Severson Touts the ‘A-B-Cs’ in Parks Business
How well do you plan your days?
When Lori Severson of Severson & Associates posed that question Tuesday (April 30) to park operators attending the Spring Meeting of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), very few hands went up.
In fact, many park operators acknowledged that their days were also filled with interruptions, from phone calls to impromptu meetings where someone comes and sits in their office taking up valuable time, according to a news release.
Severson, who has her hands full running her own campground and consulting business while also serving as executive director of the Wisconsin Campground Owners Association (WACO), said there are ways to control the chaos and make better use of one’s time. She cited a university study, which found that every minute spent in workday planning can save 10 minutes in execution.
The key, she said, is not only to plan the tasks that you need to complete each day, but to prioritize them. She recommends park operators make a list of the things they need to do each day and to put an “A” next to the tasks that have to be completed that day. She recommends putting a “B” next to the tasks that are not quite so urgent, and a “C” next to the easy, routine things to do.
To plan things even better, Severson recommends numbering the “A” list tasks to prioritize them. She also recommends breaking the biggest tasks into 15-minute blocks. That way, they don’t seem so daunting and can be more easily tackled.
“How do you eat an elephant?” she asked. “One bite at a time.”
Breaking big tasks into 15-minute blocks can also encourage better use of time so that when you find yourself with a small block of open time, such as the 15 or 20 minutes of time before lunch, you use it effectively rather than waste it.
“The more complete your plan, the greater your likelihood of success,” she said, adding, “If you say you don’t have time to plan, you don’t have the time to be successful.”
Severson also recommends using one’s peak energy for the jobs you dislike the most and outsourcing those jobs that are beyond their areas of expertise. And when it comes to distractions, she recommends dealing with them.
If people come into your office too frequently to talk, take the chairs out of your office. If you’re getting too many phone calls, put your phone on silent and call them back after you’ve completed your work.
Severson was one of 16 speakers who made presentations during TACO’s April 27 – 30 Spring Meeting, which took place at Guadalupe River RV Resort and Inn of the Hills Resort & Conference Center in Kerrville.
Other speakers included Eric Stumberg of TengoInternet; Bruce Bridgewater of Coba Systems; Carol Weiderman of Peak Energy Technology; Larry Brownfield of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA); Kelly Jones of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) and Robert Bouse of Red Rover Camping.
Bouse, who worked for KOA and other companies, bluntly told park operators they will lose business to other lower priced parks if they simply tell people their nightly rates when people call to inquire about rates.
Instead of immediately providing price information, park operators should ask questions of their callers. What brings you to our area? What kind of RV do you have? By asking a few questions, your front desk staff will not only strike up a conversation with people who call your park, but they will have an opportunity to sell your park’s amenities, service, activities and location.
Front desk staffers should also make an effort to book a reservation with every caller and not make it easy for them to call back later.
“You have to ask for money,” he said. “You have to close the deal.”
That might be easier than you think, especially if callers are inquiring about coming on a busy weekend, when rates could be increased. If you book now, he said, we could lock in a lower rate now. And you could give them the option to call back within 24 hours if they want to cancel the reservation.
Most of the time, callers don’t call back to cancel.
Looking to the future, most Texas park operators raised their hands when asked if their reservations were up and if they expected stronger business levels this year. But Bouse also encouraged them to reach out more to ethnic minorities.
Thirty percent of the people looking to buy RVs last year were ethnic, he said. “They’re coming. They want to come. You’ve got to invite them (to your parks),” he said.
PowerPoint presentations from Bouse and other TACO speakers will be posted next week on www.TacoMembers.com.
Based in Crowley, TACO represents nearly 400 private campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas. The association was established in 1972 by a group of five campground owners who felt there should be independent marketing and advocacy for the private park industry in Texas. In addition to its legislative advocacy, TACO publishes the RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas, a significant consumer magazine with a distribution of 250,000, and it hosts www.TexasCampgrounds.com, the most widely used website for RV parks and campgrounds in Texas. The association also promotes Texas campgrounds in over 25 RV shows in the US and Canada.