KOA: Campground Sales Activity is Increasing
Editor’s Note: The following news release comes from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).
Purchasing a campground is a huge decision. Each year, dozens of families throughout North America “make the leap” and purchase their very own KOA campground.
At the other end of that purchase is another family – the current KOA owners – who have owned and nurtured the campground for years, even decades, before deciding it was time to sell.
Kampgrounds of America does everything it can to make the transition as easy as possible for both of those families.
“Our sales department works very hard to find new owners for existing KOAs and make sure they are ready to take over when a current owner decides it’s time to sell,” said Chris Fairlee, vice president of sales and conversions for Kampgrounds of America Inc.
“We hold Buyer’s Workshops at various locations around the country each year that answer prospective owner’s questions, and give them a clear view of what it takes to own and operate a KOA campground,” Fairlee said. “The workshops start new potential owners down the road to ownership. It’s our goal to make both the buyer and the seller happy with their decision.”
Fairlee said there are several similar workshops held each year by independent campground brokers, but none can match the level of detail provided to buyers thinking about a KOA purchase.
“We don’t have to guess at how the season is going for our campgrounds on the local, state or regional level,” Fairlee said. “We have that data at our fingertips.”
So far in 2013, the efforts of Fairlee and his team are working.
“We have closings set for five KOA campgrounds for this summer alone,” Fairlee said. “By the end of August, we will have re-sold as many KOAs as we did in all of 2012.”
He said the recent KOA Buyer’s Workshop in Nashville, Tenn., was one of the most successful in KOA’s 51-year history.
“Buyers are usually pretty serious about it by the time they come to our workshop,” he said. “One participant was a college professor who is currently working overseas. He flew in from Abu Dhabi specifically for our workshop and is now purchasing his first KOA.”
Fairlee said a recent increase in sales activity is being driven by the availability of credit by banks and SBA loans, and increased public exposure for camping, such as KOA’s recent episode of “Undercover Boss” on CBS.
“Traffic to our Own A KOA website (www.ownakoa.com) went up 930% in the week that the ‘Undercover Boss’ episode aired in January,” he said. “We’ve had more than 500 inquiries for more information from potential new owners so far in 2013.”
Fairlee said new KOA owners often tell him the effort KOA makes to find new owners is a big reason they purchased a KOA franchise.
“They like to know that we are going to do everything we can to help them when the time comes to sell their KOA,” he said. “They view it as if it’s an insurance policy for their new business.”
Along with the www.ownakoa.com website, KOA supports new franchisees with its huge www.KOA.comwebsite (the most popular camping website in North America), and consumer-based marketing such as its KOA Kompass e-newsletter and nearly a million distributed copies of the annual KOA Directory.
At the forefront of KOA’s sales efforts is Cecil Pegram, who has more than 20 years experience matching existing KOA campgrounds with new owners.
Pegram often works with potential new owners for five years or more before they are ready to purchase a property.
“Cecil takes the long view,” Fairlee said. “We have a vested interest in getting just the right owner into just the right KOA. We don’t disappear after we’ve sold you the property. You will continue your partnership all down the line with KOA.”
“The KOA system only wants great, quality owners taking over at our campgrounds,” he said. “That’s because we know that they are going to be a part of the KOA family for the long haul.”