By Yvonne Halling – Owner of Les Molyneux and Bed & Breakfast coach 

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When I started my B&B in 2001, I had no clue about business or how to run one.

I just thought that my love of meeting people, entertaining, and keeping a lovely clean home would be enough, and that people would flock to my door! Why wouldn’t they? Well they didn’t and here’s the biggest reasons why they don’t.

The 3 Big Mistakes I made and I see many other B&B owners make are:

Big mistake No. 1

It’s not enough to be brilliant at all that, you’ve also got to learn about marketing, otherwise the best kept garden, kitchen, bedrooms etc. is going to be completely wasted unless people know about you. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the marketing is even more important than the actual “product” you create, although of course, it’s important.

And here’s the thing, when you start learning about marketing and you figure out what 2 or 3 things actually work for you, you’ll be amazed at how excited you’ll feel about your business. It’s kind of addictive actually! When you see something working, you just want to do more of it.

Which leads me to my next Big Mistake No. 2

I printed out a gazillion leaflets and distributed them locally when my market is international, but I hadn’t figured that one out at that stage! Which brings me to knowing your market, and your ideal guest.

Once I’d figured out that I wasn’t much use to domestic travellers (an Englishwoman in France, telling the French about their country! No!) I concentrated on who I could best serve and add value to. I went online, and I found them, and the rest is history as they say!

I still print up a few leaflets for the local champagne houses and other local businesses who serve international customers, but I no longer go and plonk them anywhere and everywhere. They are expensive, and they didn’t bring me any business.

Think about where your business comes from primarily, and then focus on those channels only and save yourself a fortune on printed leaflets.

Spent too much money on my “product” that is, the rooms, the accessories, the little touches, when what guests really want is an experience. They will not remember the toiletries, the flowers, the chocolates as much as they will remember the feeling they had while they were with you.

Focus instead of creating an atmosphere of love, kindness, laughter and lightness, exuding from yourself and your team. This is “inside” work that might need to be done on yourself. If there’s any trace of resentment or annoyance while you’re in the company of your guests, they will feel it.

This is very over-looked in the hospitality world. We need to be happy, so that the people around us can feel happy too.

And finally, Big Mistake No. 3

I was over-delivering.

In my attempt to please my guests, I forgot about my accounting.

Just an extra bottle of champagne here, and extra breakfast supplies there, and yes, I’ll be your taxi service because you don’t want to drink and drive, etc. etc. meant that my profit margin was becoming smaller and smaller.

It’s lovely to be able to offer extra champagne or wine, bigger and better breakfasts, and be that occasional taxi-service, and so I put my prices up. And as my confidence grew with each little increase, and my sense of my own value grew, I just kept going. One year, I put my prices up three times! So now I can give a great service, but my books balance too!

There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the year, and finding that you haven’t made any profit.

If you’re running your B&B as a business, rather than a hobby, then it’s essential to make a profit. Otherwise, you’re working for nothing. Oh and another thing, no-one noticed my price increases, except me!

Need some help figuring it out in your B&B business? Contact me here.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).