Thinking of Opening a Bed & Breakfast?: B&B Ownership – A Business That Shouldn’t Feel Like One

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For most Bed-and-Breakfast operators, theirs is work that pays off not so much financially, but socially, mentally and even spiritually.

The B&B Operator Personality

Typically, the owner of a B&B is more often a couple than an individual. As Pete and Nancy Fleck of Jackson Falls Schoolhouse in Milford, Ontario point out, one opens a B&B not to get rich. Often, one of the operators will still maintain a full or part time job. If the B&B is popular with regular bookings, it can make a substantial contribution to the upkeep of a home.

But in the end, you do it because you love meeting people and are proud of not only of your house, but the area in which you live. In fact, most B&B operators will tell you that being in the hospitality and tourism industry they are first line ambassadors for their village, town or region. So keeping up with local attractions, restaurants and events is a must.

The Best Setup for a Successful B&B

The number one “must do”, with which many B&B owners agree, is setting aside a private space. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate setup. A bed/sitting area, will do and of course, with its own bathroom. It’s a place where operators can “hide” for time out! This of course is not only for the benefit of the owner but also the guests.

Dorothy and George Collin of Maplecrest in Fergus, Ontario realize, as do most North American B&B operators, Europeans are used to “pensione” styled accommodations, filled with kitchen aromas, family chats and bathrooms located down the hallway. North Americans are more self-conscious and don’t want to feel like they are intruding upon one’s private home.

This brings up the second most important feature that promotes a successful B&B…private baths.

Private Baths Are a Big Plus

The issue of being able to provide each room with its own en-suite bath is going to depend not only on budget but also the physical set up. Where city Victorian brownstones often only have room for a master with en-suite plus three bedrooms and a shared bath, rural B&B’s located in old, large renovated buildings such as Drew House (located in the town of Elora, Ontario) have different options.

Although one can argue that Drew House is more of a small inn rather than a B&B, owners Kathleen Stanley & Roger Dufau, lucked out when they purchased this property. The primary house where the couple has their own suite on the upper level, there are a few rooms on the second and a main floor sitting area. However, the big bonus was and still is, that the property came with stables. The upper level of this limestone building has been renovated into individual rooms with separate baths. The bottom level is one large open area, where not only do guests dine but Roger holds cooking classes and small events.

Stay Flexible

Although remaining flexible is a plus in many occupations, when it comes to operating a B&B it can be a major sales feature. The average patron to a B&B isn’t a family with young children or “partiers” in town for a rock concert. Usually patrons are mature individuals attracted to the quaint, homey atmosphere found only in a B&B. They are there to “meet the natives”. So be prepared for lengthy chats, check-ins that revolve around the set up schedule of the annual arts and crafts fair, plus special dietary needs. If one always keeps this in mind then operating a B&B will feel less like a business and more like willingly entertaining new and lost friends!