August is one hot month. So how can your customers stay cool when it’s hot out. The two obvious choices are to be wet or do things after the sun goes down. So how can you provide these experiences? Many RV parks have swimming pools, so that’s a perfect solution in the daytime. But what if your park does not have a pool? Why not buy one of those inflatable elephants that stand 7’ high and blows water out its trunk via a hose attachment? You’ve got the idea. Kids just like to get wet – they don’t have to be submerged. Running around in cold water on a hot day is always a hit. And for night time entertainment, all you need is the old campfire and adequate seating. Make sure you have sufficient lighting for groups to congregate safely in the dark and adding some festive lighting on smaller trees and other fixtures helps to make the night seem more friendly and magical. Don’t let the heat be a drag for your customers – just expand your creativity.
Memo From Frank & Dave
How To Successfully Find RV Park Deals Using "Cold Calls"
We have been “cold-calling” RV park owners to see if they would like to sell for over two decades. The name sound scary and unpleasant, but the reality is that it’s a great way to find RV parks and is never a chore if you do it the right way. So how do you successfully utilize “cold calling” to find RV parks to buy?
Step 1: Create your prospect list
Any cold call effort has to begin with a defined territory. You must narrow your search to those geographic areas that interest you. Once you have selected what part of America you would want to own an RV park in, the next step is to create your list of all the RV parks that meet that profile. You can effectively accomplish this using a simple Google search of those markets under the heading “RV park in ________”. You will need to assemble the complete list of potential properties noting the name of the property and full address.
Step 2: Find the owner’s name and address from the tax assessor
This is the critical step that many buyers miss. You can’t just call the RV park and talk to the manager. The manager is not the owner, and their best interests have nothing to do with yours. When you call a manager about buying the property what they hear is “this person is going to fire me”. So they always say that the owner is not interested. Instead, you have to take that property address to the tax assessor’s website or call them by phone and get the true owner’s name and address.
Step 3: Get the phone number from the internet
Once you have the actual owner’s name and address, you can again return to the internet to such sites as Switchboard.com and get the owner’s phone number. With the phone number in hand, you are now ready to get down to business. Note that some owners have set up trusts or companies and that’s what will be listed on the ownership data. However, you can still get their name by researching the officers of that entity on-line on the state’s corporate registry.
Step 4: Call and get the ball rolling
So what do you say when you call? Something like “hi, this is __________. I’m very interested in buying your ___________ RV Park, and I was wondering if you’d have an interest in that? Keep it simple and to the point. The owner now has two choices: 1) to say “no” or 2) to say “how much money are you talking about”? If it’s #2, then they have a shot of being a seller. You then try to defer the price to them by saying, “what does the tax assessor say it’s worth”? or “you’re much more familiar with the property than I am, what do you think is fair”? Often, the conversation ends with them saying “let me think about it” or “let me ask my family”. Rarely does somebody sell something on just one call – it’s really the start of a series of calls.
Step 5: Set up a schedule of contact
One of the key components to successful cold calling – as strange as this sounds – is setting the expectation for the next call before the call ends. For example, say “Ok then should I call you back in a week? So I’ll call you on Wednesday, right?” Then when you call the seller back in a week you say “hi this is _________ -- you told me to call you back today”. That puts the seller at ease that you are respectful of their time and getting their permission. If you don’t end and begin each call this way you will appear to the seller to be a pest. It sounds crazy, but it’s totally true.
Step 6: Be persistent and never give up
All good cold callers follow the same mantra: “never give up”. This is because calling is a journey and getting that final “sure, I’ll sell it” is the destination that you arrive at if you only keep going. There was a starlet in the 1920’s named Peg Entwistle. She couldn’t pay her rent and had pinned all her hopes on getting a part in a play that she auditioned for. When the phone never rang to say she got the part, she jumped off the Hollywood sign and killed herself. When her mother came to LA to get her possessions, she found a letter in her mailbox saying that she had won the part in the play. If she had only waited one more day, she would have been gainfully employed and who knows – maybe a famous star. In life, you must never, ever give up. And that goes for cold calling.
