5 tips to buying a B&B business!
A large country house, meeting people and the flexibility to work when you want – renting out rooms to holiday makers, or Air B’n’Bing an annexe cottage sounds like the ideal revenue stream. But if you’ve never run a B&B business before just how do you get started? We asked hospitality consultant Caroline Nolder, aka The B&B Doctor, to share some of her invaluable tips to start you off on the right path.
Caroline Nolder aka The B&B doctor (L) with her husband, who helps her run her B&B business in Bruton, Somerset
1. Give yourself a reality check
“You have to enjoy people as the client is always right,” says Caroline. “This is vital because running a B&B from your home is very in your face, so be honest with yourself about how much you like dealing with guests.” Once you’re confident this is the job for you, then make sure your family feel the same way. “It’s absolutely all about talking,” continues Caroline. “For example sit down with your partner and both write a list of your expectations. If they work from home and suddenly six guests arrive, how will they feel about that?”
2. Be prepared for hard work - at first anyway
“Make sure you can manage all the rooms yourself” advises Caroline, “as you might not always be able to get help with the cleaning and cooking. If budgets are tight initially, you might have to do it all yourself anyway and bear in mind that nowadays rooms are expected to be cleaned to a very high standard.” You should expect to work around five and half hours a day on a changeover, from laying tables, preparing and washing up breakfast to changing bedding.
3. Identify which part of the property will be your private home
Says Caroline: “When buying a house to B&B, sort out your own accommodation first so that the business is secondary to family life. Our children have left home so we let out two rooms in our house and guests really become part of our family. We have met so many inspirational people that way, but other B&Bs have separate entrances so guests don’t impinge on their homelife.”
4. Research reasons for guests to visit
It’s important to work out why people are going to stay with you ie: Who your potential customers are. For example, Caroline’s B&B business in Somerset, is near wedding venues, galleries like Hauser and Wirth, independent, acclaimed restaurants like At The Chapel restaurant and other independent shops like The FMLY Store. Plus the town is a very up-and-coming place to visit, often appearing in travel features in the national press, so she has a wealth of wedding parties and tourists to market to.
The kitchen plays a key role in any B&B. This one at Clanville Manor in Castle Cary, Somerset, is where many breakfasts have been prepared.
5. Play at being a guest yourself.
Before you move to an area, do your research and go and stay at local B&Bs, or if you are thinking of buying an existing business, read reviews and stay there yourself. Ask questions. “We are very lucky that businesses in Bruton are very happy to help,” says Caroline, which is a good sign for an area as it means independent businesses will support each other.
“Overall,” concludes Caroline, “running a B&B business is a very positive experience and you can certainly make a nice salary from it. It’s also flexible – we go abroad for four months of the year and open up again when we come back.”
Three Bed and Breakfast Businesses to Buy Today
If you love the idea of running a guesthouse but you'd rather not start a B&B from scratch, then an alternative is to buy an existing business. We currently have three for sale, all in Somerset.
Grade II listed, six bedroom house with ancillary accommodation in striking distance of Bath, Bristol, Frome and Wells which has an additional 4 outbuildings offering further sleeping space and a past with royal connections.
The Old Parsonage in Farrington Gurney is well-located for visitors travelling to events in Bath, Frome and Bristol
A longtime family home, with parts dating back to the 1600s, this five bedroomed Somerset farmhouse has fabulous views, a swimming pool and established gardens. It also has an attached two bedroom cottage that's currently being used for a successful Air BnB business, although in the past the current owners have also let out several rooms in the main house as B&B.
Clanville Manor in Castle Cary is ideally placed to visit Glastonbury and Bruton
Located just outside Bruton in Somerset, this eight bedroomed home is set up to run as a B&B, although the current owners only operate a successful tearoom there currently. Blessed with picturesque gardens, wine cellar and and a micro-hydro electricity generator too. This property is currently under offer April 2019
Cole Manor near Bruton has a successful tearoom but is also set up to run as a B&B
Compiled by Cath Rapley on behalf of Lodestone Property. To book a viewing at any of our properties please go to our website where we have further information and also other houses for sale in Somerset, many of which have annexe cottages or outbuidlings that could be rented out as holiday accommodation.