24 - May 2018 Woodall’s Campground Management Spring campground association confer- ences drew hundreds of people in the campground arena together for a few days of fun and education. Staff editors at Woodall’s Campground Managementattendedanumberofdifferent seminars at the Wisconsin Association of CampgroundOwners(WACO)conferencein Stevens Point, Wisc., and the Northeast CampgroundAssociation’s(NCA)Northeast Conference on Camping in Danvers, Mass., both held in the middle of March. Below are some of the highlights we gleamed from the sessions we were able to attend. How to Remove Unwanted Guests It’s not what you would like to do, but whatyoushoulddowhenit’stimetoremove unwanted guests from your park, advised attorney Mark Hazelbaker, who serves as WACO legal counsel. Speaking at the WACO conference, Hazelbaker said the No. 1 thing to keep in mind is “it’s your campground; you control the circumstances under which you allow people to be there.” Theseconditemistomakesuretheterm “lease” is not found anywhere in the camp- ing or reservation documentation, which would grant the guest “tenant” status and therefore removal becomes an eviction — a cumbersome, lengthy and costly legal proceeding through the court system. In- stead,thedocumentationshouldbetermed a “contract” or an “agreement,” and the campers — with no distinction between seasonal and weekenders — should be referred to as “guests.” Furthermore,Hazelbakersaidtheagree- ment should include one very important provision: “The campground may remove a guestatanytimeforanyreasondeemedby the campground in its sole discretion to be in the best interest of the campground.” “The hardest and the best question I’ve gotten from campground owners involving that clause is how are they going to answer their potential customers when they say, ‘Well, that would allow you to throw me out whenever you want to. Isn’t that unfair?’” Hazelbaker said. “The answer is, ‘we need to control our campgrounds. That’s in your best interests, too, not just mine. If somebody is making noise and blowing fireworks off at 3 a.m., do you want us to have to take them to court? Doyouwantustohavetogotoanarbitrator? Of course not. You will expect us to take action’,” he continued. When first confronting unruly guests, Hazelbaker offered some succinct advice. • Act in a professional manner and as the authority figure you are. • Know in advance the message you want to convey and stick to that message without engaging in an argument. • Have a witness accompany you. •Attempttoidentifysomeoneinthegroup who would be most responsible, talk to them privately and have them diffuse the situation for you. Finally, he suggested owners should attempttodiffusethesituationbeforegetting law enforcement involved. If the guest won’t calm down and you determine you’ll need law enforcement involved, Hazelbaker strongly cautioned that park owners should have already established a good working relationship with the local authorities. They not only are much more willing to provide their assistance, but they also would be knowledgeable of the legal basis for an owner wanting to remove a guest. Park Maintenance Starts at the Entrance Whenitcomestomaintainingapark’sap- pearance and infrastructure, Jim Button, owner of Evergreen Campground in Wild Rose, Wisc., told attendees at the WACO conference the key is developing a checklist for preventive maintenance. And, often, insurance companies will have already developed a checklist, he added. Using that checklist will prevent certain tasks not getting done due to simple forget- fulness, said Button, who also is a board member for both WACO and the National Association of RV Park and Campground Owners (ARVC). When considering the day-to-day opera- tional maintenance of your campground, Button suggested owners might want to enlist a friend or relative to conduct a casual audit of the park’s appearance. “WhenIfirstcomeintoacampground,the first thing I do is look at the entrance and see how it’s maintained,” he said. “And by ‘main- tained’ what I mean is, how does it look? Does it give you eye appeal? Are your trees trimmed?Areleavesanddebrisblownoffthe roads? If the road is gravel, is it level? Is it maintained? You can have gravel roads, they’re just fine, but to have the humps and bumps and the speed bumps, that’s not what people want. “So,havingthatfirstimpressionwhenyou comeinandhavingeverythingmaintained— areyourshrubspruned,isyoursignageclean — should be your first initial thought. And it starts at the entrance,” Button continued. Other advice Button passed along in- cluded using premium gasoline for much of the power equipment commonly used by campground operators, such as lawnmow- ers, chainsaws and trimmers. Also, he suggestedsomethingassimpleasacleaning schedule accompanied by a checklist to ensure the office, store, bathrooms and all other facilities are free of cobwebs and clutter,ingoodworkingorderand,ingeneral, portray a clean, professional and pleasing appearance. “It doesn’t come overnight,” Button pointed out. “It takes a lot of work and dedi- cation on maintaining your park. You go into the store and you open up for the first time, start at the top and work your way down. Once you do that, then all summer all you shouldhavetodoisjustmaintainthebuilding. We all have a little extra time in the winter- time—that’sthetimetodosomeofthatdeep clean and get those things taken care of.” ‘Rule of 5-7-9’ for Store Merchandising KariBuffalo,amerchandisingexpert,said that when it comes to arranging a camp- ground store the key is to draw the guest’s attention to various focal points that are designed to get them to wander around. “I like to take five minutes and just sketch a floorplan and think about what makes most sense. Where are my areas going to be and what is going to be most engaging? And move the customer from the front, to the back, to the middle and all around the store,” she said during a well-attended seminar at the WACO Conference. Develop a schedule so certain themes, such as holidays, are plotted in advance, she suggested.Also,getemployeesinvolvedwith the planning so more ideas are considered. She also advised owners to have a “focal point toolbox” that includes oft-used supplies. “A tool box should be things like cleaning supplies, a box cutter, tape, fishing line, measuring tape, a hammer, nails, a notepad, different props that you might use on a regu- larbasis,ifthere’sanysortofclipsorhangers that you’ll need. Just have that all ready so everytimeyouwanttochangesomethingit’s really easy to just go grab the plan, grab the toolbox and start working,” she said. As far as creating focal points, Buffalo of- fered up the “5-7-9” strategy, meaning there should be five, seven or nine focal points in a store, depending on its size. Each focal point Kari Buffalo talks about camp store merchandis- ing at WACO’s spring conference. This was one of dozens of educational sessions held during an array of spring conferences in early 2018. Jim Button, owner of Evergreen Campground in Wild Rose, Wisc., tells a crowd at WACO that ongoing maintenance is important at campgrounds. Spring Conferences Loaded with Expert Advice Educational seminars are a focal point of many state association conventions — and atten- dees at the recent Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) and Northeast Campground Association (NCA) annual meetings selected from dozens of discussions.