a low rate of people showing up early, that means people ARE aware of check in time and don't want to be charged extra. whereas here, they arrive and seem oblivious that they are early. hmmmmmm
not sure what i missed in this thread since some posts have been deleted.
 

Piperman

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i am new to this forum and was enjoying reading the responses which JBJ now deleted. i do not understand why you find it offensive for them to ask you about the policies you posted on this forum? i wanted to know about the alcohol thing too but have not been ready to post much yet, i am too busy reading all this stuff. too bad you lost your temper. we could all have learned something here. i am new and not put off by others here. please continue answering..
I intentionally posted in this forum as a way of expressing to newer inkeepers some of my experiences in developing a good B&B. If it came of as "this is the way" to run a B&B then I apologize, but in re-reading my original it was "MY" input of "my" experience and why "I implemented" such policies. In as far as my fee for early arrival or late departure, I added that because it reduced "MY" occurances of early arrivers. I'd rather be premetive than face them at 12 noon and say no.
Now in as far as keeping record of guest information, depending on your state requirements, many states require a business to keep all transactional records for 7 years - rediculous as this sounds, but it is for audit reasons. And a B&B in still afterall a business in the background guided by the rules and regulations of their locations.
What I might have ran into in this forum is a mixture of hobbist inkeepers, which is fine, NO insult in that comment, but I run mine as my sole bread and butter, this is my living. My comments were on a business level, keeping record, policies, etc. If a newbie walks into this thinking it's fun and games, then they would be sadly mistaken. An in closing, I would never want to do anything else, I truly enjoy running a B&B, but I run "mine" strictly by all the rules of my particular state
 

Piperman

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if guests arrive at the door early, and you can accommodate them, do you say 'yes, you can check in early at a rate of $10 per hour''? (or only if they've arranged it with you ahead of time?) do they get mad or say 'fine i'll pay it'' .... i get a number of folks showing up early who really want in.
a lot of the time i tell them, check is in at 3 and we are not quite ready for you. sometimes the place is ready, but not me
if you have a low rate of people showing up early, that means people ARE aware of check in time and don't want to be charged extra. whereas here, they arrive and seem oblivious that they are early. hmmmmmm
not sure what i missed in this thread since some posts have been deleted..
No I do not charge them, it is meant as a preemtive move to reduce it. It has worked in my experience. My problem is we have 9 rooms, with a 11am check out, it is very difficult to have all three floors and all rooms cleaned any earlier than 3pm
 

egoodell

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I'm guessing the wine glass thing is a state thing, or there would be no hotels or B&Bs still in business in wine countries such as Napa CA or here in Charlottesville VA. I'm sure that when we met with the ABC folks here when we got our license they would have mentioned it or the insurance company would have. **whew** I'm glad that's not the case here since the "wine country" is our niche!!!
Then again, (knock on wood) we have not yet has any problems at all with our guests and we provide a bottle of sparkling wine, wine and champagne glasses, and a cork puller in our suites!!!!
Riki
 

Piperman

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I'm guessing the wine glass thing is a state thing, or there would be no hotels or B&Bs still in business in wine countries such as Napa CA or here in Charlottesville VA. I'm sure that when we met with the ABC folks here when we got our license they would have mentioned it or the insurance company would have. **whew** I'm glad that's not the case here since the "wine country" is our niche!!!
Then again, (knock on wood) we have not yet has any problems at all with our guests and we provide a bottle of sparkling wine, wine and champagne glasses, and a cork puller in our suites!!!!
Riki.
It is a State thing. Clearly noted in your License. It is also noted in my liquour insurance policy - "No Alcoholic beverages may be consumed unles purchased on premise"
I suppose being in wine country that would not go over very well :)
 

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