Inspired by a family vacation experience, school teachers Kim and Marc Roberts decided to try their hands at operating a bed and breakfast in Tuscaloosa. The idea struck Kim first. She stayed up all night researching the market, operations, and any information she could get her hands on about running a B&B. She took the idea to her family, understanding that running a business on top of their careers and out of their home was going to require some sacrifices. However, hosting was already built into the Roberts family life. The Roberts had always been involved in hosting community members: foster children and international students were a regular part of the Roberts family home.
At the time there were no bed and breakfasts in Tuscaloosa. They decided to start small: they opened their home for three Alabama Crimson Tide football game weekends. The Roberts enjoyed the business and the next year they added weekends, including graduation weekend. The business kept growing. Soon friends and neighbors were asking the Roberts to manage their properties for as short and long-term rentals.
After 28 years of teaching, in 2012, Kim decided to retire
and transition to managing the properties and business full time. The business
was continuing to grow and gain visibility in the community. A realtor friend
reached out to Kim to discuss a property the realtor was having trouble moving.
Seeing the potential to open a larger bed and breakfast, Kim began the search
for a suitable property. The historic home that is now the iconic symbol of
Bama Bed and Breakfast is the perfect tourist location nestled between the
University, downtown Tuscaloosa, and the Entertainment district, the home is
near the football stadium, the River Walk, and many other amenities. The
antebellum home was built in 1823 and has deep roots in the history of Tuscaloosa,
the South and the United States. (The 5th president, James Monroe, signed the
original patent-deed on the home!)
As the business continued to grow, so did the administrative and underlying business operations. In 2015, a friend referred the company to the Alabama SBDC for no-cost business advising. The day-to-day, moment-to-moment demands of the business had the Roberts moving from one urgent matter to the next, leaving little time to breathe, let alone get organized or plan. Kim reflected on Alabama SBDC’s assistance inputting data and organizing the books: “[The ASBDC Capital Access team] saved the business!” ASBDC business advisors assisted Kim in finding and hiring a bookkeeper who could manage the data, understand the nature of family businesses, and help the Roberts make strategic business decisions based on their finances. At the time, Kim and Marc were unpaid fulltime workers assisted by three
While the hectic life of a growing business never ends, rather than managing the business moving from one crisis to the next, the Roberts are able to manage the day to day operations and focus on the future of their family, their business, and one of the most iconic historic homes in Tuscaloosa.