Do you want to start a campground company from scratch? Or you need a sample campground business plan template? If YES, then i advice you read on. It is no longer news that retrenchment and compulsory sack has become the order of the day as the world’s economy is still finding it difficult to stabilize after the economy crash of 2012 where many lost their jobs. This situation has led to many people looking for alternatives to keep their heads above water and be able to provide means of livelihood for their families.

Even those still in employment are also thinking of other streams of income in order not to be caught napping should the sack hammer drop on them. To this extent quite a number of people are considering the option of starting their own businesses. The challenge many have though, is what line of business they should go into.

Owning and running a campground is one of many business options available to those who fall in this category. But just like any other business, there are guidelines, rules and regulations that guide the process of starting and running campground business successfully, even if you have not own a business before.

Now, let us quickly consider the steps to follow to be able to start your own campground business and then build it to the level of stability and profitability.

Starting a Campground – Sample Business Plan Template

1. Decide What Kind of Campground You Want to Start

There are not many campgrounds that are all-purpose built. Different campgrounds are built to offer different levels of services for campers. So, you must decide which one you want to own and run. Is it a seasonal or all year-round? Is it a tent-only or one with full buildings? Is it one that targets specific audiences or an all-comers campground? You must decide.

2. Draw a Plan for the Campground Business

Just like any other business, a sound campground business plan is critical as this will show you from the outset the viability of the venture. And it is also necessary should it be capital intensive and would be needing investors. Business plans are sometimes technical and you may need to consult someone who has sound knowledge in developing business plans to assist you for a fee.

3. Seek Investment

After coming up with the plan, the next thing to do is to raise capital. If it is such that requires huge capital that you cannot bankroll on your own, then you must seek for investors and present your plan to them. They may be angel or equity investors or even your banker(s).

4. Register your campground business

Operating a business without registering it with necessary governmental authorities is a punishable offense in many countries. So you just register the campground business with necessary authorities and agencies within your city to obtain required licenses that will allow you operate legally.

5. Obtain Construction Permit

Not only are you to obtain license to operate, you also need to contact the agency in charge of building construction in the city you wish to locate your campground for necessary vetting and approval of your building plan. In some places certain types of buildings are not permitted in certain areas as they do not meet up with the master plan of the town or city. So, you must verify and get the permit.

6. Get the Team for the Construction

Now that you have obtained the permit you need to construct your campground, you need the team that will turn the plan into a masterpiece. Get your architects, engineers, electricians, and the rest members of the team you will need. Don’t forget that areas like game rooms, bathrooms/house, laundry facilities, picnic tables and/or rooms, swimming pools, fire rings, parking lots are to be part of the ground.

7. Hire Service and Maintenance Personnel

Obviously a project/business as huge as this will need several hands to make operations go smoothly. You will need both full-time and part-time staffers. Go ahead and hire them via referrals or use a consultant to do the hiring. Just make sure they are people with experience in tourism or hospitality industry and have clean records. They must also be people who are polite and can represent fully the image you will like to project as a business entity.

8. Set the Fees for Your Campground Business

Now that everything is looking up, it is time to determine the fees to charge your clients. Remember that the fees you charge will be influenced by the kind of campground you are operating and still at that you must bear in mind that there are competitors who have been on ground before you, so charging a slightly lower fee may help attract visitors and campers to your campground.

9. Build a Website for the Campground

The world has become a global village and the internet is its window. It is imperative that you build a functional website with information and photos about the location of the campground, suggestion for activities are available. It should also offer online reservation and so on.

It will also do your business if you list it with online yellow pages and have them put up links to your website. This will help your business to reach a larger market. Don’t also forget the place of social media sites like Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the rest of them.

10. Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!

There is no point winking in darkness. If you have the campground and people don’t know that it exists, you may soon have to turn it ‘dump ground’. Apart from the internet, also use other media to advertise. Local newspapers, national dailies, tourism journals and publications will be helpful in this regard.

11. Set a Date for the Opening and Open

Now that all is set, you need to open the campground for business. And you could do that in a grand style. Organize a show of some sort. Invite friends and families. Give free bees to people on that day and generally incite them with special discounts to encourage them to come to your campground for camping activities.

There you have the guidelines to starting a campground business.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How Do You Apply For A License To Operate A Campground?

This will depend on the location of your campground because regulations tend to be different from one jurisdiction to another. Regulations and how to apply to operate a campground in your local area can be found in zoning laws, municipal codes, or state regulations.

