Setting Up a B&B – Update From A Past Course Attendee
I’ve been running the training courses for over 9 years now- I can’t quite believe how time flies. And in that time I’ve met lots of prospective B&B owners ( over 100 course attendees this year alone ). Many of whom have gone on to set up very successful B&Bs of their own.
I recently asked for past course attendees for an update. Michael of Barn and Beach in Norfolk has kindly shared his thoughts of what has gone well with his business and, with hindsight, what he might have done differently.
Michael set his B&B up from scratch and tells us why he feels this was a good thing for him.
On every course we have the “communal versus individual tables at breakfast” discussion. It’s interesting to see Michael’s perspective on this and how he changed his business model.
Please let us have your comments and, if you already own a B&B, what would you do differently if you got the opportunity to start all over?
As you are aware I attended your training course prior to setting up my business Barn & Beach
The business is three stranded consisting of;
- Holiday Cottage Lettings & management
- Housekeeping of the Cottages
- Bed & Breakfast at Meadowside Barn.
Meadowside Barn is a converted agricultural Barn set in Norfolk countryside and close to the beach.
I originally had two rooms to let at the Barn with guests sharing a communal table in the open plan kitchen.
I quickly found that it wasn’t a comfortable situation putting people who didn’t know each other in the same space so I adjusted the plan to only let one room with guests being treated more as house guest getting undivided attention.
The pros of the B&B are mostly social for me, living and operating a holiday business in a rural location can be a very isolated existence. The B&B means I have frequent visitors from towns and cities who have generally lots to share and as they have one-one attention I find most open up and conversations are interesting.
The rural location means visitors have to want to come, there is no passing traffic or business travellers (I also only take pre-booked visitors a tip picked up at Hopton House) I tend to find this lends itself to a more discerning visitor.
The Barn had not been lived in before so I started with a blank canvas; this was good for me as I didn’t have to compete with a previously loved owner or conversely a dreadful operator/reputation.
Being small means little economies of scale so suppliers are harder to negotiate with and can fail to meet expectations from time to time.
Also the size and turnover means I’m generally a one-man band this can be challenging so it is important to learn to take breaks/holidays and learn to live with enough rather than pursuing the maximum turnover.
I think if I changed my business in the future I would aim for a larger B&B established or new wouldn’t phase now as long as I knew it could deliver in terms of occupancy.
I would like to eventually have this type of operation instead of operating Holiday Cottages too as I have to spread myself thinly over a larger geographical area some days!
Perfect scenario now would be a boutique B&B where I could focus all of my energy at one location.
Hope all of the above helps