Having spent the last 32 years in the Transport and Logistics industry working abroad and in the N/E and N/W of England it was a monumental decision some months ago to take the plunge and start a new life and career as a B and B owner.
My last position was as a General Manager for one of the country’s largest logistics companies and the post required me to be on the go for long hours, mainly between depots and sites up and down the busy M62 motorway between Manchester and Leeds. Following a pretty major health scare and taking into account the long hours and travelling I was doing, my partner Dianne and I decided we should make the break and try to slow down our pace of life.
Being a born and bred Lochmaben lad (8 miles from Dumfries) we looked and researched various options that would allow me to hopefully slow down a bit and also fulfil one of my ambitions to “Be my own boss”.
It is over a year ago since we first came to view what is now our new home and business “Glenaldor House” in Dumfries, South West Scotland.
As soon as we entered the house there was a lovely warm feeling and we knew pretty quickly that this was the place for us. Billy and Mary who were on the verge of retiring had run the house as a Bed and Breakfast for 20 years and made us very welcome. They gave us great advice and support and most importantly were kind enough to leave us a lot of equipment etc that we needed to get up and running in our new venture.
After doing our research and a fair bit of soul searching we agreed a purchase price on the property and excitedly moved in on November 6th 2009.
Glenaldor House is a lovely Victorian sandstone terraced villa built around 1860 and retains many of it’s original features, the property has 4 large letting rooms which are quiet, light and airy, it also benefits from a fantastic large secluded sunken garden to the front.
My partner Dianne enjoys her work as a Children’s Community Nurse and the plan is that she will continue her work whilst I run the B and B ably assisted by my mother Moira.
On moving in we sat down and planned out our vision for the house and business and quickly identified 2 areas we felt we should tackle first.
Firstly We decided to completely renovate the living quarters on the top floor which required us to install a central heating system and radiators, build a new bathroom and redesign the bedrooms. We also decided that whilst we were in the midst of all this building work and upheaval that we should also make all the letting rooms on the middle floor en-suite and that we should get some plastering work done – talk about not doing things in half measures!!!. As we started to look into our plans further and get costings for the work it soon became apparent that we would need to close down for at least 5 weeks in order to get the work completed.
Our biggest blessing was finding our central heating engineer / plumber, Peter Hawkins who also turned out to be our joiner, electrician, interior designer and general superman. He did a fantastic job and kept us going when we sometimes felt we would never put this lovely old house back together again.
We had everything mapped out and planned. We had decided that Peter would start on January 5th for 5 weeks and we were happy in the knowledge that as it was a quiet time it was the best time to close down – what could go wrong? Only the hardest, coldest winter in memory and knee deep in snow and add in 2 burst pipes for good measure!! (Luckily Pete our plumber was around when they happened).
The second area we felt needed urgent attention was the promotion of the business and mainly our website. Once again I was very fortunate to pick the right guy to help us with this work in contacting Derek Pennycook.
Derek is a fellow B and B owner who also has a web design business and “The Guest Company” which provides products and services for accommodation providers, whilst also offering free marketing advice. Apart from the first class web design Derek has and continues to produce for us he has also been an endless mine of useful and helpful information. His knowledge of both the web / internet and the B and B business has been crucial to us and the fact that he is willing to help and share this information with a newcomer to the industry is testament to his character.
Being a bit of a workaholic myself and wanting everything done yesterday hopefully means that I have also played my part and since the major renovation work was completed in early February I can rarely be seen walking around the house without a paintbrush in my hand. The web / internet side is still a big black hole to me but Derek is slowly educating me – if someone had told me I would be writing a regular blog for my website I would never have believed them!! Whilst on the subject of hard work I could not go on without again mentioning Dianne who is always on hand to help when not at her regular work and again also my mother who gets stuck in on a daily basis – it really is a team effort.
Getting up and running in February was ideal as it was quiet and gave us time to find our feet. It is now going great guns and given it is our first year we are really pleased with the way bookings have picked up over the last couple of months and we are looking forward to a successful summer. We are also excited and pleased to see Glenaldor rising to page one on most of the internet search engines and are very encouraged that we are getting things right when we look at our customer reviews.
It certainly has been an exciting and busy few months since November and now that we have the sun on our backs we are enjoying the new lifestyle and we look forward to welcoming many new guests through the doors in the weeks, months and years to come.
We are already making plans for what we want to do this winter in terms of continually improving our house and the services we offer and I look forward to doing an update for the blog page on how things progress in the coming months.
I can be contacted – [email protected]