10 things I have learned about running a B&B

It has been just over a year since I started running the B&B and in that time I have learnt so much about the place. My management skills have been tested and I have been incredibly surprised by the amount of admin and jumping through hoops which comes with the job. I thought I would write about the top ten things I have learned in 2015.

1. Meeting people is exciting
I love meeting new people. Finding out who they are and the kind of things they like is really lovely. It's something I have always enjoyed, so running a B&B fits in well with that. We get people from all different walks of life, who are visiting for so many different reasons. Throughout the summer, our Friday nights are filled with cyclists and Saturday nights are filled with walkers or wedding guests. I love hearing about people and their lives. Whenever our guests have children, ours are so excited. They have played with children from China, Italy, Australia, Canada, France and the UK this year. Language just isn't a barrier when you're young!

2. I need to take a day off
Yeah. Obvious you'd think! Nope, not to me! Living and working in the same house means there is a never ending stream of things to do. I don't take lunch breaks. I regularly work from 6am until 10.30pm. Weekends and school holidays are my busiest time and until very recently, I didn't take a day off. 2015 was been so busy and I didn't have much time at all to think about me and the impact this has on me if I do not rest and take some time out occasionally. In 2016 I shall be doing my utmost to take a day off every week.


3. Cleaning toilets is not fun
No matter how many toilets I have to clean (five if you want to know), I will never, ever enjoy that task. Nor will I enjoy cleaning bodily fluids or vomit from anywhere. It's just not me! Having said that, I obviously do it because if I didn't, no one would ever come and stay! The horrible discoveries I have made in bedrooms since starting this job have made me see people in a very different light!

4. Cooking breakfast is rewarding
Who knew I would love cooking breakfast! It's definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the job. When you get a clean plate back from the dining room, you feel like you have achieved something! Going the extra mile for guests and making different breakfasts for everyone is a challenge, but it's the kind of challenge which keeps me on my toes. My children have got a lot better at helping out and if I'm by myself, they often help out by serving breakfast and toast. There have been no dropped breakfasts yet!

5. You are always on call
People arrive late. Sometimes very late. Regularly at the weekend guests do not arrive until 8, 9 or 10pm. Sometimes after 11pm. This is the time I would like to spend relaxing with a glass of wine, not waiting for people to turn up. Enquiries are made all day long. Email enquiries at midnight. Phone calls at 10pm. AirBnB requests come through when I am away or on holiday and I have to respond within 24 hours. There are no 'out of hours' when you run a B&B.

6. I feel guilty about the amount of time I get with my children
I guess I hadn't really considered this part. When we first moved here my daughter hadn't started school, so I got to spend a lot more time with her. Now she's at school, I only really see both of them at the weekend and during the holidays, both of which are now my busiest times. I need to look at taking occasional weekends off just to spend time with my children, because I do quite like their company (sometimes)!

7. Holidays are important
Before I started running the B&B, we always went away to my aunt's house for our holidays. It's a wonderful space and very relaxing. However, you still have to do the cooking and cleaning and there is no extra help with childcare. Last year we went on our first ever family holiday abroad in a hotel and it was such a treat. Having all our meals cooked, the children were kept entertained and loved every minute. This year we will definitely be booking another break to a hotel and I can't wait to relax like that again.

8. I need more time
The garden grew a lot of weeds in 2015. I also grew a lot of vegetables and fruit, but fundamentally the garden looks awful currently. I simply don't have enough time to do everything and last year the thing which suffered is the garden. I am hopefully more prepared for the amount of work which needs doing this year!


9. I say yes too often!
I hope that I am now learning to say no occasionally as I have a habit of making life difficult for myself. During the week my husband is at work, as is my business partner, so I am alone with the children and the B&B. You would think this would mean I am careful about how many people I take in. Nope. I have juggled a cooked breakfast for 11 guests and the school run at the same time. I have listened to my son reading his school book whilst I cook bacon. It's not great for either the guests, my children or me. So I am learning to say no occasionally. Not to take on too much, to stretch myself too thinly.

10. You can't please everyone
This has been a tough one to learn, and something which although it happened in September, still stings a bit now. After bending over backwards all weekend for one guest and her seemingly loving the place, she left us an awful review on Trip Advisor. I don't think people realise how detrimental one bad review can be to a small business. Had she told me she was unhappy, I could have rectified all the problems on her first night here. It has been tough to learn that no matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone. Sadly she wasn't someone who was going to be pleased whatever I had done.

The vast majority of our guests are incredibly happy during their stay. Often I find them sitting in the living room in their pyjamas drinking wine. The other day they all came down to breakfast in their pyjamas. To me this is a huge sign that they feel welcomed and relaxed, which means I am doing something right!



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