Do you love camping? Ever thought of sharing your love for the great outdoors with other happy campers like you?
How about you turn that simple hobby to a simple campground of tents then grow it into a full-scale luxury camp that offers big cabins and RVs?
If the great outdoors start calling, then probably your dream is to start your very own campground business!
Good thing we are here because we want to help!
How to Open a Campground Business
As tourism is a multi-million dollar business that serves hundreds of thousands of people each year, knowing how to start a campground business can make it a very profitable adventure to starting entrepreneurs!
It’s essential to understand, however, that in order to start a successful campground business you’ll need to have a good understanding of what it takes to start and run a business.
Having a good business plan, budgeting and investment coupled with a good understanding of management principles are what you need to get your campground business up and making some money!
So are you ready, camper? Let’s get started!
Step 1: Learn How a Campground Business Works
Most people see the front end of a campground business.
But how does a campground business work?
If people are going to pay you to put together a dream trip for them, you need to know every detail of the industry.
And there’s no better way to do that than to go work for a camping business yourself!
By interning under a seasoned industry veteran, you get a chance to really understand the proper tools and special touches that make a travel agency shine. Learn about what services, trips, and packages you can actually offer and what you can’t. Know the right questions to ask, and questions to avoid asking clients. Find the best follow-up strategies for clients and vendors alike.
Learn about staffing. Marketing. Budgeting. Profit margins.
Learn what type of clients prefer which packages.
You can research all day about the camping industry (and you should!), but in the end, the best way to get the “secret sauce” is to study under the best.
If you’re serious about running a campground business, go work in one and find out! By doing so, you’ll set your business up for success and it’ll be that much easier for you to create a plan.
Step 2: Create a Plan
Why do campground businesses fail?
For the same reason as any other business – lack of a plan.
A business plan is your best friend when starting a campground business!
By investing your time and energy in creating a business plan before you actually start your business, you’re not only creating a clear plan for running your business but providing financers a road-map to look at when making a decision on whether they want to back you or not.
Your business plan should include an honest evaluation of you and your skills, a look at your target market, your competition, your marketing plan, an industry analysis, an evaluation of where your office will be, your training and hiring plan, and more.
You’ll want to include your budget and operating expenses here, as well as any startup needs and future purchases your company may need, as well as any marketing collateral or association and licensing fees.
If you’re not sure where to start, Startup Jungle can help you create an expertly organized and professional business plan for your travel agency business.
Just email [email protected], and they’ll give you the help you need.
Step 3: Discover Earning Potential
Camping is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United States! With an annual revenue of campgrounds and RV parks being estimated to be worth more than $5 billion.
Consumers spent an additional $1.5 billion on camping equipment with over 40 million camping participants in the US starting from ages 6 and older.
A typical campground or RV Park in North America will generate from 70% to 80% of its income over a 12-week period. Camping grounds in the north make the majority of their income from June through August. On the other hand, camping grounds in the south generate most of their income from January through March.
Northern campgrounds cater to short term campers (campers that stay for less than a week), Southern campgrounds make most of their income off of long term campers (campers that stay for a month or more).
Short-term campers are going to generate a much higher per person/night income for your campground business than long-term campers do. They pay a much higher rate for their site ($25-$35 per night) and they buy more from your stores. Long term campers generally will pay $250-$450 per month for their site ($8-$15 per night) and they tend to buy much less from your stores.
There will also come a time when you would have the option to expand your camping sites. Although themselves do not generate income, the people occupying it does. If you look at most campgrounds, the number of sites they have is not really the problem, the rate of occupancy is.
Campground business revenue increases mainly due to more occupancy and pricing increases. Considering these factors early on in the process of your startup will allow you to know what kind of profit you make depending on the season.
Step 4: Set a Budget
How much does it cost to run a Campground Business?
There are many things needed to run any type of business, and costs to run can be few and plenty.
Depending on the scale you’re going for with your campground business the costs to start it up can vary from $10,000 to $50,000. Of course, you also need to consider the costs for other utilities and equipment that you would need to make sure your business is running smoothly.
Outlining this list of costs will allow you to take note of the amount you would be spending for your startup.
Aside from having an initial budget here are some other things think about as well:
- Supplies & Utilities
- Accounts & Taxation
- Market Research
- Advertising & Marketing
Step 5: Decide What Kind of Services to Offer
Campground Businesses usually focus on giving the best camping experience to its clients through top-of-the-line facilities and services. Thinking what these services are making a difference on what your initial earnings would be from your new business.
