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The Top 8 Mistakes new B&B Owners make | wooden bed in light and airy B&B room

[part 1 ] The Top 8 Mistakes New B&B Owners Make

starting up a bed and breakfast Dec 14, 2020

Today I’m sharing the first part of a 2 part blog on the top 8 mistakes new B&B owners make. Ok they’re mostly mistakes I’ve made 😉, with a few others I’ve observed mixed in too.

Part 2 of this blog is here

No matter how careful you are, making mistakes in your business is unavoidable. Some are more serious or costly than others. 

Mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. History is littered with examples of mistakes that ended up changing the world for good - think Alexander Fleming and his discovery of penicillin due to his poor cleaning habits.

Actually, in the context of B&Bs where cleanliness is so important, that’s probably a really bad example, but you get where I’m going with this?

One of the reasons I set up my training courses was to help B&B owners avoid the same mistakes I made when starting up a B&B. Find out more about the online course 

Top Mistakes New B&B Owners Make

1. Failing to understand or remember their “why”

Having met hundreds of prospective B&B owners over the years, I’ve heard many reasons for why people want to run their own Bed and Breakfast.

These can range from wanting to be their own boss, spend more time with their family or partner, to live in a beautiful place, meet new people. One woman even admitted she wanted to run a B&B to meet a new husband!

Your WHY will determine the type of B&B you run, its location and how you run it.

My “WHY” was to live in the countryside and to spend more time with my husband, daughter and dogs.  And I was achieving this to some extent. I was there when my daughter came home from school, during school holidays and if she was ill. 

Then one August I realised that we’d not managed to enjoy a single day out as a family. I'd had guests leaving and arriving every day. I was spending all of my time cleaning or waiting for guests to check in.

I was physically there for my family, but not really there at all

My husband worked away from home during the week and I was spending all weekend working. I did evening meals at the time so, as well as the cleaning, as I was spending every evening in the kitchen preparing for food or chatting to guests in the dining room.

I realised  the way I was running the B&B was conflicting with my “WHY” for running it! I stopped the one night stays and the evening meals, replacing them with guest platters. And it made a huge difference to our quality of life.

2. Not being clear on their ideal B&B guest

In both the online course and the B&B Marketing Membership, I go on ad nauseum about the need to be clear on who your ideal B&B guest is.

Many people start off running a B&B thinking they have to appeal and welcome everyone to their B&B. But by trying to appeal to everyone, it makes it more difficult to attract guests.

When you’re setting up your B&B,being clear on the type of guest you’re attracting, means you can design a B&B that meets their needs.

For example, If you’re appealing to walkers on a long distance route, they’re likely to want an evening meal, stay just one night, have somewhere to dry their wet and muddy clothes, want an early breakfast and a packed lunch. They may turn up early before their room is ready so they need access for a lounge to sit in and a loo they can use.

The luxury B&B with a minimum 2 night stay, cream carpets, strict check in times, 9am breakfast and no evening meal is of very little use to them at all!

Also by trying to attract everyone, you’re going to be putting someone off. My B&B is marketed as dog friendly. I know that being dog friendly is going to put a lot of people off, but it makes it much easier for me to attract dog owners and to market to them.

Similarly a lot of couples without young children, will avoid staying at B&Bs that accept children. It’s not that they don’t like kids. Quite often it’s the opposite. They may be parents who are after an adult only weekend away, having left their children with grandparents or grandparents who look after their grandchildren during the week.

In the online course, there’s a whole module of doing your research and getting clear on the type of guest you want to attract.

3. Leaving marketing as an afterthought

As I explained in point 2, it’s important that you understand your ideal B&B guest before you set up or buy your bed and breakfast.

Knowing who your ideal B&B guest makes it much easier to market to them.

Marketing is a crucial part of running a B&B. There’s no point in having the most beautifully designed B&B with the best breakfasts and wonderful hosts if no one knows about it.

It’s rare that as a B&B owner you don’t have to do some form of marketing. You may be lucky enough to have a B&B in a location that’s so popular there’s not enough accommodation for all the people who want to stay, but that’s the exception rather than the rule

I’ve often seen new B&B owners forgetting to allow for marketing in their budget. Make sure you’ve put money aside for your website and other marketing spend BEFORE it all goes on expensive soft furnishings!

4. Designing B&B rooms based on aesthetics alone

Back to those expensive soft furnishings... I've already written written a blog post about the Top 8 mistakes I made when designing my B&B rooms. You can read it here

My main mistakes involved designing the room based on aesthetics alone. After 16 years of running a B&B, my very first thought if we're making any changes is "How easy is it to clean?"

There are a whole load of things you need to consider before you start thinking about what wallpaper to put up:

Accessibility - How easy is it for people with disabilities to use the room?

By disability I’m not just referring to people who need to use a wheelchair. There are many types of disability ranging from reduced mobility to loss of hearing or limited vision. As a B&B owner you're expected to make REASONABLE adjustment for guests with disabilities. 

It's  important that you research this and take it into account when you're designing your B&B. You can find out more information from VisitBritain Here

Functionality - Is the room designed to be easy for guests to use? 

Can they turn off the main lights from the side of the bed? Are the bedside lights suitable for reading in bed? Are there enough coat hooks? Can you get the kettle under the tap?

It's good practise to sleep in your B&B rooms before you take paying guests. This way you can see if the rooms are actually practical to use.

bedside lamp giving awarm glow and a closed book

Cleaning - How easy is it for you to clean the rooms? 

Having spent a good part of my B&B life cleaning bathrooms, when my husband said he was redesigning our own bathroom, my number one priority was how easy each element of the room was to clean. I wrote a blog post about how to design a bathroom you can clean in 5 minutes here

Some things to consider when you're designing your B&B:

Are the electric sockets in an easy place for you to plug in the vacuum cleaner? Are there lots of surfaces to clean? Do you really want to be getting on a step ladder every time you clean the room to clean the dust and insect corpses out of that trendy uplighter lamp shade?

In the online course I offer the bonus of a 27 page room design checklist that covers the best way to design your rooms and what to include in them.

I was going to include all 8 points in this blog post, but it was turning into war and peace.You can read part 2 of this blog here and learn the next 4 mistakes here.

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