What can we do to make RVers Stay the best it can be?

Discussion in 'Park Management' started by Creekside RV, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. newkcmoedoe

    newkcmoedoe
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    You seem to be taking the right steps. I hope your budget includes more than one employee. You are going to need staff to run the office, clean the restrooms and the rest of the facility and provide security. It is our experience that problems always arise at the most inopportune time. Power or the internet going off in the evening isn't going to wait until morning. A plumbing leak or sewer stoppage is a problem immediately and a disaster if left unrepaired over the weekend.
    Since you imply you have somewhat limited RVing experience, I would further suggest you and your wife consider workamping for a few months. That would give you much insight and personal experience as to what can and will happen on a typical day. Learning it might not be the right business for you is a lot easier to stomach after a few months of working for someone else than it is to learn it after investing a million or more dollars. We have worked with five prospective park owners over the years and the results were very much mixed. Three went on to own parks and two decided it wasn't for them. Though I believe all five left with different ideas of what ownership is like, both positive and negative.
     
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  2. Creekside RV

    Creekside RV
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    At this point we are only hiring one maintenance worker, who will be the on call person during normal business hours. My business partner and myself will be working the project for the first two years.

    Trying to understand emergencies after hours. I can foresee perhaps a septic pipe backing up, or possibly a main breaker tripping. Do most RV parks handle these items themselves after hours? Or are there companies that will manage after hour calls?

    We believe we will only need two full time employees to manage this for us. One employee will handle all the maintenance, the other will handle the B to B for our park models, RV Daily, and RV long term. We also have a part time bookkeeper for all our paperwork. Do we need staff full time at night? Keeping in mind this is only a 40 site park. We have stayed at several RV parks where there were no staff at night. Not sure how smart that is?

    What is your thought to have all our booking done online, including payments?

    Do we need someone to escort each RV to their spot. Our park will be easy to navigate. Can we just have each person navigate to the spot themselves? Again we have done this and it seemed to work just fine.

    If we take a more online booking approach, this will reduce the tasks our office employee will need to do.

    We are also considering something similar to the Red Box, but instead of movies we will have one set up for RV general supplies? What is your thought.

    Again as was mentioned before a 40 site park even if our monthly rates are $600.00 will not allow for a large staff. What other office staff items are really needed. Can a park host manage those tasks?
     
  3. newkcmoedoe

    newkcmoedoe
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    I think you may be trying to reinvent the wheel a bit too much. I don't think it is possible to fully automate a Park. If your park is fully unattended at night, with no security, no one to handle problems, no one to represent the interests of the park should there be an issue of any kind, I think you are eventually going to have a big problem. Stuff happens, and often it needs to be handled promptly.
    When making reservations, it is our experience that, yes, you can do a significant percentage online, but another significant percentage of customers want to have questions answered before they put up their money. They will want to discuss what sites are available, what there is to do in the area. What the policies are and how they are enforced. They will want to know about exceptions to policies. They will want to know how well the wifi works, how well the cable works, how well their cell carrier works in the park etc. etc. etc. It is my opinion you cannot have a website be the only face of your company.
    No, you don't have to escort everyone to their site, but if you don't eventually something will happen. Someone will misread the site numbers. Someone will run over something and think if no one saw it, it isn't necessary to claim responsibility. Someday a guest will just take a site other than the one they were assigned because they like it better and then the guest who is assigned to that site will find it occupied. And it isn't always easy to correct those problems once they occur.
    I have never seen a RV supply vending machine. Sounds great in simple theory, but can it ever be cost effective? Will it operate flawlessly? People beat up a Coke machine when it takes their seventy five cents and fails to drop the soda, what will they do when they pay $35.00 for a sewer hose and the machine eats their money? Now compound that with the fact you have no one on site to take their complaint and refund their money.
    Maybe you could have someone on call. I don't know the specifics of your area, but I wouldn't trust my business to someone who works for me only occasionally for minimal pay.
    And what if the problem exceeds their authority or ability? Are you going to give them an open checkbook to call professional repairs? What about the previously mentioned customer service issues? Are you turning that over to the handyman also?
    Personally, I don't see owning a RV park as a passive investment unless you can afford to fully staff it with a manager and a complete staff.
     
