Ways To Make Extra Money Each Season

Autumn:

Autumn is the most beautiful season and a wonderful time for camping. A great way to showcase that beauty and make some extra money is by photographing it. Keepsakes like postcards, t-shirts and mugs can be emblazoned with your images and cherished forever by campers. This is a good way to grab camper's addresses too. You will need to get their current home address to send them their mugs. You can charge a little more for your time and picture. Use a service such as Vista Print to order the keepsakes. 

This season also happens to be when days start to become shorter. Don't let your campers get stuck in the dark. Having headlamps, flashlights and lanterns available will make everyone's camping experience brighter.

Winter:

Winter isn't everyone's favorite season but it is the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday ornaments and decorations are just one way you can spread cheer and make some extra cash. If your campground is in a part of the country that gets cold, you probably already have firewood available but, for most campers, it's all about what's roasting on top of the bonfire. Having marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars is a perfect way to make a little extra money and make your campground just that much sweeter.

Spring:

In like a lion and out like a lamb. A day of camping can be totally ruined by those roaring spring storms. However, if your campers have the option to buy their family a set of ponchos at their campground so that they can still enjoy their trip, you've just saved the day and made some extra cash in the process. If you enjoy gardening you might also consider selling bouquets of flowers or fresh veggies around this time of year.

Summer:

Though Summer is definitely the best season of all, some folks just can't take the heat. An often overlooked part of RV'ing during this season is how much heat comes through the windows. Having reflective window coverings available for purchase can make a huge difference for a family trying to stay cool. Many RV's also do not come equipped with an ice maker and even the best coolers will eventually be full of melted ice. Having ice for sale at a campground is a great way to bring in extra money in the summertime. If you're keeping ice frozen, you can also keep popsicles frozen which are a great treat for campers of all ages.

 

Customer Highlight: Crockery Creek RV Park

This month our customer spotlight is on Derek and Vicky Brookshire, a couple who manage one of the most beautiful campgrounds in the country. The Crockery Creek RV Park campground in Ravenna, MI is a resort style RV Park that everyone needs to know about. Vicky and Derek use their extensive knowledge of the area and dedication to customer experience to make sure their campground keeps people coming back again and again. HEre is what Vicki had to say. 

Where is your business located?

Located In a quiet country setting in Michigan’s Muskegon County. Crockery Creek RV Park is directly located between Grand Rapids and Ravenna, MI.

How long has your business been open?

Crockery Creek Rv Park opened its doors officially on July 4, 2014. With a bang… Yes, we did use fireworks if that's what you’re wondering.


What led you to become a part of the RV/Campground Industry?

Kind of by default. We have another seasonal business where my husband and i worked for about 30 years. We wanted a working retirement. So we decided it this was a good fit for the two of us to become campground owners. My father had the campground available and we simply decided to pull the trigger and buy it from him.

Can you describe or outline your typical day?

We get up, get our minds right. We start by making sure we have everything prepared and ready for the day. We also do have a convenient store on site that we have to pay attention to. Being prepared for the day as far as reservation goes Is crucial. That's when my daughter Kaitlin comes in handy. She does a great job at it. Making sure what we have got coming in for the day. Then comes the part where we have to make sure people on our lot understand the checkout rules. aka. They have to be off the lot by noon, that way we let other people come in at 2.

Picking up garbage for our seasonal guests would be the next task of the day. Has to be completed by 10 am. Then we focus on making sure the park is clean and ready for the next wave of campers. General maintenance is also another concern. My husband makes sure everything that needs to be fixed is lined up for the day. He is usually out and about around the park in case our new seasonal guests are having a hard time hooking up their RV’s Picking up garbage from the doggy stations are a must. Otherwise, things can get a tad “smelly”.

Next task: wood logs; Restocking on those is important, especially since we do prohibit our campers to bring their own. We ask that they purchase our wood. On evenings, we go ride around and make sure everyone is taken care of and being respectful to their neighbors and such. We live on site which makes it easier to take care of things that may occur unexpectedly.
 

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What are the main challenges you have faced?

You have plenty of challenges when you start a business. In our case, I think our biggest challenge was that we had to put almost everything brand new from plumbing, electrical to sewers. This park was empty and bare for many years. So it needed a lot of work when we came on board. Having a decent financial back up is also very important to get things done. Another tip, if you aren’t handy, or don’t have a someone you can hire that's reliable, you will sink pretty quickly in this type of business. That is simply due to the amount of labor involved to launch a campground facility.

