Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our Continuing Story of An Aspiring Innkeeper


It's now been 8 weeks since Annette, our aspiring innkeeper intern has been with us. I thought for all you folks who have met Annette or have ever said "I would love to have a B&B when I retire" it's time to catch up with her experiences so far.

This time, I'm going to ask Annette a few questions...here goes!

Q: What is the biggest surprise or misconception you had about what the life of an innkeeper is like?

A: The amount of time spent to cook, serve, and clean for a "full-house" is quite time consuming. I did not think it would take almost all day. We start early in the morning and we finish by around 2:00 p.m. and then we need to prepare with the "check-in" starting at 3:00 p.m. and the "prep" for the breakfast. Somewhere along the way, we need to bake cookies, prepare the special granola we make in-house, go shopping, do the paper work and collapse.

Q: So what time does your day actually finish?

A: I am usually done by around 7:00 p.m., but there are questions and/or issues; phone calls taking reservations; that can keep Diane and Ron busy past 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., especially if there are late arrivals (after 6:00 p.m.).

Q: Now tell us about the parts of your day you enjoy the most and why after all this work you still want to be an innkeeper?

A: I enjoy baking, cooking and communicating with the guests. The interaction is very interesting since we get people from all over, both young and mature. I have developed a good relationship with Diane and Ron and we laugh and have fun together. It would be very difficult to have this kind of schedule if they were just watching me and letting me do all the work and just criticizing. We work together!

Q: Do you have a favorite moments/interaction/experience with a guest?

A: I appreciate the thank-yous we get, particularly if the breakfast was primarily my making.

Q: Any pet peeves that might help future B&B guests?

A: We would like our guests to be comfortable, relaxed and enjoy the pampering. However, we want them to treat our suites with care and consideration and follow our simple instructions.

Q: I know that you've now looked at a couple B&Bs for sale and other properties that might be turned into a B&B. I don't think the general public is aware of how much it actually takes to get into the B&B industry. Since you've now done a lot of research, speaking generally, how much money do you think people would need to have to purchase either an existing B&B or start their own?

A: The commitment to buying or building a B&B was also a surprise to me. The cost is higher than I expected, especially at this time of recession. It is not easy to sell a B&B, so some owners choose to revert to a "house for sale" rather than a "business for sale". I cannot specify the cost since it varies by location, size, whether business (turnkey) or home, and the area of the country. I would say that a range of $1 million to $2 million would be needed for an existing 5 unit place, plus money to convert, add or change to the new owner's liking. In addition, a cushion of $100,000 to be in business for 6 months without worrying about income. Building from scratch will always be much more expensive and the style will not be as eclectic as most people expect in a B&B.

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