It is always difficult parting with something that has been a part of your life for a long while, especially when it doubles as your business. The bed and breakfast business is a good example of mixing business with pleasure: when it comes time to sell, however, it might not be all that pleasurable.
We interviewed Donna Cooper, owner of Willow Manor in Guelph, Ontario. She is selling her bed and breakfast and was able to share with us some of her top tips about the sale.
First and foremost you need to do research on a good real estate agent. It helps if the person has an understanding of the bed and breakfast business. Her next tip is to choose the right time of year to list your business. It seems that spring is the time of the year when people are out looking for a new home and possibly a new business! Some more advice is to have patience because historically it takes a while to sell. This may because of the higher cost and the additional work that is needed to maintain a bed and breakfast year round; the buyer may have a dream of owning their own B&B but once they realize the labour needed, they may discover that it isn’t for them. The last tip she shared was to be organized with records of everything: ranging from what’s being sold with the bed and breakfast to all of the financial information, such as how much utilities cost. Organize the outstanding gift certificates and a list of the future customers who have already booked their visit. A good idea is to have a long closing date – future guests will know that you are selling and the right time to come. Having the house presentable is extremely important, too. You want to have your house looking beyond the normal. You want them to see the “wow” factor in your property!
Here are some additional, easy tips to make your selling process smooth and swift!
- Choose a reasonably priced listing for your Bed & Breakfast Inn.
- Promote what you‘re selling. Some different techniques include placing ads in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet to help get the word around. There are many online locations available to help sell your business. Sometimes advertising to your B&B guests will make a sale, too.
- Location, Location, Location! In your ad mention attractions, sights, landmarks, or activities near by. Where your property is found can determine if it will receive many guests.
- Pictures say a thousand words, so it’s very important to have both the exterior and interior looking pristine. Even a video is a great asset. Remember curb appeal—if buyers do not like what they see on the outside, it might be hard to persuade them to take a look inside.
- If showing in winter, make sure front walk is shovelled and salted. Winter time planters make it more appealing.
- If showing in spring, summer, or fall, have seasonal flowers in the garden, make sure walkway has been swept, grass has been cut and leaves are raked. Some paint touch ups might be necessary as well.
- Clean. Buyers look everywhere: in the drawers, under the sink, in the shower, in closets. Don’t forget to clean appliances such as the oven, fridge and washer/dryer.
- Selling your bed and breakfast with the furnishings can attract buyers’ attention with no need to provide their own furnishings, especially if they intend to continue the business.
- Try to avoid scented air fresheners in case of allergies.
- If your B&B has a dog or cat, make sure to keep them away from potential buyers due to allergies or dislike.
- If your hallway has many doors, keep them closed until you’re showing buyers each room so the buyers aren’t distracted.
- Potential buyers will want to know:
- cost of heat, hydro, cable, high speed (if available), water and insurance.
- room measurements
- everything included in the sale (appliances, water softener, furniture, etc.)
- Remember: first impressions are important!