  1. What Kind Of Supplies Do You Need For Your Campground Business?
  • Land
  • Licensing and Permits
  • Electric
  • Water
  • Septic system
  • Restrooms
  • Office
  • High-speed internet
  1. How Much Does It Cost To Start A Campground?

Aside from the cost of land, it will be around $20,000.00 and $30,000.00 per site to start a campground.

  1. How Much Land Is Needed To Start Up A Primitive Campground?

According to experts, at least 5 acres or more.

  1. How Much Would It Cost To Start A Campground That Already Exists?

According to experts, an existing campground with amenities already in place will cost around $100,000 to $2 million+, and you can assume a substantial amount of additional renovation.

  1. How Much Does It Cost To Run A Campground Business?

This will vary depending on how the campground is set up. While some parks are quite inexpensive to run, a good number of others are extremely expensive. Factors such as location, zoning, competition, level of amenities, and volume of guests, seasonal impacts, and availability of resources all play a part in driving your costs.

  1. What Other Regulations Do You Need To Operate A Campground?

When starting and running a campground, you might have to apply for various other permits or certificates, depending on what you intend to install or offer (e.g. Place of Assembly Permit if a huge number of people will gather on your campground, Sign Permit, Sign Building Permit, Swimming Pool Permit to install, operate or construct a pool; Restaurant Equipment Authorization, Food Service Establishment Permit, Food Protection Certificate or Pool Operator Certificate, etc.). Your local government will be able to advise you on all of these requirements.

  1. How Many Sites Can You Have In Your Proposed Campground?

Have it in mind that you can have as many sites in a campground as the septic system and the sanitary/shower building can support. Note that to have more sites, the septic system and/or sanitary facilities need to be adequate and also expanded to meet with the extra demands.

  1. How Much Does A License To Operate A Campground Cost?

This will vary according to states, cities, and counties, and you will have to contact your local authority to find out.

  1. What Should The Campground Fees Be Set At?

Ideally, campground fees are set between $25 and $80 per night depending on the location, the size of the space, and the amenities available in the campground.

  1. How Does One Go About Finding An Owner Of A Campground On The Other Side Of The Country To Talk To?

Note that the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) is a trade association that is well suited in providing resources and assistance to more than 3,700 campground owners throughout the nation. When venturing into this industry, it is advisable to participate in ARVC or other trade groups to stay on top of campground industry developments and to network with other campground owners.

  1. Who Do You Speak With If You Have Technical Questions About The Requirements To Operate A Campground?

Your district health inspector is the best person to speak with if you have technical questions about the requirements to operate a campground.

  1. What Are Some Skills And Experiences That Will Help You Build A Successful Campground?

To build and run a successful campground, owners need a wide range of skills, especially if they intend to do all of the work without hiring or outsourcing! Skills that will help include:

  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing
  • Accounting
  • Working with heavy equipment
  • Landscaping and design
  • Electrical
  • Office management
  • Customer service
  1. What Are The Factors That Can Influence The Selection Of Campground Software?

There are numerous factors that will influence this answer, and they include;

  • Price
  • Reviews
  • Platform Ease of Use and Layout
  • Customer Service
  • POS
  • Cloud vs. Software
  1. Does A Private Campground Need A License From The State Of Illinois To Operate?

In the State of Illinois, campgrounds that operate more than 5 nights per year are mandated to obtain a State permit, although there are some limited exceptions. Ensure to contact the Illinois Department of Public Health in Marion at 618- 993-7010 for more information.

  1. The Campground Was Recently Inspected With the Previous Owner; Does It Need To Be Inspected Again If Ownership Changes To Me?

This will depend on the Health Inspector and how well he or she knows the campground, history, and if you intend to make certain renovations or changes to your menu.

  1. What Happens During A Typical Day At A Campground?

As a new business, the business owner will be expected to do all the work. He or she is expected to perform the following duties;

  • Cleaning bathhouses and bathrooms
  • Interacting with campers in person and on the phone
  • Setting reservations
  • Planning events
  • Checking campers in and out
  • Accounting
  • Emptying trash containers at each campsite
  • Handling campers’ complaints about other campers, the site, or the campground
  • Opening and cleaning rec rooms and other amenities the campground offers
  • Seasonal duties such as snow plowing, picking up debris from trees, and cleaning up after storms.
  1. Is Owning A Campground Profitable?

Yes, owning a campground can be very profitable if it is done right. Whether you start from scratch or build on a pre-existing campground, there are many factors that can influence the profitability of your campgrounds like your location, business experience and timing.

