Starting a RV park can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful RV park.
Importantly, a critical step in starting an RV park is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s RV Park Business Plan Template here.
15 Steps To Start an RV Park:
- Choose the Name for Your RV Park
- Determine the Type of RV Park You Will Launch
- Develop Your RV Park Business Plan
- Choose the Legal Structure for Your RV Park
- Secure Startup Funding for Your RV Park (If Needed)
- Secure a Location for Your Business
- Register Your RV Park with the IRS
- Open a Business Bank Account
- Get a Business Credit Card
- Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
- Get Business Insurance for Your RV Park
- Buy or Lease the Right RV Park Equipment
- Develop Your RV Park Marketing Materials
- Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your RV Park
- Open for Business
1. Choose the Name for Your RV Park
The first step to starting an RV park is to choose your business’ name.
This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your RV park:
- Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
- Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
- Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your RV park.
2. Determine the Type of RV Park You Will Launch
The next step is to determine the type of RV park you will launch. The four main types of RV parks are:
- Full-service RV Parks: Full-service RV parks are typically the most expensive and provide amenities such as laundry facilities, a swimming pool, cable TV, Wi-Fi access and more. These types of parks often charge higher rates than other RV parks but offer a wider range of services to their guests.
- Basic RV Parks: Basic RV parks usually offer amenities such as showers, restrooms and hookups for electricity. These parks often attract campers who are on a budget and don’t need additional services such as laundry facilities or Wi-Fi access.
- Specialty RV Parks: Specialty RV parks cater to specific segments of the population, such as senior citizens, disabled persons or even pet owners. These parks usually have specialized amenities that cater to their target demographic.
3. Develop Your RV Park Business Plan
One of the most important steps in starting an RV park is to develop your business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.
Your business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your RV park.
- Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your RV park and what type of RV park you operate. For example, are you a full-service, basic, specialty or no-frills RV park?
- Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the consulting industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
- Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
- Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
- Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
- Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer
- Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
- Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
- Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your RV park? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
- Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
- Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
- Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
- What startup costs will you incur?
- How will your RV park make money?
- What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
- Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?
4. Choose the Legal Structure for Your RV Park
Next you need to choose a legal structure for your RV park and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.
Below are the five most common legal structures:
1) Sole proprietorship
A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the RV park and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.
A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start an RV park together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business.
The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.
3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for an RV park include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.
4) C Corporation
A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for an RV park is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.
5) S Corporation
An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.
Once you register your RV park, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.
5. Secure Startup Funding for Your RV Park (If Needed)
In developing your RV park plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business.
If so, the main sources of funding for an RV park to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in an RV park that they believe has high potential for growth.
6. Secure a Location for Your Business
Having the right space can be important for your RV park, especially if your clients will have certain expectations.
To find the right space, consider:
- How big it will be
- How accessible it is
- How close it is to other attractions that could bring in customers
You’ll also want to make sure the land has appropriate zoning so you can open your RV park in that space; check with your local government for that information.
To find the right space, consider:
- Driving around to find the right areas while looking for “for lease” signs
- Contacting a commercial real estate agent
- Doing commercial real estate searches online
- Telling others about your needs and seeing if someone in your network has a connection that can help you find the right space
7. Register Your RV Park with the IRS
Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.
Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.
8. Open a Business Bank Account
It is important to establish a bank account in your RV park’s name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:
- Identify and contact the bank you want to use
- Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
- Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
- Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them
9. Get a Business Credit Card
You should get a business credit card for your RV park to help you separate personal and business expenses.
You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.
When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.
Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.
10. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
Every state, county and city has different business license and permit requirements.
Nearly all states, counties and/or cities have license requirements including:
- General Business License: getting your Articles of Incorporation as discussed above
- Sales Tax License or Seller’s Permit: for selling services
- Zoning Approval: typically at the city or county level, this provides authorization for construction or use of a building or land for a particular purpose
Depending on the type of RV park you launch, you will have to obtain the necessary state, county and/or city licenses.
11. Get Business Insurance for Your RV Park
When you’re starting a business, it’s important to protect yourself and your business with insurance. This includes liability insurance and property insurance.
Some business insurance policies that you should consider for your RV park include:
- General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
- Auto insurance: If a vehicle is used in your business, this type of insurance will cover if a vehicle is damaged or stolen.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
- Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
- Professional liability insurance: This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.
Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs.
12. Buy or Lease the Right RV Park Equipment
When starting an RV park, you will need to purchase or lease certain types of equipment. This equipment will include:
- RV pads
- Electrical hookups
- Water hookups
- Sewer hookups
- Picnic tables
- Fire pits
- Internet service
You may also want to purchase or lease other items, such as a playground, a pool, or a recreation room. Talk to other RV park owners in your area to get a sense of what type of equipment is popular and necessary for your park.
Once you have an idea of what equipment you need, start shopping around for the best prices. You may be able to find discounts by purchasing equipment in bulk or through a vendor leasing program.
13. Develop Your RV Park Marketing Materials
Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your RV park.
The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:
- Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your RV park. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
- Website: Likewise, a professional RV park website provides potential customers with information about the services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
- Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your RV park.
14. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your RV Park
When starting an RV park, you will need to purchase and setup certain types of software. This software will include:
- A reservation system to take reservations and track customer information
- A point of sale system to process payments and track sales
- A marketing automation system to send emails and track website visits
All of these systems can be found as cloud-based applications, which means you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. This is a great option for RV park owners who are constantly on the go.
When selecting software for your RV park, make sure to choose systems that are easy to use and that integrate with each other. This will make managing your RV park much easier.
Most RV parks need accounting software and customer relationship management (CRM) software.
While there are many different software options available, some of the most popular programs for accounting include QuickBooks and Xero. Some of the most popular CRM programs include Salesforce, and Zoho.