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  4. BankShot

    BankShot
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    Well stated newkcmoedoe. We live in a world of technology where human customer service is fast becoming a thing of the past. I agree, to open a new RV park and have it run by just a very few live folks and the rest by either machines or anything other than a live person or persons I believe would lead eventually to all sorts of problems. A lot of home work needs be done prior to starting up any business. I can speak from experience as I started, owned, and operated my own business for many years and believe me the first couple or three years were by no means a cakewalk to the bank. Creekside RV - - - take a step backward and give some more thought to all this prior to jumping off into the deep end. You will be investing some pretty good money into this 40 site park and for sure you want it to be a success. Lots of good ideas and suggestions coming out of this thread and all of them are well meant to have you be successful. To invest additional money up front to have this become a successful venture is well worth it IMHO. My initial investment thoughts for my business were doubled by the time I really got going with it and it was worth every extra dollar put into it because it became a very successful venture for me and I never once had to look back and ask myself why didn't I do this or that, etc. I wish you the very best going forward. Just take it step by step and think thru each and every one of those steps several times before taking it.............

    Regards, BankShot.............(aka Terry)
     
  5. Hutch333id

    Hutch333id
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    Some interesting items here. For me, in addition to what has already been discussed;
    • angle the sites from the drive road. It makes reversing in so much easier than narrow roads that are at 90 degrees to the site. Equally, pull-through sites - make them angled.
    • On the power post make sure there are breakers for each of the power settings you are offering - I've been to several cg's where the breaker is nowhere near the post.
    • Make sure the posts are wired correctly - sounds simple but it could ruin an expensive rig if there is a bad connection or just as equally, low voltage.
    • I think you said you were located in Texas. I've never been there but have stayed in CG's where sudden storms flare up - consider making your bathrooms storm shelters. It gave me peace of mind at a cg in SD.
    • Offer recycling for cardboard, plastics, glass, cans, etc.
    • Find out what cell services work well in your area. I know these are not in your direct control but I read a lot of reviews where the cg is criticized for poor cell service - perhaps try and encourage the providers to boost their signals.
    • Keep your website up-to-date and show honest photos. If you can, show photos of each site so that people from far away (like me) can see what they are getting into before they make a booking.
    • Make sure your cancellation policy is very clear. Again, reading on this site there are many complaints about this aspect. When you look at the cg website it isn't always easy to find the cancellation policy.
    • A fire pit doesn't interest my wife or I but to some it is an essential. If you decide to install these, make sure you have the space to allow them to function safely.
    • Let guests know if you have high (or low) water pressure.
    • Let potential guest know if they can have packages delivered before their arrival date - helpful for people like me who order while in the US.
    Best wishes for your venture. Hopefully, one day we may get the opportunity to pay you a visit.
     
  6. Creekside RV

    Creekside RV
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    Thanks for responding with such great information. We have purchased the property already, however are under review for which way we can make a small park work. I think we would really need at least 80 RV sites to make the staffing cash flow for a RV park only.

    If we can not automate the Park to require less staff, We are also looking at making the 40 slips for RV park models. We would own about 10 of these for Air b n b. The rest would be for vacation homes, housing for young teachers, hospital staff etc. There is a park about 10 miles from us servicing the same general area. They have over 300 RV spots with about 80 of those with their own park models. These lease for $1800 per month. Our area is more desirable with more privacy on the pad sites. We are exploring this option too.

    If we went this route each home would have to maintain their yard and power, as somebody owing a home would do. We of course would still need to manage septic, common area maintenance, and managing the financial side of things. In this scenario we could have a property management company doing this for us.

