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Old 07-24-2021, 08:18 AM   #1
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Buying/building an rv park.

Hello. I'm a new member from central IL. I made an introduction thread, but it's going pretty slow so far. We've been rving for the last few years on a fairly small scale, but we enjoy it alot. Everything changed for us last year when we were broken into repeatedly. Our "dream home" isn't so appealing anymore. We planned to full time for a bit, see some of America, before deciding where to land. I have family in tx and wy, both with acreage. Both have offered long term rv parking with no strings. So summers up north and winters where it's warm.. Sounds great to me, and my job would allow me to find work most anywhere. The sale of our house would finance a long period to decide. We were getting ready to list the house when my wife balked. She's having trouble leaving "home".
This is where the rv park came along. We've discussed it before as a "retirement" job, since we're starting to look that direction. She mentioned a property that would have been a great place for one, but had sold and went back to farmland. That reminded me of another property that is as far as I can tell, nearly perfect.
It looks like I can buy it very reasonably. It's near several things that draw rvers for several different reasons. Now, I'm purposefully going to be vague so as not to reveal the location till the deal is a little further along. There is a sporting event that happens with great regularity within a few miles. The owner of the venue said that they could probably fill my site every weekend, all summer long.
It has a long shoreline, and a beautiful pond. Water draws fishermen, hunters, etc.
It's large, and has potential for portions to be sold for development to help pay back the investment.
It's already been improved for a different use, but that use complements my vision. Office building, out buildings, a restaurant with living quarters upstairs. BTW, I have no interest in fighting a two front war. The bar/restaurant would be rented out to someone else. But nearly guaranteed income.
My normally unflappable, chronically conservative banker is even excited about the idea..
Starting a business in this economic environment, and in IL to boot is daunting. But no less than selling out to full time rv. And I'm about as well suited to this as anyone can be. I've worked as a mechanic, maintenance man (factory not janitor), fabricator/welder, and now an electrician. I have many an hour trenching in conduit and water lines, and maintaining it when done. I already own or have access to quite a bit of equipment, and the ability to run it all. In a nutshell, a jack of all trades.
So to sum it all up. I have the financial means. The ability to accomplish most of the needed work myself. A pile of friends with similar skills. And the inside line on the property which hasn't even been listed yet.
BUT, I've never owned or operated a business. I see this as a major con. However, everyone starts somewhere. And if I can't hack it, I still have the land, or the option to sell out to an outfit that can..
Opinions? Let me have it..
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:25 AM   #2
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BUT, I've never owned or operated a business. I see this as a major con.
Get a Lawyer!
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:33 AM   #3
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Get a Lawyer!
That's probably not a bad idea. I keep one handy, but hadn't thought about consulting him about this. Things are pretty laid back out here in the cornfield, but better safe than sorry..
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:41 AM   #4
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With the lay of the land, and it's size, I'd like to offer a few different zones. "premium" sites. Larger, and semi private, probably with shore frontage. Normal sites. And some that are specialized for the "sporting" event people, more on that when I can. A large semi secure parking lot for extra vehicles, and visitors. And a few semi secluded community fire pits where people can get loud without bothering anyone sleeping.
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:49 AM   #5
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The premium sites are the only ones that I plan full hookups for to start. But their proximity to the water and topography is a stumbling block for sewage piping. I have to look into the health regs.
The electrical install doesn't worry me much. And my plumber friend isn't worried about the water. But sewage has me concerned. We might have to use a sewage truck for awhile if it comes to that idk. But the plan is to get the general sites and sporting sites up and running asap, hopefully by next spring. Get at least some money coming in.
I'm going to the local implement dealer next week to look at mowing options. With 80 acres, it's going to have to be big.
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:53 AM   #6
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The sporting event people have been camping with no hookups at all on their site. But the parking is very limited, so many can't even stay and rough it. So just electricity would be a major step up, and water even better yet.. So pedestals are the first in line. And central water would do for awhile.
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:55 AM   #7
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You planning on having employees? If so you need to know the costs outside juat payroll. Insurance if offered, workers comp, matching FICA taxes...not counting state stuff.

https://www.accountingtools.com/arti...ica-match.html

Have you any estimate on property/liability insurance for a campground with guests? This may be high

Yearly property taxes once you change it from farmland? It won't be the same. The more you develop it and increase the value the more your yearly taxes will be.