Learn the skills you and your staff of designers are good at, as that could be a good starting point in knowing what kinds of services you can offer to clients.
Here are some ideas for the different types of services/activities your campground business could have:
- Fly Fishing campground
- Rafting, canoeing and kayaking campground
- Motorhome only campground
- Swimming campground
- Fitness campground
- Wheelchair friendly campground
- Extended stay campground
- Motorcycles only campground
- Tent camping only campground
- Seniors only campground
- Tiny Homes on wheels campground
- Wildlife rehabilitation campground
- Sailing campground
Step 6: Decide on a Location
The location can make or break a business, especially for a campground business! You need to figure out what type of facility you require and where it needs to be located.
Owning a franchise means that you will be responsible for its marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, and quality assurance in order for this company to succeed.
But before you start owning a franchise, you should look at your finances. Can you even afford to buy a franchise? Will you be able to borrow money? or will you be able to survive while you are waiting on the franchise to start turning a profit?
Hiring an accountant may help you evaluate your finances and decide if buying a franchise is a possible option for you.
Research is key here, there is a lot of information available to help you make that choice.
But If you’re thinking about buying an existing company, it’s important to prepare a list of questions to ask when buying a business before you make a decision.
Investing in a business is a big decision, and it’s certainly one that you shouldn’t make without having all the important facts understood.
Step 7: Find Suppliers
What kind of supplies do you need for your campground business?
As a business, it helps you make money not only from your customers but from the suppliers that you will be promoting the products you get from them. Contact those suppliers and talk about your rates on materials and valuable supplies with them ahead of time.
Step 8: Promote Your Campground Business
After you’ve set up the first parts to your campground business, how do you go about making your business known to the public?
Well, there’s the old fashioned way and the modern technology way. You should be doing both!
Get some visible signs so people can easily see your business as they pass by. Use attractive and professional designs to get people attracted.
Unless you know someone who is really into camping, it’s unlikely that you’ll land a contract right away.
But advertising right away with a website, social media, or even flyers helps you reach just about anyone.
But what can you advertise? Depending on the types of services your business does.
Step 9: Create a Staffing Plan
Just like any other business, you can’t do everything on your own.
You’ll either be in such a rush that you’ll make mistakes, or take so long that customers will leave. Either way, your service, reviews, and customer loyalty will all suffer as a result.
This ensures consistency so that customers always have the same great experience!
So to make sure you have these great employees, figure out what traits you’re looking for, how many employees you need, where to find them, what your interview process looks like, how to train them, and how to properly schedule them.
Coming up with a staffing plan ahead of time will save you considerable time and effort down the road.
Step 10: Decide on a Style/Design
Deciding on a style for your campground business can be a challenge.
You want to represent your personality, but not scare away any clients who may not share your passion for neon everything. The best suggestion I can offer would be to talk to your ideal customers and see what they like!
Instead of guessing, just ask. If you have friends who are into the camping lifestyle, start with them!
As for a logo, I went to 99designs. For as little as $99, designers compete for the prize with their designs giving you a pool of high-quality concepts to choose from for a reasonable price.
You can also meet with your suppliers and ask their opinion. Or go look at other stores you love for inspiration. But make sure to focus on an efficient workflow for employees, as well as adequate flow pattern for customers.
Names for Campground Businesses:
|Taste tents||Unity Camps|
Step 11: Create an Accounting Plan
Having an accounting plan is not a “nice to have” option. It’s a must have.
As a business, your taxes will always come under scrutiny. So it’s critical to have every dollar accounted for and everything in order.
Equally important, you’ll be able to project your sales more easily with proper tracking, in addition to knowing if you are on track to stick to your budget. You’ll also be able to tell if anything is missing from your office, making an accounting plan part of your store’s security measures.
Here’s a list of accounting software we have seen:
Step 12: Get Into the Campground Business Community
If you’re joining a franchise, you’ll have franchise showcases and updates to follow, as you’re buying into a community.
This gives you such a huge boost in running your business because you’ll be surrounded by a support group who wants to see you succeed.
Be sure to join organizations such as the American Camp Association and Kampgrounds of America. Having a network of members to converse with will help you find clients and scale up your online business much faster than going it alone.
The Bottom Line
As with any business, it’s hard to get a campground business started and even harder to keep it going!
But with a little time, effort, and the compelling call of the wild and you will start to see that starting up your own business will be the best choice you’ve ever made.
If this was helpful for you and you want to learn more about opening a travel agency, StartupJungle.com has a 21 point checklist for starting your new business. Make sure you download this if you’re serious about getting started.