Have you toyed with the idea of owning a Bed and Breakfast someday? Here’s the basics of what you need to be a successful Innkeeper.
Move over Lorelai Gilmore and Bob Newhart, do you think you have what it takes to be an innkeeper? I can’t think of any other profession that combines the knowledge from as many different disciplines as innkeeping does. From cook to concierge, housekeeper to historian, gardener to greeter, mediator to marketer the list goes on and on, so to be successful you need to know your limitations and know when to get help.
Don’t underestimate your strong passion and desire to be an innkeeper, it will help you during the tough times and it is an important factor in determining your success. Passion and determination alone are not enough, however, prospective innkeepers must possess:
- Endurance and stamina
- A willingness to see damages as a part of doing business
- Tolerance to entertain a variety of people – even those you don’t like
- An affinity for multitasking even for repetitive tasks
- Organizational skills
- Willingness to learn from your experiences
- Willingness to make personal sacrifices and accept lack of privacy
- Ability to work long hours with limited income and heavy startup costs
Sounds bleak, but don’t pull in the shingle just yet, here are some of the benefits:
- To be your own boss
- To live in a nicer home than you could afford otherwise
- To work from home so you can be around family and children
- To work with a spouse or chosen partner
- To meet new and interesting people
- To take advantage of your love to cook, entertain and be creative
- And many more personal ones
So, you’re still reading and you might be wondering where to begin. I suggest you find out all that you can about the business of innkeeping. Staying at inns is one way, but remember part of the innkeeper’s job is to make it look effortless so their guests can relax and enjoy the experience. Luckily for you there are many resources including aspiring innkeeper classes and workshops, forums, conferences and more. You can do an Internet search for these or find them in my book, Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies.
You’ll need to create a plan for your business, part of which will include deciding on the location of your business keeping in mind who your target customer will be and where you will be happy living. You’ll also have to decide if you will purchase an existing B&B, convert a property into an inn or build your business from the ground up – literally. Along the way you’ll need to be familiar with zoning, permits, codes and other legalities. You’ll need to secure funding and create a business plan.
A lot goes on before the first guest can arrive. You’ll need to organize your recordkeeping, how you will do your accounting and keep track of your room availability? You’ll need to set rates and create policies. You’ll need to furnish the inn (I recommend you pack a bag and stay in your rooms to make sure you have everything the guest will need). Your head is probably spinning at this point and that’s good preparation for the day in the life of innkeeping because we haven’t even talked about how to get guests to the inn. You’ll need a marketing plan, a website, a mobile website and a presence on social media.
As opening day arrives you’ll need to hire and train staff if you will have any or divide the duties with your partner (or plan on how you’re going to do everything yourself). You’ll need to plan menus, have a system for checking in guests and maintaining the inn.
Running a bed & breakfast is a dream for many, and for the right person who has done their homework, the reality becomes their dream job. Good luck!
About The Author: Mary White is the Founder of BnBFinder and author of Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies. Read more about running a B&B on her blog and follow her updates on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.