8 - May 2018 Woodall’s Campground Management SMART OPERATIONS Peter Pelland New Consulting Firm Aims to “Fix” Parks and Campgrounds tion of the park. It might not be “broken” as much as in need of a redo and refresh. It is amazing how compla- cent we as human beings can become to things that we see every day.We tend to stop noticing the messy office, debris that is piled up in customer view or the buildingthatneedsafreshcoatofpaint. Or we think that a dated marketing message is acceptable just because it has worked in the past. We want our clients to be great! WCM: Are there any properties that are hopeless causes? Cathy: No, but there are camp- grounds that are easier or less costly to fix than others. Also, due to local land values or the costs of improvements, some properties might be best repurposed into something other than a campground. WCM:Whataretheoptionsforapark owner who would like to contract your services? Gary:We will provide an hour of free phone consultation time. Then, we either charge by the hour — if there are only one or two smaller issues — or we offer options that include an initial site visit and a return for at least a week during the improvement process. One of our requirements that differentiates us from some other consultants is the need for funding to be in place to make theimprovementsthatweagreeneedto be made. If necessary, we will help with the budgeting and forecasting that will help the park to obtain the necessary financing. WCM:What is the coverage area for your services? Cathy: The East Coast, with a con- centration in the northeast. Camp- ground facility expectations vary regionally and we feel best prepared to advise in the northeast. That said, our currentnewpersonalprojectisacamp- ground in Florida that we are closing on in May or June, where we will be silent partnerswithourson,Tom.Bythesame token, we can and have helped friends in other states, most recently in Califor- nia and Minnesota, with park renova- tion suggestions and marketing ideas. While we are willing to go anywhere, we are also willing to admit when neces- sary if we may not be the best choice for a campground owner, depending upon the services required. To us, we see a similarity to when a campground reser- vation is turned away because you can tell on the phone that what the camper wants is not what you have to offer at your park. It is better to turn away a po- tential client with no hard feelings than to take on a project that you shouldn’t and then have hard feelings afterward. Interested in learning how Gary and Cathycanhelpyou?Youcanreachthem at 518-755-7170 or [email protected] fixer.com. PeterPellandistheCEOofPelland Advertising, a company that he founded in 1980 and that has been serving the family camping industry for more than 30 years.His company specializes in building fully respon- sive websites,along with producing a full range of four-color process print advertising for clients from coast to coast.Learn more about PellandAd- vertising at www.pelland.com. WCM Call today for a brochure: 1.800.944.0240 www.yurts.com Cottage Grove, Oregon The Original Modern Yurt Unique Pacific Yurts generate revenue! Unique Pacific Yurts generate revenue! There have long been many consult- ingcompaniesservingthecampground industry,providingawiderangeofserv- ices and varying levels of expertise. Some consultants had their starts in other industries, whereas others lack first-hand campground ownership or management experience. When the time comes, when a business admits that it needs help, there is usually nei- therthetimenorthebudgettowasteon aless-than-fully-informeddecision.One of the new players in the campground consulting business is Campground Fixer(CF),anendeavorfoundedbyGary and Cathy Reinard, most recently the owners of a former Kampgounds of America(KOA)franchiseinCopake,N.Y. I sat down with the Reinards to learn more about their new venture. WCM: There are quite a few consultants already established in the campground industry. What makes Campground Fixer unique? Cathy Reinard: Gary and I are going to participate in the entire process with our clients, showing them — not just telling them — how to do everything, helping them at every step.We will offer adviceregardingawiderangeofsuppli- ers and we will research their competi- tion and area attractions to show them what they need to do to establish a niche and differentiate their park. On the physical side, we will be “boots on the ground” in their campground itself, directly advising them how to handle remodeling, updating campsites, reor- ganizing their office, redesigning their camp store and training their staff in best practices. Our daughter Chrissy Taylor will also be a “fixer” occasionally if a park needs legal advice or a recre- ational activity plan. WCM: What are the qualifications that come into play that demonstrate your experience in the industry? Cathy:Wehavebeenhelpingandad- vising parks in New York for years, as part of Gary’s Campground Owners of New York (CONY) board membership. We have also helped KOA parks in other states and we have both served on advisory panels with both CONY and KOA, presenting seminars at the CONY convention, with a series of CONY seminars on tap for 2018. Nobody enjoys writing business plans, but we have been successful in obtaining fi- nancing, where budgets and accurate forecasts of future income are essential. WCM: What is your track record for success with the campgrounds that you have owned and operated? GaryReinard:Wehaveliterallytaken two parks from rags to riches, both requiring extensive renovation and rebranding.We converted our first park to a Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp- Resort franchise and the second became a KOA franchise. In each instance, the franchise rebranding was necessary in order to overcome campers’ misgivings about the likeli- hood of real change taking place. We don’t mind being part of a franchise,butwealsorecognizethatthe franchise arrangement is not for every- body. They might not want to have to meet certain requirements, expecta- tions or factors such as facility limita- tions, or territorial unavailability might come into play. Our second park was so run-down when we bought it that we actually found a building on the property,hiddenawayinthebrush,that we didn’t know even existed. We were willing to take risks and our parks quickly earned the highest ratings from both franchises, the Pinnacle and Founders awards. We were named “EntrepreneuroftheYear”severaltimes with Yogi, and we were rated internally by KOA in the top 5% of all their franchises. Our parks were also highly rated by Good Sam, won local “best of” awards and had excellent consumer reviews. WCM:What type of park do you see as your ideal client, the type of park that you can best help? Gary: Our ideal clients are small- to medium-sized family owned parks that feel overwhelmed, with revenues under $500,000 per year. Essentially, the parks that many other consultants do not really want. We are not out to make a fortune through consulting. We are doing this because we have been blessed with a great life thanks to this industry and we would like to give back toit.Wewanttoseefamily-ownedparks continuingtonotonlyexistbutprosper. New owners, in particular, can make mistakes in the first year or two that can have long-term repercussions that im- pacttheirfinancialsuccess.Asanexam- ple,wehaveseentoomanyparkowners obsessovertheironsitehousingpriorto renovating a store or park bathroom. They need to prioritize improvements that will generate income. At the other endofthespectrumareownerswhoare ready to retire, want to maximize their selling price and need the proper ad- vice. Our ideal park owners are defi- nitely the ones who want to do most of the work themselves.We are not substi- tutes for engineers or architects in- volvedinhugecampgroundexpansions. WCM:What types of things need to be “broken” for the Campground Fixer to enter into repair mode? Cathy: Almost anything from the physical plant to the image and reputa-