Why it's important to look after yourself when you run a B&BSep 02, 2021
For this week’s podcast I was very pleased to be joined by Clare Wright who runs the School House B&B in Chapel Lawn here in Shropshire, with her husband Dave.
You can listen to the podcast here --> B&B Academy Podcast #03
When Clare and Dave took my course in October 2014 they had a 5 year plan to set up a B&B, but after having taken the course, they decided to speed things up a bit.
They originally planned to set up their B&B in the Peak District, but found the perfect property in their ideal location in Shropshire. And within 18 months, in 2016, they opened their B&B to paying guests.
Starting up a bed and breakfast from scratch
One of the questions I’m often asked by course attendees is, “Is it better to buy a B&B or set one up from scratch?” You can read more in this blog post here → Is it better to buy a B&B or set one up from scratch?
Clare and Dave were very clear that they wanted to set up their own B&B rather than buying an existing business.
“We wanted to shape the business as we wanted it to be.”
They knew exactly how they wanted the B&B to look and feel and wanted to have complete control over everything that went into it, like choosing the best, most comfortable beds for example.
The actual process of setting up the B&B mattered very much to Clare and Dave;
“We wanted to bring some of our own experiences of staying in nice places to our business. We’d both worked for a long time in corporate environments, and having the freedom to shape something was very important to us”.
What sort of B&B is the School House?
The School House has 3 large double B&B rooms, one has its own separate sitting area. The rooms all have an en suite and a silent mini fridge, which means guests can enjoy the bedroom picnics which Clare provides if people prefer not to go out and eat in the evening.
There’s no communal lounge as Clare and Dave have to walk through that area, which is set up as the dining room, to get to their own bedroom and bathroom.
“We wanted guests to feel that their room is their space. We wanted everything to be in the rooms for guests. We’ve created a really relaxed and relaxing atmosphere”
They were very clear on what they wanted the guest experience to be right from the very start.
This is something I go through in detail in the first 2 modules of the online B&B course; getting very clear on the sort of B&B you want to create and the type of experience you want your guests to have → Find out more about the online course
What do you like about running a B&B
I asked Clare what she liked about running a B&B. And she told me it was freedom.
“It’s obviously a business and you’ve got ties, but the freedom to do things in your way, to mould it to your liking”
Clare and Dave enjoy working for themselves, having both worked in corporate life for 30 years.
“We love having the flexibility to do things the way we want to do them and not being told how to do things. We love meeting people. It’s such a sociable profession”
Why it’s important for your business to look after yourself as a B&B owner
It’s been an incredibly busy season for B&B owners following the opening of the hospitality sector after the 3rd lockdown in the UK.
That’s obviously great, especially for B&B owners whose income has been so badly impacted by the pandemic.
But we shouldn’t underestimate the stress that B&B owners have been under, going from no income to being fully booked. And also dealing with some guests who don’t fall into their usual guest profile.
These might be guests who would be usually travelling overseas on holiday and guests who might not be used to staying in B&Bs, but are more used to hotels or self catering. And some guests are still quite anxious about travelling.
I asked Clare why she thought looking after yourself as a B&B owner was so important.
“The key thing is that you’ve got to look after yourself. You can’t look after your guests if you’re not looking after yourself.
You want what they experience is either as good as, or better than what they’re expecting. You can only do that if you're looking after yourself both physically or mentally”
We didn’t manage to cover all of these in the podcast - my fault for leading Clare down a few rabbit holes - but before out chat, Clare suggested some of the following as ways of looking after yourself:
- If you have a day with no changeovers or arrivals, make sure you factor in time for an afternoon off. Do something that you recommend to your guests - Visit a local tourist attraction, go for a walk or treat yourself to lunch or afternoon tea. Your guests have come to stay with you to make memories, so it’s important to make your own too.
- Read a book, watch a film or do something you enjoy that will completely take you away from B&B life.
- Do some baking, jam making or something that will take your mind away but is contributing to your B&B life in a different way to general housework
- Read some positive guest reviews and add them to your smile file - it will help with the WHY (see previous blog) and will help refresh your enthusiasm.
“One of the things we really pride ourselves on here and that we get lots of good reviews on here is out local knowledge”
The B&B Marketing Community
Clare and Dave are active members of the B&B Marketing Membership and Clare had this to say about:
“It's been great to have something that just gives us some structure. I think, to our social media marketing”
Having the principles of the buckets and the smile file and just having places where you can just draw on content. It's been so useful. And we've learned so much through it. Different ways to use Canva, different ways to present information.
It's been really helpful to us because we're not natural marketing people. We're not naturally good at selling ourselves. And tools and techniques. To help you do that has just been so important for us.”
A big thank you to Clare for taking the time out to speak with me. Make sure you listen to the podcast as this has just been a snippet of what we discussed!
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