RV Park Mastery: Episode 46

Science Isn’t Just For NASA

An RV park seems like a simple business model, but maximizing its profitability is just as complicated as landing a spacecraft on the moon. Using scientific protocols to enhance your RV park is essential if you want to really optimize your profitability and efficiency. But how do you do it? In this RV Park Mastery Podcast, we’re going to discuss how you can bring science to any RV park to get a handle on making it the best income property it can be – as well as the most appreciated by your customers.

Episode 46: Science Isn’t Just For NASA Transcript

Sam Walton was once walking through one of his stores later on in his career, and as he was walking around, a young sales associate ran up to him and said, "Mr. Walton, how come the stores have this really ugly gray color on the walls? I read a report once and it said that if you have a brightly colored wall, people would be more energized to buy more stuff." Walton said to him, "Really? Well, what would you paint it?" And the guy said, "Well, I think we should paint it purple, I think a really interesting purple color would make people more excited about shopping here." So Walton said, "You know what, here's what we'll do, you go ahead and paint your department's wall purple, and we'll see how your sales are for a month, and if your sales are higher for that month than they were the month prior, then we'll try it in another department, and if that works, we'll paint the whole store purple, and then if that works we'll paint all the stores purple." Now, people were shocked that Walton, number one, would talk to the sales associate, this is way, way late in his career, and number two, he was so flexible on the idea, even though Walmart had been gray-walled for so long that he would just suddenly say, "Okay, well, let's give it a try."

But that's what applying size to your business is all about, and that's true for RV parks as much as it is for Walmart. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery podcast, we're gonna talk about applying science to RV parks. So let's first go over why people don't like science. Now, if you own an RV park or buying an RV park, I would imagine you'd be pretty devoted to try and maximize the income from that property, that's what all smart owners should do. And if you wanna maximize your income, surely science is a good way to get there. But yet you'll find many people fight you, many moms and pops, they don't wanna do any science, they hate the whole idea of that. So why would someone not like science? Well, often it's because people don't like the process, they find it to be difficult and cumbersome, and also people often don't like the results. They don't really wanna know the truth, because there's things that they're doing that they shouldn't be doing, but gosh, darn it, they really enjoy it. Instead, all of us, everyone who owns an RV park, anyone who buys an RV park should instead adopt the attitude, that putting on the white lab coat and trying things out is good.

When you adopt science in your RV park, when you agree that everything should be measured and tested, it reduces your stress and your worry because you know that you're always doing the right thing. Why do you know that? Because you did the test and the test said that that was the right thing to do. It also greatly improves your odds of success and profitability. Clearly, if I have two paths to go down and one path is superior to the other, I don't wanna go down the bad path, I only wanna go down the good one. If we all agree, therefore, that science is smart for any RV park, then the bigger question is, how do you do it? Well, the first thing you have to do if you're gonna apply science to your RV park, is you have to assume some things about the scientific process. Not only do you have to test things, but you have to fairly measure the results. If you test things, but don't measure the results, there's no point to it, then why were you even bothering to do it? You still don't know the truth of whether it worked or not. You can't go buy your own warm, fuzzy feeling of, "Yeah, I think that's a little bit better." No, you have to measure it. That's why Walton said, "Sure, paint the wall a different color," it didn't matter to him. We could paint the wall, he was just curious as anyone to see if that wall color transformed into greater sales.

He said, "Test it. Let's test it. And let's measure it." Now, what happened was the guy did test it, he painted the wall purple, and guess what happened? Sales didn't go up at all, so he went out and painted the wall back to gray, it was an all good old test, but Walton would have been just as happy if he painted the wall purple and it sold well, who wouldn't wanna have higher sales in every Walmart store? It's that attitude of willingness to embrace the idea of testing new things and measuring the results and making changes that made Walmart a success and would definitely work on an RV park. So how can we do that? Let's go over some ways you can add some science to your RV park operation. Number one, you should be tracking and recording every incoming call to your RV park, so you should take your phone number, you should put it through a service like who's calling, and every time someone calls, they get a little message that the number is being recorded for greater customer satisfaction, and then they hear the ringing to the manager and that call is recorded, that phone number is recorded, that call itself is recorded. Everything the manager says, you can now listen in and hear. You've captured every customer's phone number and you've captured every customer's experience right there for you to go back and listen to every single recording if you want.