15. Open for Business
You are now ready to open your RV park. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.
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How to Start an RV Park FAQs
Is it hard to start an RV park?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the ease or difficulty of starting an RV park will vary depending on your skills, experience, and resources.
However, if you follow the steps above, you should be able to start your RV park without too much difficulty.
How can I start an RV park with no experience?
The best way to start an RV park with no experience is to start small. Once you have a few clients, you can then start marketing your business more aggressively.
There are many resources available to help you, including organizations that offer support and advice for RV park owners.
Another great way to gain experience is by talking to other RV park owners. They will be able to share their tips and advice, and may even be able to help you out with some of the logistics of starting an RV park. Finally, don't forget that trial and error is a big part of starting any business - so don't be afraid to try new things!
What type of RV park is most profitable?
The profitability of RV parks can vary depending on a number of factors. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to make your RV park more profitable, such as location, RV park type, amenities, and target customer.
Some of the most profitable types of RV parks include full-service, basic, specialty or no-frills.
How much does it cost to start an RV park?
The cost of starting an RV park can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size and location of the park. However, in general, the cost of starting an RV park will be between $50,000 and $100,000.
This includes the cost of purchasing or leasing the necessary equipment, developing your marketing materials, and purchasing and setting up the software needed to run your park. It is important to remember that this is just a ballpark estimate - the final cost of starting an RV park will depend on your specific situation.
If you are looking to start an RV park on a smaller scale, the costs will be lower - but you will likely have less overhead and be able to generate less revenue. On the other hand, if you want to start a large RV park with all the bells and whistles, your costs will be higher but you may be able to generate more revenue.
What are the ongoing expenses for an RV park?
Operating an RV park can be a very profitable business, but it also requires ongoing expenses. Some of the most common expenses include:
- Utilities: This includes electricity, water, and gas.
- Maintenance and repairs: This includes repairing or replacing broken equipment, fixing plumbing and electrical problems, and mowing the lawn.
- Insurance: This is important to protect your business from liability risks.
- Staffing: You may need to hire staff to help with tasks like checking in guests, cleaning restrooms, and maintaining the grounds.
- Marketing: You will need to continue marketing your RV park in order to attract new customers.
By keeping these expenses in mind, you can budget appropriately and ensure that your RV park remains profitable.
How does an RV park make money?
An RV park can make money in a number of ways, including through camping fees, rental units, concessions, and other activities.
Camping fees are the most common way RV parks make money. Guests typically pay a daily or weekly fee to stay in a campsite. This fee covers the cost of using the campground's amenities, such as restrooms, showers, and electric hookups.
RV parks can also make money by renting out RV spaces on a monthly or yearly basis. These spaces often include access to all the park's amenities. In addition, RV parks can earn revenue by selling food and drinks at their concession stands, as well as through other activities like fishing or swimming.
By understanding how an RV park makes money, you can create a business plan that maximizes your profits. By offering a variety of services and amenities, and marketing your park effectively, you can turn your RV park into a successful business venture.
Is owning an RV park profitable?
Yes, owning an RV park can be a profitable business venture. By charging fees for services and amenities, and by marketing your park effectively, you can turn a profit from your RV park. However, it is important to keep in mind the ongoing expenses associated with running such a business.
Some of the key things you can do to make your RV park more profitable include:
- Offering a variety of services and amenities, such as electric hookups, Wi-Fi, and showers
- Charging appropriate fees for services and amenities
- Marketing your park effectively to attract new guests
- Maintaining the grounds and facilities to a high standard
- Narrowing your focus to a specific niche market
- Offering add-on services that complement your main offering
- Optimizing your website for SEO to increase online visibility
- Creating a unique selling proposition
Why do RV parks fail?
There are a number of reasons why RV parks can fail, but some of the most common include:
- Lack of marketing and advertising
- Poor customer service
- Unmaintained grounds and facilities
- Inappropriate fees charged for services and amenities
- Lack of focus on a specific niche market
- Failure to understand the needs of the target market
One of the main reasons that RV parks fail is a lack of planning. This can include not having a detailed business plan, not doing research on the industry, and not targeting the right customers.
Another reason is a lack of marketing and sales skills. This can include not creating a sales process and not have a clear and strong value proposition.
The last main reason is a lack of financial management skills. This can include not having a realistic budget, not tracking expenses, and not investing in the business.
Who are key players in the consulting market?
The consulting market is made up of a variety of different players, including small businesses, large enterprises, and even individuals.
Some of the key players in the market include:
- Kampgrounds of America (KOA)
- Good Sams Club
- Sun Communities
- Thousand Trails
- Equity Lifestyle Properties Encore RV Resorts
- Marathon Ventures, Inc.
However, there are many other players in your specific target market, and it is important to research the market to identify the key players that may have the most direct influence on the success of your business.
How much should I charge for my RV park services?
It is important to stay competitive in the industry and charge a price that reflects the value you provide to clients.
You may want to consider charging a flat rate for services, or charging by the night or by the week. You could also offer different packages or membership levels to attract different types of customers.
Examples of rates are:
- Standard RV spot: $20-$50 per night
- Full hookup RV spot (with water, electric and sewer): $25-$60 per night
- Deluxe RV spot (with added amenities): $35-$80 per night.
Ultimately, how much you charge for your RV park services will depend on how much value you provide to your customers and how competitive the market is. You may need to adjust your prices in order to stay competitive, or you may find that your services are in demand enough that you can charge a premium rate.
Whatever pricing strategy you choose, make sure you are clear about what is included in the price and what services will require an additional fee. This will help avoid any confusion or misunderstandings with clients.
The best way to determine the right fee for your RV park services is to research the rates of similar businesses in your industry, and to also consider the value that you will be providing to the client.