Like me, you run a busy B&B. Like me, you love what you do, but occasionally you feel stuck at home, chained to the beds–not in a sexy bodice ripper sort of way, but more like strip sheets, remake, launder. If this sounds like you, there’s help on the way!
Bed and breakfast is a positively great idea, wonderful for guests, financially lucrative for the host-not the get rich quick kind of lucrative, but the slow and steady type.
The problem is, said host has to actually be in residence in order for the business to prosper. Ideally, there should be hours in the afternoon and evening when one is free–it is, after all, bed and breakfast.
But there’s a ton of hidden stuff that has to be done–socializing with guests, mountains of laundry, being accessible for bookings, baking the cookies that add that special ambiance, and trying to keep the entire house clean and dusted, and the grounds attractive. Time consuming activities, that more often than not keep the host within the house. In other words, trapped by the very thing she assumed would give her freedom.
If this catch twenty two go round sounds like you, there are ways around it.
1. Hire a teen to come in after school and on weekends for an hour or so to fold laundry, vacuum and dust. Ironing pillow cases can be exciting to a nine year old who’ll appreciate the five bucks you pay him or her.
2. Spend one entire day mixing cookies–mold them and freeze unbaked on cookie sheets. Once they’re hard, throw them in labelled freezer bags. Then you can whip out however many you need and bake them in ten or fifteen minutes.
3. Set up an app on your I Phone that keeps track of bookings, so that you can be out and still have access to your calender and your phone queries.
4. Schedule time off. In the beginning, turning down bookings is inconceivable, but as you become more established, taking a day off here and there is essential. “I’m so sorry, I’m fully booked, please try me again when you’re in the area,” may be a white lie, but it’s also a mental health ploy.
5. Even if you can’t go out, enjoy your friends at home. Invite them over for a simple lunch, have long phone conversations, use Skype to stay in touch.
6. Plan ahead for one extended holiday a year–Christmas is a good time, because most travelers prefer to be at home. Leave a message on the machine, something like, “Bed and Breakfast is closed from December 20th to January 2nd for repairs to the proprietor.”
7. Involve your family and your neighbors. You might find Aunt Hortense would love to run the business while you take an afternoon or evening off.
8. Remember why you got into this business in the first place, and take time to thoroughly enjoy your guests. Some of them might like to join you for an evening walk or bike ride, or a morning stroll after breakfast.
Running a bed and breakfast can be physically and emotionally draining. Remember that your good health and happiness are your responsibility. You know the advice that the stewardess gives about the oxygen masks? Put yours in place first, and then tend to others.
Same goes with a home based business like bed and breakfast. You don’t want to become bored and isolated and burned out. Using a little creativity and a touch of self preservation, you can find ways to keep your initial enthusiasm at it’s peak.
Your guests will benefit, and so will you.