A B&B inn purchase may be the biggest investment you ever make. Don’t ignore the little things that can make the difference between a positive investment and bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a harsh reality I’ve seen with several inns, especially in recent months.
When I work with buyers, many think they “can’t afford” to take a few innkeeping seminars because it would take money from their purchase. Some “know” that innkeeping is easy and anyone can do it - it’s just one step above having house guests, right? Wrong. It’s my opinion that you can’t afford not to get that education - for any reason. It’s like not using a professional financial advisor so you don’t have to pay the fees, but you don’t have the background to avoid making basic mistakes - costing you your entire investment.
Innkeeping is “easy”, but there’s more to it than meets the eye, and it’s not for everyone. Innkeeping education is valuable because it shortens your learning curve, it helps you get to profitability faster, it presents things you might not have seen, and it can save you at least ten times what it costs, including any travel and lodging, by helping you avoid mistakes.
Innkeeping seems like an easy lifestyle and business but after removing your rose-colored glasses you’ll also find it’s a lot of hard work. Removing another pair of rose-colored glasses helps you see that it’s a great lifestyle and business for some people - but not everyone. B&B innkeeping is a business, and business decisions need to be applied to each step of the way to balance the hospitality decisions (the “heart” or right-brain decisions - the gracious gestures) you are making.
Do you have what it takes to be an innkeeper? Will you have what it takes to thrive even during a recession? Do you have sufficient capital? Do you know how to evaluate a good inn purchase? What policies will you create and when will you choose to overlook them? Do you know what your market niche is?
There are few careers you’d enter without training or education. Innkeeping shouldn’t be any different. There’s more to innkeeping than letting people sleep in your house. Learn from those who have been around for awhile and understand what makes an inn a success or a failure. There is no point in recreating the wheel; get the blueprint with directions.
Some innkeepers thrive while some survive and others fail. What’s the difference in their successes? Knowledge, and knowledge comes from education. Not only do you need to learn about innkeeping before entering the business, but you also need to follow up with continuing education. We all benefit from honing our trade - innkeeping is no different.
There are many B&B seminars around the country. Find the one that fits your personality and needs - and take it! I offer seminars and consulting to aspiring and active B&B innkeepers. My approach is to help you balance the business and hospitality decisions that go into your B&B operation. The seminars are available both privately and online. The private seminar can be held at my home office or at the location of your choice. My short seminar is for those who are newly considering a B&B lifestyle and business. My in-depth seminar is for those who want more detail in making their decision about the B&B business and lifestyle. Whichever approach you choose, make sure that all people who will be involved with you in the business attend so that you grow together in your B&B investment.
The short course covers the Money and Hospitality aspects of innkeeping: Do you have enough money to get in? How much money you can make? How much money does it take to run a B&B? Can you define your market niche? What guest services and policies are you going to develop? How do you avoid burnout?
The in-depth course offers six sections including:
- Putting a foundation under your dream
- Writing a business plan
- Money, as covered in the short course
- Marketing - getting the word out about your B&B
- The ins and outs of daily operations and hospitality
- Miscellaneous topics like what you need to do to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, how to buy an inn, the basics of B&B insurance, and various resources to help you choose supplies. There are exercises throughout the in-depth course which, when completed, become your business plan.
My consulting services cover any topic of B&B innkeeping. I have 17 years of experience consulting on employee issues, marketing, daily operations, Internet presence, loan acquisition, cash flow analysis, preparing the inn for sale, and site analysis. Consulting is a great way to get specific information on a certain topic and to update your knowledge.
Protect your investment. Invest in it. Be sure to start your B&B education early and keep it going. You will invest lots of time and money. Discern between B&B urban legends and reality - get the real scoop from those with experience. Don’t throw your money away. Invest in your investment!