According to a 2004 survey, there were more than 20,000 licensed inns in the United States. Many of these were bed and breakfasts.
One of the common reasons given for starting a bed and breakfast business is the enjoyment of interacting with other people. Providing a great service to your guests can be highly satisfying.
If you are thinking of starting a bed and breakfast of your own, there a number of things you will need to consider. Starting a business without due preparation does not often end well.
Read on as we take a look at some essential tips for starting your own bed and breakfast.
1. Choose a Good Location
A bed and breakfast will live and die by its location. It doesn’t matter how good your service is if your business is in a location that no one wants to visit.
If you own a private residence that is a little too big for you now that your family has left the nest, it is tempting to convert it into a bed and breakfast. There is nothing inherently wrong with this plan, but it won’t work for every home.
You must be sure that you are in a location that has an influx of visitors seeking bed and breakfast accommodation. This will usually mean being close to major highways in a town or city that people want to visit.
2. Know Your Market
There is a mistake that many bed and breakfast businesses make when first starting out.
The temptation is to target an ideal customer based on your own wishes, rather than following the trends of the market. There is no point setting yourself up as a family-friendly B&B if the vast majority of the potential customers in your location are business people.
Do your research. Look at other businesses in your locale and the type of guests that they most often take in. Target the available clientele rather your own ideal.
3. Choose Your Pricing Carefully
Another important factor when studying your local market is deciding what your pricing will be.
If your bed and breakfast is twice the price of the majority of the other local businesses, then it is very unlikely that you’ll be much of a success. Conversely, you don’t want to be charging cut-price rates when there is high demand. You will be missing out on much higher profits.
Do your research, find properties similar in standard and location to your own, and set your pricing accordingly.
4. Don’t Cut Corners
When setting up your bed and breakfast, you may feel that the less you can spend on start-up costs, the more profit you will make.
This is likely to be a false economy. If you don’t spend what you need to in order to create a good quality bed and breakfast, then you’re far less likely to be a success. You may end up making less profit than if you’d spent a little more getting things just right at the outset.
It’s the little details that can garner the great reviews that lead to more business. Consider touches such as spare chargers, free WiFi, and spare items such as toothbrushes and sanitary towels in case people forget them.
You should also think about the food that you offer, including providing healthy breakfast options so that guests can enjoy the benefits of selenium if they wish, or plump for a naughtier option if they prefer.
5. Work on Your People Skills
A bed and breakfast is nothing without guests. It is your job to make their stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
All of this starts with having great people skills. No one wants to be greeted at their accommodation by a stern face or an uncommunicative host. If you’re not a naturally outgoing and friendly person, then you’ll need to work on it.
It’s also important not to let your own life spill over into your business. Even if you’re having a bad day, you’ll still need a sunny smile and polite manner with your guests.
6. Create a Marketing Strategy
You could have the perfect rooms in the perfect location and be the perfect host, and yet still not succeed. That’s because for people to visit your business, they need to know it exists.
Marketing your business is vital, especially when you’re first starting out. Many people these days will look for accommodation online, so this is the most important place to set out your stall. There is a wide range of accommodation booking websites that you should consider signing up to.
Social media is also another perfect channel for marketing your business. Do your research and develop a strategy for marketing before you open your doors.
7. Don’t Underestimate the Time Involved
When you stay in a bed and breakfast, you don’t see all the work that goes on behind closed doors. It’s easy to fall into the mistaken assumption that there isn’t that much work involved.
This is far from the truth. During peak season you will find that there is very little downtime at all. Preparation for guests and cleaning up after their departure will become a full-time occupation, so you’ll need to be prepared to put in the hours.
8. Set Work/Life Boundaries
When your home is also your place of work, it’s very easy for the boundaries to become blurred.
You need to build in some time away from guests and not engaged in tasks related to the business. Consider setting your own working hours so that you know you will have some free time every day.
Running a bed and breakfast can be an enjoyable career, but you must be careful not to let it take over your life.
Are You Thinking About Starting a Bed and Breakfast?
If you’re thinking about starting a bed and breakfast then we’re here to help.
We have a huge range of articles on the topic of starting a business, packed with tips and advice to help you get your business off the ground. We also have a selection of useful forms and templates that can help you through your business admin.
Feel free to take a good look around.