“if I have to work for a living, this is not a bad way to do it,”— Rodney
Here is part two of the delightful interview with Rodney, co-owner of Strawberry Creek Inn, located in southern California, posted earlier this week. This interview wraps up a run of posts that contemplate the intersection of personal passion and the outdoors. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this interview about the journey of owning a B&B as much as I did:
What would you describe as a memorable moment at the inn?
It’s pretty hard to narrow in on a single memorable moment in this business, since what we are basically selling is a collection of memorable moments. The nervous boyfriend who finally finds the right moment during a stay to propose? The time two guests sat across from each other at breakfast with a gnawing feeling of familiarity, only to discover after talking for 30 minutes that one was the kindergarten teacher of the other in another state?
The first egg laid by one of our hens? The first snowfall of our first Winter here? We’re actually having a ‘memorable moment’ as I write this: while transporting the new batch of chicks to the yard with the older hens a few days ago, the overhead netting caught onto Ian’s very-expensive diamond earring (because why wouldn‘t you chicken-farm in diamond earrings?) and flung it into the hay. Unwilling to accept the loss, Ian is now painstakingly conducting an archeological dig in the chicken yard (which may have to be followed by a forensic examination of collected chicken ‘fertilizer’). Memorable moment indeed.
What are some of the challenges of owning and operating a B&B?
I would say the difficulty of finding the time to nurture one’s own needs in the midst of focusing on your guests is a pretty universal challenge for innkeepers. But it must be done! Having to wear so many different hats at the same time can also be quite the challenge at times. The hours are VERY long, and the days are filled with interruptions. It’s not always easy to personally experience all the great activities and events that attract guests to our area. But if I HAVE to work for a living, this is not a bad way to do it.
If someone were to want to open a B&B, what is the most important piece of advice you would give them?
A lot of my advice your readers have probably already picked up from my previous answers:
- Walk towards your passion
- Don’t let other people talk you into mediocrity and conformity (‘they only want you to conform so they can then ignore you’, as I once heard Seth Godin say)
- Think outside the box, the more outside the better. It will help you get your doors open, and you will need it to survive as an innkeeper
- Have at least one genuine (but honest!) supporter, and check in with them often
- Listen to (and talk about!) those mild stomach pains and uneasy feelings
- Crunch numbers relentlessly, without emotion, and with a healthy dose of conservatism
- Acknowledge and get comfortable with the not-so-subtle difference between a) entertaining carefully selected friends for free and b) asking the general public to pay you for it
- Accept that there will be ‘haters
- Try to savor the memorable moments, no matter how fast they go flying by in rapid succession
- Build in ample time off (there are some good innsitters out there who do nothing but travel to different inns relieving over-worked innkeepers) and maintain focus on your own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs; and finally…
Take your diamond earrings out before you go into the chicken coop!