This comprehensive handbook with companion CD ROM will clearly demonstrate how to set up, operate and manage a financially successful bed-and-breakfast or small hotel. Whatever your reason for wanting to open a bed and breakfast, keep in mind that at it takes more than dreams and rooms to achieve success, it is a business that must show a profit. This book will separate the romantic notions of owning a B&B from the business end.
While providing detailed instruction and examples, the author leads you through finding a location that will bring success, learn how to draw up a winning business plan (The Companion CD Rom has the actual business plan you can use in MS Word tm.), how to buy and (sell) a B&B, basic cost control systems, profitable menu planning, Reservation Systems, successful kitchen management, equipment layout and planning, food safety & HACCP, housekeeping, successful beverage management, reservation networks, legal concerns, sales and marketing techniques, room rate formulas, arrival, billing, departure, learn how to set up computer systems to save time and money, learn how to hire & keep a qualified professional staff, brand new IRS tip reporting requirements, managing and training employees, generate high profile public relations and publicity, learn low cost internal marketing ideas, low and no cost ways to satisfy customers and build sales, learn how to keep bringing customers back, accounting & bookkeeping procedures, auditing, successful budgeting and profit planning development, as well as thousands of great tips and useful guidelines.
There are literally hundreds of innovative ways demonstrated to streamline your business. Learn new ways to make the kitchen, bars, dining room, and front office run smoother and increase performance. Shut down waste, reduce costs, and increase profits. In addition operators will appreciate this valuable resource and reference in their daily activities and as a source of ready-to-use forms, web sites, operating and cost cutting ideas, and mathematical formulas that can be easily applied to their operations. The Companion CD Rom contains all the forms in the book as well as a sample business plan you can adapt for your own use.
The companion CD-ROM is not available for download with this electronic version of the book but it may be purchased separately by contacting Atlantic Publishing Group at email@example.com.
Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.
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Read an Excerpt
How to Open a Financially Successful Bed & Breakfast or Small Hotel
By Lora Arduser Douglas R. Brown
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.Copyright © 2004 Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneShould You Own a B&B?
"Owning a B&B brings people from all walks of life into yours. These different outlooks can greatly enrich the owners' lives." -John and Malinda Anderson, Maplevale Farm Bed & Breakfast; Oxford, Ohio
Do you love to throw dinner parties and seem to invite every "stray" you find to Thanksgiving dinner? It's very likely that you would do well as a bed and breakfast owner.
More and more people are becoming attracted to the notion of owning a bed and breakfast (B&B). There are lots of reasons for this. Some people are retired, want to make a little extra money and love the company and stories their guests bring into their lives. Others are fed up with the corporate life and want to find a more retiring lifestyle. Still others want to work from home due to family obligations, or they just simply want to be their own boss. All of these are worthwhile reasons for exploring the idea of owning your own B&B, but it's wise to take a good, hard look at yourself and your expectations before taking the plunge. Oh sure, that couple you stayed with last summer at the country inn seemed so relaxed and carefree that they made it look like a vacation, but owning a B&B is a lifestyle morethan a job, and potential owners need to be absolutely sure it's the right lifestyle for them before sinking their time, money and hard work into this rewarding, yet demanding lifestyle.
A survey of bed and breakfast owners showed that the reasons people decide to adapt to this lifestyle are varied. Bruce and Lynn Bartlett, the owners of Longwood Manor Bed & Breakfast in Brookeville, Maryland, started their B&B because Lynn wanted to have a home-based business so she could be at home with her children. Sherry and Darryl McKenney of the Murphin Ridge Inn in Adams County, Ohio, bought a country inn to fulfill a dream. Ouida Dickinson, a software engineer by day and innkeeper of The Dickinson in Huntsville, Alabama, by night, bought the inn to build up a business for when she retires. Joan Bradford of the Yellow Turtle Inn in New Windsor, Maryland, loves being her own boss. "Unfortunately," she says, "I can't fire myself. My boss won't let me!" As you can see, the reasons people buy bed and breakfasts are as varied as the innkeepers themselves!
A Little History
While B&Bs are fairly new to the United States, they have been a European staple for a long time. These B&Bs are generally run out of someone's home, and guests enter the family's life for the time of their visit. The attraction for visitors to a traditional European B&B is becoming part of the culture rather than just a tourist experience.
The Professional Association of Innkeepers International's (PAII) Statistics of Bed-and-Breakfast/Country Inns for 2000 estimated that in 2001 there would be 19,000 professionally run, fully licensed bed and breakfasts/county inns and 10,000 hobby-style home stays. Altogether, these inns will have served 55 million guests.