How have you overcome those challenges (if you have)?

Again, we have done a lot of things ourselves. Without my husband being the handy man he is. It would have been a lot harder. You have to have some type of business background. You need to know basically how to manage and allocate your money.  You have to have business experience and back it up with skills that could help you save as much money as possible. Saving the cost of labor or overhead is what helped us in this case, to be honest.

How has Bonfire provided value to your business?

Our business grew tremendously this year because of Bonfire. People love the fact that they can go online, reserve and get the first-night deposit too. My daughter Kaitlin is the one managing all of Bonfire Software. So it takes a load off our shoulders. They have made our business grow, and made us look smarter!

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

My husband is sitting next to me. 

It wouldn't be a particular moment. When people make a nice comment on our Facebook page and talk about our park. How beautiful it is. How much they appreciate it. Just expressing those feelings to us whether online or in-person, gives us a little push to keep going forward and try to make it even better. It's like a tap in the back. A personal satisfactory moment would be the right word.

If you could offer any last piece advice to others in the industry, what would that be?

Let's put it this way. We try to think about the campers. As If we did were those campers ourselves. What would we want? We like to treat people with respect. Some of these campgrounds people just run them. No rules whatsoever… We've had so many of our seasonal campers that came from other closed down campgrounds. They didn't make it because the owners were taking the money away from the business. Instead of injecting it into the business and improving all aspects of it. I guess my advice would be… If you keep things beautiful and keep improving, customers will always come back to you. Just like Bonfire. You guys kept improving and we have nothing but great things to say about it. We can't wait to see what the future holds for the both of us.

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For Vicky and Derek, owning this campground is more than just a business. It’s the perfect lifestyle and fit. From making it easy to make a reservation with Bonfire, to keeping their campground site clean and well kept, Victoria and her husband provide an unforgettable experience for every visitor. If you’re thinking about camping in Michigan anytime soon, Crockery Creek RV Park is definitely worth checking out.

Winterizing Your Campground

If you own a campground or RV Park in colder climates it’s vital that you winterize your cam at the end of the summer or fall. Not doing so will cost you a fortune in broken water pipes and in time starting at the beginning next season. Below are a few suggestions and tips to not only winterize your park but also make a little extra cash along the way. 

1. Take advantage of the money-making potential. 

The first thing we want to address, before the less fun stuff, is ways to make more money during the winter months. Sell things like s'more packages complete with clothes hangers. You can also stock up on sleds and extra blankets, either charging a little for rentals or asking for great reviews online in return for use for free. 

2. Water. 

Constantly winterizing and dewinterizing cabins is hard. So the first thing we would suggest is closing some cabins down for the winter. Once you have identified the cabins and community areas that will remain open, making sure your pipes don't crack should be number one on your list. The obvious answer is draining all your pipes and then blowing out the rest of the water with a compressor. 

Some people say putting a half cup of vodka or olive oil down the drain helps push out the rest of the water from pipes. Don't forget about the water heaters and garden hoses either! 

For those who do not have the luxury of flushing everything out and shutting down cabins, make sure your pipes are well insulated. Although it does cost money, pay a plumber to take care of it for you! It will pay off in the end. 

3. Run the heat. 

Leaving heat running in cabins not only can help with pipes freezing but also leaving the heat on at about 55 to 60 degrees prevents the buckling of grouted tiles in bathrooms and kitchen. Yes, you will be paying a little in utilities but this is better than having to replace plumbing or tile work. 

4. Storage. 

Walk to your seasonal and permanent guests to see what they are ok with putting up. If you have multiple community grills, perhaps you could put up and store all but 1. If people will not be using boats or kayaks, properly store them as well only leaving 2-4 for easy access. 

5. Repairs. 

Make sure to get small repairs done prior to winter in the fall so you don't spend the better part of your spring rushing to get ready for the summer months. 

We hope all these suggestions help you get reach for the fast approaching winter months. After you are done preparing for winter months, you might as well start thinking about ways to make your campground better for next year. One way we suggest, is allowing for easy reservations online and optimizing your management practices. Click Here to see how. 

