Running a bed and breakfast (B&B) is a lifestyle choice for many that also comes with a promise of a fruitful career. You can make good amount of money by renting rooms in your property and doing household chores, like cleaning, making beds, and preparing breakfast. It guarantees a lot of fun and adventure as you get to meet new people from around the world right under your roof. Cherry on top – you don’t have to commute daily to work.
But everything’s not all roses in this wonderful world of running a B&B. Its management demands a lot of investment; in terms of money, commitment, and what a lot of people won’t tell you – time.
Managing a B&B is not very different than handling any other accommodation business. You need to run the administrative and operative side of the business and have to plan your finances, branding, marketing, sales, customer service, etc. You also have to wait persistently and patiently before your B&B turns profitable while facing seasonal fluctuations.
That is why so many experienced B&B owners agree that running a successful B&B is a 24/7 job. Then, how do these skilled owners manage their time and ensure success in their business?
Here are a few time-saving tips for B&B so that you can open and/or run your property with comfort and ease:
1. Do not go in blind; research first
B&Bs, like any other lodging establishment, need proper planning and guided management. So, if you think that you only need to set up a few rooms and breakfast platter to start with, think again! While owning a B&B can prove to be a fantastic venture, there are many things you need to have a clear picture of to understand whether it’s a fitting career and lifestyle choice for you.
There are multiple factors you need to consider before opening or revamping your B&B, such as interiors and room furnishings, food management and kitchen equipment, merchant services, smoke detectors, fire alarms, business supplies, staffing needs, website, and more depending on your location, size of establishment, and your goals. You also need to create an estimate of expenses covering all these aspects.
If you have a fair idea about the above factors, you will be able to save yourself from wasting a large amount of time and money later on. To start with, research on what types of people visit the destination, their likings, and their personalities. Then, talk to other B&B owners in your locality and beyond to gain their insights and also, a first-hand understanding of B&B industry. Last but not least, plan your budget. When opening a new B&B or redoing an old one, you’ll need to accurately calculate your room costs per night which, in turn, will help you set your room rates.
2. Take advantage of technology
Gone are the days of paper-and-pen administrative tasks. Every experienced B&B owner will agree that using technology is the key to running a successful business these days. Technology is inevitable for your B&B business as your guests are already using technology to find you, book your room, and experience a whole lot of other features. Also, technology can do all the heavy lifting for you, from refining your booking system and avoiding over-bookings to providing qualitative in-depth guest data. This means you can save a lot of time and focus on taking care of what matter the most to your B&B – your guests.
Whether your B&B is a big property or a small one, there are practical technological solutions for every size of property and every budget. Here are a few digital and technological initiatives that you can undertake for better B&B management:
Website & Booking Engine:
Your first and the most crucial step in this direction is having a user-friendly and clean website. Here, your potential guests can look at your property and know about your amenities and offerings. This is your chance to impress them.
Keep on improving your website in terms of content as well as SEO so that it can be found in all major search engines. As a next step, make sure that your website has an integrated booking engine to encourage quick and hassle-free direct bookings.
Social Media & Email Marketing:
B&B owners can also not do without Internet advertising techniques in today’s digital world. Most of these efforts require no financial investment and little time management. Make sure that you have a good social media presence on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, wherein you can share stunning pictures of your property, destination, and your guests enjoying at your B&B.
You can also hold contests on social media for driving higher engagement and presenting discounts to the winners on their next bookings with your B&B. Another crucial effort is email marketing. Send updates and special offers to all your customers who have stayed at your B&B in the past to encourage loyalty and repeat business.
Another thing that almost every successful B&B owner swears by is getting listed at a metasearch engine, for higher reach and visibility. This can save a lot of time of B&B owners who want to advertise their property and reach likely guests. Also, metasearch can help you drive bookings.
According to Independent Lodging Study by Phocuswright(1), “In terms of its ability to increase visibility and drive additional business to the property, metasearch is perceived positively by traditional accommodation providers such as hotel-type properties and B&B/lodges.” The study shows that almost 60% of B&Bs have a positive perception of metasearch as a marketing as well as a distribution channel.
Claim your property’s trivago profile today.
Once you are truly established, here is an added initiative that you should not ignore – PMS (Property Management System). Huge B&Bs and hotels rely on PMS to function effortlessly. A PMS is a platform that enables hotels to manage their everyday functions in a smooth fashion and from one place.
These functions include booking reservations, room allocation, check-in/check-out, room-price management, billing, housekeeping management, revenue management, restaurant service, and lot more for optimized front-office and other on-site services and ensuring a seamless guest experience.
3. Streamline Housekeeping
You might know that amenities, functionality, and tidy ambiance are crucial to delight your guests. But what you might not know is that it isn’t the end of the story and that’s what is risky –underestimating the challenges of running a B&B.
You’ll need to clean rooms every day which includes making beds, emptying bins, replacing any used cutlery or dishes, replenishing coffee/tea supplies, replacing towels, cleaning the bathroom and checking that everything is spick and span. Additionally, you’ll have to sort out guests’ problems, prepare breakfasts, go out to shop for breakfast ingredients or other home supplies, and handle small DIY tasks on a regular basis.
As the list of tasks is quite long, it’s a good idea to have a housekeeping checklist to ensure your rooms are in top shape for every guest. It will help you cover all aspects of housekeeping and maintenance without overlooking any, especially if you are a one-man army in a small B&B. Even if you delegate duties to a dedicated staff, it will help you stay on top of what’s happening (and what’s not) without micromanaging everything and wasting time in unnecessary meetings.
4. Have Set Policies and House Rules
One thing that might be easily overlooked while running a B&B is not having a business operating system in place. Having clearly defined policies for the staff and house rules for the guests is very necessary to avoid possible conflicts and time wasted subsequently to resolve those conflicts. Policies and rules will also help your guests have a comfortable stay at your B&B.
When it comes to your staff, firstly make sure they understand the value they bring to your B&B. This way, they will deal with the guests in a warm yet professional manner and also, will do their daily tasks passionately. Make a list of duties and corresponding tasks so that they know what is expected of them. Additionally, they will learn to perform tasks without constant supervision. A list will also come in handy for developing self-confidence in workplace skills. Plus, people generally work better with a structure in place. Guidelines for your staff can include daily chores needed to be taken care of in your property and also some other rules essential to ensure professionalism at work, like a set number of working hours, regulation about no after-work socializing with guests, and dressing up smart enough for the job.
Just as you have to have staff policies, you have to have rules for your guests. Having a B&B etiquette plan will make sure that certain guests are not a nuisance to other guests, your staff, your neighbors, and most importantly, you. You can have these policies written down on your website and share the link along with the booking confirmation email. You can also place a hard copy in each room. Some standard guidelines for guests might include letting the staff know of sudden changes in check-in/check-out, keeping the volume down, no smoking if your B&B is a smoking-free facility, and keeping the common area/bathrooms/kitchen tidy for everyone’s use.
Featured image: Milly Eaton from Pexels