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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Advice on how to run a RV Park
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 22:20:08 EDT
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Ajbate wrote:
> We have pretty much decided on a specific RV Park and would like to have advice
> on how to set it up for it will be pleasing for visitors.
> First, does anyone know of a better discussion group were we could get advice
> from present RV Park owners?
> Second, we are thinking of putting in asphalt for the drive ways to each site.
> Each site is gravel. We feel the cost to put it at each side would be too
> expensive this first year. However, we don't remember seeing any campgrounds
> with asphalt perhaps we were just not looking? Any comments.

I'm going to try not to make this sound preachy but I've been in
business for most of my life, made most of the mistakes that can be
made and have the scars to prove it.  The biggest mistake a lot of
new business owners make is rushing in with a bunch of changes. 
The  usual thought is "This place would REALLY make money if we
just...".  An implicit assumption to that line of reasoning is that
the previous owner was doing something incorrect.  That is usually
not the case.  I learned about a $20k lesson on that one when I
bought a welding supply store and went in and made wholesale

Everything you do in a small business must pass muster either with a
return on investment or a time savings to you.  This proposed
asphalting, will it generate any more revenues?  Probably not.  Very
few of us expect that at a campground.  Will it save gravel road
maintenance?  Perhaps.  Will it save enough to justify the outlay? 
Probably not.  Will it somehow save you some time?  Only you can
answer that.  For the money spent on asphalting, compare the return
on investment to say, installing more 50 amp electrical services so
you can attract more Class A's.

Another lesson I learned the hard way is not to take as gospel what
others in the business tell you.  When I started up my catering
service, I thought that the best way to learn quickly was to seek
out other caterers.  I figured that if I went to a distant city and
asked around, the caterers wouldn't perceive me as competition and
might be a little more open.  Boy was I wrong!  I got steered so far
off course that I needed a compass and a map to find my way back. 
Apparently those who didn't see me as competition resented me
entering the business.  Or something.

> Third, we want to rent videos. How can we legally do this?

I have a friend who has a C-store and who rents videos.  This is a
hard business for the independent to make money in.  You have to buy
videos that have been licensed for rental.  They are recorded with
the previews and the ads and the big FBI warning against copying and
such.  You pay the royalties up front in the purchase price.  A
typical non-blockbuster movie costs $60 a cassette.  If you only
get, say, $2 a rental, you have to rent it 30 times to make up the
purchase price.  And you gamble that the tape will last that long. 
In contrast, large chains like BlockBusters have negotiated deals
with the studios whereby they pay royalties only after the movie is
rented.  They pay perhaps $3 a cassette up front.  That is how they
can have 50 copies of Titanic on the shelf.  My friend makes money
by keeping a huge selection of second run and old movies on the
shelf indefinitely.  He caters to those who will rent a half dozen
movies for a weekend, perhaps watch half of 'em and return them on a

I'd be very leery of movie rentals in a campground.  Just think of
how many people will accidentally drive off with a movie.  Or plug
'em into VCRs that are full of road dirt.  Unless you get a hefty
deposit up front, you'd have no way to compensate for the loss.


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