For many, owning a Bed and Breakfast is an amazing entrepreneurial dream, an opportunity to truly mix business and pleasure, and a chance to own a dream home that you may otherwise not be able to afford. A Bed and Breakfast is a boutique hotel experience with a high degree of personalization – both parts that you will be 100% in charge of creating. This is a thrilling prospect – a chance to show your management skills, your hospitality skills, and your management skills (financial and otherwise.) It’s also an opportunity to display any personal talents you have that would make your business stand out. Do you have a green thumb and can grow magnificent flowers gardens for guests to walk in and explore? Are you a talented pastry maker the will wow your guests at breakfast? You don’t need to be all these things, but you need to understand there are expectations that come with Bed and Breakfasts, and guests who stay there expect a certain level of personalization and expertise in hospitality.
Three Important Questions Before Starting A Bed And Breakfast
- How do you really feel about sharing your home with guests?
- Are you a micromanager, or are you able to delegate?
- Are you prepared to be “at work” nearly 100% of the time?
If you are an extrovert who thrives on being around others, getting to know others on a personal level, and are open to people from all walks of life, this may be the dream job you think it is. It will certainly afford you the opportunity to meet many people and exchange stories and information about your area, while they share information about theirs. This is a definite perk for the social extrovert who is exhilarated by being with people. If, on the other hand, you are a quiet introvert that requires a lot of personal space and time, this business may be a bit more challenging – though certainly not impossible, particularly If it’s family-run and/or you hire others to do most of the socializing and service work. You will still have to be able to be at peace with the fact that there are others in your home nearly all the time, unless you live in a guest house, which some people do, and it works! Nothing is impossible, but it’s important to think about this and be honest with yourself before moving forward.
Although it would be wonderful to be all things to all people all the time, sometimes it is simply not possible. Particularly during times of heavy tourism, during holidays, and other peak times, you may find it not practical to be able to do all things for your guests and do them well. That’s where others come in – either family in a family business, or hired help. However, you need to remember that no matter how explicit you are with your instructions on how things are run, others have their own style. Hospitality is not just a business, it is an art. So while it’s possible to set a strict schedule (breakfast at 8 on the garden parch, evening tea at 7 in the parlor) it’s vital you understand these tasks, if given to others, may not be carried out exactly the way you would personally do them. If you develop a strong and trustworthy staff, many people find themselves relaxing and allowing their employees to do their own thing, as long as the guests are satisfied. Some individuals, however, cannot resist checking to make sure everything is done exactly as they would do it. This is not a bad trait, but it is what it is – and it is bound to cause some issues, for you personally and for your employees. Be honest with yourself about how you feel about delegation.
Obviously, nobody can work 100% of the time, but this is an endeavor that requires 100% responsibility, 100% of the time, if you own the business and it is also your home. Even if you’re hallway around the globe on vacation, if a guest trips and falls in the garden, ultimately you need to be aware and take proactive measures to ensure the safety of the guest and of your business. If there’s a complaint or a maintenance issue at 3 am, you may need to be made aware. Many people thrive on this and that makes them wonderful Bed and Breakfast owners. For others, this could cause burn-out very early in the game. How much complete down time do you really need as an individual to recharge? There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s prudent and necessary to do a thorough self-inventory before you begin the task of taking on your dream business.
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