When it comes to buying any business there are many things you need to know. Of course each business is different and you should be planning for what to expect and how to run that business. So what do you need to know when buying a bed and breakfast business? Let me explain…
A Bed & Breakfast Owner
People all look ahead to their future in different ways; some look at the idea of buying, owning and running a Bed and Breakfast as a dream, and some look at the practical advantages of living at your work place, making the property work for you. Fortunately, with hard work and dedication, it can be a dream that comes true for many and can be every bit as good as they’d hoped for. Some of the biggest positives of buying a bed and breakfast include:
- Being in control of your life and your business
- Using the business to cover your own living expenses
- Having the benefit of living in a wonderful property
- Making your home work for you to provide an income
- Socialising with your guests
The bed and breakfast industry is definitely for sociable personalities. If you look at review sites such as TripAdvisor, the majority of reviews for B&Bs include something about the owners and how they received their guests. It can often be you and your personality that will draw clients back to return again, more so than the building itself.
Comfort & Service
Next up on the scale of importance after a friendly personality would be the service; your guests are paying to stay with you and they expect a certain standard. Star ratings, reviews and your nightly rate all play a part in guests expectations. A Five Star B&B would no doubt charge more to guests booking a room, than an establishment which has 2 or 3 stars or poor reviews. Expectations = Nightly rate
There are two routes when looking at any business and they generally start with quantity or quality. Offering the best quality determines the highest nightly rate one can charge and this is harder to deliver to a large quantity of clients. The decision to run a B&B with 10 letting rooms or 5 high quality letting rooms often results in looking for a compromise somewhere between the two, although it’s also good to think ahead as to how you view your business principles before looking for the property
Then of course, would be the bed and the breakfast. No one will want to stay at, or return to, a bed and breakfast with bad beds. On the other hand, if you get it right, people will comment and leave glowing reviews about the beds and how good their night’s sleep was. Don’t try to cut corners; buy quality beds and mattresses that will last and use quality linen that will complement the room.
A note with regard to linen; again there are choices which you can make; you can launder your own linen, this takes time but quite obviously saves the cost of using another firm for their service. If you decide to send out the linen to be cleaned there are two routes; across the many laundry firms which service the hospitality sector, some will rent you their linen and provide a service to collect, launder and return to you. There are also laundry firms who will launder your own linen; this does bear a capital cost for purchase of the linen initially, although you get to choose the quality of the linen and the laundering is at a lower rate. Bear in mind you would need to hold at least three sets of linen for each bed at your B&B.
When it comes to breakfast, serve it as quickly and efficiently as possible, and of course with a smile. Bear in mind that many people now have special dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. You may want to request any dietary information be supplied on the booking form so that you can prepare in advance if you don’t want to offer these options all the time.
Before taking over a B&B it’s advisable to get up to speed with the food hygiene and environmental health requirements. There are several courses which you can take, some are online, and cover the essentials such as food storage which is critical. You do need to register with the local council and may well have a visit from the environmental health officer – make sure that you have written evidence of food safety and management systems in a book or file. There is advice on the Food Standards Agency website
There is a growing trend for pre-order breakfasts and this gives you the benefit of minimal wastage and the option to offer specials which can be frozen, and taken from the freezer the night before, after the guest has left their order for you
Generally, as long as you serve decent food with a cheery disposition, you can’t go wrong.
Obviously before buying any business, including a bed and breakfast, you need to plan ahead in an efficient manner and ask appropriate questions about the business.
- Ask about the nightly rate charged
- Compile a Business Plan to work out if this will support your financial situation
- Will you be comfortable living in the owner’s accommodation? It will be your home too
View several B&B properties – it truly isn’t real whilst you are looking online. Visiting the area, viewing inside some business properties and making comparisons will all help you to decide whether this is the life for you. Most people re-locate to run their dream B&B business and, a change of lifestyle as well as a new business, means you need to feel comfortable in the area, is there plenty going on that you can enjoy, places to visit when you aren’t working etc.
Once you have clarified all of this, you’ll need to work out your budget for buying, and let the agents know your current situation e.g. if you have a house to sell first in order to free up capital. If you need to borrow some of the money for your purchase speak to a commercial funding broker to get advice. They can tell you what budget to work to and give you some costings for monthly payments. Be honest and open about your situation so that it is not misleading to the seller and not disappointing for you as the buyer. A good broker will be able to offer advice.
Above all else, go with your gut. If it feels right it often is. Plus, you’ll never know until you try!
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