Just to add my opinion -
Any vacation where the traveling is done via interstates is not vacation (to me). The best part is taking all the old highways and seeing the small-town sites and different local cultures.
I know you want to see everything, and I have almost made this mistake myself. Once we got 3 days into the trip, we changed course and decided to just enjoy a few places and not drive so much. We had a fantastic time can't wait to go again. We only drive 200-250 miles a day, and had plenty of time for stops, breaks, walks, whatever we wanted.
It's great to have an itinerary, but that's not a vacation. Just go at a comfortable pace and enjoy everything!
Wish we could get a decent snow like that.
I'll never own a 2WD truck. I use mine to WORK, and I frequently engage 4X4 to get in/out of where I'm working.
Going into the woods for firewood, backing the camper on wet grass, or visiting family in the snow. The benefits are endless.
Just an update - I bought that camper for $800, put $75 worth of parts into it (including new crank handle) and then sold it for $1100.
Just didn't like it as I thought I would. I have tool boxes on my truck and it was too much of a hassle to load/unload.
If I ever get a TC again, I will have a Flatbed 3500 with side-mounted tool boxes that won't interfere with the TC. Oh, and power TC jacks. That cranking stuff is overrated.
I am NOT selling this. Just ran across it and thought I'd share, in case someone in this area was looking for a good deal.
Two Honda E2000i generators with parallel kit, four wheel cart, and fuel system.
Best piece of advice we can give, and we're life-long campers.
Tell all the truths about your campground when you advertise.
If you post FHU, have them working. If you advertise 'wifi' make sure it serves everyone, not just one or two close to the office sites. If you post rates, and then 'add on' for additional kids or adults, or additional vehicles, tell us first, not after we arrive. IF you post free laundry, make sure it works. Make a fair refund policy and follow it, but allow yourself some freedom - unexpected events happen to everyone - just be fair and not greedy with it.
If you post photos on the web, include sites too. A photo of your sign in front tells us nothing. If you promise us we'll see wildlife on the trails, make sure you change its batteries regularly.
These kinds of courtesies will pay you back ten-fold over the years.
So many responses, and I'll get to them eventually. But this one I take to heart, because I agree completely.
After staying in so many campgrounds, I know what I want to avoid when I have my own. I recall staying in one campground last trip that advertised high-speed wi-fi, "fastest around" and it didn't work. Of course they couldn't do anything about it, but I could tell it was because of how they had the antenna's placed for the huge park. We were several rows away from the office. Things like that irritate me. At least be honest and say "that site has a nice view, but I must tell you that the wi-fi signal doesn't work there. You're welcome to move to a different site if you wish, or I can credit you for the inconvenience." I stayed in one park that did that. They explained our site wouldn't pick up the signal, but they invited us to use the lounge area where it worked nicely. Just taking the time to explain things made all the difference. That experience and hundreds of others will influence how I do business and treat customers.
WesternparkRV definitely puts it in perspective. I thank you very much for your input, and all those numbers.
However, as I said I'm not looking at a full-blown business overnight. I would never take out a $200k loan. If I did a loan it would be in the $30k-50k range, if that. Enough to get spaces laid out, utilities ran, etc.
Francesca - I haven't done any REAL figuring. My numbers of $20 a night, average 9 sites occupied, averaging 180 nights a year = $32,400 a year.
If I did $22 a night and had 15 nights occupied an average of 150 nights a year = $49, 500.
Again, I'm NOT looking at a get-rich overnight business. i hope that it would be self-sustaining (break even) within a couple year and then start netting a small profit, enough to keep the wife home and not having to work elsewhere.
This is still in the VERY EARLY stages. I don't even own the property yet, however it is family property and it's mine as soon as I get my house sold.
I have a cousin who has a excavating business. I intend to get initial quotes.
I have a friend who is a county engineer who would have influence on the septic system and approval. I intend to get those quotes.
A fellow firefighter is a licensed electrician, and could inspect and certify any electrical work I do.
I can get supplies through him. I'm sure I'm looking at big bucks for several hundred feet of wiring that will supply multiple 30 and 50 amp sites.
Thanks again for all the encouragement and suggestions. If and when this thing ever gets going and we "break ground" I'll start a blog that can be followed daily with photos and updates.
Just start with some pads, then a dump station and go from there.
That's basically the main idea. Start small and build up. I'm not talking about a huge business overnight. I don't want a huge business loan. Just something small and see how it goes and work up from there.
1. In addition to the fire department, I'm also a Officer with the Sheriff's Dept. Security I can handle myself when there, and I have connections for getting it done when I'm not.
2. I'm sure that during peak seasons, I'll hire local help. Grass cutting and landscaping will be a headache.
3. A budget would have to be set aside for quick emergency repairs. Toilet valve, power pedestal, etc.
4. Again, not sure yet what kind of local issues I would face. I honestly think they would be a minimum.
I want to make a list of known monthly expenses, and then have a list for expenses that I'll learn about while researching. The obvious ones are:
Maintenence (could be mulch, grass cutting, etc)
Supplies (TP and paper towels for bath house, light bulbs, trash bags, etc)
Accountant, if not done in-house
Any other suggestions?
" I kin you, brother. Understand your reasons and agree with you. That family time and help is a huge bonus. If I'm still around when it's ready, I hope to come stay awhile and enjoy the beauty and good company. "
Would be glad to meet you!
