Routines make the daily running a bed and breakfast easier!

Many people ask me what it takes to run a bed and breakfast.  Since 60% of my guests stay only one night, and 35% only stay two nights, I have a high turnover!

This past season, I calculated that I that I had made breakfast for 650 guests, cleaned 319 bathrooms and did 478 loads of laundry.  (I waited until after the season to figure that out!)

Now, don’t forget, I’ve been in business for 10 years, so it’s almost second nature to me on how to get everything done, and to estimate how long things are going to take.  And having that routine makes life so much easier!

My daily routine (not including any of my personal tasks) includes:

  • Breakfast –planning, preparing, serving and cleaning up – takes approximately 3 hours – whether I have one room or all three
  • Cleaning – is very different in a bed and breakfast – think of it more like if you were preparing for a party every single day to understand how much time it takes.
    • Working together with my wonderful cleaner, it takes us 2 hours to clean the bed and bathrooms.  (If I am on my own, it’s an hour per room). The public areas of the bed and breakfast (like the dining room, lounges, etc) are done at least once a week.
  • Laundry – every room generates at least one load of laundry plus ironing. I do the laundry while we are cleaning, and calculate it takes an hour for each room. (I do the ironing while I am .watching the news at night…)
  • Day-to-day administrative work  – is generally done when it is required to take reservations, process guest payments, respond to inquiries, update vacancy calendars…

Yes, it is a tremendous amount of work!

However, most bed and breakfasts have seasons – in my case, peak season is two months long where I run at 80% occupancy; the shoulder seasons (June, September and October) I have approximately 55% occupancy.

What gets me through?

There are a couple of things:

  • I make enough money to do whatever I want in the remaining 7 months
  • For the first time in my life I am being paid to cook, clean and do laundry – and people notice and appreciate it!
  • I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world

There are 15 things I must do every day that take me 15 or more minutes; plus the little things that I do on the fly – not including the 7 weekly tasks that take me two or more hours to complete.  Having a routine, some help and knowing that it’s not 365 days a year is what gets me through! 

Let me know in the comments below –  what worries you most about running a bed and breakfast?

If you want to find out more about what it’s really like being a B&B owner, check out How to Create Your Own, Personalized List of Pros and Cons of Owning a Bed and Breakfast – so you can really decide if this is your dream!



  1. Christina

    Is there a particular software program you use for keeping track of everything?… Reservations, calendar, processing money, accounting, etc Thanks!

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Christina:
      There are a number of different programs that will do those tasks. I am sorry, but I am unable to endorse one specific company or system for you.

      Here are some of the things you need to think about before you begin your search:
      1. While the web technically doesn’t have any physical boundaries, I believe it is important to find one that one that works in the country you are located in.
      2. How many rooms do you want to manage through the system?
      3. The number and ability to manage your auto-responses and how it integrates with GDS (Global Distribution Systems)

      Prices vary – as do the set-up and processing fees and contract lengths, so make sure you are doing an “apples-to-apples” comparison before you make your decision!

      Good luck!

  2. Keolebile Juliah Koti

    Hi Susan,

    Is it possible for me to run a B&B while still keeping my day job since it is owning and a will have to take an additional loan to renovate it?
    Secondly, where I am located is about 12 kilometres from the city and I would not call it a tourist area, so will this affect business?

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Juliah:
      Less than 30% of people bring in enough income from just their B&B to live on.
      You don’t say if you plan on having someone to help out, so if you think that you can get the work done and hold down a full time job go for it. Just make sure that someone will be available when guests are around (think check-in, check-out and breakfast time).

      74% of people travel for pleasure. If you are not located in a tourism area, what will be drawing people to the area and why will they need a place to stay? Once you have the answer to that question, you will be in a much better position to be able to determine how busy your B&B will be, and how much money you can earn.

      Best of luck!

  3. Sue Hyde

    Hi Susan, just wanted to say thank you for your ebook which I am about to download.
    Looking forward to blogging with other bnb owners.
    Cheers Sue
    (Western Australia)

  4. Maria

    Hi Susan
    I am so happy I found your page, we are currently in the process of purchasing a b&b. I have hospitality experience, and my biggest concern is breakfast. How do I keep it from getting stale (boring) for me in preparing it so that my guests enjoy their experience.