As the B&B industry in the United States began to grow, the industry also grew within itself. Today you can find a variety of accommodations that refer to themselves as B&Bs. There are many variations on the following types of B&Bs, but these categories will give you a breakdown of the terms and what type of establishment guests expect if a business uses a particular descriptive phrase.
Home stay. These are the closest to the traditional European bed and breakfast. In these establishments, hosts generally run the B&B directly out of their home. They may have one or two extra bedrooms in which the guests stay. The owner/operator lives on the premises and guests are able to get a "local experience" by staying with the family. Usually guests stay for this atmosphere rather than an abundance of amenities.
B&B. These establishments usually have 3-6 rooms, but they may have as many as 25. The owner may or may not live on the premises and, of course, breakfast is included in the price of the room. The number and type of amenities offered at B&Bs varies greatly. There may be private baths, semi-private baths or a combination, there may be fireplaces and whirlpool baths, or simply a snack plate available to guests in the evening.
Inn/Country inn. These tend to be larger than B&Bs, usually more than six guest rooms and generally inns operate a full-service bed and breakfast as well as serve breakfast. The bed and breakfast may only be open to inn guests or it may be open to non-guests as well.
Owning a B&B is a 24-hour service job, so it's critical that you genuinely like people, and like to be around them! Not only is it important that you like people, but you must be able to demonstrate this in your attitude and interactions with your guests. Do you smile easily and feel comfortable striking up conversations with strangers? These are traits a B&B owner should possess or acquire. You need to be able to be warm with people and treat total strangers like members of your family. Take a few minutes and honestly answer the questions below to help you see if you naturally possess a B&B-owner personality.
1. At a party are you more comfortable: a. Sitting in a corner by yourself? b. Seeking out new people to talk to? c. Conversing with a few friends you know? d. Dancing on the table with a lamp shade on your head? 2. How do people describe you? a. Warm and open b. Hard to get to know c. Loud and boisterous d. A person that clams up around strangers 3. What's your idea of a fun Saturday night? a. Taking in a play and a nice dinner out b. Dancing till dawn c. Staying at home with a good book d. Having a few close friends over to enjoy cocktails by the fire 4. What are your work habits? a. Do you need absolute silence to concentrate? b. Do you prefer to be left alone to do your job? c. Do you like to work with a variety of people? d. Do you like to take frequent breaks to gossip around the water cooler? 5. What is your ideal Saturday morning? a. Lying in bed reading the paper until noon b. Lying in bed sleeping until noon c. Getting up and having breakfast with your family d. Getting up to leisurely watch the sun rise and sip coffee e. Getting up and have no one utter a word to you until you've finished your first cup of coffee 6. Which statement best describes your cooking habits: a. I prefer to eat out b. My freezer is stocked with frozen entrees for each day of the week c. I enjoy cooking, but am not very good at it d. I love to try new recipes 7. How would you describe your cleaning habits? a. Clean? Am I supposed to clean? b. I clean once a week c. I tidy up every day and do major cleaning weekly d. I would prefer a maid
There really isn't any one right answer to the questions in this test, but there are wrong answers. For instance, if you picked answer D for Question 5, you probably wouldn't be very happy as a B&B owner. Likewise, if you answered B for Question 3. If you answered B or C for Question 1 and A for Question 2, however, you have a good chance of being happy at inn-keeping. And let's be honest, why bother adapting a new lifestyle if it isn't going to make you happy? That's one of the main reasons people dream of opening a B&B-because they think it will make them happy.
A good deal of the charm of staying at a bed and breakfast is the warmth and friendliness of the host or hosts. Hosting is an art. Some people seem to have a natural knack for it, others can easily learn it. You could think of it as going on stage. No matter what your mood is, you need to portray a happy, caring persona to your guests when they arrive. You should always greet them with a smile and warm welcome.
The job of host begins when someone calls you for a reservation and ends only when the guests are waving good-bye as they pull away. You want to do everything you can to make your guests feel comfortable in your inn. This may mean spending time with them chatting over breakfast, or it may mean leaving them alone. It's your job to ascertain what your guests need and then to provide it.
Attention to detail is a very important part of hosting; it's often the small things that can make your inn stand out. All bed and breakfasts provide a room, a private or shared bath and some kind of breakfast. Maybe you have soy milk for people who don't drink milk, or you have a diary of past guests' experience and a rating of area restaurants along with restaurant menus. Thinking of all the little things that might improve your guests' stay is a big part of hosting.
Okay, you've gotten past the first hurdle and you think you'd really enjoy being a B&B owner. Enjoying is one thing; doing is another. If this is going to be a way for you to make a living (or even just add some extra income), you need to think about whether or not you'd be good at the job as well. There are a variety of skills an innkeeper needs. Take a look at the following skills assessment inventory and check off the ones that apply to you.