Thanks for the suggestions. Amenities/pricing are yet to be determined. Of course I need to make a profit but I don't want to be one of those parks who charge $35-40 a night because they think they can. I want to be affordable enough that I'm always full, or at least operating. I'm thinking I would only have 6 or so Full-Hookup sites, the rest would be water/elec. A dump station would be available of course. WiFi would be included in price for all sites. (I hate parks that charge extra for WiFi)
I was thinking $20 for Water/Elec sites (w/WiFi) and $25 for full-hookup sites.
Rates would be different for extended stays. Free showers, and laundry that is reasonable. (no $2.25 a load nonsense)
Basically, everything that I've found irritating in the 100 parks I've stayed in, I want to avoid.
What about insurance? I know liability insurance is a must. However, if a tree limb falls and smashes a camper's roof, does my insurance cover it, or theirs? I can understand negligence being a factor (if I am mowing and throw a rock through a customer's windshield, obviously I am liable) but if a wind storm drops a branch? I'm curious to see how things like that work out.
A private-owned pond wouldn't require a fishing license for customers to use, correct? No red tape there? However I wonder if I would encounter an expense for having the water tested since it is open to the public. Keeping it stocked would be an expense.
Thanks for allowing me to post these thoughts and questions here. I appreciate the feedback! Any and all suggestions welcome. Hope to meet some of you someday, either on the road or at my "Rockytop Campground" (assuming that will be the name)
Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I feel like a child by even suggesting something after reading your wealth of knowledge and experience, but I do have a suggestion about your tank heating issue. You mentioned using the heated gutter cables, which as you said may be overkill except for extreme cold. What if you used the heated cables as the primary heat source, but also supplemented that with standard heated pipe tape? The stuff you see on water spigots and home plumbing. Wrap it around the exit/valve and back under the tank. Use it for moderate conditions but have the ability to "turn on the heat" of the gutter cables during extreme cold.
The heat tape alone probably wouldn't keep a full tank from freezing, but it should work around the valve/exit area and pipe.
The more I look at those pictures, the prettier it gets! Another idea;
put up a little stage and have music festivals. Make sure to PM when you get it set-up. I would be a very good camper!
It's funny you mention that. When I first looked at this property, I envisioned a semi-covered stage area that could be rented for churches, retreats, bands, etc. Then I thought about having a small campground for people who wanted to stay the night. Then it changed to the full campground idea. I've always kept the stage idea in the back of my mind, though.
Don't think of it as an RV Park. Picture a well-kept State Park Campground. If the business ever closes, it won't be hard to let the land go back to natural state. Won't be any pavement. Just gravel and groomed sites.
Why do you want a campground?
Consider that you will be converting your family's homestead into a commercial property. If you want to create a 24 hour per day seven days a week job for yourself, then go for it.
If I could afford the property, I would want it all for myself.
You could probably make more money by picking up a part time shift in an adjoining town to yours. My son is a full time fire fighter in one town and part time in another.
Just presenting an opposing viewpoint. If you want to run a business, fine, but forget about having much free time or doing any traveling.
That's a very good point. However, it's not all about money. I already work multiple part-time jobs when I'm not at the firehouse to make ends meet. I want to be home! Nothing better than being at home and helping to make a living.
Hopefully enough that my wife could stay home and that would be her "job".
I would hope to have a camp host much of the time. Most reservations and check-ins could be done online or through the camp host. Other than major issues, I wouldn't have to babysit the place 24/7 once things got established.
If I had a competent Camp Host, then my wife and I could still take our vacation camping trips on occasion.
Yes, it will be busy, especially at the beginning. But I envision a few years from now when the place is established and running, and I don't see having me there full-time. A Camp Host can stay for free and in exchange handle check-ins, clean up the sites, restock the restrooms with TP and towels, empty trash, etc. If I would be out of town for a period, I have family close-by that could be hired to handle any incidents that would arise.
The biggest attraction is the adventure of it, the making it happen. "I BUILT THIS" :-)
Meeting new people every day, whether they are from down the road, or traveling across the country. I want to give people a good value for their hard-earned money. Someplace they will truly enjoy and want to return. If I make a good profit, great. But if I can simply support the business and make a bit of extra income so my wife can stay home, that's great too. I think it would be the ideal home-business, especially we have kids that grow up. There's cheap labor to clean sites and empty trash!
This county is a small-town, rural area. I don't predict much local red-tape, as far as permits or ordinances.
I have a feeling that I'll be having some long conversations with my accountant and banking friends.
Thanks for that response.
It's very exciting. I am a full-time Firefighter/EMT but my schedule is only 10 24-hour shifts per month. That leaves 20 days off for this, plus the wife would be at home.
What makes me nervous is the paperwork and numbers, getting started. Getting quotes for septic and utility upgrades, excavating, landscaping, construction of showerhouse. Permits, insurance. Taxes...! Business loan to get started? Or just pay cash and not have it ready for about 10 years? All questions yet to be answered.
I'm handy with electrical and plumbing, and can do most work myself. What will be expensive is the excavating and septic, as well as the initial electrical service upgrade.
I have an 01 Silverado with the same drivetrain. My camper was 3500 dry weight but I'm certain that I was close to 5000 loaded. I had two weeks worth of supplies, tools, generator, air compressor, extra fuel, two dogs, firewood, and the fresh water tank filled.
Went to Colorado and back, and going up the BIG mountains out there, I couldn't get over 20MPH.
However, for normal driving, it does ok. Around 10MPG average. You won't win any speed contests, but just take your time and you'll get there. Make sure you get a transmission cooler and have everything serviced.