Things to consider when buying a B&B

I’m writing now with a few thoughts to consider if you’re searching for a property specifically to start up a B&B business.

Buying an existing B&B should make it easier to find finance for the venture and identify your customer base.  Either way, existing businesses or a house to convert for B&B use, it’s vital that you check out: the sound proofing between all the rooms, current or potential compliance with fire regulations, the water pressure is sufficient for every bath/shower to be used at the same time and that the property has good coverage for mobile phone signals.

For a house to convert to B&B use you’ll need to work out who your customers are most likely to be and ensure the facilities to meet their needs are close at hand, access to public transport for city dwellers and the closeness to public footpaths for properties on popular walking routes.  It makes sense to consider houses that are ‘top heavy’ with bedrooms but you need ensure the room where you’re going to serve breakfast is large enough to accommodate your maximum number of guests.  The size of the prospective kitchen will also need to reflect the numbers it will be catering for with cupboards for the extra china, glass, and linen etc.

If your business is in a busy town or city you’ll be more likely to attract customers throughout the year both overseas tourists and business visitors.  Being close to the public transport system will be important and also consider where your guests will be able to park.  Premises in remote parts of Wales and Scotland do well during the summer months and you might consider additional alternative accommodation such as Shepherd’s Huts, Yurts or sophisticated tree houses to increase your turnover.  Any property with an Annexe makes absolute sense; if it has two storeys and is currently a single unit consider dividing it into two en-suite bedrooms to increase your income stream.  Providing a DIY breakfast is an option you could consider here.

Living in a small town brings customers who are visiting families and friends;  as do functions in the local church and nearby houses which provide venues for weddings.  If you’re close to a major road you’ll be able to offer accommodation to people wanting a break in a long journey.   Rural B&Bs hoping for year round customers will need to make themselves into a ‘destination’ business building on a reputation for luxury accommodation and gourmet breakfasts.

What we’d all like as accommodation providers is a house close to a popular Visitor Attraction, and what we find is the area is full of existing hotels and B&Bs.  If you find your dream home beside Lake Windermere check with the local Tourist Office and establish whether the demand for accommodation is already being met.  Look carefully at the competition and see if you can find a niche in what will already be a competitive market.  Bear in mind that not all the top attractions mean that visitors stop over nearby, Stonehenge can be seen en-route to a trip to Cornwall.

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