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Old 08-19-2013, 05:59 PM   #15
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DO NOT invest your money unless you are 110% sure you will be paid/profit enough to compensate you for your time..... Breaking even isn't an option IMO..... If you have a full time job, figure the expense of a full time employee that can manage your day to day ops...that you can TRUST and wont outright steal from you (hard to find). Best of luck!!

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Old 08-19-2013, 06:00 PM   #16
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If its an established campground , you should be able to get the accounts , is it profitable now ?
Don't pay too much attention to " we get a lot of cash business that's not on the books " !
Why does existing owner want to sell ?
Any significant developments in area ( mall opening or closing , new roads etc )

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Old 08-19-2013, 06:07 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JudyH View Post
pull-thru's for those on their way someplace who don't want to unhook.
I'd go a step further. If the campground is near a major highway, have some pull through sites with just a 50 amp electric hookup. No water, no sewer. Easy in and out. Charge no more than $10 or $15 with a 1 night stay limit. Pull off the highway, hook up, get 8 hours sleep and on the road again.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:08 PM   #18
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First, my recommendations for what I would look for:

1. level sites wide enough and long enough for the larger motorhomes on the road today
2. clean, well landscaped with a few trees for shade
3. neat things to do nearby
4. fenced dog run
5. we don't need it but for folks with children, a pool and play area
6. helpful and friendly staff

We also considered buying a campground several years ago here on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. We were going to partner with another campground/marina owner who had the equipment and skills to help me get it in shape (in needed work but had great potential). I also was not going to give up my day job and would rely on DW and trusted employees to keep things going while I was at work. We knew it would be a consumer of all our time during the busy season but the plan was to close in late October and re-open in early spring.

In the end, we decided it was just too much work and risk. I did a lot of research and a lot of campground owners said reliable help was hard to find and keep and the headaches and heartaches were beyond belief at times. I spent a lot of my time away from work helping the potential partner run his RV park/marina and got an up close and personal view of what was involved. It consumes you if you do it right and want to be successful. My research revealed that a key ingredient to those who seemed most satisifed with campground ownership were those who had other family members involved who were willing to make the shared sacrifices to pull it off. We did not have that option.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:10 PM   #19
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Another couple of things:

If you have rules, ENFORCE them! No unleashed dogs, speeding, quiet hours, etc.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:15 PM   #20
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Go in with the minimum amount of debt, learn cash flow/expense ratios. Remember if you are not making money you are losing it. You run down the razors edge of good and bad. It is HARD work but can be done. Never forget about your silent partner [Uncle Sam]. You must be passionate about it and prepare for the good and the bad. Have fun!
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:17 PM   #21
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The DW and I went to a two day seminar regarding owning a campground. All I can tell you is be prepared for 16 hour plus days seven days a week and living on site. Plus you are not going to get rich doing it unless you have big bucks to buy a big successful operation. Also, location location location. The seminar opened our eyes to what we thought was going to be a nice way to make a decent living, is actually hard work for low pay. If you think you are going to be an absentee owner or have the wife run things while you are at another job, think again.
Other then that, it's a good idea.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:23 PM   #22
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Having spent 30+ years in the restaurant business and owning one myself be prepared to work everyday and night. If not than you had better have someone you trust with your life to operate it daily. Because when the roaster is away the hens will play and sometimes have sticky hands. Looking back on my experience of owning a restaurant I wouldn't do it again.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:30 PM   #23
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My father owned one for a while. He was a very smart and successful business man and entrepreneur. Lost a lot of sleep worrying someone was going to sue him. Decided to sell and was happy when he got out.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:40 PM   #24
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This is something I would have loved to have done in my 30's. Not so much now that 60 is knocking on my door. If you're young and in good shape and willing to put in the hours and effort required, go for it.
I agree with the poster who suggested inexpensive overnight sites for the overnighter, if near an interstate. I always figured campgrounds within a 450-500 mile radius of a major city would be a good bet for the overnighter RVer. (Think 500 miles from, say, Chicago, that's Omaha, or Nashville, or Pennsylvania) If I were younger and my knees weren't shot I would consider it!
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:05 PM   #25
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since your not looking to buy for a while maybe go and stay at this campground and see what folk's have to say and also try and judge the business that is coming in . even if you don't make a lot of money you need to make something for the investment .
while you are staying there for a few day's or week's checking the place out look at the pad's if not level try and get a estimate for how much that would cost then also go around with some type of electric meter and test 30 and 50 amp box's also look to see if there all rusted out and need to be replaces and how much that will cost . next how are the sewer's for the waste line's set up are they in good running condition ? how much to fix ?
I own a landscape company and tree's and plant's can cost a lot of money if the place is large and you want nice stuff , " you can spend hundred's of thousand's just on landscape " if needed .
if all your #'s come in and you feel comfortable with it buy it " NO Risk No Reward "
also think of how you can advertise and market better then what is being done now to gain more business ' maybe a billboard on the highway ect, "

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Old 08-19-2013, 07:11 PM   #26
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If you really enjoy being out in your motor home, I don't think you want to own a campground...especially while you keep the "day job". That's not to say that after a few years you may have employees and staff that you can trust in your absence but for the immediate future, you will be tied down to the campground if you really want to make it an attractive and money making business.

But, do your research and see what you can find out...especially if you can talk to enough campground owners to see what their time demands are and if it's really a good idea to own/manage a campground while working another job even if your wife is one heck of a lady and willing to work hard!
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:51 PM   #27
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I would take a trip, far enough away from the area not to be talking to potential competition and talk to campground owners and see how many hrs a week they work and what there approximate income is. I doubt anyone will tell you exactly what they make profit wise, since it is a cash business in some instances and may or may not be reported. I know the folks that run Baileyton RV Park, work 10-12 hrs 7 days a week, just a couple with some part time help but do most of everything their selves. I do believe it is for sale. If I was 20 yrs younger, I think I might be interested, but not now. I do like the idea of elect only sights for 1 night stays for 10.00-15.00 Think that would be a draw if you are close to the interstate. One thing I have seen here is with all the discount programs out there, you have to be careful and limit the length of stay or you will go broke quick. I think most allow 2 days on Pasport America(50% off)and just a percent off with Good Sam and others.
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:13 PM   #28
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As already mentioned there are pluses and minuses in any business like this. One poster mentioned about the help. My Mom and Dad bought a soft serve ice cream stand back in 1960. We ran it for 5 years, paid it off then they sold it and retired to FL.

One lesson we learned the hard way is that nobody really cares about your business except the immediate family. One of us had to be there every minute of every day that we were open. The help was Mom, Dad and me. At that time I was 16. We did have some other teenagers from time to time but we could not count on them. The hired help does not care as much as you will about your business. Getting and keeping individuals who really care will be your biggest challenge. I just the other day heard a restaurant owner say that he would hired 8 to get one decent worker. This restaurant is open from 6-AM to 2-PM 7 days a week. They have done well because they have hired a large family of Hispanics along with cousins etc. They work hard and seem to stay for years.

Think it through and best of luck.


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