Innkeeping 103 ~ Changing Careers
Or, are you considering becoming an innkeeper and wondering if you should take the frightening leap of leaving your long-established career?
Of course, when I say changing your career, I fully recognize that it is just as likely to be careers, since many innkeepers are husband and wife or partners.
Very difficult questions, and perhaps the most important questions to answer realistically and accurately before you take the plunge. I'll try to help by offering my two-cents. WARNING, WARNING Will Robinson, "you get what you pay for."
If innkeeping is a consideration, you undoubtedly are aware of the romance of operating an elegant property. Wonderful guests arrive and become good friends and of course, they return many times. This impression of innkeeping was advanced to new levels when The Bob Newhart Show became popular.
If you have been considering innkeeping for a reasonable period of time, you likely have also heard many accounts that identify this business as lots of work. Those reports point to 24-hour days that continue year round. Yipes! What have we gotten ourselves into Janice?
Where does the truth lie? Sorry for this answer but...it depends.
The wonderful guests that become friends...yes, absolutely! It is the very best part of innkeeping. In fact, we have a tag line that we place in some of our marketing literature, "we have the nicest guests" It's very true...we do.
The workload is a more complex topic to accurately identify. If you will be the innkeeper (as opposed to hiring a full-time innkeeper), you will be responsible for the guests 24-hours per day. However, that doesn't mean you can't delegate. For a point of reference, at our inns we have 18 rooms that we have operated for a little under five years. The number of times that we, or someone to which we have delegated the responsibility, have been called upon after working hours is less than six times. Nonetheless, someone must be available.
That, of course, is not the only work to be done. But, at our inns, the rest of the workload can all very easily be performed by employees or contractors. A consideration of how much of the work is passed to others begins with an awareness of your finances. Operating a smaller inn typically means a smaller budget and a larger workload for the owners. Also, the amount of equity (or, more importantly, the less the debt) in any property influences the amount of cashflow available for outsourcing. If you purchase any property on a shoestring and you can plan on a heavy workload.
Back to the real world...at The Maine Stay, Janice and I pick and choose which tasks we will perform and which we will hire others to perform. Our decisions depend on many factors including, when and who should interact with guests, who does the best job at each task and what Janice and I like to do. The answer to each of these variables changes from time to time.
So, believe it or not, when you see Janice out planting the gardens or, if you see me out shoveling snow, these both come under the category of things we like to do.
While the answer to the question about workload is more lengthy, the executive summary is this, there is plenty of work but, the innkeepers don't have to do it all.
I hope this helps.