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Whose Job Is It? - Assigning Duties at a Bed and Breakfast

Part of a worksheet series for aspiring bed and breakfast innkeepers


Running a bed and breakfast takes a lot of work. It may sound glamorous, but it will mean some long hard hours for the hosts.

One person cannot do it alone. You will need help. If family members are present, can you persuade them to pitch in? Unless you are independently wealthy, you probably will not be able to hire outside help when you begin your business.

Use this list to determine who will do the following types of activities -- you, your spouse, your children, or someone else. This is not an all-inclusive list. If it all happens to be you, then some decisions will need to be made on how to cope with it all if you are to open and stay in business.

Who in your family will:

  • Prepare breakfast?
  • Plan meals?
  • Shop for food and other supplies?
  • Clean up after meals?
  • Do the household repairs and maintenance?
  • Organize social activities and coordinate day to day activities?
  • Pay the bills and keep the business records?
  • Do the laundry?
  • Vacuum the house and do other cleaning tasks?
  • Take care of landscaping and yardwork?
  • Clean the guest rooms?
  • Clean the bathrooms?
  • Take care of the "special touches"?
  • Take guest reservations?
  • Play the major role of host or hostess?
  • Keep up-to-date on community activities for guests?
  • Handle advertising and publicity?
  • Deal with the many unplanned incidents which will happen?
  • Other?

If the answer is you in too many cases, start thinking about making alternate plans... fast! Or reconsider starting a bed and breakfast if you expect to still have a life!

In any case, talk about these jobs with your family, asking the following questions:

  • Who can help out?
  • Who has the skills?
  • Will you be able to afford to hire extra help?
At a small bed and breakfast, hired help is usually out of the question if you want to make any money at all. Perhaps you can find someone willing to work with you as an intern from time to time, but it's very unlikely this would be a permanent arrangement. You will have to set the standards you expect and they will need to be met by any help you hire. And this will be another of your jobs!

This series of worksheets and information was originally written by Eleanor Ames, a Certified Family Consumer Sciences professional and a faculty member at Ohio State University for 28 years. With her husband, she runs the Bluemont Bed and Breakfast in Luray, Virginia. Many thanks to Eleanor for her gracious permission to reprint them here. Some content has been edited, and links to related features on this site have been added to Eleanor's original text.

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