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Campground and RV Park Management Tip of the Month - Northern Campgrounds 

Tip of the Month: December

Now that the snow is swirling around the park, there are very few demands on your time. Oh yes, you have a ton of book work to do and there is usually work that can be done on the inside of some of your buildings, but this is an ideal time to curl up with a good book, or rather, report. Take time this month to review the research done over the past twelve months by the local Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the state tourism office. Try to see where the visitors to your area are coming from and who they are. Then go back to your registration information and try to see how your customers fit into the local or state research data. Think of new ways to reach new customers next year using this research.

Tip of the Month: January

While you are still locked into the depth of winter, summer is not too far away and your customers are already planning where they are going to go on vacation. Now is the time to double check your schedule for attendance at travel shows in your key markets. Are you registered for the show? Do you have enough handouts? Is your booth in good shape? Are your work schedules all done?

Tip of the month: February

Now is the time to start planning for all of those important spring repair projects as well as the new improvements you plan to build. The best organized campground owner I ever saw was an engineer by trade and around this time of the year he created a notebook with a loose-leaf page for each major project. On this page he listed what needed to be done, how it was going to be done, what materials would be needed, how long he thought it would take and who was going to do it. You should also note if this project needs any type of permits. By taking the time to think these projects through now, you can purchase the materials needed for all of your spring projects at one time saving both time and money.

Tip of the Month: March

There is an old adage that says “a bad sign is a sign of a bad business.” As your customers come down the highway the first impression they will have of your campground comes from the highway signs. What do your signs say about you? Have you ever heard someone on an airplane say, “if the drop down trays are broken and dirty, how well have they taken care of the engines?” Take time this month to drive around and try to look at all of your signs as if you are seeing them for the first time. Then make plans to repaint or repair as necessary.

Tip of the Month: April

Now that spring breakup has occurred, you need to take a hard look at your roads. Be especially critical of the main entrance road. If it is paved, do you have new potholes? Are there breaks in the pavement? If it isn't paved, does it need to be graded? How about dust control? It is important to take care of the roads as early as possible, before campers begin to show up and complain about the condition of the road or complain about the equipment working on the roads.

Tip of the month: May

It’s not too early to start to think about how you are going to control the weeds that sprout up throughout your campground later this month. While both the federal and state government now regulates the entire field of pesticides, herbicides are not as tightly regulated so even without a pesticide license you can purchase some very good commercial herbicides. The best thing to do is to take a look in your telephone book under Agricultural Chemicals. Then go to a suppliers store and ask them what will work the best for your situation. Usually if you apply a tank combination of a burn down herbicide and a preemergence chemical you can control weeds in your sites for a year. The other alternative is to hire a commercial applicator to apply the necessary chemicals.

Tip of the month: June

As schools let out and your business begins to pick up you will be adding new staff members. No matter how busy you are you have to take the time to train these new hires. Often we think about showing the new front desk people how to register campers and where to find things, but did you ever think about how many of your customers talk to the people cleaning the fire rings or mowing the grass? At Walt Disney World, they brief the employees who pick up the garbage each morning on what attractions are new, which ones are closed and any other changes to the park. Their research shows that these employees talk to more visitors than any other employee. It is critical that you take the time to train all employees on all phases of the campground’s operation and on customer service.

Tip of the month: July

For most northern campgrounds July is the month when your business begins to peak. It is also the beginning of the most stress on the campground facilities as well as on the staff. This is a good time to review the cleaning schedules for all of your facilities but especially the restrooms. Do you need to start earlier in the morning? Do you need to end later at night? Do you need to have a staff member check the facilities every hour or two. Do you need to do a daily inspection yourself? Do you need to augment the staff? What was enough manpower last month may not be good enough this month and next.

Tip of the month: August

Most of the northern campgrounds have fairly extensive stores in their campgrounds with a lot of seasonal items like Tee shirts, local jellies and other souvenirs. While you still have a good thirty days left of the camping season, it is now time to review your store inventory. Do you have items that you really thought were great when you went to the gift show last winter, but the campers haven’t been buying them? Did you order too many yoyos this year? Now is the time to run clearance sales. If you wait until next month, you won’t have enough customers to sell the merchandise to even if you mark it down to below your cost. You know you can’t eat Tee shirts next winter so you had better get rid of them now. (Sell em on your website. You do have an email newsletter, don't you?)

Tip of the month: September

The campers are gone and the temptation is to put your feet up and take it easy. You are still getting a few campers on the weekends and some of the senior citizens are coming through to see the fall color but in general you now have some time available. This is a good time to begin to shut down parts of your campground that you aren’t using. How about that restroom way out in the back of the park? How about some of your camping cabins? This is a great time to get a jump on next spring by doing any remodeling, deep cleaning or repairs to these facilities. Then when you are really busy trying to open up next spring, these facilities will be ready to go.

Tip of the month: October

By the beginning of October most of the northern campgrounds are running out of campers. The one exception is those parks that cater to fall hunters. For the rest of us this is the time to make sure all of the water lines are blown out so they won’t freeze. Don’t forget to drain the toilets in all of the restrooms and be sure to eliminate the water in the bottom of the toilets. Just to be sure a good idea is to add a small amount of antifreeze to the storage tank in the back of each toilet and then flush them. Don’t forget the irrigation lines as well as the water to the sites.

Tip of the month: November

It makes no difference whether your campground or RV Park is in the North or South. This month you need to plan to attend the various meetings of your campground associations. At these meetings you will have the opportunity to learn how the other parks in your area are doing and plan common marketing programs to grow the industry. During November many of the state campground owner’s associations will hold a planning meeting. This is also usually the month for meetings of Kampgrounds of America Franchisees, The Jellystone Symposium, and the ARVC convention. One of the best places to learn more about these meetings is at the web site of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds at: http://www.arvc.org



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Staves Consulting
1-406-656-7086
3191 Parkhill
Billings MT 59102