    Anyway great information! thanks for sharing
     
  7. newkcmoedoe

    newkcmoedoe
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    If you can get people to pay $1800 a month, year round to rent a park model and they will pay the utility bills, maintain the lawn, do the normal maintenance in a park that doesn't have major amenities (large pools, true fitness centers, golf course etc.) you are a better salesperson than I will ever be. I assume your property is lakefront with significant shore frontage to be able to contemplate these kind of rates for that level of services.
    My very rough calculations are the park will cost you around $600,000 to build out with basic amenities ($15,000 per site) and park models probably will be about $50,000 each by the time they are sited, skirted and winterized etc. So you are all in somewhere north of $3,000,000 when you add in the land. Rent them all at $1800 a month you are grossing over $800,000 a year. Keep management and common expenses to 20% (you said they are doing their yard work and paying their utilities that's why I am using a very low expense ratio) and you are going to net 20% ROI. Sure beats a T-bill.
    However, I think you are going to find that the park you are using as your benchmark gets that $1800 a month for only a few months during peak season. I don't really think a teacher or a hospital worker can or will pay $1800 a month rent plus utilities for a 400 square foot park model while also being expected to maintain the yard and keep up with the maintenance. And I don't believe you are going to find too many people renting vacation park models on a year round basis.
    But it is possible that Austin/Lake Travis is a very special micro economic zone where those rates can be justified. If it works out like you have laid it out, you will have a very unique and very profitable business unlike almost any RV Park out there. Good Luck.
     
  8. Monica998

    Monica998
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    The onsite Laundry Facilities, Blue melon lamp (for Halloween), Showers, Camp Store, Fishing, WIFI, Pool, and leisure entertainment are also we're looking for.
     
  9. rbnrbn

    rbnrbn
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    We too just purchased a piece of land and are constructing an RV Park. I’m so glad you posted this because there is a lot of good information here. I would love to keep in touch with you privately to update each other on our progress and give each other advice. Do you have a Facebook page we could communicate through via fb messenger? We are nowhere near Texas so we won’t be competition for you.

    To everyone else, keep the great info coming. We appreciate it.
     
  10. The Campground Consultant

    The Campground Consultant
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    That's a different animal altogether. Are you going to be a long term stay RV Park or nightly/weekly? Cash Flow forecast allows one helper? Does that mean that you are going to do everything else by yourself? Even for only 40 sites that could be a busy park in Texas and I would anticipate you needing more help depending on rules/regulations etc...
     
  11. Ellistea

    Ellistea
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    We have family in Dripping Springs, Texas and have stayed for a month at Cottonwood RV there (off 290, sort of between DS and Blanco, Texas.) Not sure you'll be in that area, but if so - another good RV Park in the Hill Country can be nothing but good.

    When we were there last, they'd expanded the park and put in some very good Wi-Fi. The owners were there and very accessible, so if you look up the park, you might want to give them a call. (sorry, I just don't recall the owners' name at this point.)

    You're RVers and I think you've got some great ideas. And yes, there's no one type of RVer. As to "family style" bathrooms - all I'll say is that it seems to be the trend to be gender neutral and that each has a shower, so why bother bucking the trend? You may need to monitor them more closely, I suppose, but seriously, it may just be what the building codes demand these days. And if you're in Central Texas, you may need to use the bathrooms as ad hoc storm shelters (depends on whether you're in the Tornado areas or not). So those areas will probably have some strict codes.

    I personally think that having areas where you have pull-throughs for short-term stays, and then back-ins for the long-term folks makes sense, and yeah, a few sites should be big-rig friendly. Make sure you actually drive a big rig to the sites, so you can make sure there are no ridiculous turns throughout the park, etc. As you're designing the park, there's no excuse for inaccessible sites or telling people they have to drop their Toads to just get to a pull through.

    There are also NO excuses to not put the pedestals in an accessible place for RVs! We've been to parks where we wondered just WHO had designed the site! (Definitely not anybody who's ever been in an RV!)

    One of my favorite parks that is fairly packed in but well designed is Hacienda RV Park in Las Cruces, NM. Two spaces are separated because they are facing different directions and also have a shrubbery barrier, increasing the privacy of the space.

    I, too, am not a fan of excessive fees to cover things that only appeal to children, and I'm pretty jaded as to the term "Resort" in general. I've now been to plenty of PARKS that were definitely not resort by any stretch of the imagination, but man, you get to pay those resort prices! So yeah, be honest with your pricing and your amenities.

    As to little things - have a great website and put in little stories and profiles of people, dogs and cats, and other fun things (same with your facebook page.) I do love it when I get a little pooch pack with a treat and poop bag. I will even love you more if there's a cookie for the humans, too. :)

    And yes, you can have sites laser leveled - never thought this was a big deal, but we stayed at one place where they'd done it and it was great and easy to level.
     

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