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Kampgrounds of America

NEW MEXICO

In 2007 Scott and Susan Bacher opened a Kampgrounds of America franchise in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Five years later their son Brian joined the company.
Source: Kampgrounds of America
In 2007 Scott and Susan Bacher opened a Kampgrounds of America franchise in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Five years later their son Brian joined the company.
Description: Family-friendly campgrounds
Owners: Scott and Susan Bacher
Years in business: 9
No. of franchises owned: 1
Start-up costs: $11,250; $150,000 liquid capital; $300,000 net worth
Franchisor fees: Royalties 8% of revenues; marketing 2% of revenues
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $1.5 million; $1.6 million
2016 projected annual growth rate: 6%

In 2005, Scott and Susan Bacher left contracting and real estate careers in upstate New York and headed west to find the perfect campground — and campground business. Their search ended in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where they became the new owners of a 40-acre Kampgrounds of America park. In 2012 their son Brian joined the business. KOA is the world's largest system of privately held family-friendly campgrounds, with almost 500 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Scott said his family chose KOA because of its great brand name in the business. "Between 2005 and 2006, my wife and I talked to dozens of KOA franchisees and asked them if they had to do it over again, would they pick the same franchise and they all said yes," Scott said. His campground in Carlsbad is open all year and in 2015 had 84,000 guests. The typical guest stays on the campground between two and three nights. During their stay, guests can hike, visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park and even spend time at Roswell's International UFO Museum.

Additional franchisee resources

Hands-on help from the parent company has been a constant since the couple first bought the franchise in 2007. "If a franchisee wants to add more RV spots on his campground, the franchisor will send a site engineer out to look at the property to help determine the best place to do that," Scott said. "If I have a question about my insurance or if I need tech support on something, there is always a person at the company that will get on the phone with me for help." Since the majority of the guests who stay at Scott's campground are traveling hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to get there, local advertising doesn't make sense. "The marketing royalties we pay goes toward national advertising that is done by the parent company to raise brand awareness," he said. "That's really how we've grown our business."

Like many service businesses, staffing is their biggest challenge. Scott and his wife have between 18 and 24 employees, depending on the time of year. That's why Scott cautions other potential franchisees to make sure they are truly interested before buying. "Owning a franchise requires many hours and lots of sweat equity," Scott said. "Be sure it fits your lifestyle so you can enjoy your job. The financial rewards will come, but if you select a business that fits you, the work will feel much more like play."

"Owning a franchise requires many hours and lots of sweat equity." -Scott Bacher

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