Holiday Tips and Tricks To Try for Your RV Park or Campground

The Holidays are right around the corner and although the seasonal guests are few and far between, now is the time to show your love for those who are long-term or stationary guests. You shouldn't stop there, however. The holidays are also a great time to attract new customers for next season and even reach out to old ones. Here are a few things you can do this holiday season for seasonal and non-seasonal guests at your RV Park or campground. 

1. Potlucks

You supply the Turkey or ham and have everyone else bring the side dishes. Eating, after all, is one of everyones favorite pastimes. That said, you might want to make a rule that you have to eat wherever you are throwing the feast as might want to take their plates to go. 

2. Holiday Decoration Contests

For long-term residents, you can even offer a prize for best decorated. Offering a $100 gift card to a local garden center will also help them upkeep their residence later only adding the overall look of your park. For those guests who are just there for a night or two, offer them a few decorations so they too can join in on the fun. The best thing that can happen is them taking a pic or two of their RV to show their friends! Word of mouth promotion is one of the best ways to get more customers. 

Now, we will shift to people not actually in your park. 

3. Holiday Mailers

Sending out postcards to past clients is cheap and effective. You don't need to sell them on coming back. Just saying Happy Holidays with a picture of your park will remind them how awesome their time was. Then, when they are looking to book again, you will be the first ones they think of. Don't forget to highlight any new features your park might have or will be getting soon!

4. Visitor Center Cookies

RV owners stop at visitors centers a lot. Dropping off a basket of cookies will only get you praise from the employees and hopefully, they will also plug your park in the future.

Although simple, these 4 ideas will not only get your residents in the holiday spirit, hopefully, you will end up attracting more clients for the peak Summer seasons. Happy Holidays from all of us at Bonfire! 

5 Simple Things You Can Do NOW to Get More Customers

Whew... you made it through the peak of camping season. Now that you have some time to collect your thoughts (and hopefully your money), it might be time to start thinking about next year. Below are a few things to start considering to make next year's season even more profitable and the best experience for your customers. 

1. Internet Access

Back in the 1990’s, RV parks needed to be "modem friendly" - making sure guests had access to a phone line to occasionally check their email. But with changing times, "modem friendly" is now like having a "horse and buggy". 

Just as more and more hotels are competing for new business by offering "Free High-Speed Internet", RV parks and campgrounds are doing so as well. That said, the quality of wireless services has become a matter of growing concern to RV’ers. It's not enough to SAY you offer an internet connection -- you need to ensure it's a quality signal. That can be hard and we understand, but word of mouth is powerful, and one of the key things RV’ers discuss in forums and amongst themselves, is access to a quality wireless signal.

2. Simple Restroom Upgrades

Everyone uses the bathroom and if RVer's are traveling in a large group, they too will opt into using the group showers. Simple upgrades like good showerheads and enough clothe's hooks really make the difference between a negative and a positive experience. 

For example: In your showers are there ample hooks for hanging clothes AND a towel? And in the shower stalls have you provided some type of mat that your guests can use while drying off? Or may they be forced to stand in a puddle of water left by the last careless guest? Total upgrade cost per 5 stall bathroom: $200

3. Take Charge of your Website & Online Reservation Software:

Over 40% of people in 2016 booked their stay 1-5 days in advance and 24% booked stays the day of. Most people who are looking to book the day of don’t have time to call around. They are looking for convenience. So why not let your campground or RV park can give that to them while making money? 

RV park and campground online reservation systems are a must for this day in age. Luckily, sites like Bonfire makes it easy. People are used to having everything at their fingertips. They will pick the park easiest for them book.

4. Create a Newsletter or coupon to leave with customers: 

Sometimes people need a reminder to come back. A newsletter is a great way to do this. Tell customers they get a coupon for their next visit if they provide you with an email address. You'll be amazed how many folks will subscribe and it will keep them reminded that they want to come back. Check out MailChimp. It is a very easy service to use and set up. 

5. Show You're Serious About Pets: 

Nowadays pets are family and park's that treat these four-legged creatures well, get major brownie points. Simple things like having off-leash zones and water stations will really boost appeal. That said, no one will no without a website that highlights these amenities correctly. Check out Bonfire for all things RV and Campground website creation and park management software. 

Again, CONGRATS for making it through the peak of the season. It is never too early to start thinking about ways to make next season even better. We hope you found some of these things useful and please, let us know if you have any more tips!