As an aspiring innkeeper, it can be tough to navigate complex regulations and get your business off the ground. In this guest post, Eric Helmick, innkeeper of Brooklyn Mining Co. (pictured) in Idaho Springs, Colorado, shares the steps he took to start his unique inn. It is run completely on solar power, and he uses his professional chef experience to teach hands-on cooking classes to guests. We are thrilled that BedandBreakfast.com played a role in shaping his inn's success--especially since we didn't even ask him to mention us! Thanks to Eric for sharing these valuable tips.
How We Got Started
1) Lots of online research brought us to BedandBreakfast.com. They have already outlined much of the process and made the initial sign-up doable. There are a number of other sites out there that can market your B&B, but BedandBreakfast.com by far offers innkeepers the best price, marketing solutions, and support.
2) We wanted a professional look, so knew we also had to have a reservation and credit card processing program. Rezovation was the answer, and they were able to connect us to Intuit the same day for credit card processing.
3) Regarding local laws and regulations, we went to our county website and called the office of Public Health to get direct answers. They pointed us to the website that dealt specifically with B&Bs. Though our county does not require a business license or health permit, they do require a small permit fee for serving alcohol. But the site proved priceless when it came to getting all the details of what we needed to know to comply.
4) Before we "opened" the door to our B&B, we invited friends and couples to stay overnight with us and experience our idea of guest comfort and hospitality. We then asked them for a review, and ideas on what we could do to make the experience better. No idea was a bad one, and in fact, most were implemented immediately in an effort to make our guests stay a perfect one.
5) Beware of start-up costs! It's easy to get caught up in buying brochures, business cards, posters, online ad space, and little amenities that you might not be able to afford at first. We let our online presence with BedandBreakfast.com do most of the work for us, but also made sure they were helping us with marketing on alternative sites like Expedia. We bought two sets of bathrobes because it's a comfort most guests appreciate. And we found small unique soaps for the bathroom. Now we produce our own line of lotions, soaps, and shampoo, but we started with something simple and affordable.
6) Keep the menu awesome, but simple. If you're a returning guest, we know--and we will prepare something you have not had at our inn before. But if you're new to our inn, you're going to get the same as everyone else. Wood-fired pizza for dinner, and awesome French pancakes for breakfast. It makes it simple to have the same ingredients on hand.
7) Set aside plenty of time to set up your business through whatever channels you decide to use. Making the reservation and guest check-in seamless for guests is very important in giving them professional insight into your business.
8) Lastly, remember: It's odd to have someone stay in your home, especially if they're staying in a room in your home and not an on-site cottage. It's your job to provide a quality and comfortable lodging and dining experience. It's also your job to ensure your marketing materials are honest about what you have to offer. If you have a jacuzzi tub, don't advertise it as a spa! It's just a jacuzzi tub. There are very specific offerings a spa has that you need to know before you offer it as an amenity.
Your job is to provide a great experience...not all the entertainment! Once you've welcomed your guest and made them feel comfortable, they have a role to play too--"relaxing" and finding things to do. Have fun and blessings on the new adventure!