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.
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.
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.