James Kay – Mariners Guest House
Four years ago, after a life changing accident which prevented him from returning to work, James Kay and his wife Marie took the decision to set up their own eight-bedroom guest house at West Hoe in Plymouth. It was an idea which they had contemplated previously but deciding that the time was right, the couple did some research to find the right property. Once the business was registered, they contacted Outset Finance and applied successfully for a Start Up Loan which helped to cover the initial start-up costs and the quieter winter months while they built up their customer base.
“We took advantage of all that Outset had to offer such as workshops to develop our business skills as well as one to one sessions to help create our business plan as well as carry out more research on competitors and market opportunities.” stated James. “Neither I or my wife had done anything like this before, so we had to learn the trade at the same time as manage the finances and develop the right business practises, all of which Outset helped us with.”
“Without the Start-Up Loan from Outset Finance, we would not have had the security and money to invest in making the property right for our guests. It would have taken much longer to get running as a business without their help,” added James, “Making all of the bedrooms en-suite was a key priority. Outset Finance, gave us the tools to help us have a better idea of how to run a successful business.”
The guest house is located very close to the continental ferry port which has helped them attract overnight stays for ferry travellers and regular contracts with foreign workers studying English at the nearby Language School, helps to keep them busy throughout the year. “Business is very good” states James, “Having a mix of business and leisure travellers means that our occupation rate is steady across the winter and summer months.”
In terms of what they have learnt in the past four years, James advises anyone else thinking of setting up their own business as they have done, to make sure that they have a back-up plan and to build in some contingency into their finances for emergencies and to enable you to invest in the business going forward.
Looking to the future, the couple have been busy adapting the property to be more sustainable, introducing LED lights and solar panels which has had the double benefit of being a feature attractive to guests but also saving the business money. James stated, “We’re continuing to invest in the business, having installed a sauna which appeals to walkers on the nearby South West Coast Path. We are also starting to receive guests through our relationship with two travel operators, one focused on the cruise market and the other based in New Zealand offering walking holidays.”
James continued to say that they are also looking at opportunities to potentially purchase another guest house nearby so that they can have a different offer for their contract and leisure guests or venturing into the self-catering market. “This has all been made possible by our hard work but also the assistance given to us by Outset Finance at the start – I would recommend them to anyone thinking of starting their own business”
To find out more about Mariners Guest House visit their website.