So, you want to retire but you don’t want to fritter away you pension plan fund. Why not run a bed & breakfast? Really! Will it be the ultimate retirement dream or a complete nightmare? Well its all in the way you approach it!
Many of those who are about to enter retirement will have a romantic notion of owning a business such as a B&B, pub or restaurant. Thats perfectly normal – even very enterprising, however, there is a danger of underestimating the challenge running a B&B presents.
We have all watched shows such as Four in a Bed, where many owners of small B&Bs appear to have their head in the clouds when it comes to running a successful business.
I lose count of those I have spoken with, how entered the industry with dreams of social gatherings, showing off their homes and towns and inspiring guests to visit all the local attractions – that great, but what about all those rooms you’ll have to clean each day, the breakfasts you’ll need to cook and the small DIY tasks required on a constant basis.
Many simply arent prepared for what can turn out to be a 24 hour, seven days a week job, pandering to your customers’ every need. At least, during the summer months – then you get to rest, yes? Oh, have you thought about those long winter months, where you see a real lull in your business?
Guests are very often really quite picky – in the age of the internet, any bad reviews are there for all to see, so it is essential you get your bed and breakfast to the standard you want and are comfortable to maintain and then work on the pricing and booking policies – get these right and you are half way to running a successful business.
According to statistics from Smarta Business School, the B&B sector turns over £2billion per year, making it 28 per cent larger than the low-cost hotel sector, and 35 per cent of the size of the hotel sector.
Karen Thorne has run Hopton House B&B in Shropshire for the last 10 years and heads a popular two day course for wannabe B&B owners.
“Running any B&B is hard work and one of 8-12 rooms is most definitely a full-time job for two people and you’d need other staff to help you.
Guests may need to leave early, arrive late, have an emergencies that need dealing with in the night. You’ll need to be there to greet guests, make breakfasts, clean rooms, check people out. Unless you employ a receptionist this can seriously impact your retirement social life.
As with many businesses, B&Bs have suffered during the recession, but anecdotal evidence seems to show that business has improved this summer.
However, B&Bs are particularly prone to external factors such as the economy, weather and even occasional outbreak of foot and mouth. So it’s worth bearing in mind that one good year doesn’t mean the next will be the same.
The most important thing to consider is location. Do your research, understand the area you want to set up in, find out the average occupancy rates, get to know your potential market and set up a B&B that meets its needs.
While B&Bs in some areas are thriving, others are not doing so well. And bear in mind that many B&Bs are very seasonal.
B&B owners work at full steam all summer and things can quiet down in the winter months – again dependent on location.”
It’s important to realise that any size of B&B is governed by current legislation.
For example, you need to understand if you need entertainment licenses if you play music to guests over breakfast and what you do if a guest is a no show.
Why not pick up a copy of the VisitEngland Pink Book – Legislation for Tourism Accommodation.
The 2014 version has recently been published and can be purchased by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org