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3 Questions to Consider When Hiring Campground Management Companies

By Sean Richards November 12, 2021

With more people camping than ever before, running a campground could be a lucrative investment worth more than $273K a year.

However, running a park can feel like a tall order. From managing reservations and staffing to maintenance and compliance, there are a lot of variables in this business. That being said, there are a number of campground management companies and services that can help; but how do you know whether they’re the best fit for your park?

What services do campground management companies provide? How much will it cost? What percentage of your business will you be giving up? How much control do you relinquish?

Whether you’re looking to grow your business or just take a little off of your plate, here are five questions to consider when hiring campground management companies.

1. What are your campgrounds’ goals?

Before you hire out to any other company or service, identify the goals and philosophy of your campground. From the design of your park to the type of guest experience you want to facilitate, it’s important to have a clear vision for your business.

How hands-on do you want to be with your property? Are you someone that wants to roll up your sleeves, or would you rather invest and manage from afar? Are you a mom-and-pop looking to make reservations easier on your staff, or are you a growing campground trying to keep a personable feel? Do you just want to maintain the size of your park and get out of the office a little more?

The benefit of campground management companies is that they’ll provide an all-in-one service for operating, marketing, and growing your park; and maybe bringing on an outside team would align perfectly with what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want someone else to tackle the day-to-day and bring in business, they can be a great middleman, handling everything from staffing, training, to keeping your park compliant. Plus, if you’re eyeing retirement, a lot of management companies will even offer buyouts or gradual investment of shares, creating a natural off-ramp. However, this means fewer local hires and the risk of your park being managed by someone who doesn’t understand the culture you’re trying to create.

You might find that you only need a couple of services, or an extra hire to reach your goals. You know your business better than anyone else, and just because a full-service management company can “do it all” doesn’t mean it’s in your campground’s best interest.

2. How much are you willing to budget?

While it can be financially beneficial to operate an RV park, hiring out to a campground management company will eat into your profits.

On average, campground management companies cost around $30,000 a year (depending on the size of your park) and can take up to 30 percent of your revenue. Comparatively, campground management software, like what’s available from Good Sam, is only about $1,200 a year[1]  (for non-members) and doesn’t eat into your profits.

The question really comes down to how much outsourcing your operation is worth, as bringing in a management company can still make financial sense for larger campgrounds looking to free up their plate.

3. What are the alternative solutions?

All of that being said, there are plenty of folks who successfully manage their own campgrounds. Whether you’re looking for softwares you can run in-house or teams to partner with, there are several à la carte options for park owners.

Reservations.

Reservation systems like Good Sam’s Campground Solutions take the heavy lifting out of running your park, allowing you to spend more time building out your business and connecting with your guests; from user-friendly tools and integrations for reporting and dynamic pricing to a drag-and-drop reservation grid that makes it easy to manage bookings and check-in campers.

This past year, 97 percent of Borden Bridge and Klahanie’s bookings came from online reservations, altogether eliminating the busy work of answering phone calls and emails; not to mention lowering cost considering Good Sam parks can get started for free (with guests only paying $1 per reservation).

Marketing.

There are a number of affordable ways to market your campground without having to break the bank. Consider joining a local campground association, leverage paid ads through Google and Facebook, or even teaming up with local RV dealerships.

If you really want to extend your reach, Good Sam provides marketing and advertising services for over 2,100 parks through the use of social channels, newsletters, and a network of over 2 million Good Sam club members.

Web design.

Statistically speaking, most guests are looking for your park online to decide whether or not they’ll stay. 

Eighty-one percent of consumers research a business online before making a purchase. Adding a strong website could even grow your campground’s business by 15 to 50 percent, and quality photos could literally double your reservations.

The average cost of building a website is around $200, but there are plenty of free templates for you to build your own if you’re on a budget. If you’re looking for someone who understands the industry, RV Geeks and CIPR Communications have a lot of experience with park owners.

Finances.

When it comes to handling the finances of your park, Quickbooks is a great resource for small-to-medium campgrounds. With cloud-based packages for accounting, billing, and payroll, they can match your business needs; plus they have simple pricing plans ranging from $25 to $180 a month depending on the size of your park.

That being said, if you want to outsource accounting to a firm that deeply understands the RV industry, the team at Camp and Park Accounting provides focused services such as business consulting, cash flow analysis, and financial benchmarking. They’ve been in the industry for a while and can meet the needs of park owners in ways that traditional firms can’t. Understandably, their pricing structure is a bit more nuanced, however, they have customizable and affordable options based on the size of your business.

Making the right choice for your campground.

Full-scale campground management companies are able to provide the lion share of needs for campground owners, but they also come at a steeper cost. The question to ask is how much do you want to be hands-off, and how much of your profits are you willing to give up?

While handpicking individual services to help you run your campground requires more involvement, it also means more autonomy and fewer expenses. This will generally be a more attractive option for smaller and more mom-and-pop RV parks, but can also scale to larger organizations.

Regardless of where you land, make sure you have a clear understanding of your campground’s goals, how much you can afford, and what the alternatives are.

Want to get started?

As mentioned, Good Sam provides a number of services to give campground owners the tools they need to run their business without headaches. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, online reservations, or access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam makes managing a park as easy as possible. If you’re ready to get started we can help! Request a demo today.