Business Overview

If you love the outdoors and some hard work, you could start a campground business. Whether you have land or are purchasing land, you could start enjoying the great outdoors and working for yourself as soon as you get everything set up. You'll provide a place for people who are passing through on their way to another destination and for those who want to enjoy some time connecting with nature. Campers use all sorts of shelters from tents to fully contained RVs.

Before you start a campground business, you'll need the knowledge and willingness it takes to do many things, including accounting, repairs, road maintenance, plumbing, electrical maintenance, and management. You may be able to farm some of these things out, but it is much more cost-effective to do these things yourself.

Who is this business right for?

A campground business is perfect for someone who loves the outdoors and dealing with people. The right person for this business also has experience in management, including accounting, budgeting, hiring staff, and keeping inventory.

What happens during a typical day at a campground?

A campground business owner will have several daily activities to do, unless he or she hires some help. Assuming that at startup, the business owner will be doing all of the work, his or her duties include:

  • Checking campers in and out;
  • Accounting;
  • Emptying trash containers at each campsite;
  • Cleaning bathhouses and bathrooms;
  • Interacting with campers in person and on the phone;
  • Setting reservations;
  • Planning events;
  • Handling campers' complaints about other campers, the site or the campground;
  • Opening and cleaning rec rooms and other amenities the campground offers; and
  • Seasonal duties such as snow plowing, picking up debris from trees and cleaning up after storms.

What is the target market?

Customer types will depend on the type of campground you are running. If you are running a campground that has only primitive sites, your customers will like tent camping. If your campground also features sites with utilities, you'll attract “glampers,” those with RVs that enjoy having all the comforts of home.

How does a campground make money?

A campground makes its main income by renting out sites. It may also have a small store that is stocked with camping gear, non-perishable food and other items that campers may find useful. A popular seller is ice, so adding an ice freezer will also make some money for the business.

What is the growth potential for a campground?

The growth potential depends on how much adjoining land is available. Campground owners could make over $1 million per year if the campground is large enough and is popular. If a campground is small, but is always booked to capacity, the owner could buy adjoining land to create more campsites and significantly increase business.

Another avenue for growth is to create a franchise. Franchises give you unlimited growth potential, since you could open campgrounds across the country. In a franchise, franchisees – those who buy the franchise – would be operating the campground. You would make money from franchise fees and a portion of the profits for each campground.