Let’s look at what it takes to be a successful small business owner. Everyone will tell you that location is the most important but what goes into location? Is the B and B located in a place where people will come and stay overnight or several nights? Lancaster County is a destination for many visitors. Over 6 million visitors come to this area to see the Amish life, shop, go to theaters, dine at the variety of restaurants, bike, discover covered bridges and much more. Does the B and B have other B and B’s nearby that would attract guests? Lancaster County has over 150 B and B’s as well as guest houses and numerous motels and hotels. The B and B’s in this County attract about 6% of the 6 million visitors. The average number of rooms of the B and B’s is about 4.5 rooms which would give each B and B a potential of 2400 guests for the year. Is the B and B located near the most popular attractions and sites? Since Lancaster County is big, it is helpful for a B and B to be near where the majority of visitors want to go and visit. The suburbs around the City of Lancaster offer the best location for guests. The time to travel to most of the most popular sites and venues need to be convenient and close. Is the B and B situated in a residential, urban or country setting? Most visitors to the County want to be in a area outside a city setting. They may visit the thriving downtown areas to shop, dine or browse but a pastoral setting with farms and well-maintained homes around the B and B would be most in demand. Is the B and B an attractive building with grounds that are welcoming? First impressions are ones that register with everyone. The B and B must strike the visitor as a place they want to visit and stay in. A B and B that has pride in itself will have it all. The grounds will have spaces for guests to spend time outside and when ready, be comfortable inside. The above are some of the considerations on location for a visitor to stay at a B and B as well as for a person thinking about embarking on a lifestyle that they always dreamed about by owning a Bed and Breakfast.
Aside from location, another important consideration is the number of guest rooms a B and B has available. Are there a minimum number of rooms needed to make money? Most professionals in the B and B business will say you need 5 or more guest rooms to make a profit. If all the things we will discuss are optimal, yes, you will make profit but in the everyday life of an Innkeeper, nothing stays optimal. First, we must consider the rate structure of the B and B. Hospitality professionals will tell you that you check the rates of the other B and B’s in the area. (I will caution that you need to know the location and amenities they offer as compared to yours before setting a rate.) If you set your rates above the other B and B’s, you have the option of offering discounts that will attract guests looking for a bargain. If your rates are low, you may not reach that point of profit even though you may have a high occupancy rate. In Lancaster County we have reports that give the average occupancy rate of B and B’s and with this a person can set a rate that can make a profit. A note of caution, the effort that it takes to operate and maintain a B and B varies with each B and B. Some B and B’s have it set up to change over rooms quickly, prepare the breakfast and do the laundry so that they do not need hired help. A 4 guest room B and B is the right size for an couple to operate and maintain without adding help.
In conclusion, A Bed and Breakfast that has 4 guest rooms, located in an area that visitors want to come and stay and pricing itself to attract guests, will be able to have a thriving business and show a profit for all the time, effort and capital the Innkeepers put into it.