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Congratulations on making such an exciting move forward – I hope it is everything you dream of!
      Depending on how long your guests stay will help determine how many different breakfast menus you will have to make. Most B&B owners have their tried and true favourites that they LOVE making! Some of the things that keep the same menu item from getting stale is cooking it to order for your guests (which will create innumerable variations), how you choose to serve the dish – whether it is changing up the china you use to garnishes, and the side dishes you offer with it.
      In addition, having a seasonal menu, featuring the freshest and local ingredients will keep your boredom at bay, and guests’ raving about your meals!

  5. Annabelle Macion

    Hi! Susan,
    I’ve been working here in new York for over 36yrs, I was a travel agent for 17yrs then working in diff. hotels as a front desk, night auditor, accounting, direct billing dept. Have the experience in answering questions of different guess all over the world, when I was a travel agent I like to experience multi-tasking that’s how I became a corporate agent who deals with company’s who travels domestic and international I was responsible for airline reservation, seat assignment, special rqst meals, car and hotel reservation, so I think running my own B & B is for me? By the way I’m planning to retired in the Philippines and I would like to open my own business there.

    Susan my question is what’s in the B&B included? I have a property in the Philippines but I’m debating between a resort or the B&B, how much time do I need ? Do you have to serve them in there rooms or they eat in the dining room buffet style?

    Thank you,
    Annabelle Macion

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      It sounds like you would make a great bed and breakfast owner! Being able to multi-task while having the patience to be interrupted and deal with people is one of the best attributes I can think of.
      As for what’s included, that’s the joy of owning a B&B – you can set it up and run it the way you want. The only criteria is that breakfast is included in the room rate. What that breakfast consists of and how it is served is up to you. My best suggestion is to determine who your ideal guests are, and then figure out what type of breakfast would suit them best.
      As for how much time it would take, I am unable to answer that…some of the factors that would influence the answer are: the number of rooms you have, how seasonal your property will be, how much prep time is required to prepare the breakfast, how long breakfast service is offered and how the meal is served.
      Best of luck!

  6. Annabelle Macion

    I would appreciate very much for your advice and idea in fullfilling my dream come true.

    Thanks again

  7. Jocelyn

    Hi Susan,

    What is your policy regarding daily housekeeping. We are new B&B owners of a 7 room manor. We are struggling to decide what to do in this regard. When we are finally done with breakfast service, if we aren’t cleaning rooms to turn over for the next night and doing laundry, we usually have errands to run. Sometimes the guests don’t leave until the late afternoon. It would be an easy decision if every guest left for their daily adventures directly after breakfast, but they don’t. We are considering light housekeeping upon request. Ie. make up bed and fresh towels. Any advice?

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Jocelyn:
      Most hotel staff just knock on doors when they are in the vicinity of the room and announce “Housekeeping” unless there is a do not disturb sign displayed; and do their job even if people are in the room. If you feel it is important to refresh the room, this is one way to approach it.

      The main key is that your guests know what to expect, so your idea of offering light housekeeping only on request means there are no surprises, and you need to do what works best for you.

      In my case, most of my guests only stay one or two nights, and do leave right after breakfast. Since I only have 3 rooms, I personally ask guests if they would mind if I come into their room just to “refresh it”. I prefer to have the opportunity to check on a room to make sure that there aren’t wet towel lying around, discarded food can be removed, etc.

      Good luck with your decision!

  8. ed natale

    our biggest problem is last minute cancellations ,, we are seasonal
    second is cooking for 14 and 4 show for breakfast

  9. Tanya Lamb

    My question is about disinfecting. Are viruses and bacteria killed in the washer and dryer, or am I relegated to using all white towels and sheets in order to disinfect with chlorine bleach?

    I tried adding a tablespoon of diluted bleach to wash water and most of the time it doesn’t bleach items, but sometimes it does.

    Your thoughts and suggestions?

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      I personally prefer white linens as it is easier to catch and deal with stains prior to laundering and when the time comes, to be able to replace the item.
      Washing in hot water and the dryer will kill all the bacteria on the linens, but the best place to check is your local public health unit or the B&B Association for your area. They can provide guidelines and recommendations based on your location.

  10. Beverly

    Do you wash/clean the bedspreads or quilts after each guest or just run them through a dryer? I am new at B & B for hunters. Thanks for any suggestions.

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