How to run a bed and breakfast – successfully

Focusing on priorities helps you to figure out how to run a bed and breakfast successfully…here’s an example from my own b and b.

One of the key qualities you need to be able to understand in order to know how to run a bed and breakfast successfully is how to balance everything that needs to happen.

Steven Covey, the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” created a video called “First things first”, that demonstrates how we need to look at everything, and figure out how to prioritize what we need to do to make our lives work.

I had to learn the hard way to apply that principle on how to run my own bed and breakfast.  I had always wanted a three bedroom B&B, as I was pretty sure I could manage to do all the work myself.  After the second year in business, I became really ill, and struggled throughout the off-season with one illness after the other.  As the next season began, I found myself sitting in the front porch, praying as people slowed down to look at the B&B, that they didn’t come to the door to inquire about staying.  I really didn’t think I had the energy to be able to provide the level of service I felt was important to running a successful business.

Finally, I was able to ask myself What am I in business to do?”  I knew I wanted to be able to ensure that people visiting Parry Sound have a great stay, which includes enjoying the accommodations I provide.  The next question is What am I doing that I can delegate to others, so I have more energy to provide my guests with a great experience?”  The answer to that question was cleaning – I enjoy cooking, marketing and book-keeping, being with the guests and ensuring their needs are met, with cleaning on the bottom of the list of things I like to do.

It wasn’t easy to find the right person – I only need two hours a day, so I’m not interested in an employee, but rather a contractor.  Further, as I am a business and I can write off this cost, I want receipts.  In a town where 67% of the population is employed in the seasonal tourism sector, it wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy to find a suitable person.  However, I have been able to find someone for each of the last six summers, and find it is the best investment I have made in my business.

Am I right to do that?  Some people would argue that spending up to 7% of my revenue to hire cleaning help could provide me with more funds to get through the off-season.  However, I personally think that being a happy and healthy host leaves a far better impression with my guests, and I don’t spend all the off-season sick!

Helping people to focus on what’s really important in their business from the very beginning, and providing you with the tools you need is what coaching is all about.  To find out more about how The B&B Coach can help you figure out how to run a bed and breakfast, check out my 4-step “Design Your Dream B&B System”.


  1. brett plumridge

    my wife and I live in the middle east. I have lived here for nearly 20 years now. We have decided that we want to buy a big home in Scotland, where my wife is from, and run a bed and breakfast. My wife will be involved in creative areas with this business such as holding workshops for different groups around the world and getting involved with art groups and yoga groups and so on. I will be running the bed and breakfast as far as the cooking is concerned and liasing with guests and doing the paperwork and so forth. We are interested in all aspects that this venture will entail and appreciate any kind of feedback or information. Regards.

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Dear Brett:

      I am glad you are finding the resources on the web site useful!


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