Any local codes you may have to adhere to in getting power, water, sewer to the site? Is the county fair or political in such? Will a good old boy system let you build...or let you spend bunches of money on infrastructure then never let you open as they have friends/family who will try to pick it up on the cheap later. Don't just assume you can do as you wish especially if you are not familiar with the ones in power there. Are you friends or an outsider?

These are all costs/considerations to factor in



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Old 07-24-2021, 09:03 AM   #8
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I would have a master plan...then build out in phases...for example if you want a larger 400 site resort...start with 100 sites and one pool...then as you grow the business add more sites and entertainment. Just my opinion....as I have seen this work before.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:05 AM   #9
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You planning on having employees? If so you need to know the costs outside juat payroll. Insurance if offered, workers comp, matching FICA taxes...not counting state stuff.

https://www.accountingtools.com/arti...ica-match.html

Have you any estimate on property/liability insurance for a campground with guests? This may be high

Yearly property taxes once you change it from farmland? It won't be the same. The more you develop it and increase the value the more your yearly taxes will be.

Any local codes you may have to adhere to in getting power, water, sewer to the site? Is the county fair or political in such? Will a good old boy system let you build...or let you spend bunches of money on infrastructure then never let you open as they have friends/family who will try to pick it up on the cheap later. Don't just assume you can do as you wish especially if you are not familiar with the ones in power there. Are you friends or an outsider?

These are all costs/considerations to factor in



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Yes, these are all logical concerns. No employees to start. That will probably change, but idk yet.
Taxes are being looked into.
Codes are non existent, but I deal with that daily as an electrician. While there are no inspectors, there are a fleet of lawyers that will be looking to sue you blind if you don't follow the code. I will be.
I don't know of any local political issues. And I am familiar with many in the local govt.
Insurance is definitely going to be an issue. More research.

But all of these things have been overcome by others. And if I can, so will I.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:10 AM   #10
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I would have a master plan...then build out in phases...for example if you want a larger 400 site resort...start with 100 sites and one pool...then as you grow the business add more sites and entertainment. Just my opinion....as I have seen this work before.
Definitely. That's in part why I'm here. Looking for suggestions to form a better plan. As for the pool, I don't think that will be part of the startup, and maybe not at all. I'd love to have one, and believe it would be a draw. But the liability and codes scare me more than a bit. With the no suction intake and handicap accessibility rules changes of the last few years make it very expensive..
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:13 AM   #11
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Get an accountant, one that deals with small businesses, they should be able to help with a financial plan because there are sure to be a lot of unexpected expenses involved.

Also keep in mind, “owning a campground” and “retired” doesn’t really work. A campground is a 7 day a week 24 hour a day operation when open for the season.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:25 AM   #12
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Get an accountant, one that deals with small businesses, they should be able to help with a financial plan because there are sure to be a lot of unexpected expenses involved.

Also keep in mind, “owning a campground” and “retired” doesn’t really work. A campground is a 7 day a week 24 hour a day operation when open for the season.
I probably won't get to "retire". So a job that I can live on site, and have a revenue stream is probably the best I can hope for. It's a long story, but it is what it is.

Edit. I'm still young enough to make it happen. But I won't be able to if I don't do something different, and quickly. This has the potential to make up for lost time. And if not it gives me something I can do even past standard retirement age. Hopefully, if it's the success everyone seems to think, I can sell out and move on someday. Idk, but that's life, if you didn't start early, you have to try harder.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:31 AM   #13
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Gave up trying to read the dense text in the original...

For an example note there are KOAs for sale from time if you have a spare $million or so. They offer business support for their franchise fees. Good place to start anyway. Private campgrounds compete against state parks -- and state parks don't pay real estate or business taxes.

