As most park and campground owners know, the camping industry is one big family. And as such, people come in and out of our family each year. Part of our focus at Bonfire is to promote new ideas and efficient operations. Additionally, we would like to introduce new campground owners and share their story with like-minded enthusiasts.
On our first feature highlight, Margie and Jeff from Stinson RV Resort tell their story as the new owners of their property in Texas. Their park has been open for over a month but has really been a project in the making for over two years. Some of you will relate to Stinson RV Resort’s trials and hurdles renovating and reopening their location, while others may learn new avenues for running a successful park operation. It is my pleasure to introduce Margie and Jeff from Stinson RV Resort in Campbell, TX.
1. What led you to open an RV park?
Margie: "We researched what we really wanted to do. We love to camp and my husband loves to travel. We visited Fredericksburg and a lot of other cities in East Texas and noticed a lot of RV businesses were going up. We found 38 acres right off of the frontage road, so we bought some property. We’re very visible from the highway. We decided to build an RV resort because we love to entertain."
"My husband is a landscaping and irrigation vendor to a large chain of stores in the northeast region. So, we have a lot of trucks going out every day and there’s a lot of liability in that line of work. We hope that we can get our RV resort business on its feet so we could do something different, something with less liability."
"We hope to retire in the business. We have six grandchildren that love the camping life also, and we’re at that stage in life where we want to just settle down and just make life happy for other people."
2. Describe your typical day?
"Outside of office work, I’m social butterfly. I like to interact with my customers. I like to make sure that they’re happy with where they’re at and to make their stay better?"
"Right now, we’re building a backhouse which includes a women’s bathroom, laundry facility, and men’s bathroom. So, of course, I get out there to talk with the contractors and I’m sure they get annoyed with me, but I just like to know how things work - that’s just me. We also mark sure our general store is stocked, we’re providing excellent customer service, everything is clean, and that everyone is comfortable staying with us. I’m a firm believer that 1st impressions are lasting impressions."
3. How did you overcome your main challenges?
"One of our main challenges is with contractors. There's never enough research that you can do to really completely gauge how their work will turn out for you. Even with recommendations, you need to do the research and literally everything else you can to make sure they’re the right contractors for you. We’ve had projects that didn’t pan out because of bad contractors. The ones that we are currently working with, Larue Holmes, Phillips Electric, and Pruitt Services, are great contractors and we did the correct research to find the good people we needed."
"Another challenge that we ran into were issues with county tax laws that we were completely unaware of. We financed a loan in one county, where we lived, but the park location was in a separate county. So one day, we received a notice for the appraisal and taxes and we’re not even open yet! Here’s a piece of advice that I want people to hear. The property that we bought was originally agricultural and we transformed it into a commercial property. Unbeknownst to us, a 30 year old county law allows the county to go back five years in taxes on the property, so this accumulated to a large sum in commercial tax. So, we contacted our bank to get more information and we discovered that the county does not enforce the law. After seeking legal help and speaking with the appraisal and tax office, we were still left with the bill. Make sure you seek good help and advice when operating your own business."
4. What technology do you utilize to run a more efficient and profitable business?
"First of all, I’m very happy with Bonfire. We did a lot of research on payment processing and booking software. After using and cancelling 2 others, we found Bonfire. The other services we used just weren’t customer friendly, they were just a screen full of boxes and rubbish. When we came across Bonfire, they made changes for us and we appreciate that as well. Jerry is very nice and accommodating, he’s always willing to work with us."
"We also use Quickbooks. It helps with keeping track of our profit margins."
"We also use an online vendor from New York called Jamestown. It’s a company ran by women out of New York. Everything we have from pedestals, to fire rings, everything comes from them. We received a meter that was broken and they replaced it right away. You get on a personal level with the customer service people, and with this company, you always have the same representative."
5. What is unique about Stinson RV Park that sets you apart from others in the industry?
"Our customer service is what really sets us apart. We really care about our customer’s experience. Also, we care about hiring good people. Specifically, we hire Texas A&M Commerce students. We’re only about 9 miles north of the school. They’re smart and ambitious kids who need the money, but are willing to work hard and have fun."
6. What are the goals for the future of the business?
"So after only being open for over a month, the majority of customers are big rigs, employees from the pipeline company down the street, and we have a couple from Florida with us as well. Business has been good so far, but we want to grow. We have 79 sites, a bathhouse, a 3.5-acre pond that’s fully stocked, and a general store. We want everyone to be happy and to have a good time staying with us."
"Our goal is to start filling up our calendar with events. I’m a firm believer that when you please the children and the women, everything goes really smooth. We want to keep things fun. We plan to have a big bbq event, hire Painting With A Twist to host events here, putting up a cottage around the lake, possibly a horse barn because horses and competition rodeo are very popular around our area. We also plan to open a beer tavern where people looking to get off the road can come to eat, play cornhole, and listen to music. We have big plans, we’re just waiting to get to phase 2 financially. We have a lot of room for improvement and we’re gonna get there."
7. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
"Seeing RVs roll in! But really, to finally open our doors and seeing our customers on their sites BBQing, fishing, I mean, that’s what really makes me happy."
8. If you could offer any last piece advice to others in the industry, what would that be?
"Have true love for what you want to do, it’s not just the business."
The old adage, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life” rings true with Margie at Stinson RV Resort. As most of you can relate, just because you own and run a business does not mean you can’t enjoy the experience. Like most things in life, there will be hurdles to leap over along the way. But creating a great experience for your guests as well as your team is not just about reaching a simple goal, it’s about excelling and enjoying all the steps along the way.
Reach out to Margie at Stinson RV Resorts if you would like to connect as well as share your own experience.
Margie @ Stinson RV Resort
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