By July 3, 2012 Read More →

When customers come into your home

Ednovean Farm B&B, Perranuthnoe, West CornwallI’ve talked before about whether home working affects your image and if it’s better to meet people elsewhere, but for some home workers, it’s the experience of coming into your home that customers are paying for and so you have no choice!

I’m thinking of people who run a B&B, cafe or similar business. Those of us who have a home office sometimes feel that work is invading our private lives, but how much of a private life is it possible to have when your customers are actually in your home?

At least if you run a cafe from your home the customers leave at closing time, but imagine having them stay the night and demand breakfast in the morning!

I know a number of people who run B&Bs, some of whom are lucky in that the layout of the property allows them to keep their own living accommodation completely separate from their guest rooms. Others have guests staying in the same building, having breakfast in the family kitchen and sleeping in rooms adjacent to family bedrooms. They all have to deal with the business encroaching into their personal lives to various degrees, for example when guests arrive later than planned and a night out has to be cancelled.

A and I are seasoned B&B guests, for both business and pleasure trips, and I always wonder how the hosts manage to establish boundaries and stay sane and cheerful with paying guests in such close proximity. It’s a subject I cover in Work from Home but haven’t touched on so far in the blog. I’d love to hear from anyone in this position about how you cope, and the do’s and don’t’s you have learned from experience. I’m sure you have many stories to tell!

Photo credit: Ednovean Farm, 5 star Gold B&B overlooking St Michael’s Mount, near Penzance, West Cornwall

Posted in: Family

4 Comments on "When customers come into your home"

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  1. Rosie Slosek says:

    From a guest perspective, I appreciate the host having clear boundaries. It means I feel better about invading their space.

  2. Excellent point Judy and one that I cover on my B&B courses. It’s really important that B&B owners have their own space and private areas and, as Rosie, points out I think guests feel more comfortable if they know where they can & can’t go.

    I think it’s also important to define the non physical boundaries as well. When you have guests in it is a 24/7 job. There’s no changing into PJS after a bath & spending the evening crashed out in front of the TV.

    I go to bed early so I say to guests that we’re only available after 9 in case of an emergency. Even if I’m not going to bed it allows me to go off & have a bath without worrying guests will be knocking asking for something.

    Check in times are another area that can be managed. I say check in between 4&6 – of course I know some people can’t make these times but I ask guests to let me know if they will be later. This means I can plan the timing of the family evening meal, go out occasionally and allows me to go shopping, walk dogs etc.

    This is all really important for B&B owners particularly during the busy season. You can sometimes go 4 or 5 weeks without a night off and B&Bs are often just run by 1 or 2 people. Making sure you have your own personal space & times when you know you can relax helps you retain your sanity – a happy B&B owner makes for a happy guest!

    • Judy says:

      Thanks for a really informative comment, Karen. And what a good idea to run courses to prepare people for the realities of B&B life. It seems to be a popular dream, and I do wonder how many people appreciate what it’s like. When I was a business adviser in Cornwall I had a number of people telling me they wanted to run a B&B so they could go to the beach in the afternoon! From the experience of my friends in the trade I don’t think it’s quite like that!
      PS Your B&B looks wonderful by the way!