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Old 07-24-2021, 09:42 AM   #14
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The local state park is always full and booked out to infinity. It doesn't suit the "sporting crowd I have in mind, due to the nature of their travels. If you decide to go to the event next weekend, your 6 months too late to reserve a spot at the state park. The venue owner is giddy at the thought of nearby, flexible, high capacity camping.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:44 AM   #15
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Talk to any RV Park/Campground owner. They'll tell you the easiest part is building it. The hard part is operations and maintenance, labor intensive. Pretty much a 24/7 job. To be competitive you will have to operate on a thin profit margin for a few years. The RV Park/Campground will become your life.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:50 AM   #16
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Talk to any RV Park/Campground owner. They'll tell you the easiest part is building it. The hard part is operations and maintenance, labor intensive. Pretty much a 24/7 job. To be competitive you will have to operate on a thin profit margin for a few years. The RV Park/Campground will become your life.
I can't and won't argue with the truth. I'm definitely aware that this will be the reality.
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:50 AM   #17
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Understand on no employees. I often wish I didn't have to deal with the headaches of same.

Now you need to understand the hassles of customer service. Since you have no employees, who is going to pick up the trash daily, check power outages when customers call at midnight, check in check out customers, clean restrooms etc.

You may can trade this out with a campground host or such....but if not, it falls on ya. 24/7. What happens if you suddenly have to leave town for a family emergency, vacation so on.

Owning a business especially at first will require personal time and sacrifices. Are you up to it...and is your wife. It affects her too.

The girl I always will regret that got away was my girlfriend at the time when I started here. She did not like my 70+ hours a week and being too tired to pay attention to her.

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Old 07-24-2021, 09:57 AM   #18
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Understand on no employees. I often wish I didn't have to deal with the headaches of same.

Now you need to understand the hassles of customer service. Since you have no employees, who is going to pick up the trash daily, check power outages when customers call at midnight, check in check out customers, clean restrooms etc.

You may can trade this out with a campground host or such....but if not, it falls on ya. 24/7. What happens if you suddenly have to leave town for a family emergency, vacation so on.

Owning a business especially at first will require personal time and sacrifices. Are you up to it...and is your wife. It affects her too.

The girl I always will regret that got away was my girlfriend at the time when I started here. She did not like my 70+ hours a week and being too tired to pay attention to her.

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A camp host is a wonderful idea. Can anyone tell me how that is viewed, surely not as an "employee".
I'm from a farm family, so living and breathing a job is something I'm familiar with. Hopefully, my current job would allow enough flexibility to do the "big stuff" if I had someone to do the day to day things. There is a small town nearby with a largely older population. Perhaps a few part time retirees would be a solution..
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Old 07-24-2021, 10:31 AM   #19
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Now if you have never read my "Mondays at the tire store" thread I have on these forums. . you need to ask yourself "are you a people person?". Be honest with yourself and do some self reflection.

What is your tolerance level for dealing with Karens/Kens(who always want to speak to the manager/owner), drunks, beligerants, rude, mentally unstable, as well as people who don't follow rules. If you are an owner of a business, you are the crisis manager. You have to know or be able to handle such...and deal with people.

How far away is the police for when things get perhaps physical or so? How far away is medical services for when a medical situation arises?

I'm not trying to rain on your parade but just alert you to things you may not have yet considered. Yes, other people do this but they also have to deal with everything I've pointed out so far.

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Old 07-24-2021, 10:43 AM   #20
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A camp host is a wonderful idea. Can anyone tell me how that is viewed, surely not as an "employee".
I'm from a farm family, so living and breathing a job is something I'm familiar with. Hopefully, my current job would allow enough flexibility to do the "big stuff" if I had someone to do the day to day things. There is a small town nearby with a largely older population. Perhaps a few part time retirees would be a solution..
I frequent an RV park in western Pennsylvania near my hometown that is run by a husband and wife team with the help of some part timers and some long term guests. They run a great park but they are out there doing something every day. They live on site and are both in their 60's. It's a love hate job for them, they threaten to retire and sell the place, they say that every time I go there. I think they really love it but just won't say it. They take pride in it and it shows. Before they bought it it was a bit run down with terrible water. Over time and re-investing the place is really nice and almost always full. Follow your dream, go for it. I'm pretty handy too and close to retiring. I might need something to do some day.
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