Running a B&B is a great way to liberate yourself from the rat-race or to earn a few pounds to supplement a pension. While you need to make the sums work and make some changes to turn your home into a B&B, a more important consideration before you take the plunge might be to double-check you are going to be suited to the life.
Are you fiercely house-proud?
Of course your house needs to be spotless and yes, you’ll probably find yourself redecorating the bedrooms every other year but the reality is that not everyone is temperamentally suited to having hoards of strangers flocking through their house, trampling mud into the carpets and spilling red wine on the bed sheets.
Or inspecting their bookshelf and putting the books back in the wrong order.
Or commenting loudly on how they don’t like the curtains in your dining room.
Or… well, you get the picture.
If you’re the sort of person that leaves the clear plastic protector on their sofa then life as a B&B owner might not be for you.
Make money by opening your home up to guests
Are you detail oriented?
Would you bin an entire cooked breakfast and start over because the fried egg was overcooked? Or run downstairs to fetch a clean duvet cover because there is an almost microscopic stain in one corner on the one on the bed you’ve just spent time and effort making?
If so then your B&B will be a huge success.
If not, then you might face a lot of long, lonely evenings bemoaning the sort of nit-picky, whinging guests who leave critical reviews on TripAdvisor.
Are you a people person?
Because you’ll be meeting new people (people you need to get on with as a matter of importance) every single day, you’ll hate living in a B&B if you’re not a people person.
This is easily the most important character trait you’ll need if you and your business are to flourish.
On the other hand, if you hate the idea of meeting strangers or can’t put a smile on your face when the dog has just been sick in the hallway, the electricity has just gone off and you’ve forgotten to buy bacon, then you might not be suited to the hospitality business.
How are you with bureaucracy?
Do petty regulations drive you mad? Do you wince at the thought of completing a risk assessment? How do you feel about strangers judging your standards of cleanliness?
I only ask because there is an awful lot of form filling involved in running your own B&B.
Getting a star rating, for example, involves following pages and pages of detailed, some might say pedantic, advice: a four-star quality rating demands a minimum of six coat hangers per person per room, while you can forget a five-star rating if you’re not prepared to put cotton wool balls and ear buds in each bathroom.
As a result, you may prefer not to bother, and instead rely on TripAdvisor to inform potential guests on what they can expect.
An alcohol licence comes with its own perils too. Forget eighteen, the police here insist on us checking the identification and birth date of everyone and anyone who looks under twenty-five. It is very irritating.
Do you enjoy autonomy?
On a more positive note, if you enjoy autonomy and the freedom to do as you see fit then you’ll find life as B&B proprietor very rewarding.
My wife and I love sitting down over a mug of coffee and planning the changes we think we should make. We then just get up and make them; no strategy meetings, no minutes, no work-shy colleagues to cajole (well, only me when I’m feeling grumpy and decaffeinated) just the freedom to get on with the job in hand.
You shouldn’t underestimate how good this feels. So does being able to bunk off for a couple of hours and disappear into the hills with the dog and a picnic.
We’ve managed to make every single school play and assembly too. For us, that is priceless.
If you enjoy Carlton's inimitable style of writing, you'll love his motoring column - to have each one delivered straight to your door every month, subscribe to Saga Magazine today!