What I learned in my 7 years running a B and B (What have I learned in my first month running a B and B?)

I am going to add to this older post as I am wrapping up my 7th and last season at Highland Garden House B & B.

In review of ‘what I learned in my first month,’ see below, some is mostly still true, but there are some specific things I learned that I did not take into consideration, even after that first month:


There is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’  Guests say they will arrive at 5 PM and they finally do arrive at 8PM.  You rush to get ready for them at 5, and it is all for naught!  It is not their concern, apparently.

You are never ‘off’ when guests are checked in.  It is a 24 hour job, even when they are sleeping, out for the day or even when I am out for the day.  It always hangs there, you are in charge, you have to be available.

Most people can be trusted to show up when they say they will when reserving, but those who do not reply to out Reminders, get cancelled.

You need clear policies and boundaries that are written, and you MUST stick to them.  anyone who tries to wiggle around them is not welcome.  Period.

One night guests are not worth the bother.  They are generally just looking for a place to sleep, they are not coming to the B and B on purpose.  This includes those who reserve in advance and walk-ins. (If the check-in, room turn and check-out process is spread out over multiple nights, it is more efficient and provides YOU with a higher ‘wage.’)

There are a lot of things you have no control over.  Lots of loud train whistles at night, late flights, late ferries, breakdowns, couples fighting, sick guests, it goes on and on and it’s always ‘something.’ (Most of these things are not your fault or responsibility to correct, anyway.)

Keeping the house and yard at the highest level of cleanliness and de-cluttered is a lot more work than day-to-day housekeeping you would deem adequate for just yourself and/or family. (Leave vac in dining room because you are going to vac the living room later today or tomorrow?  NOT.)

Shopping takes on a new life.  Mostly for fresh foods.  Something in the fridge that is ‘good enough’ for yourself is not good enough to serve to guests. (Tip:  only serve foods that you also eat yourself and never buy special foods for guests, let them buy their own, with their own money, and store in your fridge.)

After 5 years I decided to not take smokers, at all.  You smoke, find another place to stay.  This is part of my written, emailed, room Confirmation.  I did not want smokers sleeping in my beds and lose valuable repeat guests due to the smell that all smokers pass on to the bedding and mattresses.  They all stink. In addition, smokers, as a group, are the most inconsiderate and messy people.  They leave a trail of stink, ash, butts and trash everywhere they go.  Not welcome.

Have I lost some business with my rules?  Yes.  I lost a lot of potential guests that I did not want to have here in the first place.  I lost ALL the smokers.  I lost some who would only pay with a credit or debit card.  But, I kept control of my business and ran it under my terms.  I have also decided to quit the business, under my terms.  A refreshing feeling!



Original Blog Post made on June 29, 2012:


You wash your hands a lot more.

Your house and gardens are always neat as a pin, or could be made so in “15 minutes.”

You CAN do the other things in your life, between the guest needs: biking, artistic endeavors, napping, kayaking, day trading, etc.

Your guest rooms are ALWAYS ready for guests.

There are always plenty of ice cubes.

People on holiday are generally a gay and happy sort.

Any errant hair can be blamed on the cat.

People eat less for and of breakfast than I thought.

People do wait until the last minute.

Your seamstress skills take on a new importance.

The cookie jar is always at least half full.

You have a stream of interesting people flowing through your house and life, then they leave.


Dennis’til next time,
Dennis George
Highland Garden House, 501 E. Highland Ave., Mount Vernon, WA 98273

This entry was posted in B and B Income Increasers, HGH Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What I learned in my 7 years running a B and B (What have I learned in my first month running a B and B?)

  1. Hi Dennis
    Congratulations to opening your business and to your success!! I came across your website though the article on “Hotel Propeller Blog”. I am always on the lookout to see how other people run their B&Bs … it is so interesting how many similarities we can find but also to see things done differently or to just read about experiences.
    We opened our B&B in spring 2011 so I still would consider us newbies but we had owned and run a Motor-Inn for 11 years before we semi-retired to our B&B. We love this kind of business coming from a totally different profession before the accommodation business.
    May I ask if you run your B&B all by yourself? And what was your carrier before you moved on the become an innkeeper (chef ? did I get that right ?) ?
    Anyway will keep you on my “favourite-list” to check in on how you are doing 🙂 and I will go and like you on FB …… come and “visit” us too. We too have the whole repertoire of social media attached to our websites.
    All the best and success to you from Canada (we are located between Ottawa and Montreal … East from you)

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