SKILL ASSESSMENT INVENTORY
Entrepreneur/Managerial Check if this applies to you I am good at resolving conflicts _____ I enjoy working hard _____ I am able to meet deadlines _____ I am able to maintain a budget _____ I am a self-starter _____ I am a creative problem-solver _____ I set clear goals and have the ability to follow through _____
Organizational Check if this applies to you I'm good with figures _____ I keep an updated calendar _____ I have to-do lists _____ I have the ability to prioritize tasks _____ I am good at recordkeeping _____ I have a filing system _____
Customer Service Check if this applies to you I don't get frustrated easily _____ I don't lose my temper easily _____ I am comfortable with enforcing rules or policies _____ I like to solve problems _____ I am tolerant of all people, no matter their race, gender or religion _____
Communication Check if this applies to you I am good at giving instructions _____ I am good at writing memos/letters/reports _____ I am a good listener _____ I speak clearly, making sure people understand _____
Hospitality Check if this applies to you I am friendly and open _____ I like working with people _____ I enjoy pleasing people
* * *
How'd you do? If you were able to check the majority of these, you'll probably do fine as a bed and breakfast owner. Remember though, this is by no means a comprehensive list! It wouldn't hurt if you were handy, for example. Calling a repairperson for every little problem can eat into profits fast. The ability to fix a leaking faucet or broken step can go a long way in making you a more efficient B&B owner! If you're not very good in math, you might want to consider taking a bookkeeping class at the local community college as well. You'll probably hire an accountant for the more major financial issues, but it would be helpful if you could take care of your own daily accounting needs.
You might also have skills beyond the normal ones you'll need day to day that could come in handy. Does it bring tears to your eyes every time you hear a downy woodpecker? Maybe you could add value to your B&B by offering guests a guided bird-watching tour. If you are an expert at canoeing, offer your guests afternoon canoe trips to a cozy little cove for a romantic picnic. (Some of these services you may want to charge extra for; others you could include in the price of the room, but we'll get more into that later when we talk about setting room prices.)
Being an innkeeper is a wonderful lifestyle for many reasons, one of them being that you get to use and acquire all kinds of skills. If you like to do a variety of tasks during your workday, owning a B&B is an excellent vocation choice. B&B owners are actually modern Renaissance people, good at so many different things!
Getting Your Feet Wet
You've taken a good, hard look at your wants, goals and skills, and you've decided that you would love to operate a bed and breakfast. So how do you get a little realworld experience to make absolutely sure this is the lifestyle for you? First, you need to stay in B&Bs! Make sure before you take the plunge that you stay at several B&Bs as a guest to see what the experience is like from a guest perspective. What is the host like? The rooms? Are there shared baths or private baths? What items are in the rooms and bathrooms? What are common areas like? What types of extra services are offered? What type of breakfast is offered? You may want to tell the host you are thinking of opening a B&B, and he or she might be willing to sit and chat with you, offering tips and strategies. Don't be disappointed if this doesn't happen, however. It's just as likely that the host may feel threatened by the competition and be unwilling to talk. When trying this approach, you'll have to rely on your judgment of people to decide if letting your host know your intentions is the best idea.
You can also develop your own survey to take along and fill out so you can compare all the bed and breakfasts you visit (you probably should fill these out in the privacy of your own room; walking around with a clipboard like an inspector is bound to ruffle many a host!).
Following is a sample bed and breakfast survey sheet. Use it as a jumping-off point to develop your own survey form.
Another way to investigate the bed and breakfast lifestyle is to inn-sit. There are many opportunities to inn-sit for hosts looking to take a vacation. Many bed and breakfast associations offer listings of hosts looking for temporary inn-keeping help. The PAII has a list for members, and they go as far as offering an Interim Innkeeper Certificate Program. (You can obtain more information on this resource at paii.org/innsitters/index.php.) Bed & Breakfast Inns Online (bbonline.com) offers a listing of innsitter services as well. Some of these services, such as Contract InnKeeping Service, offer internships. You can contact Contract InnKeeping Service at INNexperience@aol.com.
Bed & Breakfast Inns Online also offers a list of seminars and consulting services. A similar list is on the PAII Web site. One of the organizations shown as offering seminars is the Bed & Breakfast Institute of Learning. This group has workshops, apprenticeships and consulting services. They can be reached at 800-631-9080, or bbinnstitute.com.
Excerpted from How to Open a Financially Successful Bed & Breakfast or Small Hotel by Lora Arduser Douglas R. Brown Copyright © 2004 by Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. . Excerpted by permission.
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