If you have always dreamed of building a bed and breakfast business, then you need to read this. You can flip any space into a cozy bed and breakfast with a little bit of planning and the willingness to put in some sweat equity. Building a bed and breakfast business can be a great opportunity to live your dream.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the only way to start a bed and breakfast is to start by buying an established bed and breakfast. The truth is there are plenty of properties available that need a little TLC that can easily be transformed into a quaint bed and breakfast that also happens to be a moneymaker.
Good Bones Matter
When you start your property search, you almost have to put on some blinders and sought to use your “third eye” to find the perfect property. Instead of looking at the horrible green shag carpeting in that mid-century McMansion, look for the potential.
There is a huge difference between buying a property that needs some cosmetic fixes and maybe some roof maintenance and buying a stylish property but has foundation problems. Look for a property that has “good bones” when building a bed and breakfast business. Good bones is a real estate term thrown around that describes an “ugly” house that does not have structural problems.
Minor problems like holes in the interior walls can easily be addressed either as a DIY or by hiring professional drywall services. On the other hand, an undetermined septic problem can be a bigger deal.
In some cases, a sewer problem can be rectified with sewer line repair services, or it may require that an entirely new system is installed. When you are building a bed and breakfast business, you want to ensure that the property you are buying needs minimal work and does not turn into a money pit. Ask plenty of questions about the property and do your research before you start packing.
You want to look for a property that has a good residential heating and residential cooling system. Guests will expect that the property will be adequately climate-controlled and comfortable. Installing a new system can be costly, but it is certainly a worthy investment if it is within your budget.
Let’s say you find the ideal property (maybe you already own the property), but it needs a new HVAC system. Weighing out the pros and cons of the property can help you to make an informed decision. If it has enough rooms that are in good shape, or there are multiple fireplaces, or it has all that charming woodwork that you have been looking for, it may be worth sinking the money into a new HVAC system.
Other things to look out for are:
How Much Work Can You Do?
If you are working on a tight budget while building a bed and breakfast business, it is important to plan to do a lot of the work yourself. DIY can save you thousands of dollars, but of course, you are the only one that knows how much of the work you can do yourself.
Certain repairs and upgrades can be managed as DIY projects. Doing it yourself still requires an investment for materials, but you get to pocket the money you normally pay for labor. Besides, doing the work on your own and building a bed and breakfast business from the ground up can be fun.
Here are some things you can plan on doing on your own to cut costs on building a bed and breakfast business:
- Painting. Most people can paint. There are plenty of tutorials that can provide tips and tricks on how to get a professional finish without hiring a professional.
- Light plumbing work. Replacing a faucet or upgrading a shower head is pretty straightforward and is something most people can do with a few hand tools.
- Hanging curtains, drapes, and or blinds. A few hand tools and a level, and you can easily dress all the windows in the house.
Of course, there are some things you will need up to leave up to the pros to manage for you. You will want to get a professional exterminator to manage pests. Pesticides can be hazardous when they are handled by someone that is not experienced. Frankly, OTC bug killers never work. The last thing you want to do is find that you have an infestation problem while hosting guests. Get the property treated regularly.
Another area that you want to leave to the professionals is your landscaping, at least initially. If you are flipping a property and building a bed and breakfast business, it is very likely the landscaping has not seen any care in a long time. You will likely need professional landscape installation services to reboot the landscaping. In the future, once the landscaping is established, if you choose, you can take over the care.
Any major leveling or grading that needs to be done will also require the help of a professional. Driveway leveling and or grading is good for aesthetics, and it helps protect the property. Call in a professional and let them work their magic. It is just too much to do on your own unless you have worked with the equipment before and can find a rental place to get it. Ultimately, it is more cost-effective to hire a pro.
A Practical Layout
Ideally, building a bed and breakfast business does not mean giving up your personal space. You and your family’s living quarters will be incorporated into the bed and breakfast but still private or separate.
If there is space to make a bedroom on the first floor away from the guest’s quarters, that would be the perfect layout. It can be wonderful to have a steady stream of guests come to your bed and breakfast, but you can experience burnout if you live on the site.
