How we made our business boom!
Charlotte and Brian Murray run the highly-rated B&B, The Old Parsonage in Farrington Gurney, Somerset, which has 5 stars on Trip Advisor. They moved to the area 11 years ago, for family reasons, but now circumstances have changed they are looking to pass the fruits of their hard work onto the right people… To help find the next owners, we asked Charlotte what she thought the 5 tips to building a successful guest house business are and why their property is such a find…
The Old Parsonage, Farrington Gurney
Do it for the right reasons.
“We started running B&Bs in 1987 when property was going bananas" begins Charlotte, "and I wondered how we could buy a much nicer family home than we could afford. By running a B&B I realised we could put lots of the costs against the business.” You can also choose when you want to work and also put your other skills to good use, like marketing or catering, as she explains: “I had cooked professionally and offered suppers when I began.” We assume she was also a dab hand at cooking breakfasts too!
The breakfast table
Choose or create the right flow– for you
“It’s very important to create the right layout for your own convenience,” says Charlotte, “so that you can separate your family life from guests.” One of the big advantages of The Old Parsonage is that it has two staircases, so that one never has to overlap with the other. “If I want to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night, for example, I can just slip down the back stairs” says Charlotte.
There are two staircases in The Old Parsonage
Bathrooms are essential
“Nowadays everyone is looking for the facilities of a hotel – so shared bathrooms are a no-no. “ says Charlotte. The couple were lucky with The Old Parsonage as this listed building, which had once been owned by The Duchy of Cornwall, had an unusually large number of bathrooms – three ensuite with the five bedrooms upstairs and a separate but sole-use bathroom for a studio guest room downstairs. There are also bathrooms with the four annexe rooms in the grounds.
Three of the five bedrooms in the main house are ensuite
Location is paramount
Being slap-bang in a busy area for visitors and your own family life is important emphasises Charlotte: “When we first moved here Brian was still working abroad quite a lot, so he needed to be near an airport and this is only 25 minutes away.” The Old Parsonage is set-back from the A37 which has proved invaluable for bookings. “It’s is a winner” she explains, “because you also have passing trade for those travelling down to Devon and Cornwall from the Midlands. It’s also located at the centre of a perfect triangle between Bath, Bristol and Wells (all about 15-20 minutes away), so there is so much on the doorstep for guests to do.”
Keep your online presence up-to-date
“We keep the website and Facebook page fresh with all the festivals and food and drink events in the area,” says Charlotte – and in Somerset there are many, which further adds to the attraction of staying here. It’s also important to be listed on booking sites like Booking.com (the biggest and best according to Charlotte) as they will always rank higher than your own website on Google – so they find you there and then go to your own social media for further info.
The Old Parsonage has annexes in outbuildings for further guest accommodation
3 WAYS TO TOP TRIP ADVISOR
- Make sure everything works every day, the whole time - Reviewers will mark you down if the facilities are not up to scratch.
- Make sure you excel in all the review criteria - On sites like Booking.com, guests receive lists with tick boxes as reviews, on Trip Advisor they receive a blank box. To ensure you get great reviews, make sure you are 10/10 for all of the choices they receive.
- Ensure your hosting is beyond brilliant - Charlotte and Brian regularly receive rave reviews about their hosting. They give their visitors a warm welcome with a cup of tea and plenty of details about the varied history of the house, which was once visited by Edward VIII. The Murrays are also always a mine of information the local area, which always impresses guests. To read the reviews click here