Why is that so important? Two reasons. Number one, you're able to hear what your manager tells people to see if they're doing a good job on the phone, but it also gives you that phone number that you can later call and do an exit interview, which we're gonna come to here in a minute. Number two, consumer test all of your marketing materials in a website. Too many RV park owners view themselves as the ultimate resource. They say, "Oh, I like the way this brochure looks," or "Oh, this website looks great to me." But that's just you, you're not necessarily a customer even, and therefore your vote really is the least important. The people whose votes really matter are your customers. So everything you do, you should do a test with your customers, come up with two or three different designs for everything, a website, a brochure, a logo, it doesn't matter, and then ask a sampling of people and show all three designs to them and see if there is a clear favorite.

Large companies like Nestle, they've been doing this forever, doing market research on customers so they don't make the wrong decision on everything they do. Don't leave it up to chance and certainly don't make yourself the deciding vote, so try things, test things on that study group and see if there's a clear winner, if you've got... If you run something by 20 different people, and 18 of the 20 prefer this website to the other designs, that's what you should go with, because you know that that design is head and shoulders better than all the others. Also constantly check out your competitor's ideas, go and look at what they're doing, visit their properties, look at their websites, look at all their materials, there's no greater way than to expand your knowledge of what's going on, then to see what all your competitors are doing, to see if there are ideas there that you want to adopt. Don't just rely on your own science, rely on theirs too.

They are also constantly testing new ideas, look at their new ideas and how do those seem to be working out. And if you think those ideas would work good at your RV park, then adopt them, give them a try. Also do frequent surveys to customers, when customers come in, ask them to give you some feedback among other items, hopefully they'll give you a positive social media score, that's very important in marketing. But equally important, you can find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. None of us like to hear what our weaknesses truly are, but at the same time, I'd be willing to do it for a dollar or so, wouldn't you? 

When you hear what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong and you take efforts to fix what's going wrong, clearly, you become more profitable. Another thing you can do is establish a help line. What's a help line do? Well, it gives customers a back door channel, if you do not self-manage, to report to you what they don't like about their experience, or maybe even what they do like. If you have just a manager at your RV park, there's no way the customer can reach you, they can only talk to the manager. As a result, you can't really get truthful reports if there's any problems with your management itself. If the property is not looking good, it's not properly mowed or properly cleaned, and the customer comes in and they're frankly turned off by the appearance, there's no resource in the absence of a help line that they can go to to say, "Gosh, the property never has looked this badly." They could go to the manager, but the manager would say, "Oh, thanks for the input." But they would never tell you and they would never change the air or their ways. We've been able to catch managers over the years doing all kinds of terrible things, because we had an established help line. Basically a number that says, "Need Help?" Or, "For questions or comments, call this number."

And you can have an email address as well. Something that allows customers to get around the manager to you if they really want to report some kind of fact or news. Finally, always feel free to utilize exit interviews, since you've captured those phone numbers of customers, there's no reason you cannot go back to them and find out once again, what did we do right, what did we do wrong? Why did you not come and stay at our RV park? Why did you not stay at our RV park longer? How does our RV park compare to others? This is all extremely important information that you can utilize to do a better job, if you can figure out in any RV park what the customers are truly saying, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, where you fit in with the competition, this can totally revolutionize your business. If you can buy an RV park, any RV park, and increase your revenues, let's say by 10%, that's a gigantic jump in profitability. The bottom line to it all is that every little bit of science that you do on your RV park, whether it's your logo, the color of the brochure, your website, everything, the uniforms that your employees wear, all of it adds up to the overall macro whole.

Every inch of it is extremely, extremely important, and there's nothing that can happen in your RV park that is too lofty and too far above the very simple process of testing. It's the repetitive use of science in RV parks that separate the really, really maximized profitability properties from those that have much greater potential that's untapped. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.