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The Guest House

Christine Warbrick was inspired to set up a bed and breakfast business after a trip to France.

Jessop House, Tewksbury

Formerly working as a front-office employee with the police force, Christine decided Jessops House in Gloucestershire was the ideal location for her new venture.

She bought the business in 2010; a Georgian town house in the heart of Tewkesbury and within touring distance from The Cotswolds, Forest of the Dean and north Worcestershire. 

Time for a change

Christine’s husband worked as a health and safety officer in construction, but times had changed in the sector and redundancy was become a frequent hardship.

Christine was also disillusioned with her career in the police force, so they decided it was time for a change and running a B&B was something Christine felt she could do well.

"My brother in law always wanted to live in France and I thought “That's a good idea!” So we went to France to have a look and we thought, 'Well, what can we do in France?' And the only thing we could do – and do well – was bed and breakfast."

"We couldn’t find a B&B business in France that was suitable for our needs, so my brother ended up in Cirencester in a B&B and we carried on looking."

Location is paramount

With any B&B business, location is one of the key factors to consider; whether the guest house is close to motorway links or near a site of natural beauty, location is everything in this industry.

"Jessop House is in a good location. It’s opposite the Abbey so you have the tourism. It’s by a business park with a lot of international companies on it, and it’s by the M5. It was all about location more than anything.

We have all-year-round business, we have businessmen in the week and tourists at the weekend."

Star ratings

When Christine took over the business, it was looking ‘tired’ and did not live up to the four-star rating it was advertised at.

Christine gave the business a complete renovation, with individually designed rooms and luxury furnishings and décor to earn the B&B a five-star rating.

"It was four-star, but it shouldn’t have been – it was a dump! The different between a four-star and four-star can be vast depending on whether you’re at the bottom or top.

They’ve stopped awarding gold and silver ratings. When people look at your prices they can question why some four-star prices are so different from another.

So, when I came I thought to myself, I’m going to make this a five-star!"

With room prices ranging from £85 for single occupancy to £159 for a deluxe family room suite, Christine is keen to cater to a mixture of customers, as the location of the B&B attracts a variety of travellers.

Knowing the figures

The VAT registration threshold in the UK currently stands at £85,000; if you’re a small business with a turnover less than this, you won’t be able to charge VAT or claim VAT back.

"When running a B&B business you can earn anything between £110,000 or £160,000 to £170,000 but it’s that VAT threshold you’ve got to watch because you’ve either got to stay below it or you’ve got to blitz it.

There’s no point working like crazy for £88,000. You’ve got to go well above £100,000 to make it worth your while.

Other than that, you may as well stay below your VAT threshold and you live out the business."

Being the boss  

Running a B&B business involves long hours and early starts.

Owners need to be ready to cook breakfast for guests and handle check outs, as well as washing towels and linens, cleaning the room and greeting new guests.

Day-to-day tasks also involve staying on top of booking enquiries, emails and telephone reservations, as well as marketing the business and bookkeeping.

"I think the ideal time to run a B&B business is in your mid-40s, because if you’ve had your children younger than you’ve got them off your hands a bit.
I know they’re never really off your hands because mine have followed me here! But you’ve got more energy. You don’t get a lot of time off in this business!"


Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss

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