  1. Should I Use An LLC Formation Service Or Do It Myself?

To form an LLC, you just need to follow certain simple procedures and many people can do so without much difficulty. You just have to visit the Secretary of State’s website, ensure that your business name is available, file out the Articles of Organization (also called a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization depending on the state), and paying all necessary fees.

Note that the process can differ in states, and some can be quite easier than others, however, it is very common to come across processes and requirements that sound strange. For individuals, this can cause issues. Therefore, to avoid mistakes and uncertainties, using a formation service is best.

  1. With All These Cons Of Owning A Campground, Why Would Anyone Want To Purchase One At All?

Aside from being lucrative, owning and managing a campground is indeed a very rewarding experience. Although you will be busy, you will get to be your own boss. You can set up your own schedule based on the needs of your park and your own personal agenda. As a cash business that is busy through the summer and cost-free living arrangements on the property, owning a campground can be a wonderful investment with the ability to rake in a large profit.

  1. What Are The Costs Involved In Opening A Campground?

If you are building or starting from the scratch, then expect the cost to include;

  • The purchase of land
  • For acquiring an existing campsite, prices range from about $100,000 to over $2 million.
  • Licensing and permitting, including sales tax and occupancy certificates
  • Designing the campground, including roads, the locations of the sites, and locations of amenities you are providing. These may include playgrounds, a dog walk area, and rec room, boat ramp, hiking trails, roads, and bridges.
  • Clearing of the land and creating the roads
  • Installing electric, plumbing, and septic systems
  • Construction of bathhouses, bathrooms, fencing, rec buildings, installing a pool, and building any other amenities you plan.
  1. How Do You Apply For A Department Of Health And Human Services License?

To apply for a department of Health and Human Service License, you will need to download an application (PDF) online or call the Health Inspection Program’s main line at 207-287-5671 for a hard copy. Note that you will be expected to provide information about the business owner, a general site plan, and the proposal. You will also be expected to provide a copy of a water test if you use a well as a water supply, and a copy of your septic systems design if you are not on a public sewer.

  1. How Soon Can I Get a License After An Application Is Submitted?

Note that immediately the district health inspector has given approval for you to operate your campground, within 30 days of receipt of a completed application, if there are no other pending issues, the Health Inspector will inform the Licensing Clerk to issue your license. This is more or less within a week once the Health Inspector informs the Licensing Clerk.

  1. What Are Some Insider Tips For Jump Starting A Campground?

Note that you won’t have to spend much if you already have the land available. However, it is necessary to always consider what the area has to offer. If there is a river on the property, you might have to cater to those who like to fish. But if most of the land is flat, then expect to cater to the handicapped, especially if you are able to make concrete hiking trails that would be easy for those in wheelchairs to navigate.

You should consider inculcating a small store, playgrounds for children, a dog park area, and a recreation room for those rainy days. Extra things to consider include:

  • Ensure to make curves and turns in the roads wide enough for longer rigs.
  • Ensure to have numerous of pull-through sites to make it easier for the larger rigs.
  • While “glamping” is quite famous, you will also find that there are many who like to rough it. Be sure to have plenty of primitive sites for tents.
  • Provide a good variety of 50-amp and 30-amp hook-ups.
  1. What Is The Growth Potential For A Campground?

The growth potential of any campground depends on how much extra land is available. Note that owners of these businesses could make over $1 million per year if the campground is big enough and is popular. In addition, if a campground is small, but is always booked to capacity, the owner could acquire adjoining land to make additional campsites and grow business revenue.

Another way to engineer growth in this business is to create a franchise. Franchises, without doubt, offer you unlimited growth potential, since you can open campgrounds across the country. Note that you would make money from franchise fees and a portion of the profits for each campground.

  1. What Are The Ongoing Expenses For A Campground?

Have it in mind that this will differ greatly, depending on how the campground is set up. However, they may include:

  • Garbage disposal
  • Septic tank maintenance and cleaning
  • Utilities
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Payroll
  • Licenses and permits that need to be renewed
  • Inventory
  • Entertainment, such as paying performers
  • Gas for camp vehicles
  • Maintenance on camp vehicles
  • Gravel for roads, if applicable
  • Patch materials for paved roads
  1. How Can You Make Your Business More Profitable?

To make your campground more profitable, here are strategies to consider;

  • Inculcate more sites
  • Analyze your accounting to ensure that you are charging a fair amount that covers utilities and your liabilities
  • Ensure that you are sold out by making your campground the best place to go in your locations
  • Establish a budget and stick to it
  • Add additional services that you might charge for, such as ice, firewood, and a store
Ajaero Tony Martins