As a B&B innkeeper, what do you do to help protect the environment? What green actions do you take? Recycling, reducing consumption, composting, energy and water conservation, CFLs and natural daylighting, and avoiding pesticides are among the things innkeepers undertake. However, steps like home renovations or utility upgrades to be more environmentally conscious may seem financially out of reach to the average bed and breakfast. Ah, that’s where green mortgages come into your life.
A tent slipped into the trees along the lake, curled up in front of the stove, tucked into a large closet, or stuffed into an unfinished basement. Sounds like some interesting travel experiences, doesn’t it. But it really describes various living conditions innkeepers have subjected themselves in the aim of creating a viable bed and breakfast business.
Contrary to popular opinion there is lending money available. Its availability is for prime buyers and properties, even more so now than ever before. It’s your challenge to make sure you are in one of those categories if you want to make the change that has you reading this article.
This is the last installation of the four-part series and covers the issue of the buying process itself. The process varies depending on location, agent and parties involved. My intention here is to give you an idea of what can happen and what to expect. Your agent will help fine tune the process from here.
In this continuation of the four-part series on questions to ask your B&B Broker read about lenders, inspections and allocation. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s important, especially the last two questions, with associated discussion.
This is the second in a series of questions to ask your B&B Broker. Getting good help as you buy, or sell, your B&B inn is just good business. It’s smart to let a professional help guide you through the maze of questions and issues that you’ll face in buying a bed and breakfast.
Hiring a real estate agent to help you buy your B&B is important and challenging. The ideal situation is to find an agent who know and understands both the real estate and B&B industries. If you can’t find such a person for the area you are considering for your B&B, then the next best thing is to find a person who is hard working and industrious, one who understands the challenges in buying a residence with business attached, and who you communicate with well.
Think about how you will sell your inn as you buy or build. As you want to make a wise business decision when you buy, you can be assured when you are ready to sell your buyer will also strive to make a wise business decision. Approaching your purchase this way will have you contemplating how you will conduct your renovations (total cost and specific item costs), what price you pay, options you build in to your situation, and how you plan to build your business.
The pause of the potential guest after receiving requested information can be filled by the innkeeper responding to, or inquiring about, their needs. You should answer more than just the asked question — also answer the implied question. This is your first chance to illustrate your inn’s hospitality and style. Don’t blow this chance — you have spent so much money to create your inn’s atmosphere, to advertise your business; you have spent a lot of money getting the phone to ring so don’t waste or throw away that investment!
There is more to buying a B&B than how much money the inn makes or what the occupancy rate is. Your dream should be supported, your goals honored, and your personal situation considered. The business and lifestyle of B&B innkeeping is complex so your search should be comprehensive, not superficial. Pay attention to at least these issues so you can make the wisest decision possible. Your heart and your brain both need to be involved in this process.
Here’s the final third of my questions you should ask yourself before you buy a bed and breakfast. Though this is the end of my proposed questions, on this topic, I hope you’ll continue pondering your concept. I hope you’ll also challenge every idea you have to learn its pros and cons. And continue educating yourself to make sure you take the right path and create the best B&B you can.
The self-examination you should do before proceeding with an inn purchase is best done through educational opportunities like seminars, consulting, conferences, books and eBooks. You can’t really do too much exploration and contemplating before getting into the B&B industry. It’s a fantastic career and lifestyle, but it’s not for everyone. And some people that would be great innkeepers don’t have the resources to do it “properly”. Lots of education will help you determine if innkeeping is the right career and lifestyle for your situation.
Do you ever wonder about the difference between B&Bs and other types of lodging? Why are some people “B&B people” while others are “non-B&B people”? Here is my explanation of what I see is the difference. This will help you better understand the importance of your role as an innkeeper and the guest experience you create for your market niche.
There are so many answer resources I feel I can’t even begin to cover them all in a short article, much less in a long conference. So let me strive to cast some seeds of ideas about and let your imagination expand the list from there.
There are generally so many details to research as you buy or build you bed and breakfast. Here is a list of the areas you want to research, some obvious topics and some surprises. Not all of these research topics will apply to you, but most will one way or another.
>A business plan describes your business. It must answer all the basic questions of how you will implement your inn dream and open your business. It answers all the money questions. Your business plan will describe your efforts and results. It is like an energy map. Your business plan, for your inn as well as for any venture you undertake, is a unique personal document of what you are about to do and who you are at the time. The answers to the questions you and others pose will further clarify your dream, for yourself and your investors. It is the beginning of the bridge from your dream to reality. Different lenders request different formats for their business plan in so use this as a guideline for the general content and concepts.
