Hi it’s karen here
I'm the founder and owner of bed and breakfast academy.
I help aspiring and existing B&B owners create a B&B lifestyle that they’re going to love living.
I’m hoping that Saffy the dog doesn’t disturb this week’s podcast with any more chewing noises, after a close shave with my AMEX card last time.
I did catch her walking off with my Apple pencil yesterday. Luckily I had some chicken to offer in return for it being dropped, so that I could retrieve it.
I have already lost one Apple pencil thanks to her chewing the end. Note they don’t work even if it’s only the end, not even the nib, that has been chewed!
I had some close shaves thanks to dog theft at the B&B.
Guests would often ask to say hello to the dogs after they’d finished breakfast. On more than one occasion I took Murphy in and he nonchalantly got up on the table and stole muffins, croissants and any remaining breakfast.
And little Mitsi was no better. She had a bit of an underwear thing and would steal items out of the laundry basket, which she would then leave in obvious places around the B&B, ready for guests to find.
Back to this week's episode after a slight dog themed diversion.
I’ve just looked at the analytics for the podcast and it’s just hit over 2000 downloads. So a big thank you to you for listening in.
I’m also reaching another milestone next week as it’s 2 years since I launched the online course.
And by complete coincidence -of course we all know there are no such things as coincidences - I was sent a lovely message yesterday by the very first person to sign up for the course, Linda Read. Linda runs a Hay on Wye. Maple House - it’s maplehousehay.co.uk if you want to go check it out.
Here’s what Linda said
Hi Karen, I hope you are well. I just wanted to touch base and say thank you for your course, passing on your wisdom and for your encouragement and support. After a weird couple of years I feel I am now confident in what I am doing and offering to my guests. The reviews are encouraging and the guests are complimentary about the rooms and all the detailed touches. I am happy i stuck to the continental breakfast in a basket idea and it is working really well. Not one has complained about the lack of hot breakfast or a dining room, which is great. I have been attracting the type of guests I thought I would in my guest avatars ( an exercise you do as part of the course ), which has been encouraging. So thanks once again for giving me the confidence to go ahead with my plans, it has been a great start to my hosting business 👍
I have to admit, I wasn’t having the best of days yesterday, so it popped into my in box at just the right time - thank you Linda!
As Linda mentioned, one of the most important things to do before you set up or buy a B&B is to get get clear on the type of guests you want to attract.
I believe the research section, which is all what Module 2 is about in the online course, is one of the most sections.
It’s all about getting clear on your goals
* Why do you want to run a B&B
* Why it’s important to know your WHY?
* What sort of B&B do you dream of having?
* What sort of B&B owner do you want to be?
* Who is your ideal customer?
* What are your must haves and where will you compromise?
* What will be your unique selling point?
* What services will you offer?
It’s all about understanding what you want from a B&B life and then setting up or buying the right B&B for you.
Buying or setting up a B&B is not a cheap business so you need to do your research very thoroughly to ensure you’re not about to make a very expensive mistake. If you’re having to borrow money to acquire your business, you will have to prove to the lender that it will be a viable business and that you can keep up on the loan repayments.
Going back to what Linda says about getting very clear on her customer avatar
Knowing who your customer is is key to running a successful business. Once you know who your customer is you can create and run a B&B experience that matches their requirements, expectations and dreams. You’ll have B&B guests who love your business. They’ll write you great reviews, recommend you to their friends and keep coming back.
Some business owners only start thinking about who their ideal customer is after they’ve created their business and when they’re getting to the marketing stage. This is too late - especially for a B&B.
The type of guest you will be welcoming has a direct impact on the type of B&B you run and the type of B&B you run has a direct impact on the type of guest you will welcome!
Many B&B owners think that by appealing to everyone they’ll maximise their chances of getting more guests but that’s not true. By appealing to dog owners, you may put off non dog owners. By being family friendly you may put off the older couples who want a child free break. By selling yourself as a romantic break hotel you may put off the single business person there for a work conference etc. By setting up a cheap B&B you’re putting off people who would never pay less than £100 a night. By setting up an expensive B&B you’re putting off people who would never pay more than £60 for a B&B.
It’s impossible to set up a B&B that appeals to everyone in the world!
By focusing on specific markets it becomes much easier to create a B&B that will exceed their market’s expectations and to reach and market to them.
You might be thinking right now “But Karen, why are you talking about marketing, we’ve not even bought or set up our B&B yet?”
But you need to know the sort of guests that you want at your B&B before you set it up / buy it to make sure you create a B&B that meets the needs of your target guest
Business guests will most likely need an early breakfast, a desk to work at, good wifi and phone signal, proximity to where they work, somewhere close to eat in the evening or food served at the B&B, flexible cancellation policies.
Dog owners may need a room that’s easy to clean e.g. wooden floors, an enclosed garden, a fridge to store food, access to a freezer to store raw food, close proximity to walks and places to eat that take dogs
Families with young children will need one that is safe for youngsters - think chests of drawers that won't fall over if a toddler climbs up them, no hanging cords on blinds, stair gates, covers over electric sockets, a fridge to store baby food, microwave to warm up food, cots, high chairs etc.
Much of the research I go on to talk about is about finding out what sort of guests are visiting the area you want to run a B&B in and what they do whilst they’re there. It’s important to know what type of guests come to an area but it’s also important to know what type of guests you want to welcome to your B&B.
You may just want to run a B&B and get as much money as possible and not care who’s staying with you. That’s absolutely fine, but, in my experience, most people who want to run a B&B , want to welcome guests they’ll enjoy meeting.
Don’t feel you have to cater to a certain person just because the area you want to set up in attracts a certain market. If you don’t like dogs, don’t run a dog friendly B&B. If you don’t like children, don’t accept families. If you’re vegan you may want to think twice about accepting guests on shoots.
For me, I ran the B&B on my own and it was in our home, so I wanted people coming here who were going to love and get what I did
My ideal customers were people who were warm and friendly with a good sense of humour, but not over the top chatty. I didn’t want them as friends. They loved dogs and wildlife. They appreciated good food. They didn’t want their breakfast too early, left their rooms tidy, spent most of the day out exploring, became repeat guests returning a couple of times a year and stayed for 3 nights.
Your location and the type of B&B you buy or set up will go a long way in determining the type of guests that stay with you. If all your rooms are very small and already done out with cream carpets you may need to think twice about accepting 3 newfoundland dogs.
In the course we dig into all of this a bit deeper with exercises to do.
All of this work is important upfront because it will significantly improve your chances of owning a B&B that you love running and that your guests will love.
It’s also a crucial part of your business plan!
If you’re ready to find out who your ideal guest is as well as all of the other research you need to do before setting up or buying your B&B, then please do go ahead and check out bandbacademy.co.uk and the online training!
I al os have a free download called is running a bed and breakfast the right business for you? If you want to download head bandbacademy.co.uk/fivesteps
Thank you for listening and I look forward to speaking with you on another episode soon!