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Cottages, Hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District

So you still want to run a B&B?!

A light hearted look at setting up and running a B&B or guest house

Setting up and Running a Bed and Breakfast or Guest House (continued)

Please note the views expressed in this article represent the views of the author and in no way reflect the official view of or Helvellyn Consulting. If you are looking to set up a holiday accommodation business and are in need of guidance, please seek professional assistance.

Why do you want to run a B&B? -  Size IS Important - Location - My House! - Pricing - Breakfasts - Extras - Decor - 2 night stays - Evening meals - Marigolds - Arrivals - Dogs - Plumber/electrician - Advertising - Inspections and Grading - Financials - Health & Safety - Do you still want to run a B&B - A day in the life

Get a good plumber/electrician

You will soon become adept at unblocking u-bends and fixing leaking toilets, but it’s worth making sure you have someone on call locally that can sort out problems as and when they arrive – it’s a little difficult to tell you new guests “here is your room, please don’t use the loo as it’s broken!”.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

The internet is a wonderful thing. In the old days you’d need to wait for a year before the new brochures were produced and sent out with your details on them. Now you can build a website yourself and be out there advertising the same day. Well almost. Do have your own website, it’s cheap (or should be) and in the long term will give you the best results (or should do if it’s optimised) but also do advertise on other sites, especially initially. A good test is to search in google and Yahoo for “B&B in your area” and see who comes up on the front page. That’s where you want to be. See more on advertising your B&B on this site. See more on website design and search engine optimisation for B&Bs and Guest Houses.

Inspections and Grading – is it worth it?

Some people hold great store in being “5 star” recognised and it certainly helps justify your pricing! However the criteria used by the inspection teams can vary and sometimes it’s better to have no grading than one of one or two stars/diamonds/crowns. So check out the criteria and then compare to what you have available – for example some rating companies will expect each bedroom to have a separate dressing table, wardrobe, 2 chairs, and seemingly an on tap butler to achieve a 4 star rating. It’s unlikely all of your rooms are big enough to accommodate all that, and if they are why not put in an extra bed and turn it into a family room!

Boring but important – the financials

When doing your business model and forecasting it is important to be realistic, check out the local competition, and include all the relevant costs. Don’t forget business rates (which vary greatly by local council), and increase your utility bills exponentially on the basis that you will always get guests how turn the radiator up full so they can open the window! Come up with a conservative estimate on occupancy and make sure you can cover your costs at that level – anything on top is a bonus! Don’t forget you will need proper Insurance including guest liability. Seek professional help at least for your first year of accounts – keep all receipts and offset as much as possible!

Boring but important – Health & Safety

Gone are the days when you cook breakfast with your cat on your shoulder, the dog bowl next to eh bacon, and a cigarette drooping into the frying pan. Your local council will probably inspect your premises and expect you to have attended at least a foundation course in Basic Food Hygiene (not an exam to be feared greatly!). Also if you have an old property with quirky doors on the bedrooms that don’t fit properly then forget it – you need solid self-closing fire-doors that will keep smacking you in the back when you’re trying to walk in and out with the washing! You will also need an adequate fire system. Your local fire brigade should offer a free consultation service – so make the most of it!

Do you still want to run a B&B

I hope the answer it yes!  Focusing on the negatives is more fun but also should hopefully ensure you go into life as a B&B owner with your eyes wide open. It can be fun and very rewarding – there’s nothing like being told “you have a wonderful house”, “that was a wonderful breakfast”, “we can’t wait to tall all our friends about this place”. If you’d like to know more on any of the aspects of this article please feel free to contact the author.

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Why do you want to run a B&B? -  Size IS Important - Location - My House! - Pricing - Breakfasts - Extras - Decor - 2 night stays - Evening meals - Marigolds - Arrivals - Dogs - Plumber/electrician - Advertising - Inspections and Grading - Financials - Health & Safety - Do you still want to run a B&B - A day in the life

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Self Catering in Cumbria Love Walking in the Lake District and fancy a challenge?  Why not take part in the annual Patterdale Parish Boundary Walk.  All for charity and a great day!