When considering making a career change and purchasing a bed and breakfast, the benefits are often front-of-mind: working for yourself, not having a commute, doing things you enjoy such as decorating and baking, and having good conversations with people from all over the world. But it's not all tea and muffins (although you will wash lots of tea cups and muffin pans). There are also some surprises you get when you enter the profession that require serious consideration.
While the aspects that make the profession challenging will be different for everyone, I'll be blogging periodically here about the surprises I encountered during the years in which I owned an inn in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I invite other innkeepers (past or present) to join the conversations as well by commenting below.
Surprise Number 1: Lack of Predictability
When you're the keeper of a multitude of toilets and a grand old historic house that's constantly filled with new and varied people, things don't often go as planned. You might set aside the day to work in the garden only to find out that your wireless Internet router has given up the ghost and a replacement is an hour's drive away. Or you might like to get caught up on your bookkeeping in the afternoon, but it just seems like the doorbell won't stop ringing with people asking to see your available rooms.
I still remember the time I was rushing off to a job interview (yes, having a second job is often a necessity when owning an inn), and I pulled open the refrigerator door too quickly, sending 18 fresh fruit parfaits crashing to the floor 10 minutes before my wife was to serve breakfast. She glared (because screaming is definitely not B&B friendly), chased me out and whipped up a replacement course just in time, but that was certainly not the way we planned the morning to go.
So you really need a "go-with-the-flow" attitude to be a success in this business -- especially when things, like water in the third-floor shower, don't flow. There are just going to be days where you constantly have to reshuffle your schedule and sometimes throw it out the window altogether, while making sure you remain accessible, friendly and relaxed while dealing with your guests. It can all be incredibly energizing and, when getting into bed at night, you'll often be amazed at what you accomplished, but the path to each day's end is rarely a straight line!
See other tips about running an inn here.
Remember, if you're a past or present innkeeper, please feel free to share your innkeeping surprises with us below!
ImageÂCourtesy of Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife/Flickr