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The top 9 mistakes new Bed and Breakfast Owners Make | Wooden private sign in summer garden

[Part 2] The Top 8 Mistakes that B&B Owners Make

running a bed and breakfast Dec 21, 2020

This is part 2 of the “Top 8 Mistakes New B&B Owners make” blog post, You can ready the first part here --->> Top 8 Mistakes New B&B Owners Make Part 1

I talk about all of these in much more detail in the online course

5. Not setting clear boundaries with guests

Whenever I ask my past course attendees -  "What is the one piece of advice you’d give someone who wanted to learn how to start up a Bed and Breakfast?", the answer is nearly always

“Set clear boundaries from the day you start your B&B business”

What do they mean by boundaries?

There are 2 types of boundaries to consider. 

First there are the physical boundaries; defining clear areas in your B&B where guests are allowed and not allowed to go. You may declare your personal lounge and kitchen out of bounds, putting up “Private” signs and keep the doors locked.

Most B&B owners I know say it’s  really important to have private space where they could relax knowing the guests don’t disturb them there. Even if you think you are the type of person who is quite happy to share their personal space with guests, I’d think very carefully about it.

I saw a Facebook post from a fairly new B&B owner who admitted she was trapped in her kitchen, whilst her husband chatted to the guests outside. She said she was so tired after a busy season and she really couldn’t face having to be smiley and chatty with one more person.

The other boundaries to consider are the non physical ones. For example, your check in and check out times, how late in the evening will you want to be disturbed by guests etc. 

Many people come on my course saying they plan to run a B&B with flexible breakfast, check in and check out times. But within a few months of setting up their business realise why it’s so important to have some boundaries in place!

Find out more about setting boundaries at your B&B in this blog post here --->>> Running a bed and breakfast - setting boundaries

6. Over complicating the breakfast menu in the beginning 

One of the reasons I decided I’d be good at running a B&B was that I’ve always enjoyed cooking and people have enjoyed eating my food - well that’s what they tell me anyway!

We’d always have a full English at the weekend so, I thought, really, how difficult is it to cook for guests? 

I quickly learned that cooking just a full English breakfast for your family is very different to cooking for 8 paying guests.

If you think about all of the elements of a full cooked breakfast - sausage, bacon, black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, beans, fried bread, there’s a lot to go wrong even if you have very flexible guests staying.

But then you add in the fact that everyone arrives at the same time. Some people help themselves off the buffet and linger over their rice krispies, whilst some just want to go straight to the full cooked breakfast.

And then there are the different tastes and dietary requirement:

  •  Fried egg - soft yolk. hard yolk, snotty, flipped, crispy, not crispy, yolk only, white only
  • Scrambled egg - wet, completely dry, somewhere in the middle, just egg whites
  • Poached egg - soft or hard poached. Neither soft nor hard
  • Bacon - crispy, only just cooked, cremated
  • Toast - before breakfast, after breakfast, burnt, hot, cold, pale, golden
  • Beans in a ramekin, no beans, beans on the plate, beans on the plate but mustn’t touch the bacon
  • Food intolerances, allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets

And the list goes on...

I quickly decided to make even more life difficult for myself but adding in lots of specials - eggs benedict, pancakes, waffles.

My recommendation is to not over complicate your menu to start with. Start simple, focus on getting the basics right and build up your repertoire as you gain confidence.

Find out what successful B&B owners serve up for breakfast in this blog post here ---->>> Do you have to serve a cooked breakfast at a B&B?

7. Not implementing systems and processes 

Not having the proper systems and process in place can cause serious problems in your B&B, or just add extra stress to your day.

The 22 mile round trip to the local supermarket at 6am because I’d run out of halloumi spring to mind. Or the embarrassment of guests knocking on the door asking where their supper platter was, when I’d just forgotten it!

These are some of the things that could go wrong if you don't have the proper systems in place...

  • Guests arrive at your check in time and their room isn’t ready
  • The rooms aren’t cleaned properly
  • Your laundry company cancels your contract because you haven’t paid them on time
  • You run out of clean bed linen because you forgot to put the laundry bag out
  • There are no sausages for breakfast because you haven’t been keeping an eye on what’s in the fridge
  • You forget guests have ordered a platter or evening meal or have special dietary requirements
  • You lose out on income because you haven’t followed up on a deposit payment
  • You end up with a huge unexpected tax bill because you haven’t kept track of bookings
  • Guests can’t find your B&B because you didn’t send them a confirmation email
  • People staying at your B&B get food poisoning
  • And probably, every B&B owner’s worst nightmare ( after the food poisoning ) - a double booking!

Which in their turn can lead to lost bookings, guest complaints and poor reviews.

Implementing the right systems and processes can be a bit of a chore when you’re first setting up, but once they’re in place they’re there giving you the confidence you need that your B&B is running smoothly.

8. Falling for scams 

If life wasn’t hard enough as a small business owner, these days you also need to be careful of fraudsters trying to take money from you.

As B&B owners, we generally like people and think the best of them, so it can be easy to fall prey to someone trying to defraud us of money.

You need to be vigilant to protect yourself and our business. Here are a few ways that B&B owners are targeted:

Scam Emails

Watch out for emails asking for unusually long stays, written in poor english and quite often copying in undisclosed recipients. These are usually from overseas. They offer to pay for the whole of the stay on a credit card ( which will turn out to be stolen ), offering to over pay, asking you to send cash for them as spending money. 

If you are at all worried about an email. Don’t respond to it. My advice is to go onto my online Facebook forum for course attendees and to ask the advice of other B&B owners. Quite often you’ll find other owners who have received exactly the same email. If it looks too good to be true then it usually is! 

Charity Calendars

This is one that’s been doing the rounds for a few years. You’ll be called by a very nice sounding person who refers back to a conversation you had a few months ago agreeing to be in a charity calendar or similar. 

You’re instantly thrown as you try to remember the conversation or wonder if someone else in the house had it. To get them off the line you may well find yourself agreeing to be sent an invoice. Once they’ve sent an invoice, if you don’t pay, they start to get nasty threatening debt collectors etc.

Calls pretending to be from organisations you have signed up with

This one is becoming more common. Say, for example, you’ve signed up for a legitimate B&B directory such as Sawday’s. You receive a call asking you to pay for a promotion or to pay your next year’s membership by card over the phone. You think you’re talking to the legitimate organisation and it’s actually a scammer after your card details.

Social Media

Facebook and other social media platforms are a great way of promoting your business, but there are always scammers operating there too. Make sure you have the maximum privacy settings turned on and be wary.

I hope you've found this Top 8 Mistakes New B&B Owners make a useful read. These and much more are covered in the Online Course.

Any questions please email me at [email protected] 

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