This questionnaire I developed for an aspiring innkeeper workshop is designed to help you think through the burning question of whether innkeeping is the right career and lifestyle for you. The questionnaire came about because telling people about innkeeping’s intensity didn’t adequately convey the message of how much work is involved in running an inn.
Through my years of being a B&B consultant and Inn Broker I have experienced a variety of people come through my consulting; the individual dreams, the different personalities and backgrounds, and various financial abilities have been amazing to watch — and learn from. Most people don’t meet all the lender’s requirements for giving a loan, though some come close. And sadly many people don’t have much of what it takes to get a loan to make their dream turn into reality. The two areas I see most people lacking are their business/professional background and their financial capability.
Insufficient research is one major contributor to business failure. Your B&B dream is only the first step toward your business. You need to conduct lots of research before putting any significant money into a B&B. The information you learn will help you understand the ups and downs, see what government regulations will apply, understand your customers’ profile, find professionals and suppliers, and spark marketing ideas. Conduct your research near and far. I have seen many innkeepers go bankrupt, losing their inns and retirement nest eggs, because of their failure to do adequate research before diving into the business.
The first thing you want to do is take at least one class to find out about the business. There are numerous classes across the country. Taking classes also looks good on your “Innkeeper Resume”.
This is an excerpt from my ebook — Building a Good Foundation — So You Don’t Find Yourself in a Hole.
If you were as smart today as you will be after you open your inn, you possibly would never start your inn. Being able to anticipate all the problems you will face would be the deterrent in any dream pursuit. However, just as you underestimate your project’s roadblocks, you will also underestimate your ability to overcome those hurdles. Let your creative juices flow. During the course of your B&B research you will gain see the most common industry hurdles and prepare yourself for the unforeseen, and get the tools you need to deal with everything you’ll face. Once you are aware of what is required, either you are confirmed, can adapt, or turn away. Whatever you do, don’t ever ignore reality. Risk takers fall into three general groups: non-risk takers, calculated-risk takers, and speculators/gamblers. Which are you?
I thought it might be interesting and valuable to follow a B&B project from the beginning, as a way of learning how to do a better job at starting a B&B. This is based on an inn I was involved with along the way, so have some insights to share.
Dispelling Myths: B&B Innkeeping is Easy
B&B Styles: The Painted Lady vs The Modern Gal
Do you think that a B&B “must” be in a Victorian house? Does that attract you to the business or repel you? I have heard many people comment that they would love to be a B&B innkeeper, except they hate Victorian so just can’t bring themselves to pursue their dream further. What a shame! I also have heard many B&B guests comment on the challenge of finding non-Victorian B&Bs to frequent. That sounds like an opportunity to me!
Market Investigation from my Ebook, “Planning Your Business — Getting A Handle On The Nuances Of Implementing Your Idea”
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” Avoid failure by researching your business concept!
Do you wonder what the difference is between B&Bs and other types of lodging? Why are some people “B&B people” while others are “non-B&B people”? This discussion is my explanation of what I see is the difference. This will help you better understand the importance of your role as an innkeeper and the guest experience you create for your market niche.
Matching Your Personality to Your Inn Location
In July I attended my high school reunion. It was an incredibly good time. My hostess and her husband are CPAs and commented one night that one of the biggest reasons they see their client businesses fail is people not matching their personalities to their business location or style. As I pondered that I realized I had both experienced that personally and observed it in some of my clients.
The Forbes article shares seven tips for buying seven-figure homes. The information is pertinent for buying a B&B of any price. Forbes’ seven points are to get a good agent, get your finances together, make contingency plans, look for termites (conduct a Due Diligence), what’s next door, prepare to negotiate, and take it easy. From the B&B industry perspective, let’s look at the remaining four points.
When a Forbes magazine article on buying high-priced homes came out recently it reminded me of the variety of Buyer interactions I’ve had this year. I felt that the Forbes points were valid for buying any real estate, so thought I’d adapt them to buying a B&B because I see so many Buyers who are not ready, willing, and able.
I recently attended a conference of hospitality consultants. One session I sat in I thought was important to share with you. The statistics are from the hotel industry but I believe they are just as valuable and pertinent for the B&B industry. STR (Smith Travel Report) tracks lodging trends and Randy Smith, STR’s founder, presented this information.
In both my residential and bed and breakfast real estate practice, I see Buyers and Sellers choose to not hire professionals so they can “save” money. What both sides of the transaction are thinking is that they will save the commission that would be paid to a REALTOR. There are several fallacies I see in that approach to buying real estate.