Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are you cut out to be an innkeeper?

People always tell me I must really be a "people person" to run a B&B.  I think that must be true for most any job that deals with the public. But opening your home to people on an ongoing basis, cooking and cleaning up after guests day in and day out requires a more precise set of skills.

More than anything, a well suited innkeeper must be a homebody. It is a career choice that will keep you reined in most days and nights. This was great for me as I used to plan out my weeks in my former life by running all the errands on one day so I could stay home the other six to clean, cook, garden and just piddle around. My idea of heaven would be to find someone who could be trusted to do all my shopping for me (including clothes...especially clothes!) Since Mike now does most of the grocery shopping and I can buy most everything else on-line, I am half way there.

It helps if you are good at putting people at ease, making them feel welcome in your home and creating a comfortable environment. I knew I was good at this as our house was where all the kids like to come hang out and where my friends loved to come to relax.

You need to be tolerant.  Tolerant of others habits, religion, politics, privacy needs, food issues and questions. If you grew up in a very large dysfunctional family you have been well trained for the life of an innkeeper.

People will ask you every day why you wanted to do this.  On good days I tell the whole story of how the inn came to be and on bad days I say I won it in a poker game.

You will use the older sheets, the older towels, the half used soap and toilet paper for yourself.  Your meals and naps will be interupted on a regular basis by check-ins, phone calls for reservations and guests who need help with everything from directions, reservations or information on how to work the DVD player.

Adaptability and a great live-in handyman are a must. If it is going to break, quit working or start smelling, it will do it when you have a full house. You need to be able to roll with the punches with a big old smile on your face and do the best you can to keep folks comfortable.  If all else fails, you may have to get them a room at the nearest place down the road.

The payoff for me comes in many forms. It can be as simple as the call, "We're home" from guests coming in the front door.  Or, people telling you they were wondering what the cookies would be today as they were driving in. It can be an admission that someone opens our web site when they are having a stressfull day because it helps them relax. I love it when the house starts off on Friday with a bunch of strangers and ends on Suday morning with lots of friends exchanging email addresses and business cards.

But my absolutely favorite story happened a few years after we had been open.  I was in the Common Room visiting with several guests and one of them noticed someone had left their shoes in the entry hall.  She asked me if it didn't bother me having people leaving their stuff all around. No, I said, to the contrary.  I love it when that happens as it lets me know that people really feel at home. 

I'm not sure who overheard or how the word was passed around, but the next morning when I came out to turn on the lights there were 16 pair of shoes all lined up around the entry hall.  To me it was like a standing ovation.


  1. Rhonda,
    I love this post. It shows just a small amount of what it takes to be a B&B owner and just how much you put into making it a success. I remember when we owned the pub in Belgium people would always comment on "what a fun job" thinking all we did was stand around serve drinks and food all day and have fun. lol
    You guys have always done an amazing job with your home and making people so comfortable and tending to their needs. That is why you have such a great return of past guests as well as new ones from word of mouth.
    Wish we were closer and could come for a weekend away to that amazing place called "Mountain Thyme". All the best from France and Kuwait, Danielle and Andrew

  2. Thanks for those kind words.

    We miss you guys! Good to hear from you.

  3. Ok. The shoe thing got me. Thanks for being aware of what you are good at and letting us all enjoy it. You are good, Rhonda.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.