Some popular options for living in the same space but separate from the business include:
- Living in another building on the property.
- Separate the living quarters from the guest quarters. Think mother/ daughter house or a mother-in-law suite type layout.
- Consider an upper or lower level that is off-limits to guests. If you have a big enough house, consider making an entire floor of private family quarters.
Many BandB owners find that the one thing that is hard to get past is finding the work-home balance when they open their bed and breakfast. If you live onsite (and many owners do), carving out some space for you and your family during the renovations will ensure that you can have some privacy and find some balance.
What Are The Basic Amenities You Should Plan For?
If you can create rooms with en-suite bathrooms, that would be a great option to attract guests. Everyone enjoys a private bath, but that is not the only thing you need to be thinking about when building a bed and breakfast business.
As you are rehabbing the property, you want to take some time to think about what type of services and amenities your bed and breakfast will offer. Building a successful bed and breakfast business starts with thinking about what you have to offer that other area bed and breakfasts do not.
For example, what if you offer dog boarding for your guests? If your bed and breakfast were the only one in the area that offered boarding facilities for fur babies, you would be able to attract travelers that do not want to be away from their fur babies.
What amenities will you provide? How about an outdoor area where guests could use a hibachi grill for cooking a meal? What if you added a picnic area so that guests could sit and enjoy the outdoors while they stayed with you.
There are a lot of ways you can provide guests with the comforts of home while they visit your lodging. Building a bed and breakfast business is not only about having a killer property that you have put a lot of effort into. It also has to be about what you can offer your guests and a comfortable place to stay.
The absolute basics will include:
- A private room that is outfitted nicely. A basket holding grooming essentials is always a nice touch. Keep clean towels, washcloths, soaps, shampoos, and other personal care items in a decorative basket.
- Meals. Most BandB’s offer at least two meals as part of their package. Breakfast is almost always included. Dinner is often offered as well. Lunch is usually not served simply because guests are off doing what they came to your area to do.
- Wifi. Today everyone needs to stay connected. Free Wifi is a must.
The above are just the basics. Building a bed and breakfast business is not easy. It requires a lot of thought and a lot of innovative ideas. Some BandB’s take things up a notch and have themed rooms, different themed event nights, offer expansive outdoor areas with outdoor games like horseshoes that they host, and more.
Many BandB owners say that building a bed and breakfast business has been a true labor of love. They love entertaining their guests and do all the extras to ensure that their guests have a good time. If entertaining guests is not your foray, maybe cooking is. Your BandB can become the place to go for amazing meals.
The point is building a bed and breakfast business that is successful requires a “hook” to get people interested in staying at your BandB. Whether your hook will be amazing meals or rowdy horseshoe competitions in the yard is not as important as having a hook to begin with. Give it some thought as you work your way through all the renovation projects.
The Details Matter
It can be easy to get caught up in all the big projects when you are building a bed and breakfast business, but you have to remember that the details are really what will matter to your guests. For example, it is a great idea to install those new windows for energy efficiency but take it a step further to ensure your guests can rest peacefully. Consider residential window tinting to allow your guests to enjoy the view without being blinded. They will appreciate the privacy.
Sometimes less can be a lot more. When you are dividing up rooms, you should opt for quality over quantity even though you can get two rooms out of that large room. While it is important to have enough spaces to fill to make your BandB profitable, you never want to go too small with the guest rooms. Instead of slicing and dicing the space into as many rooms as you can, keep in mind that you can charge a little more for a larger space.
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Guests will remember the little details about your BandB. They will remember how kind you were and how you tucked an extra sandwich or snack in their bag as they departed. They will remember how attentive you were to every detail, and then they will tell everyone they know. That will give you the best free advertising there is. Word of mouth is still an essential marketing tool.
Live The Dream
If building a bed and breakfast business has always been on your radar, what are you waiting for? There are plenty of properties out there that can be flipped and turned into a bed and breakfast. The first step is the hardest, but once you take it, you will be on the path to making your dream a reality.
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