Step 7: There is no “no”
Even when an RV park owner says “no” that only goes for that one moment in history. We typically then say “OK, I understand why you wouldn’t sell right now. But can I call you back and check in in about a month?” They always say “sure” and then the game begins again. We have bought many properties that started off with a “no”. Don’t let that ever stop you.
Cold calling is a great way to find an RV park to buy. It’s not scary at all once you understand the process and make a few initial contacts. Nobody gets mad at you for wanting to give them money. Give it a try and you’ll see how it will dramatically improve your prospects.
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What To Put In An RV Park Store
Many RV parks have stores inside the office. It’s only natural that customers would need supplies while they’re on the road, and what could be more convenient than having a place to buy these items right on property? However, a big issue for some RV park owners is decided what to stock in the store. Here’s a list of items that a well-stocked RV park store would have on the shelves.
- Bottle/can opener
- Camera and memory cards
- Cookware for a campfire
- Disposable cups, dishes and silverware
- First-aid supplies
- Flashlights and lanterns
- Folding chairs
- Insect repellants
- Matches and lighter fluid
- Plastic bags
- Soft drinks and bottled water
- Sports equipment
- Toilet paper
- Trash bags
This list will get you started. But stay alert to what else customers ask for. Smart RV park owners are always listening to what their visitors tell them would make their stay better and adjusting accordingly.
How To Obtain RV Park Financing For $1 Million Or More
If you are looking at buying an RV park that costs over $1,000,000, there are some loan products that are extremely attractive. Among them is the CMBS “conduit” loan, which offers a fixed interest rate for ten years, non-recourse, and 25-year amortization. It’s extremely attractive and there’s no loan product like it in the U.S. But how do you obtain such a loan? You’ll need to use a capital consultant, also known as a “loan broker”. These are people that build your loan package, make your list of potential lenders, presents the loan, negotiates the terms, and then presents the best offers to you for consideration and selection. The best in the business is M.J. Vukovich at Bellwether Enterprises. If you are wanting to learn about your lending options on larger loans – both for new purchase and refinancing – then you owe it to yourself to give MJ a call at (612) 335-7740 and let him tell you what he can do for your property, or email him at [email protected]. We’ve been using him for years, and his expertise is unparalleled.
Park Models: A Primer
RV parks are filled with tents, 5th wheels, travel trailers and motorhomes. But what if you own none of the above? What if you want more of a standard hotel experience inside an RV park? The answer is the “park model”, which offers more traditional accommodation with all the benefits of the RV park amenities. And they’ve been a growing source of income in many properties. Here’s a primer on using park models in RV parks.
A “park model” is a structure that is less than 400 square feet and is built in a factory environment. It can be either transportable on wheels or skids to the RV park, and then is ultimately set up on blocks and tied down so it can’t blow over. Even though they are similar in design to manufactured homes, they exist under an ANSI code, which is different than the HUD code that manufactured homes must comply with. They are also frequently called “cabins” as a result of their often rustic exterior. Due to a sleeping loft, they can often sleep up to 10 people. They come in many different styles, from simplistic to luxury.
Park models offer those without RVs the opportunity to still enjoy the camping experience. They are typically rented by the night, in a fashion similar to a hotel room. Park models give large groups the ability to host reunions and events at RV parks and let everyone attend regardless of whether or not they have a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or motorhome. In addition, some Americans use these as a form of vacation home, where they permanently site the park model inside the RV park and live in it several months per year, while paying lot rent year-round.
Park models come in a wide range of price points, from around $20,000 all the way up to $80,000. They rent for a range of $50 to $200 per night. What that means is that, assuming they are occupied 12 nights a month (typically Friday, Saturday and Sunday) – and netting out the utility cost – they have a payback of around 36 to 48 months. They do not require a huge amount of repair and maintenance and have an unlimited shelf life.
Park models offer many benefits for RV park owners including:High rates of return and higher net income for the RV park. Having a product to suit every taste, from campsites to hotel rooms. Attractive addition that improves the ambiance of the property. Provides a stable additional cash flow that can continue into the winter months when campers start to dwindle.
