Just picture it: a petite guest farm serving hearty meals, with animals, surrounding nature and peace and quiet. It’s practically everyone’s idea of a relaxing weekend getaway. Why not take your dream of owning an accommodation place and make it a guest farm?
This article will clue you in on what you’ll need to open a guest farm and start your own accommodation business. But the best piece of advice you can get in this regard is to keep it simple.
First, let’s establish why you want to open a guest farm as opposed to the usual guest house. Well, that’s the first reason, guest houses are standard and guest farms kick it up a notch. There’s something about farm life that is attractive to people from the city, not always enough to convince them to convert from the city to farm life, but enough to want to have a taste of it. By having a guest farm you can offer your guests so much more than a usual guest house.
Guest farms don’t need to be situated in a town with other attractions, all the activities and attractions guests will need will be available on the farm. This will also make a guest farm more popular than a guest house as there won’t need to be a budget for outings and activities where the farm already offers them.
And when you own a guest farm, you decide how your work environment operates and that, in these circumstances, is usually rather relaxed.
The first thing you need to secure is the perfect location. We already mentioned that a busy town is not a requirement for guest farms so you have the opportunity to bring guests to the countryside. Ideally, you don’t want to be too far away from a local town of sorts in the event of an emergency or grocery shopping for guests who choose a self-catering option.
But, other than that, the perfect location for a guest farm is anywhere the sunrise or sunset can be admired, mountains or hills are surrounding the farm and there are no immediate neighbours nearby. This includes the different houses on the farm itself where guests can stay. Offer them the privacy they’ve come so far to enjoy by distancing your guest farmhouses.
The perfect guest farm location feels like a complete breakaway from the urban lifestyle. Find a spot where nature is everywhere, there’s an abundance of space for guests and animals to roam, and where the sounds of the highway or nearest town is out of range.
Next thing you’ll need are a few official business documents. You’ll need to apply for a trade licence and receive the approval from health, fire and building inspectors of the local municipality to ensure your guest farmhouse business abides by their regulations. You’ll also need to appeal to the local council for signage on the roads and to check what the zoning requirements are for that perfect location you’ve picked out and invested in. You’ll also need to register your business with SARS.
Once you have the necessary legal approval to open your guest farm, you’ll need to have a business plan in place. You can’t go into this blindly and you’ll need the business know-how in terms of management, marketing and financing. With a solid business plan in place and the capital to do so, you’re one step closer to opening your guest farm.
We mentioned that financing is one of the skills you’ll need to run this business. So, it’s extremely important that you have bookkeeping abilities. Do financial accounting courses and obtain a diploma in financial accounting, because you’ll need it. Of all the skills that are required to run a business, financing is not one you can easily learn-as-you-go.
Besides the business part of running a guest farm where people pay for your services, there is an incredible amount of money that goes into operating and maintaining a farm. You will likely be growing your own fruits and vegetables as well as animals for fresh produce to offer your guests a genuine farmhouse experience. You’ll also invest in farming practices as another source of income on the farm other than the guest houses alone.
Agricultural financing is available and there is the option of hiring a financial advisor or accountant to help you out. But the important thing is that you understand how the financial aspects of the entire farm business works so that you can track your success.
The last thing you’ll need to open a guest farm are activities on the farm that you can offer to guests. Remember, you want to provide an all-inclusive getaway experience where there is no need for guests to go anywhere else and they can sit back and relax all weekend.
If you’ve chosen the right location, nature will provide most of the activities, such as hiking, picnicking, fishing and even swimming if the weather is warm enough. Other activities your guest farm can offer its guests are a petting zoo, a game drive area (if you’re want to offer a wildlife farm experience) and even something as simple as providing them with farm duties like milking the cows, picking apples or riding in the tractor.
There are so many ways to branch into the hospitality industry and guest farms are a great way to do so.