If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Oh, I’d love to own a B&B, it would be so much fun.” I’d be able to add a couple of dollars to my growing stash of if I had a nickel wealth.
We Make it Look Easy
I take it as a compliment when someone tells me they have a secret wish to own a B&B because what that translates to is that we make it look easy. What guests see is only the surface; what we want them to see in order for them to feel comfortable. It’s one of the biggest mistakes buyers of a B&B can make; to only see what they want to see.
“Falling in love with the idea of what owning a B&B will be like is like getting a crush on a picture of someone you’ve never met,” she says. “You’re just projecting.” Online Wall Street Journal
Inside My Head
We have a group of guests who have stayed with us several times and during their most recent visit one of the couples was really talking up buying a B&B and they want to buy it equally with their friends so they can all take turns running the inn. I just smiled politely but inside my head….
… inside my head I was silently screaming, “Are you out of your mind?!” It’s hard enough to run a business with your spouse, (which is most often the case with B&B’s, although there are exceptions) but running a B&B together takes it to a whole other level. I can’t think of a faster way to destroy a friendship. I asked, “Have you worked in hospitality or owned a business?” “No,” he replied, “but I’m very good at putting things together, I have a good eye.” Oy vey. If I had a nickel.
Eyes Wide Open
While we were innshopping we looked at a classic inn in northern CA. Long story short, two couples bought the inn together, two sisters and their husbands and they took turns running the inn…. right into foreclosure.
When Abi and I bought our Inn we had our eyes wide open and we knew what we were walking in to. But even with our backgrounds of having owned a restaurant for 16 years and my experience in hotel management, we still find challenges in the day-to-day realities of this life we live.
We love our inn, but we have worked through more challenges in the past 2 1/2 years than we could have imagined, so for someone to walk in blind, so-to-speak, I just can’t fathom it. Well, actually, I can and it’s probably the leading reason why people don’t make it.
What I would suggest to anyone who was even half-serious about buying a B&B is to go stay in at least a dozen B&B’s to get a feel for what’s out there. Here in Ashland there are about 23 B&B’s and no two of them are alike. After you visit said B&B’s sit down and make a list of what you loved, liked and/or hated. For us, the #1 deal breaker was that we had to have completely, totally, absolutely private quarters. That was a non-negotiable.
Next, ask yourself where you’d be happy living and then find a location destination within those parameters. You may find a fabulous rural farmhouse in the middle of 20 acres but who’s going to stay with you? There has to be a draw for the guests. We have the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which attracts nearly 300,000 visitors per year.
Ask Yourself, Why?
Then ask yourself, why? Why do you want to buy a B&B? What do you hope to gain from the experience? If you’re answer is, “I want to retire” you’re barking up the wrong tree. For us, it was all about changing our lives for the better. And the location of your B&B will dictate your life. Here in Ashland, our tourism is directly tied to the OSF production calendar which is mid-February through the 1st weekend of November – sounds reasonable you say?
Here’s the catch, from mid-May through mid-October, we work every. single. day. without exaggeration. But on the flip side, we get 3 1/2 months each year to call our own. If you’re a snow bunny and you’re thinking you could buy a B&B near a ski destination, serve breakfast and then hit the slopes every afternoon, think again and then ask yourself if you’d make your yearly income in a few short winter months.
The Single Most Important Question
And by far the single most important question you need to ask yourself is… how do I feel about scrubbing toilets?!
Ah… if I had a nickel for every toilet I’ve scrubbed!
Great insights Patti – I can’t believe so many people attempt to run a B&B with no experience at all; it’s insane! Money and friendship especially don’t mix so I can see why you balked at the idea of those two couples buying together.
Amy recently posted…Our Thai Zip Lining Tour and Safety Standards Abroad
It’s as I mentioned, Amy, people only see what they want to see and they don’t focus in on the big picture. So when reality hits them, it hits hard. It’s a very good lifestyle, but you have to be ready for all that it entails.
Patti, you and Abi have definitely been an exception to many of the “rules” I’ve learned from reading about owning a restaurant and/or a B & B. That is compliment to you both! Like Freya said it’s often falling in love with an idea. I’ve wanted to own both but then the reality set in for what was truly at stake and involved. And having a financial partnership with a friend can be a very, very precarious endeavor. And I learned the hard way more than once on that! I’m so happy for you guys to have done so well! 🙂 p.s. No thank you to toilets.
Mike recently posted…I Made Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington And It Was Amazing
Thanks so much, Mike! It’s a tough gig but it definitely has its perks as well. Neither one of us has to work outside of our home and we answer to no one other than ourselves – those are 2 big tickets for us at this chapter in our lives. Helps to balance out the days when we bang our heads on the wall! 🙂
Yup…you have firmly convinced me that I would never want to own a B&B. But if we ever make it to Ashland, we would love to stay at yours. I promise we won’t be too obnoxious 🙂
Kerri recently posted…Family Holidays in Goa
I don’t know if I did a good thing or a bad thing by convincing you. There are just too many people who take on something like a B&B or a restaurant without really understanding what they’re walking into. It can be a good life, but there are realities. We would love for you to stay with us, we even have a room with a queen bed and a twin! As always, thanks for reading!
I have *never* thought I might like to own a B&B but have thought many times it would be lovely to come stay in yours… provided you would let me help with stuff while I was there so we could have tea together once the first round of work was done. 🙂
We would love for you to come and stay with us and we will sip tea together! Please come soon!
I sometimes find myself saying as well wouldn’t it be nice to start a B&B … but it is indeed falling in love with an idea. The reality as you point out in your article is very different, it’s not like a never ending vacation, it’s real hard work. Congrats to you for making it a success.
Freya recently posted…Top 5 Photo Spots of St. Peter’s Dome
Thanks for reading Freya – I think there are a lot of people with secret desires to own a B&B. Being innkeepers is a lot of work, but there are definitely positive aspects as well and we’ll be talking about those too!