Park models can make a great addition to any RV park. See if you should add these to your offerings and increase your net income.
How To Derive The Cap Rate For An RV Park
The “cap rate” is the standard tool of measurement that helps to compare different investment choices, as well as the measure of success in RV park desirability and economic performance. But what is a “cap rate” and how do you calculate it? Why it is important anyway? Here’s an overview.
A “cap rate” is a fraction
Think of a cap rate as nothing more than a fraction, with the net income on the top and the price of the property on the bottom. You then divide the top by the bottom and the result is a cap rate. In America, the typical cap rate on an RV park is a range of 7% to 12%+ based on the quality of the property and the amount of work it needs to be running on all eight cylinders.
In most cases, the buyer seeks the highest cap rate
Almost without exception, the buyer of an RV park wants to pay the least amount possible for the amount of net income the property produces, so they want to pay a high cap rate. When a buyer is considering several different properties, they will typically rank them in a priority level of the highest cap rate to the lowest, which makes complete sense.
At the same time, the seller prefers the lowest cape rate offer
Just as the buyer wants to pay a high cap rate, the seller desires the lowest cap rate that they can obtain. If Buyer A offers a price that equates to a 8% cap rate and Buyer B offers a 9% cap rate, the seller will always go with Buyer A – assuming they feel that they can obtain the financing. As you can see, cap rates are really a measure of the constant tug-of-war between the buyer and seller.
What can influence cap rate determination
There are two factors on cap rate determination that need to be discussed. The first is that cap rates can move significantly following closing and with better management. If you buy an RV park with low occupancy due to poor marketing and then you bolster your customer count by 25%, your cap rate increases enormously. At the same time, if you buy the RV park at one price and then have to put in large capital expenditures, it greatly reduces your cap rate. So you have to acknowledge that a cap rate is sometimes a moving target and that you can be an active participant in that fluctuation as a result of your management style.
Cap rates in RV parks are nothing more than a measurement tool. Once you understand how they work, they become a good mechanism to gauge performance, much like a batting average for a baseball player.
How Realistic Is It To Live In An RV Park You Own?
It’s a fact that many RV park owners live in or near their property. This can be extremely appealing to may buyers, as the locations are often spectacular, and what can be more enticing then trading your commute for a short walk to work where you are the boss? But how realistic is it to live in or near your RV park and what are some ground rules to make it a better experience?
Why it’s a good idea in many cases
An RV park requires management. And there’s no better manager than the person who owns the property and stands to gain the most by its operations. While some people prefer to manage from afar, the majority of RV park owners prefer a more hands-on style, and there’s no question that the top RV parks in America get the extra edge from an extremely proactive owner.
Built-in accommodations are part of the package
Many RV parks have built-in houses for the owner’s use. These were built in tandem with the RV park by the original developer, and they have no use except for that purpose. So it’s kind of wasteful to let it sit there without use, particularly when most of these homes are above-average nice and feature beautiful views.
A perk of RV park ownership
To many RV park buyers, the ability to cut loose their ties with their current day job and housing and move to an all-new life in a gorgeous setting doing things they love is a huge perk. Many RV park owners feel that the living accommodations that come with their property was one of the key elements that made them buy it. Imagine an investment that comes with free and unlimited luxury housing – that really boosts your return on investment.
But set ground rules
The only real downside from living in the park owner’s house is that you have to set up a barrier to access so that you don’t have interruptions constantly to your private life. Even though customers will not come knock on your door, employees might. Although you want to be on top of all problems, you need to set up some type of system to minimize these interruptions. Typically, you don’t need to be bothered unless you have a utility outage, or dangerous safety situation. Otherwise, any problem that occurs after hours should simply be saved and addressed in the following morning.
Many RV parks come with nice residential accommodations. These are not only a quality of life breakthrough but also are a terrific bargain that allows you to be more hands-on. When you add it all together the bottom line is that it’s a win/win situation that leads to higher net income and lower personal costs.
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