WOODALLSCM.com July 2019 - 15 you look at improvements.” Westover also noted to WCM that LSI continues to hold its franchisees and poten- tial franchisees to a higher quality standard, something he also said can increase costs for those looking to join the system. “That is something that isn’t going to change,” he explained. “We know who we are targeting, camper-wise, and we know what they expect — and we are always going to expect that out of our franchisees. Our current franchisees expect that out of us as well.” Schutter said that one of the biggest chal- lenges LSI faces is keeping the Yogi Bear character relevant. A cartoon character that was popular for many parents of Millennials, today’s younger families may not relate as much to the picnic basket-stealing bear. “Keeping your product fresh is the biggest challenge any business owner faces,” he said. “I mean, we’re not advocat- ing camping — we’re advocating an activity, an experience. We have to continually make sure that our franchisees are working to keep things fresh and that they are adapting to keep up with the demands of the campers they serve.” Schutter noted that the new builds coming into the system, including a potential $10 million project in West Virginia, are taking the system to “new heights.” “Our current franchisees can look at some of the things they are bringing into the system and that, in turn, gives them new ideas on how they may be able to improve their own parks,” he said. As far as Yogi Bear goes, LSI has been assured by Warner Brothers that the character will be involved in other ventures down the road. A Yogi Bear movie was released in 2010. “However, from our standpoint, we don’t want to rest on what could happen with Yogi,” explained Schutter. “We want to continue to focus on what we can do with Yogi within our own system, and how we can continue to make it as much of a fresh, exciting and positive experience for our guests as we can.” Longtime Parks Still Going Strong The owners of the first park in the Jelly- stone Park system in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., have worked to keep things looking much the same as when the park first opened in 1969. They celebrated the park’s 50th anniversary in late June. Jim and Jill Kavicky have owned the Door County Jellystone Park since 2002 and Jill said they purchased the park because her family had been annual campers at the park since its opening. They have three children who at one time or another have been actively involved in helping to run the park, with two of the three still working at the campground. Before the Kavickys took over the park, it had been operated for 23 years by Richard and Sylvia Hinds and was originally operated by Dudley and Jeanette Owens. The Kavickys noted that the park’s pools were part of the original build, while major improvements took place in the 1980s, including the addition of a restroom and more camping sites. Over the years, other improvements have included upgrading the park’s facilities, restrooms, plumbing and electrical infrastructure. The Kavickys are currently resurfacing their three swimming pools with new plaster and adding new pool decking. After spending nearly a decade building Country Stage Campground in Nova, Ohio, into a successful park, Pamela and Todd McCreary finally succeeded in becoming a YogiBear’sJellystoneParkCamp-Resortin the spring of 2018. “IworkedonbecomingaJellystonePark for seven or eight years before I was acceptedintothesystem,”Pamelanotedto Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM). With 160 sites, campers have access to both the Cleveland and Sandusky areas from the renamed Cleveland/Sandusky Jellystone Park. Thefamily-basedthemeoftheJellystone Parksystemiswhatdrovehertokeeptrying to become a franchisee, according to McCreary. “Ialwayswantedafamilyfriendlypark,” she explained. “I knew the Jellystone Park system could help me get the park I wanted and I have always loved Yogi Bear since I was a little girl.” Her husband will occasionally even don the Yogi Bear costume himself and walk around the park. “The little kids just flock to you when you are wearing it,” noted McCreary. Since joining the system a little over a year ago, McCreary said she has noticed a large jump in the number of people that camp at her park. “We have always been in agreatlocationandtheparkisbeautiful,but we never had the type of traffic that we have now — and a lot of it has to do with the Jellystone Park branding,” she highlighted. McCreary said you also can’t overlook the benefit of utilizing the marketing tools that Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the Milford, Ohio-based company that franchises the more than 80 Jellystone Park locations in North America, has at its disposal. “Theyhelpyouputeverythingtogether,” she explained, “so that your business can bring in more revenue and they have ideas that as an owner you may not have thought of in the past.” McCreary has also utilized the help she receives from LSI to tackle adding more cabins at the park and to boost sales at the park’s camp store. “I went from a store that sold around $2,000 a season to double or triple that last season,” she highlighted. “After my first weekend last season I was already reordering products and I had to reorder merchandise three times in 2018.” The story is similar at the Pigeon Forge/ Gatlinburg Jellystone Park, which also joined the Jellystone system in 2018 after previously operating as Bear Cove Village. Heather Blankenship, the owner of the park, purchased Bear Cove Village in 2011 and has worked to improve the park’s sites as well as its ameni- ties. “Joining the Jelly- stone Park system alone has generated 55% year-over-year growth in income,” she noted. “That is pretty significant.” Blankenship explained that the brand recognition and following has a huge impact on Jellystone Parks. “Jellystone Park customers are willing to pay more money and they typically stay a littlelonger,”shesaid.“Insteadofanightor two, they’re staying three or four nights, because a lot of times it’s a family taking their vacation for the year.” Blankenship also said that joining the Jellystone Park system forced her to run a more efficient business. “It forced me to streamline a lot of the things I was doing and become more con- sistent,”shesaid,addingthathavingpeople available at LSI to answer marketing and humanresourcequestions,alongwithother questions,hashelpedtakealotoftheguess work out of operating the park. “The other Jellystone Park owners have also been very helpful,” Blankenship said. “We have Facebook groups where owners are asking questions all the time and the support has been great.” WCM Owners of New Jellystone Park Locations Note Business Has Increased Since Joining the System HeatherBlankenship Jellystone 50Years – continued on page 24 Water features, including splashpads and water- slides, like at the Jellystone Park in Caledonia, Wisc., have become a recognizable feature, along with Yogi Bear, at Jellystone Parks. Yogi Bear-themed merchandise has become a huge revenue producer for Jellystone Park owners. Jellystone Parks offer a myriad of family activities, some include mini golf. Jill and Jim Kavicky Pamela McCreary, owner of the Cleveland/Sandusky Jellystone Park, says that camper awareness of the Jellystone Park brand is helping to drive in more traffic. PamelaandToddMcCreary HeatherBlankenshipsayssherunsamore efficient business now.